The concept of carrying certain items with you every day is not a new one, but only recently has it garnered a name, Every Day Carry or EDC for short. EDC is just that, the useful items you carry each and every day. This could include a wallet, keys, mobile phone, and perhaps a pocket knife. Some carry this concept quite far. For me it’s situational.
My grandfather carried a pocket knife every day of his life and did so for no other reason than it had utility. Even small pen knives have tremendous usefulness from opening boxes and letters to cutting a sandwich in half to share.
While serving in the U.S. Army, there were three things I and most soldiers carried, a pen, a folding knife and a lighter. Although, the first two items are self-explanatory, why carry the lighter? This was not necessarily for smoking. Appearance is a very important part of military discipline throughout our armed services. Loose threads are a no-go and nothing gets rid of them quicker and more permanently than a lighter, although this must be done with caution. I’ve seen it go horribly wrong. It’s also useful for sealing (melting) the ends of parachute cord (550 cord) and of course it’s an excellent a fire-starting device.
What you carry every day is subjective. Some may find it more important to carry a USB flash drive than a knife, but I want to make the argument for the latter, as well as a few accompanying accessories. Since our website focuses on the outdoors, my emphasis will consider that primarily. We want you to explore and go see remote places, but we also want you to make to back safely. Therefore, you should consider making it a practice to carry certain items and understand how to use each of them.
The list of EDC items can be extensive, but most outdoorsman and survival specialists agree on a few basic items. The usefulness of a quality knife cannot be underestimated. The size and type may be a matter of preference. I collect pocket knives, so I vary my choices. When I’m out birding or hiking in lesser travelled areas, I ALWAYS opt for my Leatherman® Wave® multi-tool. I obtained by first Leatherman in 1990 while stationed in Germany and carried it throughout my tour and during the Gulf War. I believe Leatherman offers some of the finest, toughest, and most useful multi-tools available. If I lost my Wave today, I’d have another tomorrow. I carry the optional bit kit, which expands the usefulness of the tool. The bit kit is composed to strip holders containing 10 bits each. The bit kit contains interchangeable hex, Torx®, Phillips and flat-blade screwdriver bits of various sizes. I also carry the bit extender, extending the reach of the tool for tight places.
LED technology has allowed flashlights to become so small that carrying a powerful flashlight every day is now a practical option. These new flashlights are very powerful and efficient, affording run times rated in hours not minutes. I prefer models that are powered by AA or AAA batteries, as these are commonly found. My Fenix LD-02 has a push-button on-off switch, three brightness levels and produces a whopping 85 lumens and runs on a single AAA battery and weighs a mere 28 grams. Some flashlights run on CR123-type batteries that are very powerful, but more expensive and not widely available. I prefer rechargeable low-discharge NiMh batteries due to their exceptional efficiency and shelf life. These types of batteries can maintain 70% of their charge for up to 5 years and be recharged up to 2100 times.
If you travel far afield, the life-saving ability of a warming fire should not be overlooked. I am personally aware the hypothermia-induced death of a mountain biker in our local mountains who died no more than 12 miles from safety. He went out for a long ride in cold and drizzle conditions with no safety or survival gear. I suspect he surmised he’d generate enough heat while riding, but sadly this was not the case. Had he had the ability to get warm, he might have been late getting home, but alive. These types of deaths are preventable with planning. I nearly always carry several ways to start a fire, but whenever I travel into the wilderness parks or national forest, I carry at least two means. In my knife sheath, I carry an Exotac® nanoSTRIKER™, a ferrocerium and magnesium rod contained in an elegant and expertly machined and anodized aluminum holder. At 19 grams, you’ll hardly notice you’re carrying it. Water and wind proof matches in a waterproof match case or a Bic® lighter slip easily into a pocket or bag. The mini-Bic weighs about 12 grams.
I like knowing where I am. In fact, I’m a little obsessive about it. I’ve navigated throughout the United States, Europe, and Southwest Asia and I suppose I have a fear of being lost. I probably obsess about it more for the inconvenience of being lost, not to mention the deadly consequences. I’ve navigated with dead reckoning across the Central Arabian Desert and with map and compass throughout the Sierra Nevada. It goes without saying I’m a firm believer in carrying a map and a compass (or three).
My first is built into my Casio® Patherfinder watch that I wear most days. It is an A:B:C watch. A:B:C means it contains an Altimeter, Barometer and Compass. It’s solar powered so it never needs batteries and doesn’t require recharging like other outdoor computer watches. I gets all the charge it needs through its face from available light. It also reads temperature, tide and Moon phase. If I’m in an area I don’t know intimately, I’ll carry a baseplate compass and I also have a button compass on my survival kit.
Lastly carrying writing supplies can be critical. Whether you’re recording that list of birds you’ve just spotted, makes notes, or drawing a map in a survival ordeal, writing supplies are tough to improvise, lightweight and extremely useful. Since it is hard to determine how much ink a pen might contain, I prefer a mechanical pencil, such at the Pentel® P200 series, and especially the .9mm lead due to my heavy-handed writing style. I also love a quality field notebook, such as Field Notes Brand®. They’re the perfect size are offered in a variety of paper formats liked ruled, blank and graph. Additionally, they are also available on waterproof paper.
In most emergency and survival situation just a few items can make the difference between making it home or not. Carefully consider your needs and learn how to use the tool you’ve chosen to rely on for your every day carry.
We’ll explore each of these tools more closely later on and discuss alternate methods of navigating and basic safety and survival strategies.
Share your every day carry items and send us a photo!