Every Day Carry: A primer on all the things you need
Every day carry is a term that probably evokes thoughts of a comic book hero, law enforcement or a public service office and the massive amount of items they carry on a daily basis on belts with multiple cell phone cases and tools. It’s not necessarily confined to that narrow idea, however, and every day carry can be a bit less enigmatic and much less involved; still giving an excellent advantage to the user. It has been given a bum reputation by all those “sensible” detractors, but at its heart, every day carry is about sensibility and opportunity as well as utility.
Every day carry is really about the average, everyday scenarios that the normal person will be a part of. In a given day, regardless of the setting, the normal person will face a huge number of potentially awkward or difficult situations; every day carry gear is about heading that specific scenario off and solving the problem they face. Just like that over-thought belt we talked about in the opening, having a few “tools” on your “toolbelt” can help you avert concerns. Some people, like me, go a bit farther and carry a more comprehensive setup where possible, but there are always different settings that require different tools and setups.
Many believe that the terminology associated with “Every Day Carry” centers only on the gun an operator would carry concealed, with an aim to avoid specific violent threats (or to address those threats rather than avoid). The changing world we live in, however, has dictated a change in mentality towards everyday carry and now, most of what you will find is more about urban survival and self-sustainability. You’ll find more tools to accomplish normal tasks than overtly defensive or offensive tools (firepower). Now, don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of that: Guns. We are a gun website after all.
The ever-changing basis of Every Day Carry
What you carry is as unique as your fingerprint; furthermore it will be vastly different from what I carry, or what the guy in the cubicle next to you carries, or the attorney down the hall has in her briefcase.
The main theme you will find throughout an every day carry mentality is self-sufficiency and utility. There is also an underlying idea of redundancy in the more hardcore practitioners. Sometimes, that doesn’t translate well to a pocket or a purse, but it may when you are traveling in a vehicle, or are sure of a threat or risk you face. It should be a goal to the everyday carrier to look for the greatest positive impact afforded by a type of gear, and look for those items which meet the largest variety or the most important potential tasks or risks that you will expect to face. Redundancy is important, but it’s not a deal breaker; rather it can be the most compelling reason not to carry items on an EDC (Every Day Carry) basis, as the extra work will quickly outweigh the potential benefit.
For someone who is constantly fixing things at work, like a construction worker or a handyman, a flashlight of high quality and high output levels (or even two), or a utility knife might be key pieces of every day carry gear. Those items wouldn’t have much use in the briefcase of a trial attorney who works out in the morning, before walking to work, having to cross some of the “less docile” urban landscape; she might look for some pepper spray, a compact revolver or user activated security alarm (she’ll have to make sure to check her firearm in before she enters the courthouse). A hiker might need a distinctly different set of gear for their every day carry stash, perhaps looking for a couple of lighters, some fishing line and a fixed blade knife.
Every Day Carry of a Firearm
So let’s talk a bit about carrying a firearm in your every day carry items:
There are places that a CCW doesn’t have viability, the above instance with the court is one example, banks (in some cases), schools, and federal agencies are all examples as well. This article isn’t about the CCW laws, so to go too far into the legalities would be a bad fit, but it’s important to know your limitations with a CCW and understand the jurisdiction laws and the state specific regulations that apply to your case.
It is a well proven fact (in most circles, though the anti-gun groups would try to argue it), that CCW licensees are less likely to be involved in shootings than other citizens and it is those CCW holders that tend to be amongst the most well educated on the legal system and laws and the most capable at making decisions under duress. I personally tend to believe that if someone is willing to go through the (lengthy and somewhat difficult) process of obtaining a Concealed Carry Permit, they will already be the type of person who takes their specific situation seriously, and knows how to make fact based decisions. Those who are obtaining such a permit for other reasons, including emotions, irrational fear or more nefarious reasons, will likely be weeded out early on in the process, or never even consider obtaining legal status to carry a firearm.
Personally, I carry a variety of guns, most often an HK P7 M8, which I love, but often a high modified HK USP (turned into a 10mm) a Sig P220 Stainless Steel Elite (also undergoing a 10mm modification) or a 1911 .45, which is highly customized. I have been known to carry a .22LR Phoenix Arms on occasion where it is necessary to carry a tiny gun, or where I may be using a firearm in an environment not conducive to keeping guns looking good (I am a fan of the aforementioned cheap gun by the way); I also have carried a variety of other firearms in the past including a 642 S&W and a Glock 23, etc. There ARE situations where I do not carry (covered later on) and there are situations where I carry more than a single firearm, it all depends on what risks I can reasonably assume.
It is important to note that I, along with a majority of other concealed carry advocates, neither look for trouble, nor use our firearm as an excuse to be a hero, but understand rather, how to mitigate a violent threat and to choose the correct time and usage of our every day carry firearms; we are also responsible users of our permits, careful to maintain our legality and follow the rules afforded by such a privilege.
I hold a California based CCW, and it is not allowed (from reciprocity standards) into some other states, so it is important that I recognize when I need to remove it from concealment and separate my ammunition/magazine from my firearm. On planes, I need to know when and how to use my guns, obviously never in a concealed fashion; and there are states which have no reciprocity and NO CCW privileges, so It is my goal to urge you to become well informed in the rules regarding every day carry of a firearm.
What does it take to have a great Every Day Carry?
Importantly, EDC is an ever changing and variable set of gear with a common theme of making your life easier; something that can be used with other items nearby you to solve problems and help expand your individual capabilities. Every day carry will be different for those who are students, compared to doctors or lawyers; peace officers or soccer moms, it’s going to require thought and direction, focus and understanding. A student might make sure he has his smart phone and a pen and notebook included in the every day carry gear; a doctor might have a CPR mask and an epipen, or a concealed handgun for when traveling. A Lawyer might need a laptop and a few I.D. badges. A peace officer might have a heavy duty pen and an expandable baton on top of their other “duty” gear; a soccer mom could have a cooler full of treats for after soccer practice or a taser, or some workout gear in a bag in the back of the SUV. These things change too. That soccer mom might be an ER nurse at night; the lawyer, an international traveler with offices all over the world, in need of complex books and a fully connected phone and laptop. The peace officer might be a “big brother” volunteer and need some magic tricks to use when he gets to the “big brother” group; the doctor maybe carries his racquetball gear with him 24/7 in case he can squeeze in a game or two. The student could be a singer songwriter with a harmonica and a guitar in the back of his leased Prius. You never know what’s going to come up.
The point is this: Every Day Carry is dependent on an ever changing set of variables and thus, should be ever changing itself. If it can make your life easier it should be considered on the shortlist for your every day carry; if it does so with less moving parts and with more versatility, it should be given preferential treatment; if it handles more than its fair share of duty, it should be included.
You probably already carry (and if you “don’t” you’d be surprised) some every day carry gear. A pocket knife or a smartphone; a kubaton on your keychain or some pepper spray; a small flashlight in your pocket or a heavy duty pen; a CPR mask in your purse.
You might not actively be planning to carry, but you have probably become accustomed to the utility a specific item or group of items presents for your everyday life. Even little things like makeup, or your i-pod can make your life better, even your bus pass or bottle opener can be a game changer in the right scenario. You’d be surprised how much a pocket knife or a flashlight or even a pack of gum can change your output, attitude or the scope of a situation in seconds. Other items like a multi-tool or a firearm can have niche applications that prove their viability even more, should you ever find yourself in a position to utilize them.
If you step back for a minute you can probably nod in agreement, that you already have an affinity for every day carry. It’s kind of part of the gig as an American to be ready for anything, constantly going, and addicted to freedom and gadgets (Freedom and Gadgets sounds like a good band name). Practicality and usability has replaced luxury and niche items, but that doesn’t mean they still don’t have a place; with every day carry, there is always room for a few more good applicants. Knowing that you can use an item for something is even more a reason to buy that seriously cool gadget or tool you’ve been coveting for 3 months. Consider it a part of your contingency plan, even if it doesn’t impress your friends.
Every Day Carry Ideas
Every Day Carry gear is maybe more of a group gear, as it rarely serves a singular or individual (only) purpose. The mindset of every day carry is important, but the tools are the real star of the show. There is a shortlist of items that just about anyone can benefit from listed below. It doesn’t mean you have to, or that the items will make sense for you, but they do provide unique and comprehensive solutions to a variety of non-ideal situations that you could find yourself in on a regular basis with even just a tiny lapse in judgment or a bad bit of luck. These items are made for glove boxes, pockets, duffel bags, backpacks and purses, but use wisely to avoid problems and look for the ones which make the most sense and offer the greatest versatility and usability for your specific situation.
Frivolous, but useful purchases of every day carry
I’m guilty of it, many other EDC types are as well: purchasing a truly luxury item that really doesn’t make immediate sense for me as an all-purpose tool. But I’m also guilty of looking for the best money can buy when it comes to my every day carry items. I want to know that focus of my expensive habit/hobby/decision is going to be capable of doing the thing I hoped it would when I added it to my collection. The long term value of an item is enhanced when it is a high quality version of that tool or item. Long-term viability is a key point in the EDC game, as almost all of these items will not be able to shine unless they are present when a need arises. As much as I (or any other every day carry enthusiast) would want to prove our point, crazy MacGuyver type situations just don’t arise every day, it’s more a combination of time savings from little tasks like cutting up boxes in the warehouse or saving us from the crazy guy next to us on the bus with the smooth samplings of Lionel Ritchie from the depths of your shuffle button on the i-pod, or the chewing gum you use to affix the blasting cap for the C-4 (just kidding, everyone knows you need to attached the blasting cap directly to the payload).
It takes time for a tool to recapture its purchase price, but good tools last a long time, and they are usually lighter weight, more resilient, do more things or do the job better, enhancing value along the way. In a perfect world you will have the lightest, smallest (yet still usable) and best quality items in your every day carry; but in all of them, there will be the underlying heavy versatility common of every day carry items.
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Testing out your own Every Day Carry
It doesn’t need to go past the point of normalcy, and while you might see many every day carry enthusiasts using a bucket (or bag) full of items, you might just as easily see an every day carry lover, carrying 1 or 2 items of exceptional worth to them, that see heavy day in and day out usage. The items can be cold and utilitarian, or warm and personalized, it’s up to you as the end user; many of my regular EDC items hold a sentimental value that far exceeds their craftsmanship or their dollar value.
Try making a test run for a few weeks to see how comfortable you are as a user of every day carry gear. You will know early on if the concept is even one you want to explore.
Need some help choosing every day carry gear?
The items listed here, serve as a basic list to help you determine personal EDC potential:
A flashlight is a tool that virtually every person on the planet could find a use for every day without too much trouble, but is it worth carrying? With today’s battery and bulb technology, you don’t have to have a large flashlight to get big performance. You might use a flashlight to illuminate a stalking figure behind you, thereby increasing their visibility and letting them know that YOU KNOW. Decent quality pocket lights can run less than $25, but high end versions can and will reach above $125 at times. If you run at night, or crawl around in ship bulkhead during the day, you might consider the extra money for a really nice one, but most people will be satisfied with one for under $30.
Making fire can be a big deal if you spend any substantial time in the outdoors, or have the chance of being stranded in your car away from civilization. Cheap matches to expensive lighters, this is one EDC piece that begs for redundancy, so plan accordingly. You probably can’t fly with fire making gear, but you can buy stuff close to the airport when you land, again: plan accordingly.
Most laws don’t allow you to carry a fixed blade knife, but many tactical folding knives fit the needs of an every day carry guru quite easily. A fixed blade knife has gotten me out of plenty of jams, but I have never been so thankful as to have a folding knife on me without remembering, as when I have needed something in a pinch. Using a knife to cut a seat belt to remove yourself from an overturned car or using it to fend off an attacker can be a lifesaver. But using t as a way to help you start a fire is just as important, given the situation. You would be surprised how often you will use a knife at the office if you have one, even if it just means opening those ridiculously Fort-Knox-like microwavable lunch entrees.
Your phone may seem innocuous, but in the last hour, hundreds of lives were saved as a result of a 911 call. It may be just that you need to check when your flight is departing, or as a passerby noticing smoke off the side of the freeway, or it could be more direct, like being followed home by a stranger. A lot of people who ready my blog are survivalists or conspiracy theorists who advocate against GPS and tracking features on phones, but I prefer that my readers know the benefits of such devices: they can help you to be found, help you in finding help and contribute to an overall peace of mind; to each their own. I always have my smartphone with me, and in some cases, extra phones or SIM cards just in case (see later on in this article).
A multi-tool is a gun person’s best friend when the AR or the 1911 just isn’t working well and threatens to end your range trip early. It’s a small cost but it steps up big when you need it to, with its various tools. Admittedly I will never use a fish scaler on my multi-tool. If that’s the only tool I have on me, then I don’t mind eating a few scales to stay alive. I probably won’t ever use the file on it either, but if I ever needed to start a fire and didn’t have matches I might be able to identify some good rocks to create friction with and get myself heated up.
All of these items are pretty standard for every day carry setups around the world, listed below are a few more items that also might make sense:
- Folding knife
- A portable hard drive/USB drive
- A hex bit screwdriver
- A metal water bottle
Below you will find more extensive lists and explanations of my own personal carry gear and when/why I carry these items.
Some people carry cameras, books portable recording devices or even more niche items, all dependent on the profession of the person carrying the item or their unique set of circumstances.
I personally have an extensive every day carry setup, depending on when and where I will be carrying. I don’t go overboard in social settings where it would be inappropriate (like a black tie dinner), or where I don’t feel I have the need for certain items (I don’t carry a firearm at church, etc.). In all honesty I tend to be the most prepared of all the people I am around, but I rarely if ever receive jeers for my preparations and my tooling; quite the opposite, I usually am praised for having just the right tool and helping to solve a problem before it became a big problem.
I consider every day carry to be a big part of my life, but I also know my limitations. I over pack, over prepare and never forget something (mostly because of the multiplicity of redundancy I employ in my every day carry). I am only prepared for the situations I will LIKELY encounter. Sure, my vehicle has extra gear, or I pack extra when I travel internationally, but I never assume I will have a passport issue when traveling to the school around the corner from the house to pick up my kids. It’s about being prepared not ridiculous.
The bulk of the every day carry gear I use is vastly utilitarian and is at times, too much for normal settings. I tend to have a belief that my individual gear MUST be of the absolute best quality, and I rare if ever sacrifice on quality. I tend not to be able to have too much redundancy, so I overbuy with individual pieces of every day carry gear. Perhaps I am a bit misguided about my own gear, as some of it has never been used in the real world, but I feel better knowing it won’t fail if I push it. Knowing is half the battle, and I get a huge peace of mind from knowing I have better gear than most people in similar circumstances; If theirs fails, mine likely will not. That said, I have had gear failure, even at times when it was my single piece of gear for a specific task, but because of my preparation and knowledge I have never had a catastrophe result. Think twice act once, measure twice cut once.
When I am in my own area (I live in Southern California) I use the following items:
- A pistol (HK P7 M8, USP 10mm, Sig P220 10mm or 1911 .45)
- 2 additional magazines for backup
- A CDMA 4G phone with extra battery
- A tiny flashlight
- A leatherman skeletool
- A small survival kit
- 2 fast melting tabs of Benadryl for allergic reactions
- Wallet with 2 Credit Cards; 2 ID (passport card and Driver’s License); insurance cards
- USB drive with important documents encrypted, basic personally identifying information unencrypted
- Knife or in some cases, knives
- A bic lighter
- Two extra key rings
- Some cash
Usually I won’t leave home (farther than a half mile or so) without this amount of gear, though if I am hiking or running the gear will change to accommodate such an activity, or when I will be in my car, my pocket carried EDC gear will be minimized.
If I know I must be able to work while out and about, I will also carry the following:
- Internet access card/modem
- Extra Hi gain antenna
- Pen and paper
- An extra battery for my laptop and a separate multipurpose battery
When I am traveling in the USA, I also bring (*when and where possible) in addition to my first list (some items cannot be carried on a plane or across state lines without proper pre-authorization):
- 6 fast acting melting tablets of allergy medicine
- Toilet paper, anti-diarrhea medicine
- Three high carb/calorie bars)
- $300-$500 cash
- A large flashlight
- Road emergency gear
- A down jacket or sweater
- Wool socks
- An insulated beenie
- My canon digital camera (T2 Eos with lenses)
- Extra storage cards for camera
- Water to fit my destination and travel type
When traveling internationally or on an extended trip (in addition to my other gear):
- Global smartphone with extra SIM
- phone charging device
- 6 Dramamine tablets
- An epipen and some antibiotics (when possible; exercise caution and use doctor’s directions when self administering medicine like these)
- 20 Ibuprofen tablets
- Physical passport
- Solid state hard drive with important work or personal documents
- A low profile tactical style or solid metal pen (some airports will confiscate)
- Six high carb/calorie bars
- $500-$1000 cash and another $1000 on a pre-loaded world currency card
- Wireless modem
- Pens and paper (30 sheets, with 25 sheets of 8.5×11 printer paper bound at two opposite corners with a piece of duct tape, so the sheets can be rolled tightly to form a defensive weapon that is slash resistant and hard enough to inflict damage)
- Power adapters
- Medium flashlight
- Long underwear
- A internal frame backpack where necessary or a good heavy duty rolling bag and briefcase if more appropriate
- Water filter or purification tablets depending on destination
I almost always have toothpaste/brush and deodorant, and my gear rarely deviates from this setup, as it provides me adequate cover for a multi-day trip at least.
I designed this gear based on years of frequent travel and my incessant need to feel as though I have the upper hand in a variety of scenarios, and yet, still be manageable. It has evolved into a set of gear that I know very well, and which has supported me well throughout the years. It takes something quite special to get on my list, but I’m open to suggestions (leave a comment on the blog).
My every day carry gear has a special place in my life
Every day carry is more a way of life to me and my family than it is some idea that MIGHT get used. WE feel comfortable whether we are on the road to the grocery store or on a flight to Singapore. These tools help to improve my peace of mind, my self-sustainability and my usefulness to society, specifically those people I come across in my daily life, whether it’s the Zombie apocalypse or a soccer game for the kids, my every day carry helps to explain the way I define myself, and in a way my every day carry defines me.