EDC, or everyday carry, is the task of assembling and wearing a few key items that you take with you everywhere you go. Of course there are certain exceptions, for example you can’t bring a knife into your local courthouse when called for jury duty, but we assume you’ll know where your EDC gear can go and where it can’t. The point is it should be on you as much as possible. These tools and gadgets might save your life or the lives of others around you, or they might just aid in some minor convenience, which depending on where you are, might feel like a major convenience. Let’s take a look at several items that will fit nicely in your EDC collection.

Compact Flashlight

A compact flashlight almost always belongs in your EDC collection. They are useful in finding lost stuff that falls between your vehicle cushions or illuminating a flat tire while you change it in the dark. EDC flashlights are also great tools in survival and self-defense situations. Typically you’ll want to balance these three key elements:

  • Size and weight (2-3 inches max for pocket carry)
  • Run time
  • Lumen output

Since you’re carrying the flashlight everywhere you go, it can’t weigh a ton or be so large that it doesn’t comfortably fit in your pocket. Flashlights that are 2-3 inches should be where you focus your search. You should also ensure the flashlight will run for several hours in case you need sustained illumination, and make sure you check and replace the batteries regularly. Finally, high lumen outputs can come in handy not only when you’re trying to find objects or perform jobs in the dark but also in confrontations. A powerful flashlight in the eyes can give you the time you need to escape or move to a more favorable position. Of course there is no guarantee, but opt for a powerful output and spend the extra money to get it.

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Streamlight’s MicroStream is a good basic EDC flashlight, but it does lack in power at only 45 lumens.

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For an upgrade, look at the StreamLight ProTac 1L with a 180 lumen output.

Pocket Knife

There are several considerations that you need to take into account when selecting an EDC knife. These include:

  • Minimal bulk and weight
  • One hand operation
  • Optional open assist mechanism
  • Reasonable blade length (generally 3 in. or less)
  • Strong, folding blade design

An EDC knife is almost always a folding knife, as you can’t always go light with your longer fixed blade knife and belt case. Of course you won’t be able to perform heavy duty survival tasks with your EDC knife, but we would hope if you were heading out into the bush, you would pack the fixed blade knife on those occasions. This is not to say that you should go cheap on your EDC folding blade, and thankfully there are a wealth of options out there to meet your needs, generally $50 – $300 depending on your budget.

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Benchmade has a wealth of EDC models like this Loco Knife.

Be sure to customize the knife to your needs rather than select one that someone else says is a good EDC knife. Only you know what your EDC knife needs to do, and this will dictate details like whether you need a straight blade, a serrated blade or a combo of the two. As far as emergency situations, most EDC pros use the “cut out of the seat belt” scenario as one of the times your EDC knife will really come through. In cases like that, it helps to have an open assist mechanism, or a spring that helps the blade extend. This ensures you’ll be able to open your knife quickly and easily even when your movement is restricted or only one hand is free.

One other note, research your local knife carry laws. Knives of a certain length or design may be illegal to carry, and you can’t really consider an EDC knife one that you can only take on a hike or hunt.

Pen / Tactical Pen

Whether you’re taking notes, working on articles or proposals, or filling out forms, it’s always nice to have a quality pen in your EDC collection. Some people will prefer the classic look of a quality ball-point, but a strong tactical pen might be a better option for most. Naturally tactical pens can be used in self-defense situations, but the strong construction of these pens makes them valuable tools and emergency options when no other options are to be had. If you end up trapped in a car or in a survival situation, it would be better to have a tactical pen on hand vs. no solid steel objects around.

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CRKT makes a quality tactical pen built with hard anodized aluminum.

Pocket Notebook

How many times in the course of a day do we have brilliant thoughts and ideas tumble through our heads? Chances are you may make a mental note, “that’s a great idea, I should remember it,” and then in a matter of moments it is lost to the void. Instead of losing all your brilliant ideas, why not note them on the spot with a pocket notebook? Opt for a small notepad that flexes and fits comfortably in your back pocket vs. a larger rigid one that will make you feel like you have a small brick in your back pocket.

Flask

Sometimes you need a stiff drink, or just something to wet your lips, and the classic flask remains the best EDC option for it. Flasks have fallen out of style for most, but… and we’re going to go out on a limb here… most everyone still thinks a flask is cool. Even if you’re not too keen on a pick me up, spirits can have some practical applications as well.

Smartphone Case

Smartphones have become a default member of most people’s EDC kit, and there’s no need to explain why. While most smartphones offer much of the same features these days, the cases that go along with them do not. Instead of going for the cheap case they try to sell you at the cellphone store, why not opt for something more serious and equal to your EDC needs. Waterproof or tactical grade give anyone who spends time in the outdoors a leg up, and they might just save your phone from a otherwise fatal fall. Those who like to pack light, or are already weighed down with other EDC items, may opt for a cellphone and wallet in one to keep their essential items better organized.

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For a little extra shock protection, why not try the Magpul Field Case modeled after the popular PMAG magazine design.

Watch

Watches have fallen out of style for some with the advent of the smartphone – and don’t even get us started on smartphone watches – but a quality outdoor watch can offer some valuable features that you can’t get out of a smartphone. Opt for a watch that tracks altitude and barometric pressure and maybe even has a built in GPS system. Make sure the model you choose is also built to last and can withstand exposure to water.

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The new Traverse Alpha line by Suunto might just be the best overall watch for an outdoorsman with GPS breadcrumbs and sunset and weather data on screen.