Looking for EDC suggestions...
February 1, 2012 4:31 AM   Subscribe

Looking for suggestions for Everyday Carry (EDC) items.

Hi all, recently I have been made aware of the Everyday Carry (EDC) community and I realized I have been doing this all my life without even knowing it. I would like to get my things straightened away and organized and strip it down to all of the essential gear.

I have been doing a lot of research lately and there are some nice websites and blogs out there that are dedicated to this topic. I check a lot of them out daily, but I find they are aimed at people already well versed in this community. I find that I am missing a lot of the information because various acronyms are used and I have no idea what they mean. For example, I was reading a popular EDC blog for months before I finally figured out what SAK was (Swiss Army Knife). So yes, great sites if you know what people are talking about, but not helpful if you have no idea what a SAK is (and there is no explanation).

Anyway, I am looking for basic suggestions as what to buy for EDC items. I am on a budget, so I can't spend $100 for a knife, $150 for a light, etc, but I don't want anything entry level either. I am willing to make an investment for quality products that will last that are maybe in the middle range. I could probably spend $50-$70 for a light, etc.

Therefore, does anyone have any suggestions (or websites with suggestions) for EDC items that are not pure cheap entry level, but aren't at the top range either? I would be interested in getting:

- a knife
- a multi tool
- a pry tool (are Atwood's the best ones out there?)
- a good keychain (and organizing system)
- flashlight
- wallet

Any information and suggestions/recommendations would be helpful. Thanks!
posted by dbirchum to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (36 answers total) 75 users marked this as a favorite
Doesn't it have to be a Leatherman?
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:40 AM on February 1, 2012

I love my Photon Light LED keychain. Small, inexpensive and very bright. It has a lifetime guarantee, too.
posted by clearlydemon at 4:56 AM on February 1, 2012

It strikes me that you could do pretty well by going to a camping store and just browsing. They'll have a lot of random little gadgety tools of all sorts that are also designed to be small and portable, and you may find things that you hadn't thought you'd ever need.

Or find a theatrical stage manager and have a chat. We're supposed to be prepared for any and every possible circumstance in rehearsal and performance, so our stage managers' kits tend to have a lot of EDC stuff (and then some). And most of us are broke so there's the budget thing as well.

As for flashlights -- I know that Brookstone makes a ton of teeny-tiny lights that are designed to be clipped onto keyrings, carried in wallets, etc., so you may be able to find something there (or I can just give you one of the gabillion that my father's been giving me for Christmas for the past four years that I never know what to do with).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:56 AM on February 1, 2012

Check out Cool Tools for lots of related recommendations!.
posted by leslies at 5:05 AM on February 1, 2012

I would suggest a visit to the EDCforums - - but you may never return!
posted by fairmettle at 5:14 AM on February 1, 2012

In my experience EDC isn't a solution, it's a process.
What I carry today is different from what i used to carry 20 years ago. It's obviously also very dependent on your lifestyle.
My basic kit, that resides in my jacket when I'm not riding my bicycle, is a SOG Paratool that I've owned for ~15 years.
My light is a Zebralight AA headlamp, rather big for EDC, but I need a emergency bike light and it's a terrific camping light too.
Wallet is a tiny folding wallet, with room for 3 credit cards and a few bills.
The rest goes in my EDH (Every Day Haul) Ortlieb Office bag. Don't get me started one that one... :-)
posted by Thug at 5:25 AM on February 1, 2012

I'm not a fan of big, bulky key rings, so I'm fairly minimalist about this stuff.

Atwood makes nicely finished art, but I carry a schrade titanium pry tool as a replacement for the Atwood titanium pry tool I had, and it's nice at 1/4 the price. It weighs way less than my car key. Nowhere near as pretty, though. Definitely get something titanium if it's going to be on your key ring.

Berkeley Point makes awesome split rings of all sizes and great little clips to hold stuff together. Not inexpensive, but by far the nicest little hardware store I've come across.

I love my photon freedom LED light. I think it was about $8. I'm going camping or something I clip on a Fenix L0D. That's pretty rare, though. The Photo weighs less than the clip I use to hold it on my keyring.

My knife is a Boker Wharcom. Cheap, small and superb ergonomics. I also love most of Spyderco's stuff.

I've also got a little Swiss Tech Micro Plus that has me covered for pliers and a a phillips screwdriver. That lives in my briefcase, though. A little heavy to carry in the pocket of dress pants.
posted by pjaust at 5:26 AM on February 1, 2012

I totally second the Swiss-Tech Utili-Key which I have probably used more then any other thing I carry simply because I almost ALWAYS have my keys on me when I am out somewhere. Also even with a tiny blade it has made it though every airport screening/metal detector situation to date.
posted by Captain_Science at 5:27 AM on February 1, 2012


Lamy Pico pen
Lamy Scribble mechanical pencil
Kershaw Leek knife
Field Notes plain pocket notebook
The Munich Money Clamp
Twelve South’s Bookbook for my iPhone 4
Citizen Nighthawk watch - It can do unit conversions!
And usually one of Reclam Verlag’s awesome yellow books, this month it is Rilke’s Duineser Elegien

I need to get a good flashlight, prying tool and/or multi-tool.
posted by vkxmai at 5:48 AM on February 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

hehehe, gotta agree with mie: it's called carrying a purse and just plain old being prepared for life's little surprises. mie doesn't mention them (but I'd bet she DOES have 'em in there!), but a few bandaids are good too.

As for what to carry: most basic multitools have blades, so there's no need to carry a separate knife. The teeny-tiny keyring flashlights are cute, but also think about tossing a larger flashlight into your car's glove compartment (mine's one of those with a crank handle instead of replaceable batteries), as well as a couple extra basic tools. And an 'organizing system' for keys?!? The best 'system' is getting rid of unused keys, and moving rarely used keys to a separate keyring.
posted by easily confused at 5:59 AM on February 1, 2012

I have never heard of this community before, but I was a Girl Guide and I like to shop in Japan, so I guess I subscribe to this sensibility by default.

Tenugui - Japanese hand towel Handy in the bathroom to dry your hands, of course, or when clean, to wrap fruit. I have two: terry towel and cotton.
Thermos for tea or water
posted by wingless_angel at 6:02 AM on February 1, 2012

Simply carrying a Toothbrush, Passport and a spare pair of boxers tucked in your day bag works wonders for feeling receptive to any opportunity for spontaneity that may arise.
posted by dirm at 6:05 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just a note that some excellent knives and multitools (CRKT, Sog, Leatherman, Kershaw) come up frequently on steepandcheap.com, which will help your budget go further.

Until you spend all your money on steepandcheap, that is.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:36 AM on February 1, 2012

I love my Spyderco Delica. The latest model is slightly longer than older models, so it's a bit bulkier in my pocket, but it's still (for me) the ideal size for all manner of things from sharpening pencils to peeling oranges to cutting up sandwiches to helping remove splinters.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:36 AM on February 1, 2012

- a knife

I carry one of two - either a Ruko Fox Predator or my multi-tool. I modded my knife, you can see it here. It gets constant use opening stuff, cutting things, prepping food, prying stuff. Knives are transformative EDC. First people are freaked out that you have a knife. Then, when they see the utility of it, they're always asking to borrow it.

- a multi tool

Leatherman Wave, hands down the best multitool in your price range, or almost any price range. I carry a Leatherman MUT these days but I often miss my Wave. Not kidding, just buy this one and don't look back. It also has a great knife, so you may not need a knife if you carry it. And a multitool has the advantage of not freaking people out.

- a pry tool (are Atwood's the best ones out there?)

I have never, ever needed a pry tool, because I always have my knife, multitool, or keys. I really think these pry tools are an expensive and beautiful total waste of money and strongly recommend you don't waste your time. But I am always trying to carry less crap and more utility.

- a good keychain (and organizing system)

Dunno, I just use a regular keychain.

- flashlight

One of the nitecore D-series (I carried the D10 for several years, now it is my backup) or something from Zebralight. I carry the h51c and it is by far the best little flashlight I've ever used. I also keep a Photon on my keychain for backup.

- wallet


You missed one thing - a P38 can opener. They're incredibly useful things, fit on a keychain, and take up little space. I have a post on my blog w/a pretty cool example. You may also be able to eliminate your pry tool with one.

I agree with the posts above, EDC is a process. I've got mine pretty nailed down, but it changes as my life changes and I've definitely ogled a lot of stupid gear getting to the highest utility EDC. Think particularly about the multitool. If you get the right one, you'll be using it often and won't need a lot of the gear-porn EDC.
posted by fake at 7:17 AM on February 1, 2012

I use my Leatherman Micra just about every single day. That and a Fenix E01 single-AAA flashlight are on my keychain. Every now and then the lights are out on my train so I can still read with my light.

To minimize bulk, I keep separate keychains for each car and/or bike. That way there are only ever a couple keys on my chain in addition to the light and multitool. These things are cheap enough that I can buy one for each key chain.

Other than a cloth to clean my glasses, an iPhone and a wallet with credit cards and cash, that's about it. I've never seen the need for a pry tool or any of those "escape your car" tools. I figure if I'm in a crash bad enough to trap me in my car I probably can't reach into my pocket or grab my keys anyway.

In my car I always have a notepad, pens, and a first aid kit. I also keep paper maps for anywhere I travel frequently. Don't trust anything that needs batteries. A blanket and a snow shovel are in the back.

Better than carrying an item for every occasion, learn to use what you can find lying around. Learn to tie knots. Every office has Cat-5 cable lying around in case you have a sudden need to lash something to something else, learn how to use various tools and how to improvise tools. Know your area well. Know where the closest place to buy water is, or a phone charger, or AAA batteries.

Most of all, don't obsess over this stuff. I suspect most of the people in those communities are hoping for the apocalypse, the same way I suspect hardcore flight simulator fans are always secretly hoping for the pilot to eat the tainted fish so they can step into the cockpit and save the day.
posted by bondcliff at 7:22 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Whatever you carry, I highly recommend storing the smaller items (keys, small knife, can opener) on an A&P key ring. Durable, easy to use, and much, much better than conventional key rings. I keep most of my EDC items on one ring, and have a separate one for my actual keys.
posted by n2linux at 7:42 AM on February 1, 2012

Arc-AAA Best keychain flashlight ever; bright enough to blind you on one AAA battery after years of banging around in my pocket with my keys.
posted by subajestad at 7:46 AM on February 1, 2012

The EDC subreddit has lots of pictures of various people's kits, along with their locations and occupation.
The good thing with the photos is you don't have to wade through a bunch of acronyms, you can just visibly see what's going on.

It can be a little gun-heavy, but it's interesting to see what someone in Belgium might carry vs. someone in Indiana.
posted by madajb at 7:54 AM on February 1, 2012

Gosh. I never knew this was a 'thing'. We've been doing this for years. This is what lives in the backpack we grab on Saturday when heading out for the day:
- Tiny Swiss Army knife (with tweezers and scissors)
- First Aid Kit (moleskin, triple antibiotic, benadryl, tylenol, bandaids, disinfectant, second skin)
- mini hand sanitizer
- mini sewing kit
- micro LED flashlight (great for seeing those splinters!)
- a mini thing of wipes
- feminine hygiene supplies
- granola bar

I have a mini-version of the same kit in my purse.
posted by LittleMy at 8:56 AM on February 1, 2012

As a side note, if you lust after the Atwood tools, but can't afford his prices, or haven't been lucky enough to win one of his sale lotteries, PocketToolX does licenced, much more economical copies of some of Peter's designs. I've bought a couple of bike multi-tools from them and been quite happy with their quality.
posted by bonehead at 9:25 AM on February 1, 2012

Atwoods are like Harleys.

I have a Pocket Wrench II from Lee Valley Hardware.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:33 AM on February 1, 2012

Also, if you end up carrying anything with a blade on it, leave it home or put it in checked luggage when you fly. I can only assume the TSA does a decent business selling second hand multi-tools.
posted by bondcliff at 10:15 AM on February 1, 2012

For flashlights, I cannot even imagine one I like better than my Streamlight. It is solid, quite bright, light, and lasts forever on one AAA battery. In fact, come to think of it, I've replaced the battery about once a year.

Also, it is so strong that it would as an emergency weapon, I'm sure I could grip and strike someone with it without damaging it at all.
posted by Invoke at 10:33 AM on February 1, 2012

One of the things I do carry that's not on the lists so far is a camera. It's always in my bag and often in a jacket pocket.

My preferred "EDC" camera is the Canon S95. It's tiny, takes great pictures and has a battery that lasts months. I know cell phones have pretty good cameras now, but the S95 is still miles better and more flexible than any fixed-lens camera could ever be.
posted by bonehead at 11:03 AM on February 1, 2012

Besides my pocket knife in my eponymous pocket, a couple of things that live in my backpack/bag that are EDC-ish: 1) a pretty good length of tape (I tend towards painters/masking tape lately, but I've done this with duct tape, too) wrapped round and round a piece of cardboard about the length of an index card and just as wide as the tape, so it packs flat. It takes up almost no room, weighs very little, and has been incredibly convenient more times than I can count. (examples: need to label something? pen and masking tape. sealing packages - yeah, it's not great, but it works to help reinforce stuff.) 2) a small nylon zip-purse (about the size of a change purse, maybe?) that fits several pairs of nitrile gloves, a bandaid, and one or three small packets of sterile gauze pads. 3) a bandanna.

Together, the items make a passable improvised first aid kit - gloves for safety for me or whoever, tape around small injuries, tape with gauze around slightly larger injuries, and bandanna (optionally cut up with the aforementioned pocket knife) for injuries bigger than the gauze can cover. I've also used the gloves for unexpected gross tasks.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:10 PM on February 1, 2012

Just wanted to chime in and say SHARPIE! (Or any permenant marker). When I was 16 and had a retail job, I started carrying one in my pocket. You have no idea how useful it is to carry around a permenant marker. To this day, my office orders Sharpies just for me. And I'm not some stock clerk anymore.

Even if you're just writing "Don't Touch" "Don't Drink" "Trash" "Not Trash" "Help us we're in the woods" ... Seriously... a sharpie.
posted by one4themoment at 3:42 PM on February 1, 2012

I have a larger EDC than most; I typically haul around a medium Bailey works bag with tools, bike parts, baby stuff...but I can't suggest Kauffman Merchantile's EDC kit enough.

On those rare days when I'm naked without a backpack, I have that kit, my house-key, my phone and my wallet on me. I have used every single item on that kit at the strangest times. Everything is really well made (except the lighter, which gets the least use anyway).
posted by furnace.heart at 4:42 PM on February 1, 2012

There was an EDC thread on the blue last march. While it was pretty snarky, there were a lot of good insights by MeFites on the things they find most useful to carry. The link at the top of that post pointed to the site Everyday Carry, which is a photo blog of what people carry. Your going to see a lot of flashlights and pocket knives, but the folks contributing have generally given a lot of thought to what they carry and often include an explanation. Finally, I'll mention that there are a lot of interesting things to be found at County Comm.
posted by kovacs at 7:05 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is not nearly as gear-heavy as the above suggestion, but things I carry in my wallet (I have a piece of duct-tape keeping a credit-card sized area closed):

* 1-2 Ibuprofen (/other painkiller - cut out from packet into single serving doses)
* bandaid
* hair-tye
* 1-2 Antihistamines
* couple of safety pins, small & large
* $5 (it's taped closed, so functions as emergency stash)
* a spare of any medication I take
* condom
* tampon

They are extremely tiny items, but have used them myself, or handed them out to other people, many, many times. Just think of the tiny items that you've had to borrow, or other people have asked for.

In my bag, and desk, I carry a dollar store pocket raincoat, and a dollar store beanie (type of knit hat - people lose so much heat through their head, it's nearly equivalent to carrying around a jersey)
Other than that, I have a Pen, notebook, phone.

If I'm travelling, earplugs go in the wallet too.
posted by Elysum at 7:30 PM on February 1, 2012

Surefire are the best flashlights made, period. I carry a G2 in my bag. It is probably too big to carry on your person but it is on the lower end of your price range.
posted by mlis at 9:00 PM on February 1, 2012

Careful - this EDC stuff is a slippery slope.

Remember that this crap we carry around is a means to an end rather than an end unto itself.
posted by schrodycat at 7:21 AM on February 2, 2012

Is there a chance you were over-exposed to EDC p0rn?

I wouldn't get overly expensive things for EDC. Even the best tools will eventually get lost, damaged or lent and forgotten. You will use them everyday, in many places. You might lose them. You will lend them to people. Other people will damage or lose them, out of stupidity or ignorance or inattention. My knife was badly bent by a girl who tried to open a can of tuna with it. I didn't watch over it for 30 seconds, max. I left a bunch of gear in a climbing crag 4 hours away, when a friend got badly hurt on a fall and we left in a hurry. EDC item's their life span is limited. These tools should be functional, but disposable.

Anyway, get a Leatherman. It has a knife blade as well. These things have lifetime warranty and they're serviced globally. It will last you 25 years.

If you really need a standalone knife, I really like Opinel's folding knives. They're extra sharp. Very cheap - the bigger once cost about 10 Euros or so. Amazon has a bunch of Gerber's knife for less than 20$.

Key chain - just buy a biner for a buck in REI. If you need to, you can splurge for a Black Diamond Jivewire for 2$. Organize your keys on key rings by theme, clip on the sets you need and leave the rest at home. For example, I have my home/car/bike set, a set for grandparents' place, a set for my aunt's place. Total cost - ca. 2.50$.

Flashlight - you can get a Petzl or a Black Diamond headlamp for 20-50$. Dealextreme has some serious lumen flashlight for $15. My entire workplace uses them for bike commuting for the past year or so, they're great and cost less then a third of an equivalent brand name flashlight.

I know nothing about pry tools, can't help you there.

Wallets - finding the perfect wallet is hard, it's very personal. Try these guys for suggestions. Awesome stuff there.
posted by ye#ara at 12:43 PM on February 4, 2012

Just wanted to add, I only heard about the term "ECD" recently, although my "system" [as they like to call it] is about three or four year old.

I noticed the strong pornographic tendency of this trend, and the sites and shops who cater to them and how you must find your perfect setup, etc, with awesome tools. They're making a lot of money off of this trend.

My gear is not the best money can buy, it's not tactical or military grade, but it's good enough, and when it was lost or damaged I replaced it with the exact same model again.
posted by ye#ara at 12:49 PM on February 4, 2012

So what I'm saying is, don't surf those porn sites. Yeah.

Sorry about the multiple postings.
posted by ye#ara at 12:53 PM on February 4, 2012

Since guns didn't get ruled out in the description, I'll mention that my Walther PPS-40 is a mid-frame polymer gun that carries like a small frame or mini. The recoil is rather punishing, but that's just a side effect of shooting a large caliber polymer-framed gun. For what it is, it's very good.

Here's the other stuff I carry every day:
Leatherman Skeletool Cx
Samsung Galaxy Nexus
Sony Bluetooth headset
Honda car key
no-fold triple pocket wallet with an outer window pocket for ID
posted by SlyBevel at 2:00 PM on February 6, 2012

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