EDC is more than just an acronym for a collection of stuff you choose to carry around; EDC is now shorthand for a lifestyle choice, one in which a selection of carefully chosen equipment is called on to solve anticipated problems in your day-to-day reality.
EDC loadouts can range from bare-bones minimalist tools, to a full complement of equipment carried covertly, like a pistol, extra ammo, medical supplies, escape tools and more. There is no hard and fast “correct” or “true” EDC solution for all people, in all places, and all times. This uniqueness is likely what plays a part in the enjoyment of sharing and reviewing “pocket dumps.” Viewing someone’s chosen EDC loadout gives you a glimpse into their personality, problems and rationale for solving those problems.
But conversely to the “no one true way” caveat above there are definitely things you should not do or make a part of your EDC. These pitfalls are not always obvious to the uninitiated, and furthermore sometimes even a seasoned practitioner may overlook it or just plain be ignorant of its importance. After all, we are all victims of our own biases.
Below you will find a list of EDC mistakes that you should be on guard against. If you are making one of these mistakes, fix it. If you aren’t, take care that you do not make them in the future. Complacency is overwhelmingly responsible for lulling people into a completely false sense of security. Don’t let it creep up on you.
Of course, some of you readers might find yourselves in a position where one of these “mistakes” may actually be detrimental or even harmful in your locale or according to your specific situation. I have written these guidelines with your average Joe Public civilian suburbia-dweller in mind who carries and lives in a more or less permissive environment. Your environment may be different, or your daily job and tasking may see you need to fly in the face of some of these recommendations.
If that describes you, don’t get wrapped around the axle; I’m not calling you out personally. Use your head, as always, and review this list with a grain of salt. That’s enough chattering, let’s get to the good part.
Mistake #1: Not Always Carrying Your EDC Equipment
This is overwhelmingly the biggest mistake committed by people proclaiming they want to be “ready.” They simply don’t always, always carry their tools with them! And I am not just talking about a pistol or other weapon (though that is a mistake in and of itself), I am talking about any other tools and life support equipment that is normally a part of your EDC.
Think it through: you have carefully curated and selected items that you have deemed valuable enough to always keep on your person, then you simply choose to not carry them. Baffling! From pocket knives and multi-tools to cordage and escape tools, these items should be carried constantly, only omitted from your personage if entering an area where their detection or discovery could land you in some seriously hot legal broth.
One of the biggest classes of offenders in this category is pistol packers and people who carry basic medical or trauma supplies on them. Often you’ll hear them admit that they carry their pistol “when they think they need it” or leave their first-aid behind because they “aren’t going out far/long.” Inconceivable!
If you knew you’d need the gun when running to Wal-Mart you really shouldn’t go in the first place. Same thing with your med supplies. You are carrying in the first place because you may need them, and “may” implies a certain amount of uncertainty. Come on, folks! Carry your tools, no exceptions!
You may add or subtract from your loadout for any number of reasons, but you had better make sure they are good reasons.
Mistake #2: Too Many Tells / Not Blending In
I’m not here to give you a class on taste, fashion or anything else. I am here to admonish you to clean up your image for the cause. I don’t mean get a haircut and wash your face, I’m not your dad (though you should take care of your appearance!), I mean to say you should eliminate any outstanding tip-offs or “tells” that could inform an observer that you are either armed (gun or knife) or are of the “self-sufficient” persuasion.
Things like obviously pro-2nd Amendment apparel, morale patches, footwear or attire that is military in appearance (5.11, Vertx, BDU’s etc.) should be avoided. If your EDC bag, should you carry one, is overtly tactified in appearance or covered with PALS webbing, etc. consider changing it.
It is easy to think it is no big deal, or people either don’t care or don’t pay attention, but I can assure you that the wrong people are paying attention, and you don’t want them marking you as a potential source of free weapon and other goodies. Even if you are not carrying any weapons, the idea that you are can cause you serious problems. Remember: perception is reality.
At the other end of the scale, detection by good guys like cops or fellow citizens, especially when carrying a weapon can lead to embarrassment at best or arrest at worst. Don’t forget that may apply even for knives and even less-lethal options like pepper spray also!
Save the pride and fandom for training days and casual wear among friends and like minded people. Out in the world, you don’t want to look like Timmy Too-Tactical. Low profile and unremarkable is always best. Low profile does not mean “gray man.” Where most people go wrong with this now overused concept is people simply dress plain and drab with no attention paid to the environment around them.
Look at the typical dress of the people around you: how are they dressed? Conservative? Flashy? Colors? Jerseys, logos, branding, etc. Go for that to blend in. Dressing in gray, tan and black does not guarantee a low profile, nor does avoiding bright colored packs or other luggage. The idea is to mimic those around you.
Mistake #3: Allowing Weapons to Print or Remain Visible
Like #2 above, you never, ever want to tip you hand that you are armed. It is good procedure, and may also be a legal requirement. Covering a gun with a piece of clothing while allowing a bulge or obvious outline of the gun to remain visible is beyond suboptimal. You might as well open-carry. You aren’t fooling anyone with what you have under there, and if all you are worried about is doing the bare minimum then why are you carrying in the first place?
Pocket knives are huge offenders in this category. Who out there carries a pocket knife with a clip on it? Yeah, that clip is often an obvious tell that you have a big, folding crew-served knife in your pocket. You know what kind of person typically carries a knife like that? You got it. Stop advertising. Hide the clip or select a different mode of carry.
Beyond what is often a legal requirement in some states and locales (concealed means concealed, not just covered) it is very, very poor procedure as a civilian to tip your hand as to what you are armed with to any potential adversary. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it is a deterrent. It isn’t and if it was cops would not get attacked.
Letting a bad guy know you are armed tells him two things: I can get a weapon there and I should keep an eye on this guy. Don’t kid yourself, your attacker may be much more comfortable and proficient with violence than you are. They may well not be the least bit afraid of your gun or knife, and may decide to prove it to you by taking yours as their opening move in an attack.
The element of surprise is an enormous advantage when you have been targeted by an attacker. Don’t throw it away over lazily dressing yourself, a Devil-may-care attitude about the visibility of weapons or a misguided belief they are a deterrent somehow. Hide your tools, and if you are worried that you won’t be able to draw in time then you need a better carry location, a better holster setup, more practice or all three.
There is also a certain ethical consideration here if you are moving around in public. When it came to guns and weapons, growing up I was always taught, “don’t scare the horses.” Meaning I should endeavor not to startle or frighten anyone on account of my gun, even if I have a right to have it on me and in the open where anyone can see it. Plenty of people will react adversely to the presence of a gun or large knife on the hip of someone not in uniform. Consider that before you open carry or carelessly disregard printing.
Mistake #4: Not Maintaining Your Tools
News flash: nothing lasts forever. Even with care, things will still wear out, but you can be assured that anything will wear out faster when ignored and neglected. Items you carry on you regularly will be subjected to quite a bit of wear and tear, certainly more than you are probably thinking.
Knives of course must be sharpened, lest they dull to near uselessness. Any metal items must be lubricated or refinished to assure smooth function and corrosion resistance. Wood will benefit from occasional treatment, leather will need regular nourishment with special oil or lotion to maintain its suppleness or form and fabrics need cleaning to help prevent abrasion and fraying.
It is easy to do when you EDC the same things constantly. You’ll come home and immediately de-ass your pockets and pouches of all your accoutrement, in the same place, in the same way (if you are at all like me):pocket knife, wallet, keys, phone, lighter, flashlight, spare mag pouch, pistol, medkit and finally, ahh, belt. Then it will all just sit there until the next time you need it. Wash, rinse, repeat ad nauseum and pretty soon 6 months have gone by and not a bit of maintenance on any of your gear. For shame!
It is remarkable how little care folks will give life-saving tools like knives and even firearms. What is even more remarkable is that most good gear will continue to perform under such neglect. But even your lesser gear needs care also to ensure it will both perform and last you a while. Heck, even your belt needs a little care.
The tools you carry will be subjected to dings, dents, rubbing, grit abrasion, heat, cold, moisture and salts (from your sweaty, sweaty body) that all serve to accelerate wear, which leads to a failure point. Even simple wipe-downs, lubrication (or other treatment, if required and depending on materials) and inspection can vastly prolong the life of your equipment and keep it operating at 100% effectiveness.
Guns should be oiled and free of dust bunnies. They can and will malfunction without care. Knives should be kept shaving sharp, or carry a support blade to handle mundane chores. You may need to cut a seatbelt off in a hurry, or open up a mugger.
Plus, and perhaps it is just my imagination, but I can tell the difference when my tools have been maintained versus when they have been neglected. Everything works a little better. Don’t stake your life or limb on ill-maintained equipment. Create a schedule for routine maintenance based on your environment, what you put your gear through regularly and how much care it needs to begin with. Keep it clean, keep it oiled, keep it close!
Mistake #5: Not Practicing With Your EDC Gear
To be fair, some things don’t require much practice. Your fancy bottle opener on your keychain or your lighter for instance. But other things you carry daily, like your pistol, medical supplies and escape tools are only worthwhile in conjunction with some very finely practiced skillsets. If you don’t have the skills or are badly out of practice, they could be little more than good luck charms.
Having the tool does not necessarily mean you have the capability. Make sure you can utilize your goods to best effect by practicing with them in variety of scenarios. This is not just to refine your use of them, but also an opportunity to see how far a tool can go before it fails.
Will that paracord really hold 500 lbs a strand? How far can I make an accurate shot with my little carry gun? How cold can my lighter get before it won’t spark reliably? How rapidly can I access my med gear, and do it with either hand? And so on and so forth.
A real crisis is not the time to test yourself or your gear in extremis. And before you trust to the rabbit’s foot, remember that it did not help the rabbit! No one else is coming. No one else will save you. It is up to you. No exceptions. Be prepared!
Mistake #6: Carrying Too Much
This is a fine line, and follows closely with #2 above. We carry what we do to be better prepared for curveballs and tasks we expect to encounter. It is easy to run away with that train of thought and pretty soon you are cramming pockets full of stuff, adding pouches to you belt and, soon, you’ll be wearing cargo pants or shorts (gasp!) bulging with gear.
I’m not saying this is not valid or that it is not a necessity for you, only that for most they are likely trying to replace skill with gear, or are definitely beyond prudence on equipment selection. Your on-body EDC gear should enhance your capability and be there in case of serious emergency, not cover every imaginable contingency.
Remember, you should have your go-bag or BOB in your vehicle in case things really go pear-shaped; you needn’t try to fit the contents of your sustainment system on your body and in your pockets most of the time. Proponents of “gypsy carry” will say they have taken the admonishment of “be prepared” to its logical zenith and are simply keeping the most vital gear ready to use at a moment’s notice.
I would say that attracting the wrong kind of attention is a bigger risk than being caught out by not carrying an entire toolbox and half your BOB in your pockets when you go grocery shopping or head to the movies.
Mistake #7: Not Making the Most of Your Smartphone
It is currently popular among some sectors of the preparedness and self-sufficiency “community” to deride the smart phone as a time-wasting distraction at best or a crutch that erodes and weakens other skills by way of its near-omnipotent suite of functionality. I think both opinions miss the mark,
Consider the smartphone for what it is: essentially a miracle machine akin to the tricorder from Star Trek! It can handle communications of all kinds, take photos, act as a compass, level and map suite, store a library’s worth of useful texts and other information, control drones, has a built in flashlight and so much more. So long as it has power…
To not take advantage of all this is simply being anachronistic. The smart phone is a miraculous device, and offers so much while asking so little. Keep it charged, keep a backup battery handy, and make use of it! To proclaim its reliance on power as a deal-breaker is short-sighted. To claim that its reliance on a incredibly complex network in order to provide many of its functions is somehow a disqualifier for a proper readiness tool is baffling.
Of course it relies on a very high technological base to function at full capacity, and many disasters may disrupt, degrade or destroy that base, but not all, certainly not even most. Like any other tool, you maximize its perks while minimizing its flaws. I say you’d be a fool to not take full advantage of the smart phone. Load that thing up with useful guides, cram files of your own marked up maps and notes in there. Make use of its ability to discreetly and remotely control various other parts of your life. Don’t forget its light function.
They are too good to put in the corner as a crutch.
There you have it. The most common, egregious and avoidable mistakes people make with their EDC kit. EDC is a lifestyle choice, but falling into these common pitfalls is your choice. Keep your head on straight, step your game up and strive for consistency and excellence. Nothing else is worth it. Until next time!