The EDC “movement” or philosophy or whatever you want to call it is nothing new, never mind the fact that some folks have found a way to buttress the idea as a cool “mindset” or shared belief to make money off of people who enjoy that sort of in-group lifestyle.
Carry of small tools, weapons and other implements to be better prepared for whatever contingencies may occur has been the province of mankind since tools were invented.
Today, while some folks would sneer at the idea of EDC, or give you a befuddled look if you asked them about it, almost everyone participates in the concept, even if only on a fundamental level. There is hardly a man alive who does not carry a pocket knife.
The majority of women head out with a purse, large or small (or extra large), in tow with all of the things they need to get through their daily lives. A great many citizens carry pepper spray or firearms for threats that may ever occur. Some folks have a lucky charm, sentimental trinket or other small object that they are just not happy without.
We all carry something, and if you are reading this article it is likely that you carry more than just the simple necessities to get you to and through the workday.
Knowing how best to place and carry the things you need can mean the difference between well-equipped comfort and walking around or sitting in aggravation as your pockets jingle like a slot machine.
This article is for the people who want to carry their EDC items as efficiently as possible.
A Word on Carry Philosophy
Before we delve into the methods of carry, I want to make clear quickly what I consider reasonable for EDC. I view a person’s “envelope” for EDC gear as fitting within the environmental context of their day to day existence, their job, if you will.
I think of a person like me, who works in a variety of settings but most typically lives and moves in a small city and dressed in business or business casual attire most of the time, as being able to reasonable carry what I can in pockets, on my belt, on my ankles and in my bag or briefcase the whatever I want so long as it does not draw undue suspicion from the people around me. Ruffle their feathers, you could say.
A person who works in the woods as a hunting or hiking guide or is a student or other professional who has the expectation of carrying a backpack or satchel has more room yet to work with within the confines of their expected appearance, thanks to their luggage.
The ideal is to do nothing to draw unwanted attention. Nothing good will ever come of it, no matter what you are carrying.
Sure, you may not be doing anything illegal, but a person heavily laden with bulging pockets, jingling pouches and conspicuous outlines visible through clothing will never fail to make others uncomfortable, or simply avoid you for your socially rudderless behavior.
Of course, some readers will not be dealing with this restriction or will be beyond all care and worry of such things. We have all seen the mythical survivalist wackadoos who go get groceries wearing a chest rig, thigh holster and have a machete or flea market ninja sword strapped to their back. That’s an extreme example, and personal decision, but I strongly advise all of my readers to blend in wherever they may be.
Should you need more room for needed items, figure out what kind of luggage “belongs” in your environment and use that instead of hanging so many things on your belt and in your pockets that you start to stick out
Basic Carry of EDC Items
No matter what you are carrying, be it tools or weapons, you only have so much space to work with on or about your person. This depends partly on the size and nature of the thing carried, but generally you will be limited by your apparel. For most of us, we are working on our beltline and in our pockets. There are other, underutilized methods of carry that I’ll get to in a bit.
Consider an average example in a suburban environment, a prepper on the go, or if not a prepper than at least a person who wants to be prepared for a bad day. They will at least be carrying a folding pocket knife, a small flashlight, perhaps pepper spray and often a small handgun. This is in addition to the usual suspects of wallet, watch and house or car keys.
Those items alone will gobble up 3 pockets (both front and one rear pocket, leaving room to comfortably access tools) and some room on the waist for the gun, assuming the typical carry location of a handgun.
What else might a smart person carry these days? How about a small medical kit? Perhaps a lighter, notebook, pen and multi-tool? Seems like space in the pockets is running out fast, eh? So what else can we do?
Ok, we can put something small, thin and light like a notebook and pen into a shirt pocket, if we have one, or a jacket pocket. A lighter? Perhaps in a pocket, or hung from a pouch on our belt. Same with the multi-tool, as anything except the smallest ones will rapidly abrade pockets and none of them ride there very well.
But then we are back to hanging pouches off our belt again, and that can start to get tacky and awkward pretty quick for most of us. Additionally, what if I already have a magazine or speed loaded pouch opposite my pistol? Now we are really getting into a “Bat Belt” situation! Not okay for most of us.
The point of all this is, unless you truly do not care about how you present to the people around you, carrying gear beyond the minimum means you will need solutions beyond the norm. These solutions can be had by changing clothing, changing your gear, or using equipment and luggage for the task. We’ll talk about all three below.
Changing up your attire or buying clothing with additional cargo room is definitely the most expeditious way to equip more EDC items, but depending on your style of dress and environment it can be troublesome.
One way you might get a few extra pockets to add more gear (or allow you to spread it out) is by buying shirts, pants or shorts with extra pockets. Cargo shorts and pants are largely sneered at by those concerned with looking sharp and professional (unless your job is taking hunters on safari) but their utility is undeniable. For millions of the nation’s dads, they seem like they could care less, preferring instead these comfy utility garments.
Of particular interest to some will be the newer generation of cargo pants and even jeans designed originally for the low profile carry of extra equipment and magazines for personal security professionals, undercover police and other professionals.
Pants of this type, as made by 5.11, Vertx, Blackhawk and others typically omit the bulky and obvious cargo pockets on either leg, opting instead for supplementary frontal and hip pockets often closed with unobtrusive fasteners or with openings hidden with clever stitching and placement.
A shirt that features one or two closeable pockets on the chest can also be used to hold small light items with no problems, things like pens, pads and other similar things being most commonly stashed here.
Other prospects could be tiny pocket pistol magazines or speed strips for a revolver. These locations are not anything like ideal to load from, but they work well enough for supplementary carry of ammo when you don’t have enough proper pouches or carriers.
For those of us that wear blazers, coats, jackets and other outerwear we will have even more options for carry, both in our garment’s pockets and with the greater concealment afforded by them.
Exterior pockets of coats and jackets are ideal places to carry defensive implements in cold weather if they are secure enough. Similarly the additional concealment qualities afforded by these garments often makes concealing even large handguns and other items on your belt a snap, though you will need to practice clearing the garment to access them at speed if they are items you would need to withdraw quickly.
If you regularly wear or get the chance to wear such articles of clothing make sure you practice loading various items in the differing pockets to see how it affects the drape and hang of it; a bulging, drooping pocket on a coat, blazer or similar item is highly conspicuous. Adding a little “ballast” to the opposite side can improve comfort and carriage.
Newer, Lighter, Smaller
Many times, upon careful reflection, you might come to realize that an item you carry all the time could be replaced by a smaller, lighter and all around leaner solution.
Oftentimes, when considering downsizing, people can get wrapped around the axle worried about a loss of capability, or simply torn up with the thought of retiring a cherished piece of gear they have come to see as a constant companion. While understandable, you should never fret over improving your situation through smart gear choices.
Consider this: you carry a fixed blade knife, a handgun, a reload for your handgun, and a flashlight. This, again, all in addition to your wallet, keys, etc. I can promise you the load you are carrying and trying to (hopefully) conceal will vary drastically depending on those choices. Let’s compare the following.
Say your original, time-tested and time-honored EDC of the above is a medium Ka-Bar knife, a Beretta 92G, a 20 round spare mag for the Big B, and a 3-cell Surefire G2 flashlight. May not seem like a lot for the average Joe, but I can assure you it will feel like you are waddling around in plate armor compared to our next selection unless you are one huge, frickin’ guy or gal.
Can it be done? Of course. Can it be done reasonably comfortably? Yes. Given a choice, would you like to save ounces, inches and discomfort with virtually no loss in capability? You decide.
Compared to our original boat anchors, our new slicked up and slimmed down kit might consist of a Ka-Bar TDI knife, a nice, compact crook-neck fixed blade designed for self defense, a Beretta Px4G compact, a far lighter and smaller offering that handles nearly identically to its older sibling, a single 15 round spare mag for that pistol, far smaller than the extended 20 rounder and still more than enough ammo for any problem a civilian is even theoretically likely to encounter, and topping it off a Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA light, plenty of power, multi-mode, multi-fuel and about 1/3rd the size of the giant Surefire up there.
What is the takeaway? As you can see, there is a good case to make that if you can go smaller, and go lighter, while retaining the same capability, you should. This will enable you to carry more gear, if you want, or have an easier time accessing the things you have.
You can take this too far; I am not advocating for a pocket pistol if you can carry a more capable pistol, or a small boo-boo kit in place of a proper IFAK, but so much that we want today can be had in leaner versions if we care to look.
You may consider the impact even one small change in this way can make. Perhaps you carry a multi-pliers tool in a front pocket, or on your belt in a pouch. The idea is to carry useful tools, ultimately.
What might we swap out the multi-pliers for and retain capability while saving room and weight? We could go with a smaller multi-tool variant, but we could also go with something like a Swiss Army knife and seriously cut down weight.
Sure, we would give up the pliers component of the tool, but we would retain everything else like support blades, drivers, openers, saws and more depending on the model.
Another option for really saving weight would be something like a flat all-in-one tool card, akin to a die-cut steel credit card with all of its tools and wrenches machined in. These tools have drawbacks, but the point is that you can hedge your bets where you need to. Everything is a trade-off.
How likely are you to use all of the tools in your multi-tool, and for what kind of duty? My multi-tool pliers were almost never used, even in “practice runs,” save for removing splinters. So much so that the tiny tweezers included with my Swiss Army knife were more than adequate to the task.
I keep a set of vise grips in my BOB, just in case, but I have not felt the loss of pliers from my EDC at all. One of the lighter tool cards might work just fine for the person who only rarely needs to tighten a screw or open a can.
Assess, really assess your “why” before carrying any one item in your EDC. Be honest with yourself and decide if you can go lighter and smaller with no practical loss of capability. I’ll bet you money that you’ll discover you can. Light and fast almost always beats bulky and heavy when it comes to survival.
There are specialty solutions for discreet carry of gear that can make a substantial difference in how effectively you can carry your EDC gear. Depending on what it is you want to carry and where, you will have plenty of options that can make your life easier all the way around.
If you are a regular carrier of pocket knives and flashlights that feature clips, you may consider looking into Raven Concealment Systems Pocket Shield, a rigid plastic carrier of sorts that allows you to clip those items on to the shield in any orientation you prefer before dropping the whole kit and caboodle into your front pocket.
The Pocket Shield eliminates the obvious telltale of a clip outside the mouth of a pocket or a distinct printing from within while also forming a nice sort of pouch out the pocket interior, allowing easier access while improving concealment. I really dig this system and find them an undervalued tool for EDC.
Medical supplies are an increasingly necessary item to have on you at all times, but finding the room to stash anything more than a tourniquet or gauze when dressed slick is tough.
Enter the ankle carrier! Just like carrying a pistol on your ankle, only a little easier often since many medical supplies are so light, special “cargo cuffs” wrap around the ankle with individual compartments and pouches for your med gear. The ankle medical kit has really picked up steam here lately with switched-on folks, and it is not hard to see why.
Medical supplies on the ankle can be accessed with either hand from nearly any position, and barring the occasional carry of a small pistol down there this location is otherwise wasted space. Locating medical supplies here is very little impediment since the items can be withdrawn single or the whole cuff removed to lay out and access the contents accordingly.
The single best attribute of the ankle medical carrier is that it totally removes the excuse most of have for not carrying med and trauma supplies: a lack of space in our pockets and on our belts! Obviously, these are not really acceptable for carry if you are wearing shorts, but work like gangbusters with any long pants or jeans.
Lastly, consider options like around the neck carry on a lanyard for things like small knives and IDs, even a quantity of cash and the like, and consider a small pocket organizer pouch for holding smaller tools like pen knives, lock picks, flash drives and compasses.
A decent small organizer is no bigger than a wallet, and will handily keep all of these things from clattering into each other or bouncing out of a pocket as such small things are wont to do.
Luggage: Packs, Briefcases, Purses and More
For many of us who normally carry a bag or other piece of luggage with us, we have it easy: we can keep nearly as many items as we would like, within reason, in our bag of tricks, no one the wiser and keep only our most crucial or rapid access gear on our person, freeing up much weight and space. Ladies in particular often enjoy the flexibility that a purse affords them for carrying pretty much whatever they want!
No matter who we are, there is probably a certain class of bag that fits our typical environment, or if not, at least one or two that are not so terribly out of place as to attract attention.
If you are not having success with the above techniques or just want more room, consider picking up an appropriate piece of luggage to bring with you on your forays.
A little creative thinking will provide many suitable bags that you might not have considered previously. Any parent with an infant knows all about hauling a diaper bag back and forth over creation in order to care for the little rascal.
Why not devote a single pouch of the diaper bag to carry of other supplies? If you have a small diaper bag, would a modest size upgrade be worth it if it meant you could carry more goodies of your own?
Professionals who tote briefcases to the office can almost always fit a few extras inside. Medical supplies, some spare ammo, a small knife and a flashlight makes for unobtrusive and easily hidden pieces of equipment that are all worth their weight in gold when disasters of all kinds strike.
When it comes to bags and packs, the sky is the limit, but with a little thought and observation you can choose a pack that fits invisibly into your daily carry environment. If you determine that your needs are best met by carry of an abundance of EDC items, some type of luggage is often the best way to go.
Proper carry of EDC items is far more than just a pocket full of crap you like dragging around with you. Done well, it is an important part of your preparations and life-support procedures.
Smart, well-planned carry of your knife, pistol, flashlight and other items can spell the difference between a good outcome and a bad one when things get dicey.
Don’t treat your EDC gear as an afterthought; practice and refine your EDC techniques as you would anything else you do.