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The things that we carry on a daily basis are both practical and sometimes deeply personal. The gear carried can also be subject to change based on the situation. There is no best EDC loadout for every situation, but we can at least agree on a basic framework or set of items.
Everyone has their own take on EDC. For the sake of space, I will assume that everyone carries a wallet, money clip, are something similar in their pocket or purse and leave that discussion for another time. I will also divide this discussion into three levels or lines – carried on your person, packed in a bag with you (purse, bookbag, briefcase), and stashed in your vehicle.
Line one – Personal Gear
These are the items carried on your body. For me, line one entails my phone, knife, multi-tool, keys, and at times a pistol. You may carry more or less, depending on your needs or the situation. Let’s break this down by item.
Almost every guy (and some gals) that I know carry a knife. They range from heavy lockbacks with pocket clips to smaller Swiss Army knives or their dad’s old Uncle Henry Stockman. The lockback being the recommendation if self-defense is a primary concern. My favorite recommendations are the Kershaw Leek and the Benchmade Griptillian.
Be aware of your state and local knife laws. Some states (or nations if overseas) have restrictive carry laws for knives. It is an easy way to get jammed up for doing nothing wrong.
The ultimate “I got this” device, a multi-tool is the most versatile item of kit you can carry. I have an early Leatherman Supertool that I bought sometime around 1996. It has been on my belt daily for the last 13 years and has never failed me. For me, Leatherman multi-tools are a must-have for the best EDC loadout. I also have a Gerber Multi-Plier issued to me by Uncle Sam, and it has held up well on many field exercises, so I rate them highly too.
Tactical Pen / Key Chain
While these come in many forms, they are all stout and short sticks about the width of the hand, used for aiding in strikes or applying pressure to points of the body. Sometimes known as a Kubotan, they require some training to employ effectively but are nonetheless very popular as there are few restrictions on them.
Pistol / Pepper Spray
Both pistol and pepper spray can be decisive self-defense tools when used properly. While a pistol is undeniably the trump card in a life-threatening situation, pepper spray can have fewer legal restrictions. Carry what you can based on your situation. If you want a one-size-fits-all recommendation, go with Mace Personal pepper spray and a Glock 48. Get a good holster like the Crossbreed Supertuck IWB and something to hold a spare magazine.
Two other items I rarely leave home without are a watch and sunglasses. Since I can’t seem to keep a decent one of either without breaking it, I won’t make any recommendations other than maybe the old Timex Ironman as a great watch for the woods.
Line 2 – Off Body Gear
Many of these could be carried on you person (especially if wearing a winter coat or fighting kit) however, it is often more convenient to shoulder a bag for all the extra items rather than jamming your pockets full.
The primary items in line 2 are a charging bank for your phone, spare weapon magazines, a flashlight, a water source, and a first aid kit/trauma kit. This list can of course be modified or added to based on your needs and the situation.
While I have gotten by for a time with an older battery the size of a glue stick, it will only give my phone a 50 percent charge. This is not enough in most cases. I would rather have a larger battery with solar charge capability like the Hiluckey Outdoor Portable Power Bank. That way I could charge everything for several days, for my whole family.
Self-explanatory. I keep two extra magazines in my bag. If a rifle is part of your vehicle EDC I would add several magazines for that weapon to your bag if possible.
Something like a Streamlight 88061 ProTac or a SureFire G2X will work nicely as an emergency light. Maglite is also a solid choice and doubles as a club if needed. I have used some of the various inexpensive LED flashlight offerings available and had mixed results. If you go cheap, then carry at least two.
There are two types of first aid kits out there. First is the boo-boo kit, consisting of band-aids, painkillers, and some gauze. Second, the trauma kit, with tourniquets, pressure dressings, chest seals, and the like. Both serve their purposes and are essential parts of your best EDC loadout. For an overview of the better offerings available on the market see our article here.
If you want the short of it, I recommend keeping the Coleman’s Platoon First-Aid Kit, and a BearFAK 3.0 handy and getting the training needed to use them proficiently.
Line 3 – Vehicle
This can be an extensive category, so I will keep it brief. The vehicle is where you keep everything you can’t or don’t want to carry on your person or in your bag. Things like a heavy blanket, extra winter gear, a rifle, sheath knife, tool kit, etc. Your vehicle is also a place to add and store redundancies in your system like extra flashlights, batteries, additional first aid supplies, second multitool/knife, or more ammo.
During Michigan winters, I augmented my vehicle EDC with a couple of MREs, an extra fleece blanket, and a shovel. Your season requirements for a best EDC loadout may differ.
Your EDC is a reflection of your daily needs and concerns. You can and should tailor your kit to your lifestyle and situation. When it comes to what gear to carry, don’t cheap out. Remember, you may be betting your life on it. Carrying good quality gear gives a piece of mind when conducting the tasks at hand and can be counted on when used hard. As always, be familiar with your gear, get to know it intimately, and use it daily if possible so that you will not look like a clown when the chips are down.
Until next time.