What is EDC? The Beginner’s Guide to Everyday Carry (Including EDC Essentials)

In this EDC beginner’s guide, we tell you everything you need to know about everyday carry, including its benefits and how to get started.
what is EDC beginners guide EDC essentials
what is EDC beginners guide EDC essentials

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You may have heard the term EDC when shopping online, in YouTube videos, or in some stores. They pop up in a lot of Amazon product titles. EDC used to be a tiny subculture, but it’s become quite mainstream these days. 

In this EDC beginner’s guide, we tell you everything you need to know about everyday carry, including its benefits and how to get started. This guide was written for beginners, but veteran EDC enthusiasts might find something useful as well. 

EDC Explained: What is Everyday Carry? 

what is everyday carry EDC

EDC stands for “everyday carry.” The term EDC was first popularized in prepper and survivalist communities. Eventually it became more mainstream. Most EDC enthusiasts are men, but the philosophy welcomes everyone. 

Everyday carry refers to the essential items you keep on your person every day. It’s the collection of items you never leave home without. Ideally, these items should be reliable, functional, and provide everything you need to have a successful day. Most importantly, they are personal – an extension of you. 

Just as no two people are alike, their EDCs will differ as well. The type of gear in your EDC depends on your location, lifestyle, job, routine, style, budget, and needs. An office worker will have a very different EDC than a tradesman. It will also vary based on your preference. For instance, some people prefer a flashlight with a power button while others prefer a light that twists to activate.

The type of gear in your EDC depends on your needs. An office worker will have a very different EDC than a tradesman. It will also vary based on your preference. For instance, some people prefer a flashlight with a power button while others prefer a light that twists to activate.

To be clear, we’re not talking about random items that accumulate on your person throughout the day, like spare change, gum wrappers, or that pen you accidentally took from the bank. EDC items are tools and personal items that you carry deliberately.

The optimization of EDCs has become somewhat of an internet subculture. Designing and revising one’s EDC kit doesn’t have to be a hobby, but it is for many people. Enthusiasts enjoy collecting premium or unique items to find the ones that meet their needs the best. Collecting is similar to appreciating art. Design, materials, and craftsmanship are all part of the appreciation. 

The Benefits of Everyday Carry (EDC)

Benefits of Everyday Carry

EDC makes your life easier. It prepares you to tackle the obstacles and challenges you face throughout the day. It adds convenience to your life so you’ll never end up in a situation without a solution.

Carefully choosing EDC items for your kit ensures that you have everything you need and that all of those items are quality and reliable. The last thing you want is for a low quality flashlight or knife to fail you when you need it the most. By picking your everyday items carefully, you can eliminate a lot of potential stress from your life.

Here are the six major benefits you get from planning your EDC thoughtfully:

1. Preparedness

Having some basic tools on you can go a long way toward solving your problems. Even a simple knife or multitool can be the difference between a serious problem and a quick fix. Being prepared can also make you feel confident because you always know that you’re ready for a challenge.

2. Self reliance

When a challenge arises, it’s always cheaper, simpler, and more satisfying to solve it yourself. Having the right EDC tools means you can rely on yourself to meet your own needs or get out of a jam. Your family, friends, and coworkers will appreciate your preparedness as well.

3. Convenience

Many EDC items make your life a lot more convenient. Carrying a power bank, for example, means your phone’s battery will always last the day. Plus, having the essentials with you at all times reduces the chance that you’ll need to pop into the store and buy something as-needed. You will always have what you need right at your side.

4. Style

While functionality and practicality are core tenets of EDC, we can’t forget about style. We all want to look good and our accessories are no exception. Your EDC items are elements of personal expression. You can choose the ones that make you feel the best. 

5. Save money

When you get into the EDC lifestyle, you tend to purchase premium products that last for years. If your standards are high and you make smart purchases, there’s a good chance you’ll actually save money because you won’t be replacing the same items over and over. Well-made, reliable, and durable goods are more expensive at the register, but they save money over time. Many EDC goods reach “buy it for life” status.

6. Peace of mind

The final advantage of an EDC kit is peace of mind. You may not need every item in your EDC everyday, but when you eventually do, you will be glad you were prepared. It’s comforting knowing that you have everything you need and will always be able to respond to a challenge.

EDC Essential Items: What to Include in Your Kit

EDC essential items

There’s no “perfect” EDC kit. Only you know what tools and essentials you need every day, so every EDC is unique.

In order to collect the right EDC items for your needs, think about where you go and what you do most days. Consider the challenges you are unlikely to face each day and how a small product could help you overcome them. Is there a particular tool you often wish you had on hand? Do you often find yourself asking to borrow a particular item from a friend? Answering these questions will help you build your own EDC kit.

When it comes to EDC items, there are two schools of thought. Some people think it refers to you only the items you carry on your person – the most essential. Others believe the concept of EDC can also be more broadly applied to preparedness items in general, including items you carry in your backpack or car.

To help you understand the relationship between these items, we can divide them into two tiers: primary EDC and secondary EDC. These categories will help you be more intentional about what you buy and how you use it.

Tier 1: Primary EDC

Your primary EDC refers to the most essential items that you might carry every day. These are versatile tools that you keep readily accessible. In most cases, they can be concealed entirely on your person in your pockets.Your primary EDC often includes:

Wallet

Almost everyone carries a wallet or money clip of some kind, so it’s no surprise that this is part of an EDC kit. You need something to store your cash, cards, and identification papers. 

Knife

Opening letters, trimming strings, slicing birthday cake… We couldn’t possibly list all of the functions of a good EDC knife. Most EDCs include a folding knife that falls into your pocket or a clip-on knife that affixes to your belt or pocket. There are lots of options here, depending on your needs, like folding knives, pocket knives, or even a Swiss Army Knife. 

Multitool

Just like a knife, there are endless reasons to carry a multitool. Different products include their own sets of tools, but they usually include spring loaded pliers, wire stripper, medium flathead driver, awl, file, ruler, small blade, screwdriver, bottle opener, and other features. 

Pen/pencil

You may carry a smart phone with a notes app, but sometimes you just need to write something down. Or you may have a job that requires you to fill out forms or leave messages. 

Want a great pen or pencil? Check out our Modern Fuel review.

Flashlight 

Most people don’t need a flashlight often, but when that time comes, they really need it. This could be one of those items that saves the day. They come in all varieties, battery powered and recharegeable. Some are small enough to slip into your pocket. Others can be strapped to your head!

Notepad

An EDC notepad isn’t a typical notepad. It’s considerably smaller and designed for brief notes. However, if you’re in a position where you need to take a lot of handwritten notes every day, you may opt for a full sized notebook. 

Watch

While we have many of the traditional watch features on our phones (most prominently the ability to keep track of time), there’s something especially convenient about wearing a watch, so it’s a common component in many EDCs. If you wear a smartwatch, you can get the best of both worlds.

Cell phone

These days, nearly everyone carries a smartphone, making it an essential part of an EDC kit. Your phone has countless utility functions by default and an infinite number accessible through different apps. You’ll want a strong case as well. 

You might be thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot of items.” Don’t worry! You don’t need to carry them all. Pick and choose the ones that make the most sense to you based on where you’re going, what you’re doing, who you are with and what clothes you are wearing. 

Tier 2: Secondary EDC

Your secondary EDC is supplemental gear that you need often, but not every day. You’d like to keep it on hand, but it doesn’t fit in your pockets, so you need a separate bag, container, or organizer to manage it. This bag might be a backpack, purse, or briefcase. Some people call this group of items their “operational bag,” “72-hour bag,” or similar. 

Secondary EDC may change depending on your clothing, destination, activity, or the other people you’re with. It might include some of the following:

  • Backup tools – If your job absolutely depends on having a screwdriver at all times, it’s a good idea to have a second one nearby in case something happens to the first. 
  • First aid – Bandages, creams, tweezers, gauze, medications, tourniquet, etc.
  • Food and water – Snacks, extra water bottles, rations, or other non-perishable items for those instances where you can’t get to the store. 
  • Firearm – If you are allowed and with proper training, a firearm may be an important part of your EDC. There are many styles, types, and sizes to meet your needs. 
  • Survival gear – Depending on your situation, you may need the ability to radio for help, start a fire, protect yourself from animals, maintain your hygiene, clean your water, repair equipment, camp out, signal for emergencies, or otherwise keep yourself safe. 
  • Clothing – It’s always a good idea to have some spare clothing on hand in case what you’re wearing gets soiled or ruined. Sometimes a spare T-shirt can save the day. 
  • Extra cash – Sometimes it’s good to have a few extra dollars stored away just in case. You might lose the cash in your wallet, spend it quicker than you intended, or have to make an unexpected purchase.
  • Paracord – These are tougher than most rope and offer tons of utility. You 
  • Lighter – You don’t have to be a smoker to keep a lighter on hand. You never know when you’ll need to make an impromptu fire or light some birthday candles.
  • Keychain – We always recommend using a keychain, even if you only carry one key. A single key is easy to lose, so it’s good to have something a little bulkier that won’t fall out of your pocket. If you have multiple keys, a keychain is a must. 
  • Lighter – If you’re a smoker, you never leave the house without a lighter. But they have plenty of uses for non-smothers as well. 
  • Portable charger – Running out of battery on your devices is the worst. It’s smart to have a portable charger power bank in your bag at all times. 
  • EDC gear bag – Too many items to stuff into your pockets? There are lots of options when it comes to EDC gear bags, from simple pouches to folding cases to bags you wear on your shoulder, hip, or back. Even a fanny pack is EDC!

Beyond that list, you may have some unique items that are specific to your location, daily tasks, environment, local laws, job, and anything else you want to be prepared for. A good EDC kit requires the foresight to predict what you may need and the restraint to leave behind everything else. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Everyday Carry (EDC)

If you’re new to EDC, there’s a lot to learn! Here are some of the most common questions people ask about EDC.

What does EDC stand for?

EDC stands for “everyday carry.” It refers to the collection of essential items you carry with you on a daily basis. These are the items you check your pockets for before leaving the house. Each item should serve a specific function. They help you have your best day by keeping you prepared and stylish.

This group of items normally includes a wallet, a pen, a knife, keys, and a multitool. But EDC can also include notebooks, water bottles, travel bags, flashlights, headphones, and more. You might carry some unique EDC items depending on your needs and lifestyle. 

Where should I start with EDC?

Before you start purchasing a bunch of items, start by upgrading the things you already carry every day. For example, most people carry a wallet, so it makes sense to upgrade to a wallet that better fits your needs (without sacrificing function). Keychains, folding knives, pens, and flashlights are usually the next steps for most people. You can add more items to your kit over time as you learn more about EDC. 

What are the EDC must-haves?

There’s no simple answer here because everyone’s needs are different. A hiker may need a flashlight or multitool, whereas someone who sticks to urban settings may not need those tools. When it comes to building your first EDC, a common philosophy is “write, slice, light,” which refers to something to write with, something to cut with, and a light source.

What is the best EDC setup?

The best EDC setup depends entirely on your needs. There’s no “holy grail” of items. EDC is about functionality and style, so you should choose the items that serve you and compliment your look. Finding the right items is a big part of the fun of EDC. 

What if my EDC needs change?

This is quite common. A move to a new location, a new job, or a new hobby can influence the items in your EDC. For instance, if you take a job that requires you to interact with customers, you might decide to add a field notebook to your EDC. 

Furthermore, you might need different items based on what you’re doing one particular day. You don’t need a firearm at the amusement park, but it’s a good idea to carry one while walking through the woods. Some EDC enthusiasts like to grab whichever items they need for the day while others like to assemble specialized kits for different situations and swap them out accordingly, each kit stored in a pouch or organizer. 

People have been carrying essential products for ages, but the EDC movement has risen in popularity over the last ten years or so. It’s hard to say why, but there’s no denying that carrying a few key items is smart, especially when it comes to your personal safety. A well-thought out EDC can make your life easier, get you through tough situations, and even save your life. 

Do I have to spend a lot of money for EDC? 

Not necessarily. There are plenty of budget items for your EDC. That said, many EDC enthusiasts prefer to buy premium, high quality items that last for years. These kinds of items come at a cost, but offer lots of value.

Dennis Hammer
Dennis has been a part of EDC since he was young - before he even knew what it was! As an artist, he loves beautifully designed products that function well. He also likes to be ready for any situation, which makes EDC perfect for his lifestyle.

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