“Always be prepared.” There’s a reason the Scouts have taken this on as their motto. Being prepared offers you — and the people with you — protection against life’s uncertainties. That’s why EDC items (everyday carry items) have become such a hot topic in recent years. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the best everyday carry items for men and show you how to cultivate your personal EDC routine.
The Importance of EDC Everyday Carry Items
Life is uncertain. Without warning, you might find yourself broken down on the side of the road. Or the power might go out while you’re house-sitting for a friend. Your EDC tool kit is there to help you when these unexpected things happen.
When you're in the habit of carrying essential items with you, you're safeguarded against the unexpected. Instead of finding yourself in a dire situation and not knowing what to do, you can be the man people turn to when things go wrong.
Carrying EDC Items
The goal of EDC items is for them to be small enough that you can carry them anywhere you go. The majority of your everyday carry kit should fit into your pockets or onto your belt loop. When you’re not carrying them — such as when you’re in bed — you should have a designated place in your home where you store them. By throwing everything into a dump tray at the end of the night, you make it easy to locate everything the next day. This ensures you remember everything on your list of EDC items.
Your essential everyday care items should be small enough to carry. But there is something to be gained from having an everyday carry bag with larger essentials. This could include jumper cables, a first aid kit, a stormproof blanket, or emergency rations. You can either leave your everyday carry bag by your door and grab it when you leave the house or store it in your car.
Guidelines for Choosing the Best EDC Items
When you’re picking out your EDC items, there are a few qualities you want to look for. These include:
- Quality: Your EDC items are there to help you in emergencies, so the last thing you want is for them to break on you. Invest in high-quality products that will stand the test of time.
- Minimalism: The goal of your EDC items should be functionality and practicality over style. Choose slim, minimalist styles that are easy to carry no matter what you’re wearing.
- Style: Although it’s important to have high-quality, functional items, you also want to ensure you like the way your EDC items look. After all, they’ll be with you every day, and people may learn to associate you with the EDC items you choose. Ensure you like what your items have to say.
9 Essential Everyday Carry Items for Every Man
Everyone has their own personal needs. But there are some everyday carry items that every man could stand to keep on hand. Here are 9 EDC items we consider essential.
1. Cell Phone
In today’s modern world, your cell phone is your lifeline. With your cell phone, you can:
- Call for help in an emergency
- Let your loved ones know where you are
- Discover your location if you’re lost
- Answer important work emails on the fly
Of course, you may already be in the habit of carrying your cell phone on you at all times. But to truly consider this part of your EDC essentials, you should also ensure that you’re protecting your phone with a durable phone case.
Alongside your cell phone, you should always have a compatible charger. Consider keeping a wall charger in your essential EDC kit, but also keeping a car charger in your vehicle at all times. This will prevent your phone from dying when you most need it to work. A sturdy cord wrap can help keep your phone charger from getting tied into a knot by being pulled in and out of your pocket on a daily basis.
Your keys are another item you probably keep on your daily without thinking about it. However, to maximize the good your keys do you, be sure to remove old keys from your keychain. This helps you find the key you’re looking for as quickly as possible.
Your keychain is also a great place to hook some EDC items that don’t have a natural place to go. For example, there are keychain screwdrivers so that you always have a small Phillips head and flathead screwdriver on hand.
Your wallet is one essential EDC item you don’t want to be without. Be prepared by keeping your wallet stocked, at all times, with:
- A form of ID
- Your medical insurance card
- A laminated list of your current medications
- A laminated card with your emergency contacts’ numbers listed
- A credit card
But while it’s important to be prepared, there are also a number of items you should not keep in your wallet. This includes your social security card and birth certificate, both of which can make it easy for people to steal your identity if your wallet gets lost. For the same reason, you should also refrain from storing any passwords or spare keys in your EDC wallet.
Keeping cash on hand is so important we wanted to be sure to list it separately from your wallet. Today, many people rely exclusively on debit and credit cards to get by. However, there are circumstances when cash is much more reliable than your cards. This includes:
- When you need to tip someone in person
- If your car breaks down and you need to pay a tow truck
- If you go to a cash-only market or shop
- When you drive through a toll booth
By keeping a little bit of cash on hand as a rule, you’ll never find yourself scrounging for an ATM at the last minute.
Keeping a knife on hand is incredibly useful for every man. Knives don’t just come up in emergencies, either. Once you start carrying a knife every day, you’ll be surprised by how often you pull it out to cut open packages, remove tags from new clothes, cut zip ties, and more.
The best everyday carry knife folds in on itself for safety and has a high-quality handle and blade. Remember to keep your knife sharp. Dull knives are more dangerous than sharp knives because when your knife is dull, you have to press harder to use it, and it’s easy to lose control of your cuts.
When people started carrying their cell phones everywhere, wristwatch use went downhill. By 2011, 60% of people between the ages of 16-34 used their phones, rather than watches, as their primary way to check the time. But traditional watches are far from obsolete, and mechanical watches have made a comeback in recent years.
There are a number of reasons traditional wristwatches trump cellphones when it comes to telling the time. For one thing, cell phones have been known to die at inopportune moments. Even if you keep your charger on you, as we recommend, you may find yourself unable to plug your phone in for a period of time. Having a timepiece on your wrist ensures you never lose track of time.
It’s also easier to check your watch than check your phone at times. In a meeting, for example, or when out with friends, checking your phone could be seen as incredibly rude. It’s much easier to surreptitiously glance at your watch than to turn on a phone without being noticed.
Whether you opt for a smartphone or a timeless mechanical phone, choose a sturdy, stylish watch strap. Unlike many other EDC items, your watch seconds as a fashion accessory, so it’s important to ensure it matches your style.
Think of how many places you go where you’re asked to sign a receipt. Sure, there’s usually a small cup nearby full of pens, but if those pens are being used by multiple people throughout the day, they can be a cesspool of germs. And if you’re at one of the rare places that sanitizes after each pen use, then you’re asking someone else to do extra work just so you can sign a piece of paper.
Carrying your own pen keeps you prepared in these situations. Even better, it ensures you have the ability to jot down notes or contact information whenever you need it. In an accident? Having a pen makes it easy to exchange insurance information. Forgot about an event? You can sign a card in your car and no one has to know.
If you’re worried about your pen leaking in your clothes, consider investing in a pen sleeve. A quality pen sleeve protects your garments while allowing you to put your pen in any pocket or everyday carry bag.
Imagine breaking down on the side of the road in the middle of the night. Or think about having the power go out in a building you’re not familiar with. Keeping a flashlight on you at all times can help you find your way and problem-solve no matter what time of day it is. You can even find tiny flashlights that hook onto your keychain if you don’t like the idea of carrying a larger flashlight in your pocket.
9. Water Bottle
Carrying a reusable water bottle is good for both your health and the environment.
When you carry a water bottle, you are more likely to actually drink water throughout the day. This is good, because while you can get some water from the foods you eat or sugary drinks like soda, it’s rarely enough to stay hydrated. In addition to preventing dehydration, drinking enough water has been shown to affect your mood, your joint health, and your temperature, among other things.
Single-use plastic bottles generally wind up in landfills — less than 10% of plastic water bottles discarded actually made it into recycling — and are usually made of PET (polyterephthlate) plastic, which has been shown to leech antimony into drinking water. In comparison, reusable water bottles are cheaper, better for the environment, and better for your health, all while encouraging you to stay hydrated.
Choosing Other EDC Items for Your Personal Needs
Although we stand by these 9 essential EDC items for every man, there’s a chance that your lifestyle necessitates other EDC items. For example, if you run your own business, keeping a few business cards in your wallet may be an everyday essential for you. And if you have frequent migraines, it may be essential for you to have some migraine pills on hand.
When cultivating your personal EDC items, focus on the items most likely to have a positive impact on your life on a regular basis. Choose a few staple items that are thin enough to hook onto your belt or slide into your pocket. If you do need larger EDC items — such as a laptop — consider investing in an everyday carry bag that you can grab as you’re walking out the door instead of trying to cram everything onto your person.
Be Prepared for Anything Life Throws at You With the Best Everyday Carry Items
The most important part of investing in EDC is to prepare yourself for whatever life throws at you. By putting a little effort into cultivating a well-thought-out collection of everyday carry items, you can reduce your stress levels when things don’t go your way and increase your ability to respond to situations as they happen.