This article is by Cameron Green, of Green Academy of Personal Protection (GAPP).
The key to everyday carry (or EDC) is not burdening yourself with too much nonsense but still having the necessary tools to take care of yourself whether they be weapons, survival equipment, or luxuries. Putting it bluntly, if you carry too much crap you will be less likely to carry anything…. and looking like batman only looks cool on Halloween. In the picture you see a good sampling of what comes out of my pockets and off my belt. Since I’m a personal protection instructor, most of what I’m going to concentrate on is weapons based EDC, but I will also discuss some everyday items that fall into the survival equipment category or just common sense items everyone should have. Let’s take a look at the picture, analyze what I carry everyday, and you may get some ideas on things you want to include in your EDC kit.
Belt: Most people wouldn’t consider a belt a significant part of an EDC kit… but in my experience having a good belt makes carrying gear that much easier. Bluntly, if you have a 1 inch imitation leather dress belt from JCPenney, you’re going be a lot less comfortable than if you have even a basic gun belt (whether you carry a gun or not). A quality gun belt should be at least an inch and one half thick, heavy duty enough to suspend your body weight, and be appropriate for the type of clothing you are wearing. Most days I wear a heavy duty nylon webbed belt, but when wearing a suit or dress pants I wear a leather belt with a kydex liner. Both will hold my gear in place in addition to holding my pants up.
Gun and spare ammo: I carry a gun anyplace I legally can. Carrying a gun is not for everyone and I won’t debate the pros and cons in this article. I will simply say, if you decide to carry a gun follow a few simple rules. 1) find a gun you’re comfortable shooting/carrying and practice as much as possible (not every six months as most shooters do). 2) find a comfortable holster that allows for fast access, good retention, and is concealable with your normal clothing (I am not a fan of open carry). 3) always carry a spare magazine/ammunition. 4) don’t make it a daily decision whether you will carry your gun or not…always carry your gun or the one time need it will be the one time you talk yourself out of it… and you will never forgive yourself. My gun of choice is a Glock model 26 in either a Bladetec holster (pictured) or Crossbreed holster.
Knife/multitool: most days I carry a multitool. I have a few but generally I stick with a quality manufacturer like Leatherman or Gerber and make sure the multitool has several key features. Pliers, knife, Flathead and Philips screwdriver, and a can opener. Other features such as a wood saw, magnifying glass, or fish scaler are nice to have but rarely useful. When I am in a firearm restrictive state such as New York, I carry a knife so I have at least some readily available method of self-defense. I could carry both but there is only so much pocket space and weight I can suspend from my belt before it becomes too much. The type of knife I carry is legal in most places regardless of weapons laws. A pocket knife with a window breaker and seatbelt cutter is considered a rescue tool and can easily be explained if question by a law enforcement officer. However, I realize if I use as the knife as a means of self-defense in an altercation the rescue tool will be considered a weapon. Whether it is better to be carried by six were judged by 12 I leave up to you. I currently carry a Smith & Wesson four-inch blade with both a seatbelt cutter and window breaker in the handle.
Flashlight: a light source can be invaluable when in a dark alley, in a mall during a blackout, or simply looking for keys that have been dropped under a car. A quality flashlight can be used as a means of self-defense as well. Look for manufacture/model that has a few key features. 1. Aluminum housing: if used properly a flashlight can be a quality impact weapon. 2. LED light source: will be much more durable and brighter than incandescent bulbs. 3. Strobe feature: if you don’t believe a strobe is useful try looking at once more than a few seconds, nothing about your attacker and what it will do to his vision. Switch location, battery type, length, weight, etc. are a matter of preference. I prefer a tale and switch and a AA battery with a belt clip. These features allow for fast access, inexpensive batteries, and a less bulky profile. I have also noticed flashlights last me about a year, whether they are $50 or $150.
Wallet/Money: a no-brainer, right? But think about what should be in your wallet…. Obviously your drivers license, credit cards, CCW permit, etc. but how much cash is appropriate? I don’t leave home without at least $100 and a good supply of change in my pocket. In the event of a power outage, if you have cash for a taxi or a hotel room or for a meal at a fast food restaurant you are better off than the masses that rely on plastic. I also have a phone card with 500 min. if the cellular network is down such as on 9/11 and I can find a pay-phone I can make my necessary phone calls. Also, a list of important phone numbers. If you lose your cell phone or it is unreadable, having a list of phone numbers that you normally just speed dial could be invaluable.
Tactical Pen and a pad: a regular ball point pen will suffice for everyday use. However, anyone who has held a tactical pen before can attest they can be pretty useful as a self-defense tool. Depending on the design, they can also be carried everywhere… Courthouses, business meetings, airplanes, and other places firearms and other self-defense tools are not allowed. As a public school teacher, I cannot carry any weapons while I’m at work, however, I have a red ink tactical pen that is always in my back pocket. In addition to a writing implement, it’s a good idea to have something to write on. A small pad fits easily in a back or cargo pocket and can be used to write down phone numbers, license plates, addresses, or anything else you may need to remember.
Cell phone: another no-brainer right? But think about some of the apps that can be downloaded on today’s smartphones. On my phone I have flashlight, sunrise and sunset, campground, nutrition, run training, and game apps just to name a few. The technology we now hold at our fingertips can improve our safety, comfort, and even our health. Whatever we use our phones for I think we can agree, we all have one and given that most of our lives rotate around them, we would be lost without it. So now think about your phone in terms of personal protection…not physical, but your professional and personal life. If your phone is lost or stolen, whoever ends up with your phone has access to your e-mail, contact numbers, Facebook account, and all of your words with friends games. At the very minimum your cell phone should be locked whenever it is not your hand and not in use. Backing up your cell phone on your iPad, using an online service, or even just writing down important information can minimize the effects of a lost cell phone.
Keys: my keys are somewhat unique. My keychain is a full-size carabineer, which allows me to clip my keys to a belt loop…, but can also fit perfectly over all four fingers of my clenched fist to be utilized as brass knuckles. I have standard keys to my house, my vehicle, work, etc. but as “decoration ” I have a paracord lanyard with a compass. The uses of paracord are well documented and I will go into detail here nor should I have to justify a small compass that could be invaluable given the right circumstances. I will say I chose orange for my lanyard because it makes my keys more visible… Because I have a bad habit of putting them down and forgetting where they are
Watch: another no-brainer right? But as with everything else I’ve mentioned, there are specific attributes I look for. Waterproof is a must given the nature of what I do for fun. I prefer a non-digital face since the hands can be used as a compass on a sunny day. Indiglo light is a great feature as well and I have used it more than once to find a doorknob in an unlit entryway. Other features such as a stopwatch and alarm clock can also be useful… but I rely on my cell phone for those. In addition to the standard features, I replaced the standard plastic band with a band constructed of 20 feet of 550 cord.
An item not in the picture that I would like to discuss are sunglasses. Sunglasses are another item most people would not consider important for EDC kit, however having the right sunglasses is crucial in some circumstances. Most of my sunglasses are impact resistant because I shoot so much however there are other circumstances that come to mind that would call for a different pair of sunglasses and you should be aware of them if you plan to travel outside your normal area of operation. Snow blindness is a more common problem than people think it is, it is easily avoidable with the right eyewear. The dark lens wraparound style set of sunglasses or the old glacier glasses that were popular back in the 80s are a good choice (well maybe not the glacier glasses unless you are also wearing a members only jacket). Desert environments are susceptible to sandstorms and even your wraparound, Terminator style sunglasses are of little use. Having been through a sandstorm before I realize the importance of some form of wraparound goggle or sunglasses that fit snugly to the face (and don’t forget a bandanna to cover your nose and mouth).
So there you have it, a pretty good sampling of what I carry and why. Hopefully this analysis of what comes out of my pockets on a daily basis will give you some ideas about things you may want to carry. I’m sure some of you have more extensive EDC kits and feel free to post up in the comment section what you carry, but keep in mind what works for you and what works for me may not work for another reader… one kit does not fit all and you should customize yours to fit your needs and your lifestyle.
—–Cameron Green (owner/operator of GAPP) has an extensive background in shooting and personal protection; he is well versed in multiple firearms and weapons platforms. He regularly shoots competitively in IDPA, USPSA, and multi-gun matches. He has been an NRA certified instructor for several years and has taught over 400 students in everything from basic courses to advanced personal protection. In addition he has been involved in martial arts for over 10 years.