This post, covering my on-body EDC items, will probably the be the least informative (but most read) of this entire EDC series I’m doing. The reason: there are a million articles out there explaining why you should have an EDC (everyday carry) system. My perspectives on EDC clothing, the EDC bag / bug out bag / get home bag concept, and vehicle preparedness all offer more original ideas than this one. The on-body EDC ground has been well-trod.
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Today, however, is mostly going to me doing a “show and tell” with my current EDC setup. This is slightly an indulgence to myself – I like writing about things that I like thinking about (hence the reason for this blog). It’s also because at least two readers have written in asking me to cover this topic. I can’t promise I’ll cover everything that a reader asks me to, but I’ll try my best. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
I have organized my EDC setup by pockets, and by belt-carried items. There are a hundred little micro-decisions driving my train of thought on the selection of these items and how to carry them. I’ll talk about some of the logic that goes into each one of these decisions. Let’s start with my right-front pocket.
Right Front Pocket: Knife
A knife is probably the single most important item in my EDC system, at least in my mind. I would almost dare you to show me a tool that can be used to accomplish a broader range of tasks than a solid knife. I am very reticent to be without one. My EDC knife is the Spyderco Para Military 2.
Believe it or not, I have only carried three knives on a consistent basis in my adult life. I started things out back in 2000 with a Emerson CQC-7 that I overpaid for at a mall knife store (what can I say? Young Marines do dumb things.). To be honest, I ended up loving Emerson for its Wave feature and carried this knife up until early 2018. I retired the Emerson when the lock failed and replaced it with an Emerson/Zero Tolerance collaboration, the ZT 0620.
The O620 is a very cool knife. It’s made of ELMAX (a “super steel”), has the Emerson Wave, and is extremely overbuilt. It has a couple of knocks against it, though. First, it’s insanely heavy. It weights almost 6 and a half ounces (6.4). Second, don’t go looking for the ZT 0620 because it has been discontinued. I carried it for a little over a year and a half when I decided the give Spyderco a go.
The Para Military 2 is one of the most popular EDC knives out there. It weighs under 4 ounces (3.75, over 2.5 ounces lighter than the ZT) while still having good blade length and cutting edge. The lock is Spyderco’s patented Compression lock, which took some getting used to but now I’m sold on it. As I told you guys in a previous article, I replaced the PM2’s clip with a deep carry clip from MXG Gear. I’ve only been carrying this knife since October but I see it being in my pocket for a long time.
Right Front Pocket: Phone
The other item I carry in my right front pocket is my phone. My phone isn’t anything special – it’s a iPhone 6S that has been paid for since I got it almost four years ago. I’ll get a new phone when it breaks, not when ads tell me to. My phone is lightly “accessorized”. The case is an Otterbox Commuter. I really, really like this case. This is probably the third or fourth one I’ve been through on this phone. Considering the number of times per day that I drop my phone, it’s not doing too badly.
The silver/red circle on the back of the case is a magnetic mount for the Nite Ize Steelie. I have found this to be the best phone mount I’ve ever used and highly recommend it. The face of the phone wears a privacy screen protector, which protects the screen itself, and the info on the screen from the person to my right or left. The rear-facing camera is covered with a camera-cover sticker from Silent Pocket. Malware is a thing; protect your cameras!
Phones get don’t get a lot of respect in prepper space because, you know, EMPs. Modern smartphones offer far, far more value than most of us realize. I’m going to follow this piece up with a short piece on the value of a smartphone, and some recommended apps, etc.
Carrying my phone in the right pocket is one of those sub-optimal decisions that I need to think about some more. Here’s why: I used to carry my keys, lip balm, and fire-starter in this pocket. I would also drop coins into this pocket. The problem was that with open-backed knives (like the ZT 0620 and Sypderco PM2) keys and coins sometimes find their way into the knife and chip the blade. There is no chance of the phone getting into the knife, and the phone’s smooth, flat surface never interferes with my drawing the knife – a pretty good situation in that regard.
Unfortunately, carrying my phone on my right side creates a problem. If I have to use my firearm, I will also want to be calling 911 pretty quickly. If my gun is still in my right hand, it’s going to be difficult to get my phone out. I need to spend some dry practice time practicing transitioning my gun to my left hand, or getting my left hand into my right pocket. Another option would be to switch the knife/phone to my left side. That would pose a major daily inconvenience in now having my knife on the “wrong” side of my body… Like I said, I have put a LOT of thought – maybe too much – into the things I carry.
Left Front Pocket
I should be able to cover this section more quickly. This pocket is sort of my “dump” pocket.
Keys: please note, these is are not my real keys. These are just some random keys I had lying around that I put together for photographic value. You should never, ever, ever post photos of your keys online. A post explaining why will be coming soon. In the meantime, unless you want someone else to have a copy of your keys, DO NOT POST PHOTOS OF YOUR KEYS – ANY PART OF YOUR KEYS – ON THE INTERNET!
Besides not posting photos, the only other principle I attempt to adhere to in regards to keys is: have as few as possible. I’m amazed at some peoples’ huge key chains; to me keys are mostly worthless except when doing their intended function. I can rekey most locks myself so I try to purchase rekeyable padlocks. I try to have as much stuff as possible on the same key system. I may talk about this more in the future. Currently my key ring only has four keys on it: car, home, padlocks, and a fob for my office.
Fire Starter: A fire-starter is one of those weird things. . . My odds of needing a fire-starter are very small. Due to where I live and my lifestyle my odds are probably higher than most, but they are still very small odds indeed. On the other hand, the consequences of not being able to make a fire are very high, and carrying a small ferro rod takes minimal space, so why not?
I’ve had one of these – the no-longer produced Exotac NanoStriker – in my pocket for over ten years now. Unfortunately the newer crop of pocket ferro rods are larger (which honestly is probably a good thing – getting a good spark with this rod is tough), including the Exotac NanoStriker XL.
Lip Balm: You can find all kinds of lists about the survival uses of lip balm. I just carry it because my lips sometimes get chapped. Though now that I’m thinking about it, here’s a use for lip balm you might not know: cover the lens of your weapon-mounted light with a light film of lip balm before live fire. When you’re done with your range session all the black soot built up on your WML’s lens will wipe right off.
Flashlight: If you’ve been around for the past few months (or just dug through the archive) you know I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect flashlight. I think I’ve just about found it in the Fenix LD12 (2017 Edition). I’ve written about this light in detail, so I won’t repeat everything here. I will say the LD12 is a great size, has decent power and I love the ergonomics. If I could afford it I’d lay in a half a dozen of these things put back as backups.
Right Rear Pocket
My right rear pocket contains my wallet. The wallet itself is a Bellroy, from their “Elements” line. I really dig this wallet for several reasons. First, it’s very broad. This sounds bad, but it fills my back pocket more or less completely rather than being a lump in the middle. it also lets me spread everything out for a flatter profile. Most importantly it’s intended to fit a passport but I’ve found it fits a small notepad just as well. Combined with the built-in pen, I’ve got note-taking gear built into my wallet.
Unfortunately the zipper on this one has crapped out on me and this wallet isn’t sold any longer. I’ve owned it for a little over five years now and to be honest, most of the wallet is still just fine – it’s just that damn zipper. I may see if I can find a cobbler or someone who could fix it for me. I don’t want to give this wallet up and unfortunately, I can’t replace it.
The most important survival gear in the wallet is cash. I keep at least $100 in my wallet. A hundo in the wallet is considered “empty” like half a tank of gas is considered empty by many preppers. There’s also a couple of other things in there: I usually keep a hotel key for use as a shim to do the “credit card trick” of opening doors (though I would never illegally do this)(if there’s interest on the exact technique I may write this up one day, too).
Right Leg Pocket
One thing about these Carhartt pants: they have a small pocket on the right leg. It’s just above the knee and biased slightly toward the back of the leg. When I was still using tobacco this is where my can of dip went. When I quit back in November I realized this opened up a brand new pocket for me. So I filled it! This is where my pepper spray goes. I get it – this probably isn’t the best place because it’s not super quickly accessible but it’s on my body and it’s not inaccessible.
The pepper spray I carry is Fox’s Mean Green in the 1.5 ounce flip-top can. I like this for a few reasons. First, the Scoville Heat Units (SHU) or statements like “10% O.C.” don’t really mean anything. You should be looking for the Major Capsaicinoid Content (MCC), which should be no lower than 0.70%. The very best sprays run up to about 1.33%. Mean Green is well up there at 1.22% MCC. I also like Mean Green because of its green dye. The more commonly used red dye can look like blood, which can make the bad guy look like the victim, which is absolutely not what I want some “sheep dog” to see. Finally, I really like Fox’s products because they come in good form-factors and are also available as inert training units.
I’d leave home without my gun before I left home without my pepper spray. Pepper spray seems to get really downplayed – a LOT. I feel like when most people hear the phrase they think of the leatherette case on grandma’s key chain. If you’ve ever taken a blast of pepper spray in the face (I have as a Marine Corps Martial Arts instructor) you’ll know it’s nothing to underestimate. I completely recognize that it’s not a replacement for a gun, but it’s also usable in a much, much wider array of circumstances, and carryable in a much wider range of places. If you’re carrying a gun and not pepper spray. . . why not?
Belt Carried Items
Finally, we get to the belt-carried stuff. Let’s start with the belt. It’s a “Precision Tactical Conceal [sic] Carry Nylon Belt” from Precision Holsters. Despite the clunky name this is a decent belt. It certainly isn’t perfect but it has worked for me for well over a year now.
The holster is an “Ultra Appendix,” also from Precision Holsters (not a bad name there). I added a layer of neoprene to the body side of the holster and overall I’m thrilled with it. I’ve carried in this holster for eighteen months now and have nothing but good things to say about it. If there’s interested I will review the belt and holster on their own at some point (I do have some things to say about them).
The gun is a Nighthawk 1911 in 9mm (full review coming soon). It’s built on an Officer-sized frame with a slightly elongated 3.8″ barrel. I know 1911s aren’t reliable and 9mm 1911s even less so, but I’m up to 3,000 rounds without a malfunction in this gun (out of almost 6,000 total). I’m very happy with it, as long as I used Wilson Combat 8-round (in the gun) and 9-round (in the pouch) ETM magazines. Ammunition is Federal 124-grain HST +P.
I am not claiming I’m perfect here. I break with conventional wisdom in a couple of ways – mainly in stuff I’m not carrying but “should” be carrying.
Multi-tool: A lot of people who I really respect (and plenty that I don’t) recommend carrying a multi-tool. I’ll be honest: I live a pretty “hands-on” life. I live on a small hobby farm so projects are constantly in the works and something always needs doing. Still, I don’t really find it necessary to carry a plier-based multi-tool on my person. If I did carry one I’m sure I’d find all kinds of uses for it, but the ROI just isn’t there for me at the moment. I do carry one in my EDC pack which is never very far from me. . . but since we’re talking about on-body carry, that doesn’t count.
Medical gear, most likely a tourniquet: Again, I carry an excellent medical kit in my EDC pack, complete with tourniquet, 2 pressure dressings, a hemostatic agent, chest seals, and plenty more. That’s not on my body all the time, so again, it doesn’t count. As someone with a high level of medical training I’m probably in the wrong and probably need to figure something out, but I’m not convinced it will be a tourniquet. Tourniquets only treat one very specific category of injury and I’m unconvinced that uncontrolled extremity bleeds are the most common injuries in mass shootings (or any other civilian situation). Some guys are recommending carrying chest seals instead of or in addition to tourniquets. I’m not sure yet, but I should probably figure something out.
So that’s the basic rundown. As you can see, nothing is “accidentally” here. Everything has been carefully chosen and I’ve scuttled some stuff that I perceive as offering insufficient value. Everything has been carefully planned and selected.
In this article I’ve created a lot of work for myself in the form of a number of additional articles to write. After this I owe you guys an article on the “survival” value of a smartphone. I also owe you an explanation of why you shouldn’t post photos of your keys online, and an article on shimming a door with a plastic card (please don’t use your credit card). I need to review my pistol, which is going to tie in nicely to an article about the “one handgun concept” I’m planning. And again, if there’s interest I’ll also do a review of the Precision Holsters gear I’m carrying. So stay tuned, and feel free to let me know what you’re interested in!