Top 5 EDC Essentials for Everyone [2020]

EDC

Go anywhere related to firearms online and you'll see thread after thread on EDC gear. EDC, or Everyday Carry, are the things you carry with you every day. Or it can be the most expensive things you can find to photograph together to flex on the internet. Usually it's the second option.

The biggest issue with EDC threads is that they are frequently filled with bad or useless equipment. Most of the time the things you should really carry on you aren't terribly Gucci. Unfortunately many less experienced shooters base their equipment off of the pictures, because the internet is never wrong.

With that being said, here's another EDC thread on the internet. This time I'll be including justifications and resources for why I choose what I choose.

EDC Medical Equipment

In my short lifetime I can count the number of times I've drawn my pistol on one hand. This tiny number is already higher than the average carrier. The number of medical emergencies and minor boo-boos I've seen is so high I can't even begin to guess a number.

How many car crashes do you see monthly? What about dangerous falls? Cuts? Have you ever thought about the aftermath of a violent encounter? If we're carrying something to cause bleeding, then we should probably have something to stop bleeding. We're far more likely to come across someone injured in an accident than we are to need a defensive firearm. Despite this, almost nobody carries trauma level medical equipment. For those who do, how many have received formal training in their use?

EDC medical
My EDC SOFTT-W tourniquet in a Snake Eater Tactical IWB pouch

The two most important medical items you can carry are a tourniquet, and hemostatic gauze. One of the leading causes of death is uncontrolled bleeding. Tourniquets go on your limbs. Hemostatic gauze goes in wounds to the torso and junctions. I have carried a tourniquet as part of my EDC for over two years. It stays in an appendix carrier, like this one from Snake Eater Tactical. I currently do not carry hemostatic gauze, but am exploring ankle carry options to change that.

If you carry a gun or a knife, you need medical equipment, bottom line. If you carry a reload and no tourniquet, you're fucking up. But don't take my word for it. Check out these short videos from Kerry Davis of Dark Angel Medical about the importance of tourniquets and hemostatic gauze.

Flashlight

Approximately 50% of our lives are spent in hours of darkness. This goes up substantially when you consider the need for artificial light within structures, and during inclement weather. Whether you're trying to find the pen that fell behind the desk, or positively identify that bump in the night, a handheld light is of major importance.

While any light is better than none, brighter is better. This is measured in both lumens and candela. In simple terms, this relates to the total output of a light, and how well that output can be focused. A light with high lumen count but low candela would work well in a lamp, but very poorly in a directional flashlight. We want something that has both good spill and throw; that is the ability to illuminate a wide area, and a long distance. The brighter the light, the more capable it is at punching through barriers such as smoke and streetlights.

EDC flashlights
A few EDC flashlights: Streamlight 1L-1AA, Surefire Stiletto, Streamlight Stylus Pro

Quick examples for EDC are the Surefire Stiletto and the Streamlight 1L-1AA. The Stiletto features 650 lumens and 1,800 candela, while the 1L-1AA has 350 Lumens with 6,400 Candela. While the Surefire has nearly double the lumens, its lower candela has trouble ID'ing targets at 25 yards, which is no problem for the Streamlight.

A powerful light will make IDing potential threats easier both up close and at distance, letting you make more effective decisions. Light can be used as a deescalation tool. People find it difficult to attack what they can't see, and many do not with to be identified. Shining a bright light in someone's face has no legal recourse, but can provide you with so many options.

Less Lethal

As Chuck Haggard says, we need to have something between a harsh word and a gun. Some situations require a response but don't justify pulling your pistol out. What you choose depends on your skills, local laws, and more. Less lethal options can be pepper spray (also known as OC), a collapsible baton, your fists, and more. Each comes with pros and cons, and their own sets of legalities. My preference is pepper spray, specifically POM.

I like to refer to pepper spray as a "high pressure can of 'fuck off'". It requires very little training to use, unlike some of the more physical tools at our disposal. I initially began carrying pepper spray after several close-call dog attacks during runs and walking my own dog. I've never had anyone feel threatened by the presence of pepper spray, with most scoffing it as something a teenage girl would carry in her purse. A quick spritzing of spicy treats to the face can buy me time to run, transition to another tool, go hands-on, and more. I don't leave home without it.

EDC less lethal
POM pepper spray alongside other other important items

Impact Weapons

I am a bit hesitant when recommending more physical EDC tools to people. Strike certain areas with a baton and you've just transformed it into lethal force. Kubatons, brass knuckles, saps, and more have similar issues while reducing your standoff distance and increasing required skill for good effects. Knives are certainly lethal force, and can have severe legal repercussions even if you're completely justified.

Tasers are a popular option in theory, but I've never met somebody who carries one. The ~$400 price tag along with $50+ fee for each single-use cartridge immediately removes any interest for virtually everyone I speak with. Stun guns are fairly common, but greatly misunderstood--frequently confused with Tasers. Relying on pain compliance and physical contact, their utility is limited and very dependent on the attacker's resistance to pain.

Figure out what works best for your situation, and learn how to use it effectively.

Multitool

From scissors to screw drivers, and small utility knives, how often do you find yourself needing tools throughout your week? Carrying a full size toolkit isn't possible for the majority of people, but that doesn't mean we're out of luck.

Similar to a pocket pistol, your multitool won't hold a candle to its larger counterparts. That being said, carrying around your entire toolbox is a little unrealistic, much like a civilian carrying a full combat load. Typical duties include tightening screws, clipping strings, opening mail, and filing nails. This is an area where specialization comes into play, with different tools for EDC, my gun belt, hiking, and more.

EDC multitools
EDC multitools: Gerber Dime, Victorinox Tinker, Leatherman Squirt PS4

After carrying several models over the years, I've noticed a few trends in what does and does not work. Gerber has consistently disappointed. SOG, Boker, and CRKT enjoy positive reputations as well, though I've no personal experience with them. Every offering from both Leatherman and Victorinox (Swiss Army knives) continues to impress me.

 

Proper Decision Making Skills

All of these EDC items are meaningless if you don't know when or where to use them. Whether you're too slow or fast to use your defensive tools at improper times, or too forgetful and lazy to carry them. A fool is not only easily separated from his money, but his life and gear too. You need to be able to see trouble before it happens so you can either avoid a fight altogether, or stack the deck in your favor.

We like to focus on the violence, but there is a legal aspect as well. Even in a justified use of force encounter, you'll likely be thrown into the legal system. This can result in financial hardship, your life being made a public spectacle, and possible retaliatory attacks. Tom Givens and Craig Douglas discuss this at length in their courses.

Think about some of the high profile shootings over the last few years, and you'll see what I mean; Darren Wilson, George Zimmerman, and more. When you read those names, what do you think? What does the public think? Even if you're justified, the court of public opinion has a say. Making intelligent decisions and being able to properly articulate them may help you come out a little more clean.

Sometimes knowing how to walk away or run is the best option. Ditch the ego, figure out what is worth fighting for and what the real costs will be.

Closing Thoughts on EDC Selection

The list of helpful things we can carry is nearly limitless. If we strapped everything on ourselves we'd be sporting Batman style utility belts and military rucksacks. It's up to us to decide what we're willing to stuff in our pockets as we head out the door each day. Sit down and find what fits your lifestyle best then build your EDC to suit that. My equipment changes as time goes on, and yours likely will too.

About Daniel Reedy 159 Articles
Daniel is a Range Master and NRA certified handgun and rifle instructor and range safety officer, as well as a USPSA pistol and Multi-Gun competitor. He has received training from Craig Douglas, Mike Pannone, and Scott Jedlinski among others. In his free time Daniel enjoys petting puppies and reading the Constitution. Daniel also writes for the Kommando Blog

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