Everyday Carry: What Is It + What’s the Best EDC Gear?

Okay, so you’re watching a YouTube video on pocket knife reviews or something and the narrator keeps mentioning EDC

I keep this one in my EDC” or “this is a great choice because it’s EDC-friendly.”

“I only keep three things in my EDC: my wallet, my phone, and my keys.

But what is EDC? Don’t worry, we have your back! EDC simply stands for everyday carry.

To bring the point home, we’ve compiled a (relatively) quick guide on everything there is to know about everyday carry: what it is, where it comes from, and the best EDC gear. So, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Click on any of the links below to jump to the desired section!

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First, What Is Everyday Carry (EDC)?

Easy: everyday carry is what you bring with you anytime you leave your home. 

More specifically, EDC gear is a label you apply to the collective stuff you keep in your pockets, backpack, and so on. Beyond that, there aren’t any real rules—though, it’s probably safe to say most EDC gear is marketed with a tactical or rugged look, but that’s not a concrete law and there are so many exceptions!

EDC can literally refer to anything, but common examples include your wallet, sunglasses (and/or regular glasses), multi-tools, pocket knives, and even self-defense gear if you catch our meaning (if you’re wondering why we’re beating around the bush, check out our about page).

Is EDC Gear Just for Men?

Heck no! Everyday carry is for everyone. End of discussion.

An open multitool with folded knives, screwdrivers, and more.
A multi tool with a good pair of pliers is unbelievable useful! (Photo: Robert Torres)

Is Everyday Carry the Same as a “Bug-Out” Bag?

Not really. Bug-out bags are meant for big events or disasters while EDC is what you take with you on a normal day—so, they’re almost opposites. That said, you can make the argument that EDC and bug-out gear both stem from preparedness.

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Okay, so Why Is EDC a Thing?

Well, everyday carry means different things to different people. Without giving away any spoilers (literally the next section), EDC sort of started as one thing and has worked its way into becoming a lot more

EDC Mostly Started as a Part of Prepping 

An atomic bomb exploding in the distance.
Doomsday prepping’s been around since the early days of the Cold War, but it’s not the same thing as everyday carry! (Photo: Pixabay)

Everyday carry is at least partially inspired by prepping—and yeah, we mean that kind of prepping: good, ol’ fashioned Cold-War-Doomsday preppin’. But, a lot of people wanted to bring their prepping to their everyday lives and that’s more or less how EDC started. 

However, that’s not the only thing everyday carry is about.

Nowadays, Most People See EDC as Practical (or a Hobby, Even)!

Most people still see everyday carry as a way to be prepared for—what else?—everyday situations. A lot of EDC gear reflects this too, with super functional equipment that often rethink traditions. 

Here’s an example: a wave of new, minimalist wallet styles are flooding the market in place of the old school double (or trifold) leather brick that dudes have been shoving in their back pockets for the past 50–100 years (which is terrible for your hips, by the way). Check out our Trayvax wallets review if you’re curious.

Oh, and a lot of people (like us!) build their everyday carry because it’s—wellfun as heck.

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And for Some, EDC Is Stylish

Lastly, a lot of people like everyday carry as a style. And why not? Practicality doesn’t have to look bad. 

As long as you’re not sacrificing function for form, we don’t see the issue with choosing EDC gear that looks great (like the Gentlestache multi-tool sheath that holds gear in a compact and convenient package).

What Counts as an “EDC Item?”

Like we said before, EDC gear can refer to anything. But, sure, a lot of people stick with the basics like wallets, phones, and yadda yadda.

Still, there’s room for nuance too! Some people collect sentimental coins, others keep specialized tools, flashlights, pens, and so on.

Does EDC Gear Change With the Situation? (Duh!)

Despite the name, everyday carry doesn’t literally have to mean every single day. It’s just that almost-everyday carry and like-three-times-a-week-everyday-carry sound dumb, right?

If you’re at work five days a week then go hiking or something on the weekend, you’re going to change up your EDC gear at least a little, right?

In other words, your EDC should change with the situation.

A minimalist EDC wallet with field notes and a camera in the background.
Who doesn’t love a slick-looking EDC wallet? (Photo: Vlada Karpovich)

Example: What’s in Your EDC Bag May Be Different From Your Normal EDC…

For people that are religious about backpacks, you might keep some things in there that you wouldn’t keep as part of your regular EDC gear. For example, if you hike a lot, you might keep a small first aid kit and/or small snacks in your backpack—which might be weird to keep in your pockets all day, every day (eh, we don’t judge).

By the way, we really dig Topo Designs’ classic rover pack for literally anything but extended backpacking (look for our review in the future!).

What Should Be in My Everyday Carry?

There are a few different approaches to everyday carry (and no right answers). As always, we recommend that you do what makes the most sense for you, but here some ideas.

A black camping backpack on top of a picnic table at a campground.
Loading up your favorite backpack with a bunch of EDC gear is super handy if you hike often. (Photo: Vitaly Vlasov)

Some Take a Minimalist Approach With Everyday Carry…

A minimalist everyday carry style works for people who like to travel light (or don’t want their pockets to bulge awkwardly). The cool thing is that a lot of EDC brands like to downsize their gear for this very reason.

…While Others Pack It All in!

On the other hand, some people like to shove as much into their pockets as possible: a wallet, keys, phone, multi-tool, flashlight, pocket knife, birth certificate, the spirit of Christmas, and more. 

And there’s nothing wrong with it! Well, unless you’re going through a metal detector.

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So, What Should You Keep in Your EDC Bag or Kit? It’s Up to You!

If you haven’t caught on, let us explain: what goes on in your everyday carry is completely and unequivocally up to you!

Unsure Where to Start? Here Are Some EDC Essentials!

Okay, so hopefully we’re on the same page now. Still, it might be helpful to get some tips on EDC gear if you’re new to it! 

Here’s a quick guide on some of the best everyday carry gear enthusiasts enjoy!

An Everyday Carry Wallet Is an Obvious First Step

An EDC wallet is practically a given. Just the thought of throwing all your credit cards, cash, insurance info, gift cards, pictures of bygone days, and that little punch card you always forget to stamp anytime you buy lunch from that corner cafe is maddening.

An assortment of camping tools such as a hatchet, multi tools, knives, and so on.
All sorts of stuff can be part of your EDC, like multi tools, pocket knives, and so on. (Photo: Emir Anu0131k)

No: you need a wallet. And a good one, too! But we’re talking high-quality EDC gear, so it needs to be cool and practical, right? (Practicool?)

Heck yeah! Modern EDC wallets tend to skip the traditional wallet style in favor of carrying the stuff you need most in a compact package. A wallet with RFID protection (to thwart scummy hackers) is a good investment, too.

If you want a stunning example of an EDC wallet, the Trayvax Original 2.0 metal wallet is one of our favorites (and again, check out Trayvax wallet review, if you want to know why we keep bringing it up)!

Next: Your Everyday Carry Phone and by Extension, Accessories

Your cellphone is arguably more important than your wallet, especially as e-pay methods become more popular (and convenient). But that doesn’t mean your phone can’t look the part! 

Rugged, durable, and even multi-functional phone cases can turn your EDC phone into a tank. Not to mention the billion different accessories you can use. If you want an exceptional example: Mous makes unreal cases for iPhones and Droid-powered phones (expect a glowing review in the future)!

Oh, and though it’s kind of off-topic, why not check out our list of the best camping apps to try out! 

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An Everyday Carry Keychain or Carabiner Keeps Your Keys and Other Small Gear Together

If you’re still using an ordinary keyring attached to your car’s FOB, do we have some news for you! For one, a regular keychain is clunky and likely to fall out of your pocket. 

In the words of Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, “treat yo’ self.”

A secure EDC keychain neatly organizes your keys or small gadgets. Ideally, choose one that doubles as a carabiner so you can securely hook it to a belt loop, bag, etc.

It’s also worth noting that a good EDC belt may be more functional for carrying heavy hardware. Our Trayvax belt reviews highlight one particularly great option!

An EDC Knife or EDC Multi Tool Solves Ordinary Problems

If you don’t (or can’t) keep a pocketknife or multitool in your on-person everyday carry, at least keep one or two in your EDC bag or car. Seriously, the number of everyday problems you can solve with a multi-tool is astronomical. 

If you’re looking for an affordable option, the Gerber Suspension offers decent value for the price (check out our Gerber Suspension review if you want to learn a little more, first).

Plus, in the worst case, a pocketknife is likely better than nothing in the event you need to defend yourself or end up lost while camping or hiking (our Victorinox Classic SD review highlights a small but mighty option).

Our Favorite Everyday Carry Knives

Check out our review of the Kershaw Blur if you want a stunning example of an American-made, heavy-duty EDC blade. Or, if you want something slightly more affordable: the CIVIVI Baklash is a good everyday carry knife that won’t break the bank (or, check out our CIVIVI Elementum review)!

However, keep in mind that larger knives aren’t ideal for EDC, even if they’re good knives otherwise (like the classic USMC KA-BAR knife).

Our Kershaw Blur.

More of our Knife Articles

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And an EDC Flashlight Brings the Light!

Finally, an EDC flashlight might seem a little excessive but it’s practically essential if you’re out in the field a lot. 

Our urban everyday carry peeps can probably make do with whatever LED light that’s attached to their phone (or a small light attached to an EDC keychain), but it doesn’t hurt to keep a sturdy flashlight in a backpack or car either.

We like the (tiny) Olight Pro Eos rechargeable keychain light for general use.

What if You’re in the Field or Camping?

So, camping gear and EDC gear aren’t exactly in the same boat. But if you camp often or hunt, you might have more rigorous needs for your everyday carry, like a waterproof electric lighter (see our waterproof electric lighter guide if you’re curious).

Technically, we might be getting out of the realm of true everyday carry but there’s no EDC police out there correcting us either!

Bonus: if you’re looking for a good place to visit in Southern or Central California, check out our Camping Spotlight of Carrizo Plain National Monument.

Flashlights can be an essential piece of EDC gear, especially if you're in the field often.
Flashlights are ideal EDC for those who frequent the darkness. Dun dun dun! (Photo: Francesco Paggiaro)
Photographer holds an open hip flask in front of a scenic landscape.
All sorts of things count as EDC, it really depends on what you need with you! (Photo: Mau00ebl BALLAND)

We’ll Call This “Advanced EDC Gear” (or Field EDC)

There’s no real name for this kind of everyday carry so we’ll just call it advanced EDC gear. Though, we’ve also heard field EDC apply too.

Advanced EDC Gear Might Include Radios, a Shovel, etc.

Hunters, avid campers, hikers, and so on obviously have more serious problems to solve so their everyday carry is likely to include heavy-duty gear like radios, hydration packs or flasks, rations, and so on.

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Last Question: How Do You Organize Everyday Carry?

Whew, we’re almost done! 

The last question we’re going to cover is how to organize everyday carry. It doesn’t do anyone any good to just shove a bunch of stuff in your pockets, you have to keep things neat!

Easy: By Priority!

This isn’t Fallout or Skyrim: your real-life “inventory” is bogged down by the size of your pockets, obviously!

Organizing your EDC gear always comes down to what you need most. Take stock of your average available space and optimize your EDC to address the problems you face most often.

If you have limited space, maybe limit yourself to only one or two pocket knives (gasp).

Bonus: A lot of Clothing Brands Make Everyday Carry-Friendly Clothes, Too!

As the everyday carry lifestyle becomes more popular, clothing brands and companies are really starting to catch on (though, there’s always been a market for this kind of thing). A lot of sports and outdoor stores sell EDC-friendly clothing with extra (and often hidden) pockets.

If you find yourself in the field a lot or are planning a camping trip, everyday carry clothing just makes sense.

Camping under a starry sky. A campfire is visible in the distance as is the faint outline of a river bank. Pine trees are everywhere.
(Photo: James Wheeler)

Conclusion

And with that, we’re done! We hope this introduction to everyday carry and EDC gear was helpful! If you think we missed anything, be sure to let us know in the comments below!

Better yet, let us know what kind of gear we should review or write a guide for next! And follow us on Instagram or Reddit (where we’re pretty active in the community!) to stay in the conversation!

The operators of Renegade Camping may receive a commission for purchases made through links on our site. But that doesn’t mean we’re shilling random crap! We thoroughly research and/or own all the products we review on our website. We want to build unshakeable trust with our readers, and that means offering honest, transparent reviews and guides. Cheers!

– The Renegade Camping & EDC team
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Additional Articles

One response to “Everyday Carry: What Is It + What’s the Best EDC Gear?”

  1. What a great and comprehensive post. I never really got beyond the casual-hobbyist stage, but a must-have for me is a slim wallet, because I can’t stand them bulging out my pockets. That, and a good mini multitool are awesome. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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