Everyone has different needs, likes, desires, and of course, different preferred tools. That said, there are some basic types of EDC items everyone should seriously consider carrying. For example… knife, flashlight, key chain pry tool, pepper spray, multitool, etc.
Here are the 7 categories, with one or more recommended options for each. Options focus on best of breed, high quality, but good value items.
1. Folding Knife
“Never go anywhere without a knife…” Some will recognize that very astute quote.
A knife is one of those surprisingly useful tools, one of man’s oldest tools in fact. And once you start to carry one, you’ll wonder how you ever went without. Certainly it can also be a weapon, tho in a pinch, anything can. But primarily, a knife is a very useful everyday tool.
Give it a try, you won’t regret it. Be mindful of local knife laws, just to be on the safe side. For example, many jurisdictions prohibit blades over 4″ or 3″, or 5.5″ as is still the case in Texas.
Spyderco Military G-10 Plain Edge Knife
The Spyderco Military is the “if you’re going to have just one knife” knife. It’s a quality tool, not cheap by any means. But you generally get what you pay for, and this knife is beautifully engineered and constructed. The solid feel in the hand, the high quality of the materials, all comes together to create a tool you find yourself using day in and day out… and always keeping with you.
This knife has a tremendously useful 4″ blade. If that is longer than you’re comfortable with (or longer than your local jurisdiction laws “permit”), this may not be the knife for you. You might look into it’s smaller sibling, the Spyderco Paramilitary II.
But after carrying it for more than a few months, it’s an invaluable tool.
Spyderco Dragonfly FRN Serrated or Plain Edge Knife
The Spyderco Dragonfly is an amazing little knife, with a 2.25″ blade, weighing in at 1.2 oz. It’s a great smaller companion blade to the larger Military. But could also serve as a very competent, though small, primary EDC blade.
The FRN handle material is designed for excellent grip in dry or wet for solid footing. And it also comes in my preferred H2 steel, specially designed to be completely rust proof.
2. Key Chain Pry Tool
Why a key chain pry tool? Who needs such a thing? Once you start carrying and using a knife, you soon discover that it’s not always to cut… sometimes you just need to scrape or pry something. Quite often actually.
Think of a small pry tool like having a metal fingernail for minor scraping and scratching and prying. Minor tasks some would use their folding knife for, thus ruining the knife and rendering it nearly useless as a knife. Right tool for the job, folks.
Schrade Key Chain Pry Tool
Excellent key chain sized pry tool, just 3.25″ long, and 0.8 oz. Made of titanium, with a scratch-resistant stonewash. Very sturdy and light, and quite handy. Has various other features including a bottle opener and wrench drivers.
Would love to see an update to this pry tool to make it easier to get a good grip on it, specifically making it 1 inch longer and doing away with the strap cutter, that just gets in the way of a good grip.
Light is one of those interesting things we take for granted… you don’t usually need it, but if you ever do, it tends to be important and urgent. Flashlight technology has advanced enough that it’s finally viable to have a useful flashlight that’s small enough to be worth keeping on you.
FourSevens Mini ML Pocket Flashlight
The FourSevens Mini ML is a very powerful yet surprisingly little flashlight. What’s most noticeable about it is just how tiny it is… barely larger than the CR-123 battery that powers it.
Why not an AA battery flashlight? Well, because AA would make the body longer and grossly decrease the light output and longevity. CR-123 batteries are far better at this task.
Excellent quality, great design. Waterproof, shock-proof, and just works.
UPDATE: recently switched to the new Olight S1 Baton as my primary EDC light. Highly recommend.
Flashlight Pro Tips
- Keep an extra flashlight battery with you if possible, which is easier with the smaller batteries like CR-123. Many high-end flashlights provided modulated even light right up until the battery dies, meaning you won’t have much warning before it goes dark.
4. Multitool (Pliers, Scissors, File, etc.)
Leatherman Squirt PS4 Keychain Tool with Pliers & Scissors
This is an amazing little tool, excellent quality, great functionality, and so light. Pliers, scissors, wood file, wire cutters, bottle opener, and other tools, all in just 2 oz.
Leatherman makes some very impressive multitools, but this one is truly amazing because of the utility value it offers in such a tiny and light package.
5. Non-Lethal Self Defense Tool
Whether or not you are carrying a firearm, it’s good practice to always have some type of effective, non-lethal self-defense options. This can include pepper spray (or other sprays that fall in that category), an expandable baton, or so many other options.
ASP Palm Defender Pepper Spray
This is a very sturdy yet compact pepper spray container with a built-in safety that’s easy to depress with one hand. It also makes a great key chain to attack your house and other keys to. That way you always have your keys AND your pepper spray.
Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force.
If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.
In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.
When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.
The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.
Excerpt from the most excellent article, “The Gun Is Civilization – Why We Carry“.
We’re looking specifically at concealed carry of handguns, so will focus on some ultra-portable handguns.
Ruger LCP Custom .380 Handgun
One of the very few viable firearms on the market that is truly pocketable in most “regular” pockets. That small size does come at the cost of stronger recoil and poorer handling than the larger options like the Glock 42, but for a truly pocketable gun that even works in work out shorts / basketball shorts, this is very much worth considering.
Ruger LCP Pro Tips – Ruger made significant improvements to the LCP in the 2nd generation, meaning ignore what you thought you knew about the LCP years ago. These days the reviews are very favorable, as the few issues from the first generation have been corrected.
Glock 42 .380 Handgun
Finally, a single-stack Glock that Glock lovers have so long been waiting for… light and small, but not some toy pistol. Indeed, this looks and feels like a real Glock, literally like a miniaturized Glock 19. Meaning, for those familiar with Glocks, use, maintenance, and operation will be second nature for you.
The Glock 42 is not nearly as small as the Ruger LCP, but of course more solid and comfortable in the hand. Great for carry inside the waistband or even pocket carry for larger pockets, with the right holster.
Glock 42 Pro Tips – The DeSantis Nemesis is an excellent pocket carry holster for the Glock 42, because it provides good pocket retention via it’s tacky outside surface, while remaining very thin. Other holsters like the Remora provide more padding so are not recommended for pocket carry.
Don’t Miss: Read our full review of the Glock 42.
Other Possible Contenders
Glock 43 9mm Handgun – Recently, Glock finally came out with the long anticipated slimline single-stack 9mm. While not the EXACT same size as the .380 Glock 42, it is nevertheless very close in size, and still quite portable, while still affording the shooter a solid grip, decent sights, and the traditional Glock feel… instead of feeling like a “tiny pocket gun”.
Sig P238 .380 Handgun
Sig P938 9mm Handgun
Handgun Pro Tips
- If at all possible, always carry an additional fully loaded magazine. Magazines are the most common point of failure, and if you ever do find yourself in a life or death situations where you are using your firearm, you’ll find you’d give most anything for more bullets. Similar to the parachute analogy… better to have and never need than to ever need and not have.
- Clean your carry gun at least weekly, as it’s going to get lint and other debris from daily wear.
- Be aware of your local laws and prohibitions regarding firearms (aka infringements on your natural and Constitutionally guaranteed right to effective self defense). Those infringements are slowly being struck down as they are illegal and tyrannical, but many are still there for the time being, so it’s important to be aware on them.
- Get yourself cheap, reliable legal protection insurance, in case you are ever involved in a firearm use of force situation, or your rights are violated when carrying. Check out Texas Law Shield for details. Do yourself a favor, the $10/month is worth it.
7. EDC Pouch / Wallet / Running Belt
So talking about all this EDC gear… how does one carry it all comfortably? The list wouldn’t be complete without some simple but effective carry options.
Well, firearms aside, these items could live on a key chain, or free floating in a pocket. However I don’t care for the jingling.
Women may often keep many such items in a purse.
That’s where small pocket organizers or running belts come in.
Maxpedition Micro Pocket Organizer
Most people have an ever growing wallet, filled with various cards and bits of papers, etc. Thing is… you don’t “need” most of that stuff, and if you leave it in your drawer, you likely won’t miss most of it. For this reason, I’ve been looking at minimalist wallets for some time, i.e. designed for just a few essential credit cards, driver’s license, and a few bills.
In addition, you’ll also want to carry some EDC gear. now, you could carry the gear in addition to a wallet, or you could combine your EDC carry with the few key credit cards currently in your wallet.
The Maxpedition Micro Pocket Organizer is a great little EDC wallet, if you will. It’s certainly not tiny per-se, meaning it fits in only larger pockets, like cargo pants / shorts. But also running shorts and similar.
What’s great, by adding my credit cards to the inside pocket of this Organizer, I was able to replace my wallet altogether.
Also great, if you get home and change pants, just grab this wallet out of your pants and tranfer it to your other pants… instantly you have your key cards and basic EDC gear with you.
The Friendly Swede Running Belt
Running, walking, or even gym workout clothes rarely have [useful] pockets. And even if they do, your stuff would be bouncing all around in an uncomfortable manner or just getting in the way, meaning pockets are not an ideal method of carrying your essentials on a run.
A simple solution to this is a “running belt”.
There are quite a few running belts on the market today, offering you the ability to take your smartphone, keys, and a few other items along on a run or to the gym for your workout.
The Friendly Swede Running Belt is an excellent quality/value option. for $20 you get 2 running belts, very lower profile, but with enough room for your smartphone, keys, a knife, pepper spray, etc… the basics.
Pro tip – As a side benefit, such a running belt can provide the normally missing tension to carry a small firearm in those thin basketball / workout shorts… whether in your pocket, or in the Small Of The Back or another position, with a sticky type holster.