Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Every Day Carry: The Philosophy

From Top: Leatherman Squirt PS4, Spyderco Dragonfly, Fenix LD01
Trifecta of awesome: Leatherman, Spyderco and Fenix
It started years ago, before I had ever even heard the term "EDC." Long before I learned the name of my obsession, there was the obsession. I was working outdoors, cleaning pools in Southern California. The cheap sunglasses I was buying would only last a week or two before they wore out. I wasn't rich by any means, but it dawned on me that the cheap ones were costing me more. I couldn't really afford the $100 pair, but the cheap ones were costing me more in the long run!

What I was noticing was that anything I used daily had to be more rugged to withstand the abuse of working outside with water, harsh chemicals and getting in and out of the truck all day. Shoes, watch, wallet, you name it. Nothing that wasn't rugged lasted any length of time. Which leads me to the first rule of my EDC philosophy:

1. If something is used every day, it must be rugged


This is the heart of my EDC philosophy, and one I have lived by for 3 decades. The more I use something, the better and more rugged it needs to be.  in order to survive the abuse I put all my stuff through. Recently I retired a pair of Oakleys I had worn for 7 years. I have pocket knives that are just as good today as they were 20 years ago.  Granted, some EDC items like LED flashlights can go obsolete within a year, but some EDC items can stand the test of time. Either way, my normal cheapskate rules don't apply to EDC.

2. One is none, and two is one


Keychain Tools: Craftsman Keychain Screwdriver, Gerber Shard and Sunwayman R01A Flashlight
I've had the Craftsman tool on my keychain for 20 years!
Having backups for stuff you use every day is a no-brainer, but in the last few years I've really embraced this concept. Even with my average, boring life, there have still been a few times where I've used EDC items like flashlights, knives or lighters in what I would consider an emergency situation. What I like to do now is look at how my "second string" backups compliment their every day counterparts. In some cases the backup might be my first choice. Also, I like to really think through the use cases of all my backup gear. For instance, I keep a backup flashlight (Fenix E01) on my wife's keychain. It's extremely rugged and totally idiot-proof. If my EDC light fails, or I'm not there, I know the light will function when it needs to. So in this case, the primary use case for a backup flashlight would be in a last ditch scenario.

3. Small carry


The old saying "the best tool is the one you have with you" is especially true for me. I tend to leave anything behind that's too heavy or cumbersome. I might say "I'm fine with the extra weight", but do I actually put it in my pocket? There are plenty of situations where I will carry larger gear, but day to day, I just prefer to lug around less weight.

I'm not obsessed about weight, but I've noticed that the lighter and smaller something is, the more I tend to carry it. Because of this, I like the most bang for the buck I can get. If I can get a compact pocket knife that does the same job as a larger one, I'm going to pick that one.

4. Easily obtainable


Ray-Ban Wayfarers
The polarized lenses on the Wayfarers are awesome
This is where my philosophy is going to differ from some of the serious EDC enthusiasts with their fancy, custom and almost always ridiculously expensive gear. While I do my best to take care of my meager possessions, I am fundamentally clumsy. Some of my gear lasts a decade and some of my gear gets run over by my truck the day I buy it. Because of this, I may need to replace any given EDC item on, uh, short notice.

If I can't get it from somewhere like Amazon or Walmart or somewhere I can have it within a few days, then it's not for me. Everything I carry every day is a replaceable cog in the wheel.


5. KISS Principle


Keep it simple, stupid. Just as I noticed I was leaving bulky items behind in favor of the the more compact ones, I noticed that I was leaving complicated items behind in favor of the simpler. Being a computer nerd, complexity is something I am comfortable with, but for EDC most of that complexity just isn't needed day to day. As an engineer, I despise over-engineering and I respect elegant simplicity that can go into something as basic and mundane as a small, folding pocket knife.

Conclusions


Since I have started heavily scrutinizing the items that are with me, I have seen much more and better use from them. So have my friends and family, because when something goes wrong, out comes the Leatherman or little pocket knife.

Tag Heuer Link
My 40th birthday present, a Tag Heuer Link
People don't want things to go wrong, but with a little planning and a few small, affordable gadgets,  they can easily handle most of what life throws at them.











EDC Items


Here's most of the items in my "EDC Rotation":


ItemCurrent Description
Pocket KnifeSpyderco Dragonfly
Spyderco Ladybug
The most commonly used item in my EDC arsenal. The Spydercos are just superb.
FlashlightFenix LD01 (AAA)
Jetbeam BA10 (AA)
Great for emergencies but more useful day to day than you would think. For camping and the woods, I usually have a more powerful AA (or larger) flashlight on me.
Multi-ToolLeatherman Squirt PS4
Leatherman Wingman
Situational. The further I am from home, the more likely I am to have a multi-tool with me. For really far from home or camping, I like to have a larger multi-tool like the Wingman.
SunglassesOakley Gas Can
Rayban Wayfarer
I wear the Wayfarers when I want to look nice, but for EDC I have the Gas Cans, which seem pretty much indestructible.
WatchCheap Timex
Tag Heur Link
I have a couple nices watches like my Tag Heuer, but for EDC I want something I'm not afraid to accidentally destroy.
Fixed BladeKershaw Bear Hunter II
Cold Steel Tanto GI
I always carry a fixed blade knife when I'm camping or in the woods.
KeychainGerber Shard
Craftsman Gadget
SWM R01A Flashlight
I usually have a few keychain gadgets on any given keychain/day.

Oakley Gas Can

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