Class Is In Session: Everything You Need to Know About Building a Timeless Carry

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Not every EDC setup has to scream “tactical" to be effective. This two-part Carry Smarter guide focuses on two interpretations of the other end of the EDC spectrum — the “classy” carry. In this half, we’ll cover timeless, everyday gear made from classic materials like leather and brass that will patina and age as you carry them. Part two will take a look at the “gentleman’s carry,” — high quality items with some added touches that will be right at home in a suit jacket or briefcase. But first…

What makes gear “tactical?”

You’ve probably noticed “tactical” gear in several EDCs, often just because tactical gear is seen as high-performance and dependable. As it should be — “tactical” implies that the product can satisfy the rigorous demands of military and law enforcement applications. As a result, tactical gear is usually black, olive drab, khaki, or camouflage to blend in with military uniform. Most tools and gear are constructed from lightweight and durable materials like hard anodized aluminum, stainless steel, or ballistic nylon.

Aesthetics aside, tactical gear typically possesses features suited for the field or for self defense. For example, a tactical knife might be all-black with a partially serrated tanto blade to cut tougher materials or to pierce with more strength. A tactical flashlight would have a “momentary on” switch for precise control of when and for how long it shines, coupled with quick access to a strobe function to disorient an attacker.

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Some tactical, some casual. Can you spot the difference?

Why might I not want to carry tactical gear?

It could be overkill for your daily needs. The tactical features described might not only be overkill for your everyday tasks, but they could also be inconvenient or inefficient. If you do mostly slicing with your knife or need cleaner cuts, a serrated tanto blade would make that difficult. When checking under a car seat after dropping your phone, the last thing you need is an instant strobe at 500 lumens. And as you’d expect, there are some tasks we face everyday that we need the right tools for that just aren’t made in the tactical world.

It doesn’t appropriately match your style. While an overbuilt tank of a knife might look great in a pair of BDUs, it might not make sense or sit comfortably in your favorite pair of jeans. Minimalists might not appreciate or even need the milspec features on tactical gear, and instead might want something simpler but just as effective.

It can come off as alarming to other people. Knives, even tactical knives originally, are intended to be used responsibly for their utility as tools. A tactical knife could easily break down a box for a co-worker or prep some food at your friend’s barbecue. But even by proving how useful they can be to EDC, people might unfortunately feel uncomfortable to see you carrying one.

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Leather and brass all day.

What design cues should I look for if I want something more casual, but still sturdy for everyday use?

Vintage and timeless materials. The more at-home your gear would look in your grandfather’s pockets, the better. Avoid modern materials and instead opt for good ol’ leather, brass, copper, steel, and wood. Remember, you’ll want your gear to last a lifetime and still feel comfortable to carry. Leather will tan with age and ride gently in your pockets. Brass and copper take on beautiful patinas and stay sturdy enough to age for years to come.

Bright and vibrant colors. Avoiding an all-black kit will better convey tool or accessory should you resort to using your EDC in public. Warm, shiny metals like copper and brass can be more familiar-looking than modern G10 or cold, clinical anodized aluminum. As an added bonus, bright colors help with visibility if you drop or lose your gear.

Simple and effective features and technology. Especially in the case of physical goods like our EDC tools, we can get by with low-tech. Some even prefer the unmistakable feeling of analog and mechanical gear. These features add to the timelessness of a classy, casual aesthetic. Opening a vintage knife using two hands and a nail nick is easier to process to others than deploying a Waved knife instantly from your pocket.

There are tons of ways to maintain a non-threatening EDC that fits your personal style while maximizing the utility that you come to expect from your everyday carry gear. Here are just some of our recommendations:

Izola Brass Pocket Comb

Stay looking sharp with this buy-it-for-life brass pocket comb by Izola. Two different tooth widths allow you to get your hair just the way you want it. The comb includes a canvas sheath that keeps all that pomade out of your pocket. Built to last and made in the USA, this comb is sure to be an heirloom item.

BUY ($30)

Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Knife

The No. 8 by Opinel is one of the most affordable EDC knives out there. Made in France since 1890, the Opinel has been a cultural staple in everyday life for over 100 years. The 3.25” carbon blade takes a razor sharp edge and stays in place thanks to a locking collar. Classic looks and a contoured wooden handle result in a perfect non-threatening blade to add to your everyday carry.

BUY ($13)

Saddleback Leather Card Wallet

Keep it minimal with the Saddleback Leather Card Wallet. When you want to keep the pocket bulge down to a minimum, bring only the necessary ID, credit cards, and bill or two. There’s a built-in RFID blocker for added security and a pigskin lining for durability. The Saddleback Card Wallet is built to last a lifetime and will tan and wear with the rest of your classy EDC.

BUY ($21)

The Hillside Pocket Square

Not to be underestimated, the ever-useful handkerchief has found its way into gentlemen’s pockets for centuries. They can be used to clean up a spill, wipe your face, or keep your phone safe from scratches. Countless patterns and materials make it easy to add some personal flair to your carry. The Hillside has everything from patterned flannel to selvedge chambray, all sourced from the finest fabric mills and made in the USA.

BUY ($39)

Prometheus Lights Beta QR Copper Flashlight

Few materials age as nicely and quickly as raw copper. The solid copper body will patina quickly and dramatically, showing its use. The unique quick-release mechanism keeps this AAA light safely on your keys for carrying and easily accessible when you need it. The Beta QR’s LED pumps out up to 85 lumens with beautiful colorful rendering, making it one of the best keychain lights in the industry.

BUY ($79)

Zippo 1941 Brass Replica

“Does anyone have a light?” How often do you hear this without being able to answer? The 1941 Zippo is an exact replica of one of their most popular models. The brass will naturally patina the more you use it, taking on its own identity in your EDC lineup. If you like to keep things nice and shiny, it can polish up to a beautiful luster.

BUY ($27)

Standard Pattern Customized Solid Brass Keyloop Belt Hook

It’s never a bad idea to keep some identification on your keys, especially given the cost of a replacement car key. Class up your carry and keep track of your keys with the Keyloop Belt Hook from Standard Pattern. It’s made of solid brass with a wear-resistant tumbled finish to dependably secure your keys to a belt loop. The custom handmade brass ring can have any phrase you want, including but not limited to name, phone number, and email address.

(BUY $40)

Topo Designs Mountain Briefcase

Bring the great outdoors into your office with the Mountain Briefcase by Topo Designs. The 1000D Cordura nylon bag has a padded laptop sleeve and several pockets for pens and notebooks. There’s enough room to fit all of your EDC essentials while looking great in the process. Carry the bag like a traditional briefcase with the top handles or use the stow-able shoulder straps to carry it like a backpack or messenger bag. Bright colors and leather accents set this bag apart from the drab color ways of traditional tactical bags.

BUY ($169)

KarasKustoms "The Bolt" Brass Pen

You don't have to settle for cheap disposable pens, carry something that will last as long as the rest of your EDC. The Bolt by Karas Kustoms is a machined pen with a silent, custom-made bolt mechanism to extend the writing tip. The clean aesthetic and tight tolerances on this streamlined pen will be sure to draw attention. Naturally anti-microbial, the solid brass body will patina with use and resist germs in the process. The Bolt is compatible with plenty of different refills to provide the exact writing experience you want.

BUY ($75)

Check back soon for part two of our guide to classy carries, as we break down the essentials you'll need for more formal occasions. What's your favorite "classy casual" item to carry? Can you think of a time when simpler, old-school gear got the job done better for you? Let us know in the comments below!

Items Shown in the Header: Handmade Field Notes Cover, Tactile Turn Shaker in Raw Copper, Orient Bambino Automatic Watch, Corter Leather Card Wallet, Zippo 1941 Brass Replica Lighter, Brass Compas/Sundial, Corter Leather Brass Bottlehook, Peter Atwood Raw Bar Wrunt, Move Mini Bolt EDC Pen, Handmade Paracord Braid

#carry-smarter #old-school-tactical-gear #1941-zippo-replica-patina see all



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Discussion (18 total)

Now you're speakin' my language ;-) I'm definitely adding a little Opinel to my repertoire soon.

I haven't used their products, but Toast looks like a nice way of adding a little wooden warmth and class to your gadgets - http://www.toastmade.com/
I wouldn't mind a nice wood sheet on my Macbook, good stuff!
Have either of you tried a Toast cover?
Haven't tried one, nope!
Great feature! I don't have an Opinel (yet), but I do have an Okapi. This inspired me to put together my own little classic carry: http://everydaycarry.com/posts/5243/Classic-alternative-Carry#
Very nice! The Weekender looks great on that W&W strap, I may have to pick one up for my Seiko.
Great article on classic EDC gear. Looking forward to part deus!
I like this article, bit i will still carry my Gerber Fatty or one of my Victorinox. As a dress knife i night carry a Fällkniven U2. As a flashlight i still like my old Maglight Solitaire aluminium, but i can se class when i ser it. Maybe i till get an Opinel, bit i still havet an old Every small pocket knife that my grandfather used on hos cigars, bit its not on my EDC.
Great article! This is very much the way my carry is leaning these days, so I found this to be a great read.
Great article Ed! Thanks for sharing. I have several EDC knives, mostly tactical, but I picked up the Opinel No 6 Carbon a few weeks ago and absolutely love it! Minimal design, awesome wood, and holds an edge like its a job! Thanks again for putting this together...excited to see what comes out in part 2!
Admittedly, I don't have an Opinel (YET...). My friend has one and every time I see it, I think that I need one even more. At $12 I really have no excuse.
Neat, Ed! Didn't realise the Opinel is so affordable. Great thing about posts like these is finding stuff you didn't know existed - like the brass comb. That's just badass. And so many good-looking bolt action pens out there - we're just going to have to make one. Done deal - that's our next project. May it be the usurper. Ed - many thanks.
What kind of watch is pictured in the header (at the top)
Prometheus looks good, i want to try someonce..
EDC items that develop character and take on the lifestyle of the owner.
My opinel no. 6 carbon, my grandfathers zippo, my father 's waxed cotton jacket, and my leather journal look better every day.
New member, yet long time fan here.
Was wondering what brand is that multitool on the keychain displayed on the cover photo?
Can't wait to post my gear!
Peter Atwood raw bar wrunt