Everyday Carry

What's Better for EDC?: Minimalism or Redundancy

Bernard Capulong
What's Better for EDC?: Minimalism or Redundancy

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When it comes to everyday carry, there's no “one size fits all” approach. It holds true especially for one important question: just how much is too much? You might not have given it much thought, but you probably already have some idea of your preferences. Maybe you hate the feeling of too much stuff in your pockets and you like to travel light. Or you wouldn't step one foot out the door unless you had a few backups on you. You know, just in case. Each style has its merits, of course, and today we're going to take a more in-depth look at them to help you figure out which approach is best for your needs.

Less Is More

If you're new to everyday carry, chances are you'll start off with a carry most would consider on the minimal side. It might start with more common essentials like your phone, wallet, and keys. But from there, you might also carry a pen, a small flashlight, a small pocket knife, or a multi-tool with a knife built in.


In a minimal carry, you usually keep one item of each category, as opposed to carrying multiples or backups. Besides the actual number of items in the carry, a minimalist approach also applies to the design of those items as well. Think of clean, sleek designs, understated patterns, smaller sizes, and lighter weight.

With all these aspects combined, a minimalist carry offers some key benefits: it's lighter, easier to manage and access, and more comfortable to carry. If you're the type who can't stand feeling weighed down, it's better to go with a minimalist approach than to leave crucial gear behind entirely. Aesthetically, a minimalist carry might also be more appropriate if you're in an urban setting or office environment most of the time. Sometimes, being discreet is just as important as being functional when building a carry.

Of course, minimizing your carry means making sacrifices. You won't be able to have a tool for every job. And the tools you do have might not give you the best performance if they're smaller. For example, a keychain-sized knife might be able to make the cut, but it might take much longer or require a lot more effort than using a 4” folder would.


To pare down your carry to be more minimalist, experiment with removing gear you find you haven't used very often. Better yet, find a replacement, like a multi-tool, that consolidates those functions into something that's easier to carry. A keychain is a great place to start with this, especially since you can find a keychain-sized flashlight and pair it with a multi-functional keychain or tool.

Two is One, One is None

On the flip side, there's another school of thought: redundancy. You've probably heard the phrase “two is one, one is none” in some of the EDCs showcased on the site. It's the idea that in an emergency situation, it pays to have a backup to be truly prepared. If your primary tool fails, you'd be out of luck without a redundant item.


A more “maximalist” carry would fully embrace this idea, with one or more items dedicated to serving a specific function. In other words, it's all about covering your bases. That often includes a knife for cutting, a multi-tool for repairs, a flashlight, a fire source, and so on. Tools might be larger and more robust so they can handle tasks well outside of what your day-to-day might demand, just to be on the safe side. For example, a max'er might carry a full-sized 18650 flashlight with tons of power and epic runtimes.

With this approach, weight is less of a concern. Maximizing the overall functionality of your entire carry is the goal. If you agree with the idea that it's better to have and not need than to need and not have, this style of EDC is for you.

The obvious downside to having all this gear is all the bulk. It's almost like an art and a science to get the right balance of gear you need to feel prepared without feeling encumbered. More gear can slow you down, it can be difficult to carry, and make retrieving the right item even harder (although a proper gear organizer can help with this).


A few tips to max out your carry would be to think of the gear you rely on most, then look for smaller versions you can use as backups. You can even pick up a duplicate item that has a slight variation to cover more bases. For example, your main EDC knife might have a straight edge, but your backup knife might be serrated.

What's Best? A Bit of Both

Both styles of EDC have their merits. And until you're looking at the extreme ends of either side, they're not exactly what I'd call mutually exclusive either. Ideally, your carry falls somewhere in between. It's got everything you need and nothing you don't. It'll take some personal experimentation to figure out what that is exactly, but chances are it'll end up closer to one style than the other.

So, what style of EDC do you prefer—minimalist or redundant? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

#minimalism #carry-smarter #minimalist-edc #edc #and-lighter-weight #smaller-sizes #you see all

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Discussion (42 total)

Matthew Withers ·
My varies from work to non work. Although I have the same tools for each carry, work has more redundancy while my off days carry is lighter
"Two is one, one is none" is nothing more than a marketing technique . . . sell more stuff.
Paul Tobeck ·
Minimalist only is fine for "gents" whose greatest adventures are corporate lunches and rounds of golf.
My current gear is somewhere in the middle, with a list of pieces I need to add yet before I reach "maximumilist" status. That said, carry items depend on the situation.For work, it's a large blade, a multitool (Wave or SAK), small notebook and a flashlight. For weekends or short travels, it's my Urban Outfitters shoulder bag with the above, plus tools, iPad, chargers, notebooks, pens, everything I need to get normal stuff done on the road. I also have a larger Swiss Gear Backpack for longer trips for clothes, laptop, water bottle and to hold my 2 Maxpedition Fatty's with less frequently used tools, redundancies and other SHTF items in them.
Still have a few items to snag, and a few upgrades I want to make, but that's half the fun of EDC is trying to perfect your carry.
Chuck Dee ·
As with most things, there is a middle ground. I carry redundancies of some things- but only those that might be needed. For example, I carry my larger USB flashlight, but a very tiny one in case the charge has run out. If I'm going out for the night, I'll carry just those backup essentials. But If I have to carry a bag, I can put those in with it, and have both.
Everydaycooling ·
I don’t like being weighed down or unprepared. For me I use a minimalist carry but I choose really quality items, and maintain them well, to minimize my exposure to failures.
Agreed. Onelifeknife.
Paul Tobeck ·
Even a $300 knife can fail, no matter how well maintained. Also, one knife style doesn't fit my uses.I tend to carry a modified tanto or or a hollow ground drop point for most daily activities at work, but on weekends I carry a larger, flat ground blade as I tend to cook/BBQ a lot. I also plan to get back to being more outdoorsy, so I've added a large fixed blade to my shopping list, as their are many situations where it's invaluable.
I do both. How is that? On my person I carry my front pocket wallet, cash, Leatherman Wave, ST DuPont Minijet, that tiny Maratac flashlight and my cellphone. Being a woman I also carry a purse with some redundancies and items that are just not practical to carry on my person. It means pantsuits for me. I just try to think about situations that could happen if I am separated from my purse like, say, an active shooter, or if I got stuck most of the day in a meeting somewhere in the building where I work. I don’t lug my purse around everywhere I go at work. Of course, if I could I would be carrying my Taurus but we aren’t allowed to in Federal facilities.
Justin Schiller ·
For me it comes down to what I'm doing or where I'm going. If I'm going to be far away from my car for a long time, I tend to carry more stuff like a spare knife, extra battery, portable phone charger, etc. If I'm going to be close to the car, my spares live in the trunk and I just have the basics. Knife, keys, wallet, small light, phone, pen, glasses. Day to day it's really just a matter of what I expect to run into and how many layers I'm comfortable wearing on a given day.
Matthew Withers ·
I’m the same way, I’ve also started keeping stuff in my wife’s car too, my car emergency kit also changed once I go married since my wife is diabetic so there’s stuff I now keep close just in case that I didn’t before her and I met
Scott Johnson ·
That is a tough title. Minimalism or Redundancy.

Minimalism suggests very few items while Redundancy suggests, for example, 4 knives - a mix of folders, fixed blade and multitools. I just can't see a possible reason to carry so many blades. "Found nothing but pocket lint and knives" from one of the Batman movies.

I go with lack of redundancy on my person for the most part. 3 bandaids, 2 suspension clips, extra aaa for the flashlight, everything else is single items.

If I have repeat items those are in my backpack. But I find if I don't abuse my gear I don't need backups.
Josh ·
i sometimes carry a knife, but i find it useless most of the time since im a student
Absolutely spot on! Been waiting for a piece on this subject. I keep a minimalist (micro) setup on me and my "2 is 1 and 1 is none" redundancy in my backpack. Whether you can bring it inside work or to keep in your car, that's what works for me. I used to carry everything but the kitchen sink, but I started to look like a homeboy with his pants saggin' down. I personally blame Nutnfancy, Cutlerylover, and Sooch on my bag being so damn heavy. Lmao
Matthew Withers ·
I think we’ve all been there with our edc 😅 I used to wear strictly cargo pants in order to have more pockets and every time I had a situation where I needed something but didn’t have it I added to my carry. Like to the point I even added safety pins and hair clips in case someone needed one and also got to the point where I looked like I was prepared if I somehow teleported to the middle of the wild and I began to realize I didn’t need all the stuff so I lightened the load. Redundant stuff stays in my car but minimal stuff on me
Ryan Mackey ·
Good conversation! I agree with several people below of doing the tier system:

In my pockets: keys, phone, wallet, writing utensil, pocket knife, rosary, handkerchief
Backpack: laptop, writing utensil pouch, notebook, book, flashlight, hand lotion, hand sanitizer, sleep mask, headphones, lens cleaner and cloth, tea bags and/or travel pourover coffee maker and filters
MOLLE pouches: 1) custom travel Mass kit; 2) "tech pouch" - USB drive, power stick, earbuds, audio adapters; 3) water bottle

I also have a sling/shoulder bag that I can attach my MOLLE pouches to as well - it depends what I'm doing that day (if I need the laptop or not).
Jared Campbell ·
Minimalist for me for sure. I carry a small split pea lighter, Classic SAK with built in light and pen, Mini Griffin Ti tool and ti whistle, all on my key chain... and that is it. Of course I have my phone, watch, and wallet as well. I have a go bag at home, a get home bag in my car, and an emergency pack in my office at work. I live and work in a City so this works perfect for me and has for a few years now.
Franklion ·
Fantastic subject. I've been curating my EDC collection for over a year and what I've been focusing on is having the best "one" of everything that I need or most likely will need. I don't need to carry a dedicated knife, for example, but having one on a SAK and multi-tool is perfect. I always carry my essentials on me no matter if it's work or play, and I've planned it that way.

I spend days and weeks researching variations of the one item and the same amount of time choosing which one suits me for almost any situation. It has to fit my needs, my style and I have to love it. It's like drafting players in fantasy football for the best team. My EDC "team" consists of one: pen, wallet, key organizer, multi-tool, valet, hat, beanie, pencil, notebook, ear buds and carrier, hand lotion, lip balm, grid organizer, totem and more. Some of it has to be trial and error though. I bought and tried out 5 wallets before I found (and love) my current one.

Some items I do have more than one of. I currently have one hank but definitely will be getting more to rotate. I have 3 flashlights only because I showed my wife the 3 I was debating on and she surprised me with all 3 a couple of days later. I think bags (and pouches) in particular is an item you do need more than one of but I wouldn't call it redundancy. It's back to the "one" of everything philosophy. I have one dedicated for work, one 10L for hiking and hydration, one 25L cinch for bulk items or throw ins, one sling (although crappy) and currently have a 12L on pre-order as my everyday go out and play/weekend/vacation bag.

One of the reasons why I love seeing peoples EDC/pocket dumps is because they are basically curated collections of that persons style and personality. Because minimalism plays a huge part there was care and thought put into each item. They chose those brands, those materials, and those colors. They need an item with that functionality and that purpose. EDC collections are probably more revealing than dating profiles.

So what's better for EDC? I’d say whatever you need it to be.
Mike T ·
Gray man mimimal for me. I work in operating room so no need to carry thru out the day. Phone, gerber dime, keys. I have a Speck brand phone protector with built in CC holder holding 4 cards and a $20. Car has first responder fak. Weekend running gets all of the above plus my SW SHIELD 9mm and extra 10rd clip. I have a small kit for longer excursions, maxpedition hip pouch with 5C's and an addidas drawstring back sack to throw it all in if need the need to evac arises. Being a Corpsman with recon marines in my early days taught me minimalist approach long before the civilian world did. Semper Fi!
Karl Hicks ·
Redundancy is definitely my forte. 18650 powered primary light with a spare battery then a AAA powered back up since it's a common cell and readily available. Currently have a Thrunite TN12 (2016) and a Olight i3E EOS. I use my Gerber EAB when I'm not at work and have a Benchmade Griptillian 551 for more heavy duty cutting. Minimalist wallet seems like a given, though. Don't need an excess of cards so a wallet that's just large enough for the essentials seems best to me.
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