An Introduction to EDC Fidget Spinners and Toys

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You’re probably used to seeing a knife, flashlight, multitool, and wallet in any given pocket dump. Lately, you may have seen EDCs with a little gadget that sort of looks like a tool, but you can't quite figure out what it's for. Chances are, it isn't a tool at all. It's a toy. A fidget toy, to be precise. And while the concept isn't new, it's making a comeback thanks to a few recently released toys that are all the rage in the EDC scene right now. If you're feeling a bit confused by now, we don't blame you. In this piece, we'll shed some light on why so many EDCers are pocketing toys (yes, they can be useful!), some of the popular items to fidget with, and how they all work.

What's the point of EDC spinners and other fidget toys?

Do you ever flick open your knife over and over just because? How about spinning your phone around, or clicking your pen? If so, you know how fun and relaxing it can be to play with your gear. 

It's probably not the best idea to be playing around with a knife in public, so you'd be happy to find a similar satisfaction in a discreet, dedicated fidget toy. The best part is, most EDC-worthy fidget toys are built with the quality, engineering, and materials you look for in the rest of your EDC. 

With that in mind, it isn't so surprising to see so many EDCers carrying them around, since they're also useful for:

  • Keeping your hands busy: Sometimes you just don't know what to do with your hands, especially when you're feeling anxious. Having a fidget toy to occupy your hands can also help prevent bad habits from forming, like biting your nails, or worse.
  • Relaxation and mental breaks: Take a breather from information overload with the oddly satisfying and relaxing action of fidgeting.
  • Focus and mindfulness: Spinners and other toys require a bit of coordination, which can help you refocus on a single object and action.
  • Just for fun: Passing the time with something other than your phone is a nice change of pace. Dogs and babies love a good spinner, too.

Let's take a closer look at some of the most popular types of fidget toys and how you can use them:


Fidget Spinner

The most popular fidget toy these days is the spinner. It’s a small fidget tool built around a bearing that simply spins. Grip the middle bearing (or button) and let it rip. Counterweights surrounding the center button keep the toy balanced to reach impressively long spin times. On the low end, there’s simple plastic ones, but custom makers have their own small batch tools made from titanium and other exotic metals.

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Spinning Top 

Spinning tops are one of the oldest toys ever. They’ve been in existence for thousands of years across several completely different civilizations. These simple toys have gotten a modern upgrade. They’re engineered to be perfectly weighted and balanced for extremely long spin times. It’s not uncommon to see titanium tops and tungsten carbide beads at the point of surface contact for extended spin times. For an especially compact top to pocket, check out this one by J.L. Lawson.

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Fidget Cube

The Fidget Cube was born from one of the most successful Kickstarter projects out there. This six-sided toy has different methods of fidgeting on each side. You’ll find buttons to click, wheels to spin, a joystick-like side, and a small click switch on one side. These little toys are small, pocketable, and have a ton of different features to keep your hands busy.

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Begleri

Way before custom CNC-machined fidget toys, there was the begleri. Originating in Greece as a derivative of the rosary/worry beads, the begleri is a small toy consisting of two weights attached at either end of a small string or chain. You flip it between your fingers to keep your hands busy, or you can learn tricks with it. These days, you can find a ton of different styles made from precious metals, paracord, and much, much more. It’s even easy to make your own for a custom experience.

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Bolt Action Pen

If you're constantly rapid-fire clicking the top of your plastic clicky pen, you might want to upgrade to an even more satisfying bolt action mechanism. The Tactile Turn Glider is one of the most popular bolt action pens in the EDC scene right now. The all-metal body is built to last a lifetime and the unique mechanism is really fun to play with. Using your thumb, you can slide down the bolt, lock it into place, and then release it with a satisfying “sssssshhhhkkkk-click” back into place.

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Zippo Lighter

Even though you’re always told not to play with fire, the classic Zippo lighter has been a go-to source of entertainment for idle hands. Even if you’re not doing sick lighter tricks with it, the action of flipping it open, sparking the lighter, and then flipping it shut is entertaining. Using a Zippo is a uniquely tactile experience that the fidgeter will appreciate.

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Mechanical Key Switch Tester

If you're looking for your fix of a different kind of tactile feedback, don't rule out a mechanical keyboard switch. It feels much better than the standard, mushy chiclet-style keys you might have on your laptop. Almost everyone here on the Everyday Carry team uses a mechanical keyboard with their preferred kind of switch (there's a huge range of them, from quiet to ultra clacky). This small tester has four different types of switches, each with a differing level of audible and physical “clicks.” If pressing and clicking is your favorite way to fidget, try one of these.

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What are your thoughts on fidget toys? Passing fad or new staple in your EDC? Let us know in the comments below if you use one and why (or why not)!

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Coins! Doing coin tricks is a great way to pass the time and most people always have some change on them. Although 50 cent pieces are the best size and those aren't as common. But they're a lot cheaper than everything else on this list!
100%. in Canada we have a $1 coin (loonie) and a $2 coin (toonie). The toonie is perfect, though the $1 coin works too. They are dimensionally similar to the US $0.50 coin I think.
One of the only tricks I learned as a frustrated magician was the coin roll: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbokdZh7_Gg. It's a great trick to pull out in public (with a nonchalant, look-away expression) as it just mesmerizes people. I love it.
Bro! I could watch that all day. So did you get that smooth with it?
Yup, I've been doing it since I was a kid so I can do it without looking nonstop with about 99% success of it staying in constant motion. :)
Bro! Show is a vid of it! Would love to see how awesome that looks!
I kinda think they are stupid and "useless", but on the other hand there are so many good looking spinners etc. on Instagram and I think I need one...but then again, often times they are expensive AF and when would I actually use one? But they are made out of copper or Ti...I guess I have to buy one! But I'm gonna lose them after one week or so...UUGGGHHHH!
I agree. They really shouldn't cost that much. A lot of sellers out there are trying to make quick cash and especially when its a new and hot product right now.
$150 or so for a spinner isn't really worth it imho. But I just saw one from 'WE Knives' for about $50ish, might give it a try =)
I got my spinner at like $10 on Amazon and it works just fine man! Something in the $50 range should look way cooler though.
I heard 7-11 sells them for 8 dollars
What a satisfying article! Going to build a begleri then might purchase one of those spinners. Thanks!
Two others I'm a big fan of are Baoding balls and grip trainers. A grip trainer has the added bonus of actually improving grip strength, like the gyroscopic balls (widely sold as "Powerballs" that were popular a few years ago to ease carpal tunnel like symptoms. None of these are really EDC, but they are great to keep at a desk. I use a grip trainer and it does a good job keeping me from biting my nails!
That's exactly what I do. Grip trainer at my desk.
This fidget thing is getting out of hand. I know fidget toys have been around for a long time, but since Fidget Cube hit it huge there've been like 50 new fidget toys (mostly spinners) on Kickstarter every day trying to be the next million dollar idea. I stinks of passing fad.

With that said, spinner rings and flipper coins could've maybe gotten a mention in the article. Check out the Gear Ring by Kinekt and the Decision Maker by Anthony Lawson. Personally, I like to place my key ring around my finger and spin my Keysmart and key fob around in a circles like I'm Billy the Kid showing off my pistol handling skills. :)
The spinners seem like a cool item, but I'm stuck on pocket stones, always have one on me and has a good feel in the hand.
It's not exactly the same thing, but when I know there's nobody around I like to continually flip my ZT 0562. It's got such nice action and heft to it. Obviously can't do that on a crowded bus or subway, though. hehe
For sure. I don't have experience with the ZT, but similarly, I love flipping my Kershaw Nerve, or Leek. Same goes form my Black Label 1678BL.
I get the restless hands and all, but I never got into or liked "flippers". They are gimmicky and weaker compared to other folders or small EDC fixed blades. Flippers aren't any faster and actually slow the user from using the blade due to grip manipulation during opening. Just open a folder normally. As for flipping "Non-Flippers". Never flip a knife open. Chris Reeves you know of Chris Reeves Knives has a NO FLIPPING policy and can void your warranty. Benchmade, Gerber and Three Sisters Forge all say to not flip/flick a knife open. I'll get off my soapbox now. As a fidget copping mechanism I get it but as a everyday "that's how I always open my knife" no.
Flippers are functionally no slower or faster than a decent thumb-opening knife. Unless it's a fixed blade, you're going to have to adjust your grip sometime after withdrawing the knife from your pocket. Even a waved knife doesn't get around that. Flippers can be opened without moving the hand from the draw position, then you acquire a proper grip for use. A thumb-swept knife has to be slightly reoriented after draw for opening, then slightly reoriented again for use. It's all a wash, as long as the knife is well designed.

As for flicking knives open, it depends on the company, and most of the people who don't want you doing it are just hedging their bets from a warranty perspective. There's very little functional difference between a Hinderer framelock and a Sebenza framelock, yet CRK tells you not to flick their knives open, while Rick Hinderer's exact quote, IIRC, was "flip the hell out of it." Some knives are made to do it, and if it's a flipper from a reputable company, it can handle the stress just fine.
HAHA, I never put any thought to it, but I do the same thing with my Emerson CQC-7. I really only thought of it as practicing (everyone should), like dry firing your handgun. I will admit that it does smooth me some how.
I've got a number of them (to include the cube, which I keep at work). I even keep one on my key chain in case I forget one. They really are remarkable for helping folks like me who are easily distracted keep focused.
I made my own and when people see it they say that it's a stupid thing to have but after a few spins and by the end of our conversation they all ask me to make them one
I bought a fidget spinner for $3 off amazon, and it took 3 weeks to get here. "Looks like stupid fun," I thought. But then everyone else wanted one.

I shopped around and bought 200 of them for less than $2 each. I'm going to sell out, and I've been selling them at $15.
Now that's the way to do it. Find a niche, get in on the ground floor, make bank. Nice job sir.
I got one not long ago, similar situation with buying from amazon, everyone wants one. I've been thinking about a bulk order as well. Did you buy metal or plastic?
I don't know about everyone else, but ever since I watched Top Gun, I had to teach myself how to roll a pen through my finger. This has always been a great way for me to relax and is already in my EDC.
Stress balls are also great. I use a therapy ball (the same kind they use in hospitals) called Thera-Band. They come in several levels of firmness too.
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