Everyday Carry

How to Build a Weatherproof EDC

Mikey Bautista
How to Build a Weatherproof EDC

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Life in the Philippines isn't always the tropical paradise our tourism department would have the world believe. We are far enough from the equator to enjoy cool weather during parts of the year, but close enough to the Ring of Fire to be burned in its wake. We've been battered by heat waves, storms, floods, and earthquakes in our recent past, and the writing on the wall is that we're in for much worse. Today, July 30th, our country prepares for the inevitable Big One as we conduct a metro-wide earthquake drill. Six big storms have hit the country in the past seven months, and every day the weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable.

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Recent tropical storm formations in the Pacific Ocean. Source: NOAA

Even as a relatively safe city-dweller, the elements pose a serious threat to the people and property around me. In this very real and personal edition of Carry Smarter, I take a hard look at my everyday carry and determine the features and adjustments I've had to make to address both the increasingly harsh climate and ill-equipped infrastructure of my city. My hope is that you’ll discover what you need to know to better choose gear you can depend on, no matter the weather or situation.

The 3 Main Qualities of a Weatherproof Carry

I had to take a hard look at the quality of my carry both inside and out. For example, a watch may be made of rustproof and waterproof materials, but if not reliably sealed, it will be rendered useless caught out in the rain. Similarly, a knife may be made of the hardest and sharpest steels on the market, but rusted out it's neither safe nor useful. I considered the following features when thinking about how to adjust my kit to better brave the storms:

  1. Water Resistance: To be truly secure against the weather, your equipment must be protected against its most abundant and pervasive resource — water. They should be sealed against moisture and liquid entry, resistant to its chemical reactions, and able to survive extended exposure against it (especially important given how much of it we get in typhoon season).

  2. Enduring quality: As important build quality is to a product, even more crucial is how it retains that quality under and after duress. Will your flashlight still turn on after nosediving into the dirt, or will your phone stand up to dust kicked up by the wind? And if they do, can they continue that performance day in and day out?

  3. Internal Protection: External durability doesn't mean much if it can't sufficiently protect a product's core function. Unprotected, unsealed, non-padded, and ineffective construction will render your tools to trinkets with even light use.

Below are ideas for EDC-worthy essentials that meet these criteria. These aren't necessarily for the hardcore survivalist, but they do possess reliable features to get you through constant bad weather. Also important is that they're both readily available to pick up as well as suitable for your daily carry, such as if you have to commute for hours in a downpour like I often do. Simply put, they're among the best weatherproof tools you can actually get your hands on without investing a fortune.

8 Essentials Built to Brave a Storm

Spyderco Salt I

The Salt I is based on Spyderco's venerated Delica design and features one of the most unique steels on the market. Japanese H-1 steel does not rust. That fact alone already makes the knife a strong contender for any outdoor activity, but in our rain-soaked metro in particular, that quality is priceless. Add in EDC-friendly specs, price, and build pedigree, and the Salt I is the easiest pick for this list.

BUY ($69)

Nitecore EF1

Nitecore's newest flashlight may be overkill for this list, but it's a good example of the type of build quality to aim for. Designed for the most dangerous applications, it achieves explosion-proof tolerances with a body thickness of 3mm (thicker than most lights on the market) and a 10mm-thick epoxy resin optical lens to protect its emitter. It pushes out 830 lumens on either 1 x 18650 or 2 x CR123A cells, and uses an efficient single-action sliding switch for ease of use even while gloved. In the face of calamity, the EF1 is the light that lives to tell the tale.

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Columbia Watertight II Rain Jacket

Heavy jackets like parkas and windbreakers aren't de rigueur in a tropical country such as ours, but the ever-present chance of rain and floods means staying dry is still a priority. A light, waterproofed, breathable light jacket like the Columbia Watertight II is perfect for both the temperature and sufficient protection needed for daily commutes. The price and local availability are also attractive additions to the package.

BUY ($50)

LifeProof Frē Phone Case

Staying connected and having a means to communicate is vital in a bad weather emergency. Plenty of phone cases offer some protection, but in these conditions, not all are what they're cracked up to be. I've seen for myself the LifeProof in action, and do I believe its considerable defense to be worth its heftier price tag. It keeps the highest possible safety standard of protection without diminishing the phone's usability, putting it leagues ahead of your ordinary case or sleeve.

BUY ($62)

Bellroy Elements Pocket

Wallets are already essential to our EDC, and in an emergency cash and identification are crucial to getting escalated assistance. The Bellroy Elements Pocket's all-weather, durable leather and water-resistant zipper accommodate and insulate up to 15 cards and bills, keeping them dry when you aren't.

BUY ($90)

Rite in the Rain All-Weather Notebook Kit

One of the toughest notebooks in the business makes carrying even more convenient by teaming up with a rugged Cordura fabric cover and all-weather pen. This ensures that emergency numbers, locations, and messages get delivered when nothing else has stayed dry, legible, or powered on. We've talked before about why you should carry a pen and a notebook, so additional resilience on top of utility is more than welcome.

BUY ($29)

Timbuk2 Rogue Laptop Backpack

In Manila, our residential areas are so far removed from our business districts that we carry the tools of our livelihood (like laptops) along with us for multi-hour commutes. The Timbuk2 Rogue is a rugged city bag that would excel at such travels, defending against the elements with waterproof tarpaulin and an internal mesh sleeve that holds laptops up to 15". Its external flap with push-locks covers up and shields the main compartment, while an external pocket and internal organization leave enough room for supplies.

BUY ($60)

Casio G-Shock GW6900-1 Solar Atomic

Military tough, packed with features, and inexpensive, there's a G-Shock for every person and profession. It's the watch you see most in public here in the metro. The toughness and weather resistance are a natural fit for the weather, and the variety of styles at affordable prices keeps things attainable and interesting. The GW6900's solar atomic features put our scorching months to good use, and its timeless construction guarantees performance the rest of the stormy year.

BUY ($76)

I hope that my circumstances and considerations in selecting a weatherproof carry have given you ideas on how to adapt and prepare a carry suitable for your own elemental challenges. Do you have a piece of kit that's survived its share of squalls? Tell us your story in the comments below.

#emergency #survival #stormproof #waterproof #weatherproof #carry-smarter #how-to-build-an-edc-bag #how-to-build-a-edc-bag see all

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Discussion (14 total)

Bernard Capulong ·
When I lived in Miami, it would just start pouring out of nowhere, even on a sunny day. I ended up investing in an Arc'teryx Alpha FL shell and it was perfectly light weight to wear even in the hot and humid Southern Florida, but it also rolls up and packs into my EDC bag easily. Probably on the worst downpour I got caught in, I soaked through my leather wallet. Lucky I kept my phone in a sealed zippered pocket on my jacket. Another thing I like about just packing a shell with me is that when it gets really windy, I don't have to fuss with an umbrella (cheaper ones tend to invert or just break at some point too). It's raining in NYC right now, but I feel prepared.
Bill C ·
Mikey, well done list, and I love having some perspective from an environment far from my own. Even more important, most of the principles you've applied to your EDC list can be applied across a wide variety of climates. I lived in the desert Southwestern US for several years, an outdoor climate that is brutal to gear, and everything you listed would survive that well. I especially like the criteria you apply of "enduring quality", something that can be found at every budget point and that is a core defining factor of the EDC philosophy. Again, a great read, salamat!
Gerald Woller ·
As a U.S Navy Combat Photographer, I've been to every continent and ocean except South America. Good gear is literally a life saver. Oakley sunglasses, G-Shock (of some sort), Under Armor, Spyderco Danner Boots and a Pelican case were essential pieces of gear. Zebra F301 and a Rite in Rain note pad were always on me as well. Japan was my favorite country to visit, but the beaches in the Philippines are AMAZING!
Thomas Ferguson ·
i wind up in squirrelly weather a lot and as i skateboard a lot as well in order to take good photos so in order to protect my cameras (point + shoot, gopro, film, mirrorless SLR) i've found a small pelican case (i use an 1120 bot it's a lot bigger then ideal) that i can throw in my backpack with sensitive gear works amazing, or to protect a cellphone or external battery the otterbox pursuit series dryboxes are a must have)
Brook ·
I go to Manila once a year and have always wondered, can you carry a knife? I'm sure you'll get stopped by a security guard at the malls and shops, but around town is it legal?
Jonathan Reed ·
Don't know if it is illegal or not, but I do know if a cop wants it he will take it from you. We were driving back from the provinces to catch our flight back to the USA and our driver was stopped at a police checkpoint. He had a fairly good sized knife sitting out in the open on top of the console. The cop said something to him and he handed it over. After we left I asked him "is it illegal to have that" and he said "No, he just wanted it- too bad- I only bought it yesterday"
Mikey Bautista ·
We have a standing law from the early 80s which says that you can't carry a knife in any form in public, period, but in my experience I just play it safe with a small blade on myself (or a SAK -- no one bats an eyelash at SAKs). Most of the people prosecuted here actually used knives in a crime, but I personally haven't heard of anyone being arrested for carrying one. Still, as I said, I play on the safe side just in case.
Mikey Bautista ·
Also my Dragonfly 2's clip is out in the open on my jeans and mall cops don't even care, haha.
Excellent article. Many good ideas and advice.
Brian R ·
Has anyone ever considered drybags? I really like using small dry bags to protect my non-waterproof items that stay in my pockets. I discover them because I don't like using a case on my phone but when I have to move my phone into a jacket pocket the condensation from my body inevitably ended up soaking my phone ( Phone was ok but for paper this is a bad situation ). So I believe LokSak makes a bunch of different sized dry bags they are kinda like super heavy duty ziplock bags but they do the trick when things get wet outside, and when not in use they roll up super small and weigh next to nothing. I like to just leave them in my jackets/pants just incase I get caught without a jacket. They are great for wallets, cellphones, pocket notebooks, and any other electronics or non waterproof items.
J Wahooo ·
A Fisher Space Pen with that write in the rain notebook would be perfect
James Freeman ·
I'd be curious if anyone's found a decent, low cost waterproof soft case -- something to fold up and pack in case of downpours, and large enough for phone, wallet, and similar-sized items?
Try LL Bean.
Nick ·
Look at any army surplus store or Amazon and get a "military map case" it rolls, folds, bends, and twists without leaking.