What is EDC? Everyday Carry: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

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What was once a niche hobby and lifestyle for some has undoubtedly become mainstream in recent years. You may have heard the term “EDC“ when shopping for a new backpack or in a YouTuber‘s video about all the tech they use. Given that context, it clearly isn’t referring to that Electric Daisy Carnival rave, so what’s it all about?

In this article, we’ll explain the phenomenon of everyday carry, commonly known as the initialism EDC, and why you should think about what’s in your pockets.

While this guide is aimed toward beginners, seasoned EDCers might find some helpful information here too. If anything, you can use it for some validation to justify your gear obsession or share it with friends to assure them there’s a method to the madness.

This article was first published on April 9, 2015. It was last updated on June 4, 2024.

What Does EDC Stand For?

EDC stands for “Every Day Carry.” Your everyday carry is the collection of items you carry with you in your pockets or your bag on a daily basis.

They’re the things you tap your pockets for before you head out the door, the things you feel naked without, and the things that would throw off your whole day if you had to do without them. They are especially valuable, and not just monetarily or sentimentally. Your everyday carry consists of items that you find truly essential.

This means things like pocket lint, scrunched-up receipts, gum wrappers, and other disposables might live in your pocket (hopefully not for very long), but they don’t count as part of your everyday carry. Mainstays in your carry should have certain qualities that fall in line with a few different principles of the practice of everyday carry.

The everyday carry philosophy is built upon the cornerstones of utility and preparedness. Each component of your EDC should serve a purpose or have at least one specific, useful function.

Every day, your EDC essentials prepare you for the worst and empower you to do your best.

I humbly present my everyday carry in its latest 2024 iteration.

Why Should You Have An Everyday Carry Kit?

As the saying goes, it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have. Most people can get value from an everyday carry in average day-to-day situations. For example, I used a pocket knife at my baby nephew’s birthday party to get his gift out of the packaging. Then I used my multi-tool’s screwdriver to open the battery compartment and load up some fresh AAs so he could play with it right away. Later, my EDC lighter saved the day when it was time for cake, and there were no matches to be found.

While this example is relatively tame, an EDC can mean the difference between life and death in emergency situations. Imagine getting into a car accident, and your seatbelt won’t come undone, or your door won’t open—a pocket knife or pocket tool with a glass breaker can save you from that situation.

Another important reason to have an everyday carry kit is for peace of mind. You might not end up needing to use everything in your EDC all of the time every day, but when you finally do, you’ll be glad you were prepared.

What’s awesome is that everybody already has an everyday carry at some level. But by thinking of what you keep in your pockets as your actual everyday carry system, you can enjoy a wealth of benefits:

  • You’ll be prepared to handle tasks better: By adding new tools, you can access all sorts of new functions that make your life or your day easier. Or, by taking an EDC approach to upgrading essentials you already use, you can maximize their performance and efficiency, giving you a better ‘in use’ experience overall.
  • You won’t have to rely on other people: Having these tools at the ready every day will not only equip you for most of your daily routine, but also for unexpected situations. Your EDC will help you make quick work of things you might otherwise need help doing.
  • You’ll save time: Sometimes, you might not even need assistance to get things done, but rather you’d have to waste time trying to find the right tool you need. With a well-built EDC, you won’t have to dig through junk drawers, ask to borrow a pen, or give up on something and tell yourself you’ll bring that tool you needed next time. EDC items are convenient and make your life easier!
  • You’ll save money (in theory): If you invest in essentials that can withstand daily wear and perform up to your standards enough to make the cut of your EDC, you could potentially be saving in the long run. Opting for well-made, reliable, and durable goods means you won’t spend more to replace inexpensive, cheaply made disposable items every few months. If you’ve already caught the EDC bug, you might know this isn’t true all the time. But many EDC goods achieve a balance of quality and value that reach “buy it for life” status, so you can buy once and get your money’s worth.
  • You can express yourself: The individualization of your EDC is arguably one of the most important aspects of the lifestyle. What you carry and use says so much about you, what you do, what your preferences are, and so on. It’s a great outlet for expression that you’ll recognize in truly unique carries. Refining your kit to reflect you as a person is one of the most fun reasons to look for new gear.

What are the Everyday Carry Essentials?

There isn’t an all-in-one solution for all your daily essentials — you’ll have to develop a system of multiple items. You’re probably familiar, if not already carrying this first core of essentials. For most people, they step out the door after passing a three-touch pocket check of the following:

Cell Phone

There’s no denying that modern smartphones allow us to do more than ever before. No other device can match a cell phone’s functionality and sheer versatility and still fit the palm of your hand. Through accomplishments in hardware alone, our smartphones reduce the need to carry a camera, watch, pen and paper, flashlight, and wallet, for many people. This is great for minimalists, but the rest of the world doesn’t operate entirely digitally. In many cases, there isn’t an app for that.


Wallets keep our credit cards, IDs, cash, and other paper documents organized and nearby. The wallet itself might not be as important as what’s inside it, but it serves a critical purpose in protecting these essential assets from damage and loss. An example of a good EDC wallet is one that’s ultra-slim, so it can free up pocket space for other everyday carry items. RFID-blocking is another common feature of modern wallets, protecting you from identity theft.


Keys let us go places and secure what’s important to us. Keychains deserve a spot in your EDC because they keep your keys consolidated and easy to use. For many people, the search for a better way to manage their keyring is their entry point to the world of EDC. Most well-considered everyday carry setups include a great keychain or key organizer to keep their keys silenced and organized instead of a clunky, jangly mess.

Beyond this, many EDCers include this “trinity” of staple tools.


The fact that many everyday carries include a pocket knife comes as a surprise to many. While laws and cultural differences might portray these edged essentials in a negative light, a well-designed, reasonably sized pocketknife is primarily a tool. When used responsibly, an EDC knife (such as a Swiss Army Knife) safely handles cutting and slicing tasks — usually better than a house key, a pair of scissors, your hands, or even your teeth can. There’s certainly no app for breaking down a box, slicing into brisket, or cutting cordage! With that said, not everyone will need a folding knife, or even be able to carry one legally. But it’s important to view them for their practicality more than anything.


You would bring an umbrella for a 50% chance of rain, so why wouldn’t you bring a flashlight for a 100% chance of darkness every night? From getting through power outages to looking under couches to navigating a dimly lit path, having a light source in your pocket will come in handy. Some might be content with using their phone’s screen or camera flash for light. Modern lights, with multiple modes and a dedicated battery, perform far better in daily tasks to emergency situations without draining your phone’s battery even more, making them a must-have in many carries.


The multi-tool embodies many core principles of EDC—utility, versatility, and portability. For quick fixes, tinkering, and other handy work, having a toolbox’s worth of functionality in a single pocketable tool is invaluable. Common multi-tool functions include pliers, screwdrivers, bottle openers, scissors, and other cutting tools. Multi-tools can complement the functions of the five aforementioned essentials when weight and pocket space are at a premium, so naturally, they round out the second trinity of EDC.

Luckily for us carry enthusiasts, the list of useful EDC gear to keep on hand doesn’t stop here. People carry many more gadgets, but these three analog instruments still find their way into many pockets today.


Not everything is digitized just yet. And sometimes, writing with a pen beats tapping away with your thumbs at your phone. An EDC pen takes care of common workplace tasks like jotting notes, signing paperwork, or drawing out diagrams to explain something. Some people prefer to keep a tactical pen handy for emergency situations too. Check out our guide on Why You Should Carry a Pen for even more reasons to keep ink close by.


What’s a great pen without something to write on? Soft cover pocket notebooks have recently been growing in popularity in the EDC community. Learn more about why you’d want to carry a notebook in our earlier Carry Smarter article!


Sure, you can keep track of time by checking your smartphone, but then you’d have to go through the trouble of pulling it out of your pocket. This can come off as rude, especially with company around. Dedicated watches are beautiful in their own right, but they help you keep track of time without depending on short-term phone battery life while always being one flick of the wrist away.

A brass version of my carry this year.

Frequently Asked Questions

The idea of carrying all of these items might be overwhelming. But don’t worry, you don’t have to carry everything on this list for a perfectly capable carry. Everyday Carry is all about making a setup that fits your needs. Just as no two people are exactly alike, their respective EDCs will vary significantly. Acquire and carry what you need according to your lifestyle, location, profession, daily routine, style, budget, etc.

Your carry should generally be reliable and functional, but most importantly, personal. You might be a minimalist at heart, or you’d have peace of mind knowing all your bases are covered. If your EDC becomes an extension of you, you should be completely comfortable with it! A great EDC shows the foresight to include what you personally need for your day-to-day, and the restraint to leave behind what you don’t.

Where Should I Start?

You should start by upgrading things you know you already would carry every day, rather than trying to add a bunch of different EDC items that ultimately might not be as useful or suit your needs. The wallet is a great gateway item for getting into EDC. Your current wallet might be worn out or needlessly bulky, so swapping to a minimalist EDC wallet is a safe way to learn what the philosophy is all about.

After that, if your local laws permit, a folding knife is often the next step to upgrade your carry game.

When adding new items, try highly recommended budget products so you‘re not investing so much into something that might not work out for you. For an example of great budget items, check out our earlier buying guide.

What are the EDC must-haves?

While there’s no hard and fast rule about what you must carry in your EDC, there are some helpful “cores” of items that enthusiasts commonly swear by. The first is the knife, flashlight, and multi-tool trinity. Ounce for ounce, those three items deliver the most utility to any setup. “Write, slice, light” is another popular trinity of a pen, knife, and flashlight.

What is the Ultimate Best Setup?

You might have an idea of your “holy grail” items, but even those will be highly personal and specific to your individual needs. That’s the beauty of EDC — there is no one ultimate best setup. A huge part of the fun is the journey of dialing in your collection of gear and figuring out what’s best for you.

What if my needs change often?

There are a couple of schools of thought here. Since your everyday carry is modular, meaning you can change out or add single items as needed, you can build out your kit to be versatile enough to cover as many potential bases and situations as possible. Others like to assemble specialized kits for different situations and swap them out accordingly. An easy way to do this is with pouches or pocket organizers loaded with a gear rotation suitable for the task or situation at hand.

If this beginner’s guide gave you a better understanding of EDC, or if you think your friends would appreciate this breakdown, please share it with them so more of us can enjoy EDC together!

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