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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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