Choosing Your EDC: Ditch the Latest Fad and Find What Works

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Choosing Your EDC: Ditch the Latest Fad and Find What Works

By ITS Guest Contributor

EDC Layout

Up until a few years ago, I never really put thought into what I carried around with me every day or why I carried it. Now I have a loadout that suits my needs and I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way. This is mainly focused on a Level 1 EDC, but several of the principles can be applied across all levels.

Choosing Gear


What Do I Need?

It’s easy to look at “celebrities,” retired members of the Military, or someone with thousands of YouTube subscribers and think, “Oh, he carries (X), I want that!” Rather than this train of thought, you need to find items that work for you. Items that fit you and work well in your environment.

What works for a SEAL in Afghanistan might not be the best fit for you. For me, an example of this is appendix carry. I love the idea of carrying this way, as it makes concealing and drawing very easy, but I’m a big guy and it’s very uncomfortable. It just doesn’t work for me, so I don’t carry that way. Also, you need to decide what you want to get out of a particular piece of gear.

Do you want an external safety on your carry gun? A single stack or double stack mag? How many lumens do you want on your flashlight? Do you want an automatic opening knife or a regular folder? Based on your reasoning and research, figure out what you want and get something that fits those parameters.

Do I Really Have a Use for This?

One of the most important questions you can ask yourself when deciding on what to carry, is whether it’s useful or not. Before you add something to your loadout, ask yourself, “Do I really have a use for this, or is it just something cool to have in my pocket?” There’s no point in carrying around something you don’t have a use for.

Try to find single items that have multiple uses. A good example of this would be a Leatherman, or a knife that also has a glass breaker on it. Items like these will help save valuable real estate in your pockets.

Try and Try Again

Don’t be afraid to try out different items. You may buy three of four great holsters or flashlights before you find the one that works for you. Fortunately, there’s a market for used gear like holsters, flashlights and other items. So if you don’t like something, put it on eBay, resell it and get something else.

Quality Over Quantity

Everyone knows the old saying: “Two is one and one is none.” Be careful with this mindset when it comes to EDC. Would it be nice to always have a backup for everything I’m carrying? Yes, but that’s not practical for me in everyday life. If you buy quality gear, it’s more likely to work when you need it and you won’t need that backup item.

A Few Items to Consider


Non Weapon-Mounted Flashlight

A reliable pocket flashlight can be an invaluable tool at times. Whether you’re walking to your car in a dark parking lot, or assessing a potential threat in a low-light situation, a flashlight can be a great asset. I specify “Non Weapon-Mounted” because while a weapon-mounted light can be a great tool in a low light shooting scenario, it can be dangerous if used during everyday tasks.

With a weapon-mounted light, every time you point the flashlight at something, you’re also pointing the muzzle at it. This can be very unsafe and get you into some serious trouble if you’re not justified in also drawing your firearm. Check out this article on ITS for more information on every day carry defensive light usage.

Cell Phone

I know that this is a given for most of us, but don’t leave home without it. Don’t leave your cell phone in your car when you’re running into the gas station. It should always be on you. Your phone is an endless resource of knowledge, a lifeline to call for help and a great way to keep up with current events as they are unfolding via social media.

Also make sure your phone is in a solid case that will protect it from accidental drops and weather. A Lifeproof Case is an excellent choice. It’s pricey, but I believe it’s a worthwhile investment.

Legal Defense Program

There are several law firms offering coverage for responsibly armed citizens. Basically, you pay a subscription every month to be a part of their program and when/if you are involved in a defensive shooting, they provide an attorney to represent you in civil or criminal proceedings. I am a member of Texas Law Shield and would highly recommend them as they have excellent customer service.


Be Mentally Prepared

  • Know your local laws.
  • Understand what happens to the body in high stress situations and how to deal with those effects. (See “On Combat” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman)
  • Maintain a good level of situational awareness. (This means don’t walk around with your eyes on your News Feed all the time.) Be aware of what’s going on around you.

Be Physically Prepared

  • Have a good working knowledge of your gear. Know how to clear malfunctions in your firearm and how to use your trauma kit if you carry one. If not, why don’t you?
  • Train with what you carry.
  • Be consistent in what you carry, don’t switch out your gear all the time. Of course things can change as frequently as the weather, or different dress codes, but try to have consistent loadouts for each situation. Figure out what works for you when you wear a suit, heavy clothes in the winter, or shorts and a t-shirt in the summer and stick with that.
  • Be in good shape so that you can run when you need to run and fight when you need to fight.

Blend In

Let’s be honest, we all love gear. We love velcro, tactical pants, morale patches and coyote everything. Unfortunately in a public place like a mall or restaurant, these things can make you stick out like a sore thumb. Most likely, “tactical” is not “practical” in your everyday life. Wear regular clothes and be a regular guy until the situation dictates otherwise.

Pick Your Battles

This is something my dad has always taught me. This especially applies if you’re taking on the responsibility of carrying a concealed firearm. Always be aware of situations that are unfolding around you, but don’t look for an opportunity to get into a fight or be a “hero.”

Having a Concealed Handgun License does NOT give you the right to “play cop” and interfere every time you see a couple arguing or 2 guys fighting outside a bar. Fate may throw a situation your way in which someone absolutely needs your help, but don’t go searching for it. To quote Matt Graham of Graham Combat, “There’s no reason to fight a fight that I don’t have to. For personal security, the most tactically advantageous part of an engagement is disengagement.”

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Matt F. has worked in Law Enforcement/Corrections for 5 years and is a Defensive Tactics Instructor for his department. He is also an avid musician.

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  • Eric Southland

    Solid information.

  • Raven Moon

    I could use a new coin

  • Aaron Moore

    Chain wallet, kershaw oh so sweet and a G23

  • Victor Andrew Mathis

    Great article. Been fighting this battle hard for the last few months.
    Currently, this is my “bare minimum.” I don’t always carry both guns, but I do live in Atlanta, so sometimes, I carry two guns. Sometimes I carry the LC9, sometimes just the P320. I only ever carry one reload for my primary. I can run the P320 without a light in a Comp-Tac Infidel, if needed, but it’s rare I leave the weapon light at home. I NEVER leave the handheld light.
    There are a lot of good upgrades to what you see in my kit, particularly the tourniquet and the handheld light. They’ll happen here eventually. The Streamlight AAA pen light is pretty sick, and when I can find a SOFTT for

  • Marty S Conn

    I spy a crossbreed supertuck am I right?

  • Matt McDaniel

    What holsters you use?

  • Victor Andrew Mathis

    The FDE holster is a Bravo Concealment BCA.
    I have a Comp-Tac Infidel (the holster with the LC9) for every gun I carry, and that pocket holster for the LC9 was made by Recluse Holsters. Mag Pouch is a Desantis.

  • Earl Herman

    Couldn’t agree more. Keep stuff like this coming!!

  • Alan Ryan

    My EDC. Every day. And I carry a tactical pen too.

  • Randy J Triplett

    How do you carry the extra mag by the watch?

  • Alan Ryan

    5.11 mag pocket usually. The double mag pouch goes in a cargo pocket. Sometimes the single mag will go in a regular front pocket. Some times I’ll carry a small backup gun and a reload for it.

  • Andrew Rolfsen

    Comptac minotaur, g19, 1 mag, zt 0350, wallet and whatever watch I feel like wearing. For me it’s more about training than gear. I can break my car window with my knife, cut a seat belt or slice flesh. If I need my side arm an extra mag is all I need. If I need more I’m going to be looking to exfil well before I run out.

  • Austin Stover

    Dark angel medical is having a sale on TQ’s right now if your interested

  • Randy Jennie

    I lost my pocket knife

  • Don’t buy a subscription to a legal service. If you use a firearm you’re in deep ____ & need a serious lawyer, not customer service. Connect with a lawyer you trust and are comfortable with, who supports the second amendment (the full text is on the back of my business cards) and who you can contact at 2am. Pay him or her a fee to meet for an opportunity to discuss the do’s and don’ts of a defensive shooting and follow their advice. As the author says it starts with not engaging in a defensive shooting – that’s the second worst thing that can happen to you.

  • BretKessinger

    My EDC consists of a Glock 42 with a spare mag (I’m 6’1″ and 175 lbs.), an Emerson CQC-10, a Leatherman Charge ALX, a Reactor Trident watch, Cell phone, keys, a card wallet, and a Solarforce Z1. If I can’t solve the problem with those items I’m in deep.

  • John Piorkowski

    EDC New Jersey edition. Better than nothing. #gunhatingNJ

  • Tal Cohen

    I’d love to carry my kershaw spec-bump or snody gravitator, but I keep returning to the small Cryo or the tiny Ladybug.

  • Lance Sherer

    My side arm is to get me to my truck so I can go from defense to offense. 1 refill is plenty. I worry about folks that have 3 guns, 9 reloads, 4 knives, plus their wives carrying a full med backpack lol. I notice most don’t look used…one well used gun is better than carrying 5 that have had one mag through em.

    • vettepilot427

      Your first sentence is ignorance.  In the case of a prolonged attack where you would need to fight your way to your truck (what kind of neighborhood do you live in?), regardless of what weapon you grabbed you would STILL be on defense.  As a civilian, as soon as you went on “offense” you would be committing several major crimes since there would no longer be a threat but rather your proactive actions while armed.

      As a civilian, your only legal rights are in respect to DEFENDING your life, not going on the offense to PROTECT your life.

  • Victor Andrew Mathis

    I am, and I thank you!

  • 10usc311

    I don’t see why people make it harder than it has to be. There will always be preferences, but a sharp sturdy knife/tool, a durable 100 lumens flashlight and the largest service caliber handgun you can conceal solves most problems. If you can add medical? Even better.
    What I have on me depends on distance from resupply. Further from my house, more is in my car. Further from my car, more is on my person. I do “jock up” for higher risk environments, usually events and crowds. Most of that, though, is medical. You’ll always have a higher chance of saving a life than taking one.
    My edc?
    Shield 9/G19, depending on attire
    5.11 Plx TMT (the 95 lumens version)
    Victorinox Soldier 08
    Not sexy, or “operator approved” but tested trained and proven. Is this what you should carry? How should I know?
    Stay safe everyone.

  • Jonathan Halek

    I’ve had line 1 worked out for quite some time now. 2nd line has been hard, because it’s too small for a bag but too big for a belt. I don’t want to fill a bag with crap just to keep it full. I need to learn how to sew lol

  • Jp Roth

    Everyone’s edc is different as it should be, because everyone has a different mission in life.

  • Ryan David

    This is my EDC. You Bitches ain’t prepared for shit!

  • Kyle Law

    My EDC is my whole squad yall ain’t ready cuz!!!

  • Ryan David

    Republican Jesus loves you (if you’re white)

  • Kyle Law

    This is a screen shot of the last couple comments

  • Mike Ford

    What’s the pen?

  • Boondocker385

    I run into way too many people dressing and carrying gear like TEOTWAWKI is 30 seconds away… kids make a point of telling them “your gun is showing” and then laugh.  the “adults” always have this perplexed look on their face.

  • Collin Trevor Dye

    I recommend adding a tourniquet to your EDC, as well.

  • Colin

    As stated situation dictates and some people are light, others roll heavy, I always do love seeing people armed to the teeth heading to walmart like its the last trip before the bomb goes off. My personal edc is open carried gun w/light, spare 2 mags, flashlight, wallet, knife, phone, pen, car keys, oakleys, and a level ii vest, if I’m not working its pretty much the same minus the vest and i may conceal my gear.

  • n2cycles

    I keep a well equipped car that is mostly seconds away. I do carry where allowed, and keep a pocket knife and small multitool.

  • FredBiermann

    I like Matt Graham’s advice.  My dad always said, “If you don’t have a dog in the fight, stay away from it.”  The most I’ll do is call 911. The weather is getting colder so I’m able to better conceal my Glock 26 or Glock 19.  Summer carry was a Glock 43.  An iPhone 5s,  Streamlight Microstream, SOG Trident, SOG Twitch II and an extra mag rounds out my on-body carry.  I always have a Maxpedition Fat Boy with me. (I think they named it after me!) that carries my Gerber tactical pen, iPhone charger and some other goodies.  Did you know a Ruger LCP would fit in the zipper pocket of a Fat Boy? I’ll be 69 years old in November,  I’m too old to run, but I’m a damned good shot!

  • Rick80

    You are ridiculous. You wear firearms to go to the shops to buy toilet paper. I can’t wait to take mine off at the end of a shift.
    The only way to end gun violence is to end guns all together. Look at Australia. Look at Japan. Fuck the second amendment. It’s Americans like you that lead to 35,000+ AMERICAN deaths each year because you guys love to walk around loaded while you order a big mac.

    • Head89

      I hope this comment isn’t real, because it is absolutely ridiculous and ignorant. People don’t carry guns to shoot up the place, they don’t carry guns to feel like a badass; they carry to protect their lives, the lives of their family and possibly the lives of those around them should a terrible situation arise. An EDC is a force multiplier for those that carry it. It isn’t something that should ever be taken lightly, or abused. But you bet your ass, I’d rather have my EDC on me when someone starts another mass shooting than to lay there like incapable of defending myself. Comparing the US to Australia and Japan makes no sense either. We are different cultures with different ideals, and we have to do what works best for us.

    • Rick80

      How is Australia any different to America? The one difference is than they’re smarter than us. They had a mass shooting 20 years ago and the federal government got rid of all the firearms. So only military and police have them. Guess how many mass shootings they’ve had since then. Zero. Zero in 20 years. Guess how many we have in this country this year alone. 353 mass shootings this year. Australia has has zero. Do you know what the difference between Australians and Americans? Australians were more than happy to give up their rights to firearms after innocent people were killed. They had a government with balls and guess what, it worked. Australian culture is smarter than American culture. They did what was best for the community, not what’s best for the individual man who has a fascination with firearms. Did you know in Australia, if you did somehow managed to get a firearm licence, you have to have it locked up in a safe at all times and the police regularly check to see if it’s there and locked away. Australia is strict. And guess what. It works. America will be a better place when Americans loose their fascination with firearms and catch up to the rest of the world. That way the mass shootings per year will drop from 353 to 0.

    • Matfam

      Yep, instead of guns they use knives and arson…. Disarming the good guys does nothing to change the bad guys

    • GR8One

      Rick80 AUS population = 23.1M (2013) USA population = 318.9M (2014)

    • Rick80 You are correct, mass Shootings have decreased to zero. Mass killings have not. As recent as 2014 a lady went nuts and instead of shooting 8 kids, stabbed them to death. By the way, several research groups have conducted studies into Australia’s push to remove guns from the equation. Not a single study that I have found shows a significant decrease in homicides or suicides. A great article which highlights many of these studies can be found here:

    • R711

      Umm, mass shootings still occur. Firearms crimes have decreased slightly, but now only criminals and the police have them. When the gun ban went into effect, gun deaths decreased. But, death by other means’ hammers, knives etc increased and the violent death rate remained the same. Thus, the argument that a gun ban will decrease murders or violent crimes is moot.

    • Doug

      Rick80 Psst, Rick. Wanna know a secret? There are 12+ million of us CCW holders nationwide and growing. The guy beside you at the store. He’s got a gun and you didn’t even know. If shit goes down he is going to save your ass. Your Welcome.

  • mustangsal

    As someone who is brand new to owning a firearm, I’m doing a lot of reading of posts such as this, and I have a request – write as if everyone reading is a newbie.  Explain your abbreviations and any slang or lingo that might not be known to us rookies. Yes, I can do an internet search of terms like ‘EDC’, etc., but it would be awesome if it were right there.  Maybe just reference once, then abbreviate in the remainder of the article.  Thanks!

  • cpcass

    Who makes the holster shown in the photo under the heading Choosing Gear?

    • Smoothcast

      cpcass I want to know too! Anybody know?

  • Rick80

    For every time a household gun is used legally in self-defense, there are four unintentional shootings, seven assaults or murders, and 11 attempted or completed suicides-by-firearm.
    There have been 3400 Americans who have died since 2001 because Terrorism. There have been 3400 Americans who have died by household firearms as of five weeks ago. Just five weeks. Statistics don’t lie. Look it up yourself. What has out country become.

    • Franco

      The people carrying for self defense are not the ones committing murders. Suicides will happen guns or not. Japan has no guns and one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Cars kill just as many people and you must be trained and licensed to drive on the roads. Prescription drug overdose kill just as many as guns and ibuprofen kills many more. What’s your solution for those issues? Your BS is not going to change one mind here so take it elsewhere

  • john

    Whats the white knife in the upper pic?

  • john

    I have several EDC setups depending on what i’m wearing or doing. If clothing allows I carry a G23 w/Surefire EC1 in a Gcode holster, My “main” rig is a P938 in a N82… I use a magholder for my spares with both guns.. Knives are either ZTs or a variety of Spydeys… For a light i’m currently digging my Olight S1 Baton, my first from the manufactorer, i’m REALLY impressed. I also always have a Leatherman Juice as well

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