Don't Be An EDC Troll: Carry the Gear You Need to Prevail

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Don’t Be an EDC Troll: Carry What You Need to Prevail

By Bryan Black

Level up your EDC

There’s something to preparing for having nothing, but carrying everything you need.

People often criticize those that carry a lot in their pockets and that’s completely acceptable. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on the matter, as well as what they choose to carry.

It’s a fact that you’re not always going to be able to carry a gun, or even a knife in some situations and your training should reflect being able to prevail under these conditions. This isn’t some ploy to say you don’t need those items, or not to train with them.

However, if at any point in your self analysis, you realize that all your training time and money has been spent on, say shooting classes for example, you’re spending too much time focusing on just one aspect of self defense and self preservation. Yes, important skills to train include knowing how to tie a knot or start a fire without a lighter too, but I digress.

There has to be a balance and I’d argue that what you carry on a daily basis should also support this complete picture of your skill-sets and give you the physical tools to increase your odds. Minimalism is up for interpretation.

Leveling Up

To use a video game analysis, think of your EDC (every day carry) as supporting your transition to the next level.

Bryan's EDC

Level 1

With what’s in your pockets, think of this as Level 1, you should be able to survive the immediate threat at hand. Those same materials, no matter how minimalist, should also support your “level up” to your bag. Whether this is a backpack, messenger bag or a briefcase doesn’t matter. These kinds of containers make sense to most people who commute, due to their versatility and portability.

Level 2

Your bag, being Level 2, should not only hold those larger items you need on a daily basis to do your work, but also the bigger tools that support your level up to your vehicle. Because a bag is something you’d potentially set down during the day, you have to realistically think there’s times when you’ll be away from it, hence why it’s listed on a separate level.

Level 3

FJ Cruiser

Next up is your vehicle, or Level 3. Contents at this level can be as extensive as the space available to fill, of course carrying around too much weight starts to affect gas mileage. These items give you the means to survive away from your home, so thinking about the contents here in that perspective is time well spent. An aspect of this, outfitting your vehicle with a winter emergency kit, was recently covered on ITS and I’d highly recommend reading that article if you haven’t yet.

Level 4

Level 4 is your home, your castle, the location you can hopefully survive from for a significant amount of time. Again, the items in this location are only limited by the available space. A good exercise here is to think of your power being shut off and not being able to leave your house. What will you and your family need to make it through? A step further could be moving to a secondary location, or Level 5, if you’re forced to evacuate your home.

Break down all these levels for yourself and look at what you “carry” in each level as building blocks, increasing your odds and building in redundancy where applicable.

I’ve also heard this as, “you carry a gun so you can fight to your vehicle and you have what you need in your vehicle to fight to your house.” I personally like looking at it more from the leveling up approach and having the right tools at my disposal in each level to support my skill-sets.

Increasing Your Odds

While knowing how to properly defend yourself without “tools” on your person is important, just be sure you’re properly analyzing the disadvantages in doing so and the inherent risks involved given your own skill-sets. Yes, a pocket full of “stuff” can often be a burden, but your situation and clothing should always dictate the level of “discomfort” you’re willing to tolerate.

Carrying a gun, knife, wallet, trauma kit, tourniquet, keys, pen, flashlight and the other litter that might mean “prepared” to you, is completely ludicrous to the person who will more than likely find themselves in a position of needing those items one day.

The thing is, I carry those things for them and they don’t even know it. My gun is for my protection, that of my family and especially those around me. I’m also the last person I plan for my medical kit to be used on, but it’s there for someone else to use on me, too. I’ve often joked that I should EDC a shovel to dig people’s heads out of the sand too.

Those who chastise people for what they choose to carry may either be self conscious about their ill-preparedness, or confident that others will come save them when disaster strikes. Don’t worry, we have your back.

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  • Scott Mull

    Exactly. I work at a school. We aren’t allowed to CCW there and aren’t supposed to have knives. I hate not having my usual EDC at work.

  • Ed Craft

    Different tools for different jobs.

  • Randy Breton

    Great article – thanks for articulating my exact thoughts and practices in a way I can share with the sheep in my life 🙂

  • Frank Rock

    you know speeding isn’t allowed by law either

  • Scott Mull

    Speeding won’t cost me my job if I get caught.

  • Robert Spinden

    Sorry, acronym challenged here, what is EDC? Please use all the words at least once in your article, especially at the beginning. I read through and get the idea that there are many ways to be prepared but still haven’t a clue what the initials mean.

  • Jason Costello

    Everyday carry

  • Roger Moorefield

    That’s a tough spot to be in Scott. I talk a lot about that with my CCH students. If you get caught, you’ll probably lose your job, but what happens if you actually have an active shooter situation? It’s a very tough call.

  • ITS Tactical

    Sorry Robert, fixed that in the article. It stands for Every Day Carry. Thanks! ~ Bryan

  • ArmedRogue

    Great article! I carry A LOT and I do get criticized from some people, “when are you ever going to need that?!” When I least expect it, is usually what I say. But I try to just shrug them off and smile to myself, knowing that I feel confident with the stuff that I have and that’s all that matters.

    • ArmedRogue Thanks, glad you liked it. I agree completely with feeling confident about what you have and that being all that matters. True no matter how much you’re carrying.

  • Robert Spinden

    Thanks Bryan!

  • Andrew McCuller

    Brook James This is pretty sweet article.

  • Scott Mull

    I usually keep a handgun locked in the glovebox but, the car is a good distance from the school.

  • Steve Smith

    I Roll heavy.

  • John Clark

    I have tried to explain this before to friends. No matter how much stuff is at your house, it’s what on you all the time the matters. Another article I would like to see is explaining why we should encourage people instead of slamming them for how they carry or what they carry. If they are doing what they can with the resources available and I that situation, leave them alone. sorry, little rant there.

  • Chad Martin

    JayBerry Miller

  • Robby Dunlap

    The ability to fight to get off your back.

  • Adam Seab

    We need armed teachers. I have an advanced permit in MS and I’m allowed to conceal my gun in a school. I go eat lunch with my kids carrying a Glock 19 and a reload.

  • spenceman

    Great article, we’ve been talking about scalable EDC or leveling up in the forums for some time now. It really is  the best way roll, since that concept allows you to remove some of the litter from your pockets. One thing that helped me was to create a spreadsheet to help plan and organize my different levels. This helps reduce excessive redundancy and keep things more organized.

  • Jay Camel

    I’m due to relocate to New Orleans……gotta get hot on my EDC bags.

  • Kevin Honikel

    A lot of guys EDC items would get them locked up in nanny-state New York. No CCW permits issued for self protection here either. The criminals have good rights here though.

  • Mike Kollross

    The best gun or knife is the one you carry.

  • stevbarto

    I can’t carry a firearm or large knife at work by company rules, the vehicle is too far away.  I’m always trying to be creative so I have options until I can get there.

    • Sam Chambers

      stevbarto  You can still use a pen/pencil to stab someone. Also that cup of hot coffee makes a great deterrent when thrown on an attackers face. Does your office have door locks or widow exits?

    • stevbarto

      Sam Chambers stevbarto Thats very true!  It is a cubicle farm on the fourth floor, but there are multiple exits to two stairwells as well as four elevators.

    • JohnM89

      stevbarto Sam Chambers No concealed option Including a knife at all?

  • Lcstyle

    stop the EDC insanity

  • Great article, but don’t think you’ll sneak that awesome challenge coin past us unnoticed!
    Can’t believe nobody else had mentioned it. Any chance we’ll be seeing more of it?

    • corbs It’s definitely in the works 🙂

  • lightfighter

    Good post but found this intriguing: ” I’m also the last person I plan for my medical kit to be used on, but it’s there for someone else to use on me, too. ”

    I carry an IFAK everyday so that I can stay in the fight and prevail – it’s not for use on others.  That said, assuming  the fight is over and I am not in need of it’s contents, only then will I seek to aid others. ( please note that I am unmarried and without children and thus free of that responsibility )

    I have never assumed that anyone but me will know how to use its contents and unless you have provided the materials and training for your significant others you shouldn’t either.

    • lightfighter Hey there, thanks for the comment. I’d encourage you to broaden your perspective for the use of your trauma kit. Saying that it’s not for use on others reads like you’re not going to do all you can to help someone in need. I see what you’re saying though about being injured and that you’d use the kit on yourself first, I completely agree with that and I’d do the same thing if I had an injury. I’d treat myself first and move on to help others, that has to be the triage order there. Especially if you’re the only one around with any training.

      I’d also encourage you to not think that you’re the only one that would know how to use the contents of your kit. There’s more trained medical professionals out there than most probably realize, it’s not just about your significant others. But yes, I agree, get them trained too!
      Thanks again!

    • lightfighter


      Hi Bryan,

      Thanks for your response. Although there are a few differences in emphasis, I think we’re on the same page here. 

      That said, I’m sorry to say I don’t share your your thoughts about how many trained professionals and civilians are out there.  Sadly, I believe civilian first responders are way behind the curve in regards the use of tourniquets and hemostatics. 

      Speak to your local EMS or Paramedics and you might be surprised to learn that hemostatics are not in many municipalities approved protocols !

      I also wonder how many members of even this community, your readers, the interested etc, have had formal or professional quality TAC / Med training similar to Combat Lifesaver.

      Life saving SKILLS should be in everyone’s EDC.

      Keep up the good work !

    • lightfighter I understand where you’re coming from on trained professionals and civilians. I more meant that even though a lot of them aren’t familiar with hemostatics and tourniquets, they’re still “trained” in lifesaving principles.

      I completely agree on the skills being mandatory in everyone’s EDC, well said. Thanks for your continued support!

  • kbtalkin

    I’d be curious to thoughts on how the level 1 (personal edc) fits on a person wearing regular clothes (jeans/shirt/etc) and not having to resort to 511-esque tactical pants (thus losing the grey man aspect)

  • Grover6

    Great article Bryan. A few years back I found a 3 part article by a fellow in Seattle that covered this in a similar manner. He talked about it like concentric circles on a bullseye target. The bullseye being his person, and he wore specific clothing that allowed him to carry what he felt was important. From there, he moved to a bag of some kind and then his vehicle and finally his home. His focus was more on survival of a natural disaster, as he was a search and rescue volunteer. I have looked at my own edc from this viewpoint ever since. I always have a knife, flashlight, phone and when I can, a gun. I have been looking into secure storage for my vehicle so that I can have a pistol with reload available at the minimum. I may actually move up to a carbine setup as well, if I can find something secure enough for me. 

    Anyway, I like the concept as it allows for lighter or heavier loadouts as daily situations change.

    • Grover6 Thanks for the kind words, glad you liked the article! It’s all about what works best for each individual and no one can determine meaning of specific contents for anyone else.
      Sounds like you’ve got a good plan going! Thanks again!

    • backwoodsbrooks1

      Grover6 Check out the Kel-Tek sub-2000 for a pistol caliber, highly concealable carbine.  You could potentially run the same load in a gun of this sort as that of you pistol adding to the versatility of the system.  Kel-Tek’s Su-16 lineup is also sweet, but these are only suggestions as I am no expert.

  • DavidBanther

    Great article – love the “level” approach, and one level leading the next. In my podcast, The Realistic Prepper, we just did an episode on EDC. I am going to go back and link this article.

  • Georges

    Their heads aren’t in the sand… carry KY and some gloves for that!,

  • michael

    I have a hard time with this mindset. You call people who don’t carry around the “kitchen sink” sheep, but they are working on probabilities. They are more statisticians than sheep. I know you think there’s a disaster around every corner, but the reality is…there’s not. If you are in a line of work that requires these things, than great. If not, well, it’s hard to imagine carry around that sink for an eventuality that is statistically not likely to happen. I know, I know, when my number in “life’s lotto” falls I’ll be glad people are carrying the sink. True. For most of us though, statistically speaking, that number ain’t fallin’.

    • Russ

      @michael I can understand what you’re saying, but try to look at it a different way.  Do what I do though, by comparing it to gambling on lottery tickets.  Sure the odds are ridiculously slim that your $20 worth of tickets will win you the mega millions jackpot, but if you can afford to lose $20, it’s no big deal. That’s the worst that can happen in that situation.  However, the worst that can happen in a violent crime scenario is the loss of your life or the life of a loved one.  To me, the death of someone I care about or my own is TOO MUCH to risk even if the chances of it happening are 0.005%.  So the likelihood of something bad happening is less important than what you could lose if it does.  Hope that helps and stay safe.

    • Derek

      I will assume if you drive a car, you have insurance? Do you wreck your car every day? every year? You spend most likely over $1000 a year on something you “statistically” aren’t likely to use.
      To your comment about a line of work, that line of work wouldn’t exist if the occurrences were so staggeringly low.
      If you open your mind and simply carry a pocket flashlight, a knife, and a lighter for a week or two, you will understand. The world doesn’t have to end, and you don’t have to be fighting for your life for these items to come in handy. I use a Leatherman multi-tool everyday, along with my pocket flashlight. You have to decide what YOU need on a daily basis, without being completely dismissive and saying a phone and wallet is good enough. If you have ever found yourself asking “does anyone have …” the end of that sentence will tell you what you should be carrying.

  • Skyehawk

    Bryan,  I really liked the leveling up concept.  I have had some prep per ideation a and some prep at home for a few years and recently moved to an EDC’er.  As I think about what I want to carry on a daily I also have begun to think about a car kit.  This articlear was the perfect bridge from prepper  to EDC in all levels.  Thank you for the great framework you provided here. Really excited to move through all the levels and including training in that whole as well!

    • Skyehawk Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you liked the article and can use the info to integrate into your own EDC.

  • JohnM89

    Good read. Balance is key for life.

  • LW33

    I’m not sure if anyone has advice for this but as a woman, maintaining a Level 1 EDC can be frustrating. I don’t always carry a purse because I tend to keep a small wallet, keys and phone in my pockets however women’s pockets are always built smaller than men’s. I actually don’t know how men can keep so many things in their pockets without them all falling out. Does anyone have any recommendations for women and EDC? If I had to narrow it down to absolute basics I’m guessing it would be, keys, wallet, phone, spyderco knife and surefire flashlight. But then again I don’t know if I can fit all of that in my pockets without risking it falling out. Which is why I’d carry a purse or pack but that would be considered Level 2.

    • Chris

      LW33 I will never understand fake pockets. Don’t buy cute jeans with fake pockets.

      That being said, placement is important. If your style can afford, wear a belt with slim pouches and fit what you can in your pockets. For retention, find accessories with clips that hook onto the rim of your pockets (think phone case with a clip).
      I’m forever trying to convince my girlfriend to concentrate on her Level 1, but she tends to over-utilize her dump pouch (purse).

  • Strych9

    I like the way you explain your idea of a Level System. In fact I love this explanation. 

    Something a lot of people don’t seem to take into account is how what you do during the day affects what you carry and where. Personally I don’t think of things as “EDC” because what you’re carrying should reflect what you’re doing, where your going, known potential threats, weather, road conditions, traffic patterns and probably some things I’m not thinking of.

    Just a quick example: 

    I have an extensive medical kit that is stored in a good sized Condor backpack (sorry I don’t remember the model off the top of my head). This hangs on a hook in my house next to a large fire extinguisher on the main floor. To me this makes more sense to me than having one of those expensive cabinets mounted to the wall because it’s cheaper but also something I can easily pick up and take with me if something happens near my house such as one of the neighborhood kids getting hit by car or someone falling off a ladder.

    Now, in my car I have an IFAK in a tearaway on the back of my driver’s seat. The IFAK is more complete than just a blowout kit, it’s kind of a mix between a blowout kit and a mini camping FA kit with a few personal additions to it such as aspirin. 

    When I’m just driving around my small town I don’t even consider taking the pack with me I just leave the IFAK in place at all times, but when I travel outside my town where I’m on 75mph highways or traveling to a more much more crowded area such as Denver, I toss that previously mentioned backpack in the trunk of my car next to my car-mounted fire extinguishers. 

    The reason is simple: In my town it’s rather unlikely you’d have a car accident or other event with a goodly number of people injured, and EMS is never more than 4-5 minutes away which means a slightly overbuilt IFAK is probably good enough. However, highways and places with more traffic mean that there’s an increased probability of running across a situation where multiple people are injured by a car accident, industrial accident or even a shooting. That increase in population density causes me to carry enough stuff to deal with multiple people with serious injuries.

  • Arlo

    Anyone know what brand of holster that is shown that Craig carries on the front page?Thanks/[email protected]

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