Want to know the secret to always being prepared? It starts with your everyday carry gear.
Let’s face it, unlike women, gentlemen don’t carry around purses.
We’ve got to hand pick out the essentials and leave all the other junk behind at home.
With a limited amount of space in our pockets, picking out the right items is incredibly important.
Yet, where most men go wrong is by completely missing out on certain EDC essentials in the first place.
In reality, you’d be amazed at the number of men out there who don’t carry a flashlight, but own a fifty dollar keychain instead. It makes no sense. The truth is, when it comes to EDC gear, the name of the game is functionality.
In this guide, I’m going to share the top 30 best EDC essentials for men with you. You’ll find must have items and gear to make your life easier each and every single day.
1. Credit Cards
Let’s face it, no one carries over a thousand dollars in cash in their pocket on a daily basis. Yet, the reality is most emergencies are rather expensive. If you have a few high-limit credit cards handy you’re golden. If not, well, you’re often going to be screwed. With credit on hand things like covering a hotel room for the night or replacing a flat tire are no problem.
Of course, there’s always the fact that banks aren’t open 24/7/365, which means access to cash isn’t always possible. With a credit card, you can pretty much charge away to your heart’s desire or at least until your limit kicks in.
While chapstick or lip balm is optional in places like San Diego, California, it’s a requirement in places like Cincinnati, Ohio. Winters are absolutely brutal on the lips with freezing rain, icy wind, and frozen snow smacking against your dry skin.
Let’s face it, cracked lips don’t just look bad, they feel awful!
3. Phone Charging Cable
Until phones can be recharged wirelessly, carrying around a spare phone charging cable isn’t such a bad idea. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with people who have had to let their phone remain dead all day long because their charger was at home and they were at the office. In reality, an Apple or computer store isn’t always going to be around the corner.
And sure, most gas stations carry spare cables these days, but do you really want to shell out twenty dollars and up for one that’s not even genuine? I don’t.
4. Sunglasses / Eyewear
Protect your eyes or just see what’s in front of you with prescription eyewear.
5. Model-Specific Kydex Holster
For the love of God please stop buying those Blackhawk holsters with the press to unlock finger buttons for secure retention. It’s one of the easiest ways to make a negligent discharge occur while striking your thigh. Can you say stupid, stupid, stupid!
While not as terrible as the above, avoid Kydex holsters that claim to easily and securely fit over 25 or 50 different models and brands. The reality is, they don’t. When it comes to nylon holsters, they ultimately end up snagging on the sights, which means good luck drawing when you actually need to.
Skip all of the options above and go straight custom-model specific Kydex. You will not regret the experience of owning a product that lasts a lifetime, doesn’t bow to sweat like leather, and offers perfect, precise retention.
There are all kinds of lighters out there you can buy. Zippos, torches, electronic, the classic Bic and so on. On the downside, Bics can’t easily be refilled, while Zippos can, but ultimately allow all the fuel to eventually evaporate out. Electronics require charging. There are pros and cons to them all, which means the lighter you pick will be out of mostly personal preference.
7. Defense Ammo
Believe it or not, but there are people out there walking around carrying FMJ practice range ammo in their magazines and thinking nothing of it. Please don’t do that; instead, go with a solid defense hollow-point round that won’t over penetrate. Remember, you are accountable for every bullet!
8. Drivers License / Military ID
If you operate a car or want to drink at the bar with friends, then you’ll want to carry around your driver’s license.
When it comes the keychain, think of this EDC item as the heart of it all. A simple one is all that’s needed; you can save the bottle opener and other features for your multi-tool.
You want one that’s near effortless to grab out of your pocket; the larger the better. If it’s too small you can always add a small loop of paracord on one end so that you don’t have to fish around your pocket.
If I’m not carrying around an HK USP Compact, then there’s a Wilson Combat X-Tac 1911 on my hip. In reality, every man is going to carry something different. It could be a .357 SIG Glock or a S&W .357 Magnum revolver. I’m not going to get into the debate of what’s best, because ultimately only you can decide that!
If the above isn’t an option go less lethal. Even if you’re traveling to a country with restrictive laws, you can always opt for a heavy climbing carabiner. They can be wrapped around the knuckles and gripped with the palm easily.
Ever try to buy gas at the station when there’s a power outage? You’re screwed if you don’t have cash; your credit cards are worthless. While some have backup generators, there’s a still a large number of gas stations out there that don’t.
Let’s face it, cash is king. Carry it with you always. It’s the one thing people will always accept no matter the transaction fees, weather, and so on.
Delays happen and leave you waiting around. A run in the middle of the afternoon while at the office can sound desirable. A couple sitting next to you at a coffee shop could be talking about the most distracting thing ever while you work quietly. Drain it all out. It’s always a pleasure to pop in some headphones and tune out the world for a moment or two.
13. Spare Change
Parking meters suck. Spare chain is what they crave. While a good number of modern meters these days have credit card systems, I cannot tell you how many times those things have failed to work. Of course, spare change also works for vendor machines for all the times when you desperately need a quick snack or drink.
The weather isn’t always wonderful. Personally, I don’t know anyone who enjoys being rained on while wearing a Tom Ford suit. It sucks!
15. Car Keys
If you drive to work or at least own a car, you’ll need these.
16. Folding Knife
What are you going to open your packages and mail with? A butter knife? Invest in a pocket-sized folding knife with a short blade, and the investment will pay off for years to come. It’s truly amazing what happens once you start carrying an EDC knife. Suddenly you find yourself using it all the damn time.
Just remember, light, slim and small is the name of the game. You don’t need a giant tactical knife hanging out of your pocket unless your office is in the woods, and you’re warding off bears all day long.
Titanium is my favorite choice, but when you look at the prices and realize it’s an EDC knife you’ll probably lose, well, it’s tough to invest in that pricey material.
My personal EDC flashlight of choice is the Coast HP5R. It puts out 185 lumens on high with a 600 ft beam, and 19 lumens on low with a 183 ft beam. For runtime, it lasts for 4.5 hours on low and 14 hours on high. It’s 4.875 inches and weighs 2.6 oz. When it comes to power it’s rechargeable with a built-in USB slot, or you can pop in a single AA battery and you’re good to go.
I have used this for numerous low-level lighting training courses and while cycling through high, strobe and low is rather irritating at times, it performs excellently. 185 lumens don’t wash out the entire room or blind me in the process, it just “enough”. In terms of size and weight, the aluminum construction makes this thing near weightless and it’s just over palm-size, or in my opinion the “perfect size”.
18. Mini USB Thumb Drive
Transfer files from your work desktop to your laptop or to your home desk to your laptop. A USB thumb drive makes storage simple and fast if you don’t already subscribe to cloud file-sharing services. Of course, let’s face it, the internet isn’t always going to be connected when you’re on the go. A USB thumb drive, on the other hand, is always going to perform when you need it.
19. Misc / House Keys
Unless you call a cardboard box your home, you’re going to need these.
20. Multi Tool
When looking for an EDC multi tool aim to acquire the following tools in one: Bottle opener, scissors, pocket knife, mini screwdriver set, and pliers.
Sometimes putting pen to paper just feels right. The two offer instant feedback alongside some old-school nostalgia in the process.
Carry the permits you need.
While every man out there has a phone alongside his collection of EDC gear, not many consider the apps they have installed. Consider looking into adding survival, bushcraft, field-medicine, etc. related apps that can all be accessed offline without an internet connection.
24. Pocket Comb
Sure, a pocket comb is optional, but who can say no to having a sense of style and sophistication while on the go?
25. Spare Magazine
You probably don’t need a spare magazine. Yet, there may be times where you actually do need one. Depending on the situation, and if you can’t avoid it, having a spare backup isn’t always such a bad thing. In reality, you can never have too much ammo.
A word to the wise, spare ammo does not mean in a box that you throw in the glove box! It means in a magazine and ready to go when you need it the most.
26. Tactical Pen
Meet the tactical pen, it’s like a regular pen but on steroids. You can get them in any flavor you’d like including aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, and so on.
As a self-defense tool, they are rather weak and are more or less a last resort solution, but at least they offer something over nothing. In reality, they offer the same functionally as any other pen, however, depending on which model you buy, they can last a lifetime.
Of course, you can throw in different ink refills too. My personal favorite is the Spacepen refills which allow you to write while underwater. What is this black magic?
Titanium, aluminum, leather, and beyond, EDC wallets come in all sorts of flavors. More modern wallets for men feature minimalist or slim designs to help not only save weight but also space in your pocket.
Let’s face it, one of the best life-saving tools any man can be equipped with is a simple tourniquet. Even if you don’t elect to carry one for “every day carry” at least consider carrying one with you during range day.
When purchasing, opt for a genuine tourniquet from a trusted retailer as many of the lower priced options you will find online are fakes. Also, keep in mind that a RATS is more concealable.
Let’s face it, watches are a traditional classic. While modern-day phones may have replaced them functionality wise, they certainly haven’t replaced their stylish charm. Each serves as a reminder of a time when craftsmanship was appreciated.
One unique feature of wearing a luxury watch that most men miss is value. For example, a twenty-thousand dollar Hublot will hold its value relativity well for years to come. Should you ever need emergency cash away from home, there are plenty of jewelers all over the country willing to make an immediate offer. Think of it as a giant line of credit on your wrist that can be tapped into.
30. Waterproof Container
From storing medicine to emergency hundred dollar bills, toothpicks, matches and beyond, an slim EDC waterproof container offers a lot of versatility.