Everyday carry is something anyone can benefit from. More than just a mindset of preparation and planning, more often than not it will require a specific set of tools that will fit a specific scenario for a specific person. What isn’t as personal perhaps is a list of the most useful items that might find their way into your pockets, bags, or car. The list below is composed of some of the most impactful and utilitarian of all the items designed to fit in small spaces.
A note: The typical response by those looking to invest in everyday carry is to purchase the best tools money can buy as an extra level of insurance that these things will prove their worth; as such, it can become a costly “hobby.” Remember that a tool’s worth will inevitably be proven by the amount of action it sees. Everyday carry doesn’t have to be expensive; it simply needs to be usable and provide some level of efficiency for the user. It’s as personal as you want it to be, and therefore, only the specific end user can determine its value.
Additionally, everyday carry need not be over the top. While you might see someone traveling carrying a whole bag of goodies on a long trip, they may only utilize two to four items on a day-to-day basis. Starting with a pilot run of one or two items as an everyday carry package could probably give you enough insight over the course of a couple weeks to determine if this concept even really appeals to you. Perhaps looking through these items below will help you determine which items make the most sense for you to try out.
Flashlight: A flashlight will illuminate dark passages and help you on the road if your car fails or someone else needs some assistance. It can help deter a shadowy figure in the distance behind you by alerting them to your knowledge of their whereabouts, your situational awareness, and your preparedness. With a simple flashlight, you can change the mindset of an aggressive pursuer. A high-quality small flashlight might only cost $10 to $25, and even high-end ones won’t cost more than about $100 for what can fit in your pocket. Remember the utility far outweighs the cost.
Fire: Depending on the situation, fire-starting capabilities may make sense. Everyone from a motorist traveling in colder areas, to a camping fanatic, to even just a casual traveler can benefit from being able to easily start a fire during a stressful situation. Matches, a simple lighter, or even more primitive methods like a fire piston and char cloth or a fire steel and knife can all make sense depending on your end usage needs. In addition, this is an item that may make sense on some days, but not on others—a resounding theme in the everyday carry world. Much of the time, you will have to be flexible to find the best everyday items, as those items will change perhaps even daily as new challenges arise and the usability of items fluctuates.
Knife: While it doesn’t always make sense to have a fixed-blade survival knife, it is hard to discount the usefulness of a mid-sized folder. It fits well in a pocket or purse and can be used as a last ditch weapon (or even a primary weapon in the well-trained hand). The uses are plenty, certainly well past a defensive weapon. In a bad situation, you would be able to facilitate an automobile repair or a survival operation (like cutting branches for firewood or shaving tinder). Furthermore, cutting a seatbelt or shattering a car window becomes infinitely easier with an implement in hand. For the more mundane, opening boxes in the warehouse or opening bags of prepackaged food in the office kitchen probably makes it a bit more useful than most tools you may encounter in everyday carry.
Multi tool: A Leatherman on the keychain or in the pocket can save the day in an unexpected car stoppage or a work event. (Although don’t discount other makes and models either, including Swiss army knives and Gerber. There are even several makes and models that are TSA flight-approved tools.) The pliers, wire cutters, blade, file, and other pieces can come in handy on an almost daily basis. The trick is to find one that actually facilitates everyday carry by virtue of its size and ease of use. The hardest part of everyday carry is picking items that you will remember to use and then knowing how and when to use them. If you have something that may help, but you forget that it’s there, it will cease to be useful. A Leatherman is straightforward, but it may take time to get used to the fact that you now carry it. Try to buy as small as actually makes sense to you for use daily. Even if you eventually move up in size, you won’t likely regret the purchase as you acclimate to having something additional in your pocket.
Smartphone: It is almost second nature to carry a cell phone with us each day, but in a bad situation, a smartphone can be incredibly useful. If your phone is an application-driven interface (like an iPhone or Android), the usability increases exponentially as an everyday carry piece.
These are relatively standard everyday carry items for many people, but you will find that even if you stay “mainstream,” there is plenty of personalization and potential within these items. Some people carry additional items like firearms, pens and paper, sunglasses, cameras, books, transit passes, and passports. Any number of items that make your daily life easier or add some additional level of protection or utility are eligible to become everyday carry. The goal is to give you an edge in a world where people are increasingly less prepared, less likely to help, and more aggressive than ever before.