Top Five Every Day Carry Essentials

Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:

EDC, or Every Day Carry, gets a lot of interest these days and for good reason: Carrying a concealed handgun for personal protection is riding a wave of public support. Also, the amount and variety of related portable gear has never been better.

Assuming you carry at least a gun and a folding knife — and probably obvious items, such as a mobile phone, a wallet and keys — you might benefit from carrying a few more items with you. That’s a lot of gear, yes, but a lot of usefulness goes with it. Here are my top five EDC essentials by product category. I actually carry more than this, but usually not less.

1. Spare Ammunition

Do you carry extra ammo? If so, how many extra mags?

And not just any ammo but ammo I’ve tested in my carry gun. Whether I’m carrying an extra magazine or two or a speedloader or speed strip, in an altercation, it just makes sense to be prepared to go further than I think I’ll need to.

Generally, I carry spare ammunition in my weak-side front pocket or in a weak-side belt holster of some kind. If I’m carrying an autoloading pistol, I carry at least one but sometimes two magazines; depends on the gun.

With a revolver, I’ll carry two speed strips or one speedloader. (Why not two speedloaders? I have no idea.) With reloads on my person, the load on my belt gets balanced out and I gain a bit more confidence.

2. Pocket Tactical Light

Do you carry a small flashlight on you or simply rely on your smartphone?

Tactical lights come in all shapes and sizes and plenty exist that are small enough for a pocket. The one I carry isn’t the biggest or the brightest. In fact, it’s relatively inexpensive, so if I lose it, no big deal.

But there is such a thing as “bright enough” and “tough enough” — especially if it’s handy enough that I’ll take it with me wherever I go.

I carry my small tactical light clipped to my weak-side front pocket or clipped to my belt where hardly anyone ever notices it. It takes a cheap, easy-to-find AA battery and has a simple tail switch.

3. Tactical Pen

Tactical pens are a last-ditch self-defense tool.

Residing in my shirt pocket is a tactical pen. Generally, the pen is made from an aluminum alloy and 99 percent of the time it gets used as a pen. But if I need a pointed impact weapon, it’s there, ready for fast deployment.

Sometimes, I’ll carry the pen in my weak hand, just to have it at the ready if I sense a situation escalating and I’m plotting an escape route. Of all the EDC gear I have the opportunity to use, a tactical pen easily gets close to being on my person all the time.

For the record, I’ve traveled by air twice this year with two different tactical pens in a carry-on bag. TSA never blinked. So, I can have at least some kind of self-defense tool if I’m not traveling with a knife or a gun.

4. Multi-Pliers

More of a portable tool set than a weapon, multi-pliers can come in real handy for when something needs a quick fix.

These pocket toolboxes have undergone years of transformation and only get better. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be equipped with a myriad of useful tools. When I pick a multi-tool, I couldn’t care less about the type of knife, as the folding knife in my pocket handles virtually all the cutting duties. But I do pay attention to the other tools.

Features I look for include pliers that are as near to needle-nose as I can get, and I also want a wire cutter built into those pliers. After that, I enjoy having a couple screwdrivers, a scraper or pry of some kind and a bottle opener.  I prefer the multi-tools that open one-handed and have tools that lock in place.

Multi-pliers get carried in my messenger bag or in my vehicle. I’m not too keen on carrying them in a pocket — too heavy and clunky — nor on my belt in a sheath — too much hanging on my belt already. But they are always within fairly easy reach no matter where I am. (They’re more of a fix-it kind of tool than a self-defense tool anyway.)

5. Backup Knife

Fixed blade, perfect for ankle carry.

Another reason I don’t care a whole lot about what kind of knife my multi-tool has is because I also carry a backup knife. This will be a light duty, lightweight knife that (for me) will be a fixed blade. Folding is fine, but for a backup, fixed is better.

You might find a backup knife in my messenger bag or sometimes on my person — on my belt or carried in an ankle holster.

This is one of those pieces of gear that, if seen, causes people to look at me with a quizzical look. You know the one: “Why do you carry that? You’ve already got a gun…” So, I keep it concealed.

Conclusion

Other gear I carry regularly but not every day includes a length of paracord, duct tape, a space blanket, a first-aid kit, a keychain light and a carabiner. I could get into the outerwear I keep handy for weather emergencies and then get into bug-out gear, but that’s not every day stuff. Watch for an article on that stuff later. For now, however, those are my top five EDC essentials; I’d love to hear about yours.

For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Russ H. June 17, 2017, 6:38 pm

    When I read articles like this I can’t help but laugh. The author’s make it sound as if they encounter dangerous situations on a daily basis. This: “have it at the ready if I sense a situation escalating and I’m plotting an escape route.” Seriously?

    So I just inventoried myself. I have a pistol (holds 9 rds), an automatic knife clipped inside my front pocket and a miniature flashlight on my keychain. This is confortable and I’m used to it. But I’m with what segian said above: “I am a firm believer in carrying only what you need and use daily. The one exception is your firearm. Hopefully you will never need it, if you are hoping you will need it then you are a nut. All the extra crap I see people carrying around just slows you down and makes you uncomfortable. If you did not use it in the last week leave it at home. This is not Afghanistan and in my opinion if I need more than 11 rounds (G26) then I have bigger problems than whether I have an extra mag or a backup knife.”

    Well said.

  • old number20 June 17, 2017, 1:02 pm

    Wow I don’t know where Mark’s journeys take him, I do know I don’t want to go there. If one needs that much extra ammo (without the other items) to gain a bit more confidence it’s to rough for me. I am a retired over the road trucker & have been in many a low class side of town in the lower 48. However now that I’m old and can’t hold my own as good as I use to I do carry a S&W k frame 357 . If 6 don’t get me out of trouble 12 or 18 probably will not help.

  • BRASS June 16, 2017, 6:31 pm

    I carry a number of things in my pockets or on my wrists every time I leave the house, but some of these guys must live in cooler climates or are a lot slimmer than I, which is entirely possible.
    It’s 107 deg where I live today and give or take five degrees, everyday until mid September. Shorts, light weight short sleeve shirts are the norm. Even with cargo shorts and loose shirts, too much stuff is just not realistic. I’m a guy who likes to be prepared for everything but during daylight hours, only so much stuff is realistically going to be possible.

  • Penrod June 16, 2017, 3:17 pm

    I currently carry a Coast HP1 single AA flashlight and like them so much I have given several as presents. Under $8 on Amazon at the moment. 190 lumens, no annoying multi-settings to clik through, just On/Off. On the wide angle setting there is no dark spot or dark ring. Unlike the cheaper lights it is expensive enough to have a reliable switch. They fit in the watch pocket of a pair of jeans, and in a specific spot in my wife’s purse so she can find it in the dark. Another in the vehicle first aid kit, and another in my EDC bag. Highly recommended.

  • Pat J June 16, 2017, 11:58 am

    I carry an Emerson Bulldog and 13 + 1 HSTs in a G19 appendix carried.
    More and more, I carry a Surefire P6 with me.
    And a snot rag, I’m an older guy.

  • Kevin Hunt June 16, 2017, 10:58 am

    No med gear? A back up knife but no med gear?? Good luck

    • Penrod June 16, 2017, 3:24 pm

      “No med gear?” In the Conclusion: “Other gear I carry regularly but not every day includes a length of paracord, duct tape, a space blanket, a first-aid kit”

      I don’t carry any of those things in my pockets either, but all of them and several more are in my EDC bag kept in my truck. Half a dozen WetOnes wipes are in it as keeping hands clean may not be sexy, but is the best way to avoid getting sick. Amazon has big boxes of them cheap.

  • Boss June 16, 2017, 10:07 am

    I agree. Anything extra either in the way or could be lost or stolen. I some wallets thicker than my fist with everything the man owns. Credit cards galore and every personal ID you can imagine. The only time your wallet should be thick is when you are carrying a wad of money, that is if you have reason to carry cash at that time. That means my wallet is really thin.

  • Russ June 16, 2017, 9:58 am

    Since I don’t want to have to dress with a “Batman” style utility belt and yes; I don’t live in Afghanistan My EDC is geared towards my threat environment. Besides I don’t have that many pockets. You have to realistically consider the other EDC’s, such as your phone, keys etc. That’s why I carry a backpack…all that good gear fits easy in that!

    • Vic vapor July 17, 2017, 11:23 am

      you’re right, Russ,
      the back pack solves
      the cargo issue.
      Here in Florida,
      it’s the comfortable solution to stay equipped
      and carry water bottles, sun screen, and some protein shakes and snacks.!!

  • anthony chavez June 16, 2017, 9:54 am

    When I travel out of town I have my GET BACK HOME bag. around town Taurus G2 with 12 is fine.
    “If you wish to live in Peace you must first prepare for war.”

  • segian June 16, 2017, 8:30 am

    I am a firm believer in carrying only what you need and use daily. The one exception is your firearm. Hopefully you will never need it, if you are hoping you will need it then you are a nut. All the extra crap I see people carrying around just slows you down and makes you uncomfortable. If you did not use it in the last week leave it at home. This is not Afghanistan and in my opinion if I need more than 11 rounds (G26) then I have bigger problems than whether I have an extra mag or a backup knife.

    • Brad June 16, 2017, 12:21 pm

      I agree. I carry a S&W M&P Shield in 9mm with 8+1 only. I have 2 spare mags (10 rnds) in my car, just in case. I occasionally carry a penlight flashlight rather than depending on my phone. Where I live the weather is hot and it’s hard to conceal a lot.

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