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The popular acronym EDC stands for “everyday carry.” The EDC concept is nothing new, humans have been carrying tools and other items for thousands of years, consisting of things routinely needed throughout the day. Recently EDC has become something of a buzzword, with a vast number of companies providing an even greater number of products. The survivalist and prepper communities first popularized EDC, but it is now firmly established in the mainstream.

Most of us are at least familiar with the basic concept. Women have been carrying purses loaded with useful and useless stuff forever. Men routinely grab their wallets, keys, keychains, knives, Leatherman tools, watches, tactical pens, carabiners, notebooks, flasks, sunglass cases, backpacks, and anything else needed to tackle their daily adventures.

What else, if anything should you be carrying? You probably have tissues or baby wipes in your purse. Maybe sunscreen, chapstick, and a granola bar. What about self-defense and personal protection items?

Military EDC Support Gear

25 years ago, when I was in the military we carried a lot of gear. Helmet, uniform, boots, flashlight, weapon, ammo, MRE food, water canteens, compass, rifle cleaning kit, first aid kit, spare this, spare that. I was never in combat, so usually, this encumberment was just for show. You know, just to weigh us down doing 12-mile practice road marches with as much gear stacked on our LBE and rucksack to be annoying. The general standard required an average soldier to load out with a weight equaling one-third of their body weight. This was intended to provide enough support gear without suffering from excess fatigue or other adverse consequences. A 110-pound female would carry about 36 pounds, while a 190-pound male would load up about 63 pounds. Then we would hike 6 miles down the road, turn around and hike 6 miles back.

Roman legionaries in 1000 A.D. carried about 80 pounds of equipment into battle. U.S. Army troops carried even more than that landing on the coast of Normandy on D-Day. Today, combat soldiers wear helmets and rifles that weigh nearly the same as in WWI, but now wear 30 additional pounds of body armor. But that is something no soldier wants to go without, as effective as it has been proven on the battlefields.

Ammunition is also a huge weight issue. Bullet technology really hasn’t reduced the weight in over 100 years, but firearm technology has increased the rate of fire causing soldiers to expend more ammunition per battle. It seems like whenever technology helps reduce weight somewhere, it also increases the number of new tech items that end up needing to be carried by someone. 100 pounds of gear or more is not unusual. Possibly excessive, but not unusual.

Civilian EDC Support Gear

Civilian gear is far less cumbersome, but you have many different options to consider. A great start is a firearm and CCW holster. But without looking like you are wearing Batman’s utility belt, there are other items you should everyday carry. You have probably heard of carrying your firearm on your strong, or dominant-hand side, and your support gear on your weak side. But in reality, there should not be a weak side. Ideally, you train enough with your non-dominate hand side that it can use anything located there expediently and effectively.

At a minimum, I would say you want a non-weapon-mounted flashlight and a pocket knife. I typically carry at least a keychain flashlight, but a larger Safety Technology LED Self-Defense Flashlight is great. It features a 3000-lumen light, a strobe effect, and is made of high-quality aircraft-grade aluminum strong enough to be used as a self-defense baton.

As far as knives go, I personally follow the “2-is-1, 1-is-none” mantra, but at least one in your support side pocket should be sufficient. If you are allowed to, an out-the-front (OTF) automatic knife or switchblade is a great option. These work well in your non-dominate support hand, simply press a button to deploy and retract the blade. But if you are well-practiced with a flipper or thumb stud folding knife, you can choose a more conventional and unregulated blade. It is important to have a knife opposite your firearm side, in case you are controlling your firearm, or keeping an attacker away from it. Then you can deploy your knife to assist you. This would also be the case if someone grabs your dominant hand, or your arm becomes injured. You still have a viable means of defense from the support side.

Another great less-lethal option are telescopic steel batons. Flick your wrist or push a button depending on the model, and you have a great striking device in 16, 21, or 26 inches. The satisfying and distinct deployment sound may also be a deterrent causing your attacker to think twice.

Speaking of satisfying and distinct deployment sounds, non-lethal stun guns are also great options to carry either on your dominant side if you do not or are unable to carry a firearm, or as a good support side backup. The arcing sound of the stun gun may even defuse a dangerous situation before it begins. There are even combo devices such as the MultiGuard 80 Million volt Stun Gun with Alarm and Flashlight or The Safety Technology 100 Million volt Bouncer is a flashlight, stun gun, and striking weapon all wrapped into one.

Pepper spray is also a great non-lethal self-defense option. There are key chain pepper spray models and larger clip-on your belt canisters that are easily carried, and easily deployed when you need them. In addition to causing an attacker pain, pepper spray swells the attacker’s mucous membranes, which makes breathing difficult, and swells the veins in the eyes, causing the eyes to close. These effects can last up to 45 minutes and cause no permanent damage. Most pepper spray also has a UV-identifying dye to help aid in the identification of an attacker if caught soon after the incident.

Basic Civilian Use of Force in Self-Defense

Not unlike law enforcement’s restrictions on the reasonable use of force in self-defense, civilians also have a right to use force in self-defense that is reasonable under the circumstances. To be considered justified, the following basic criteria must be met. When a civilian reasonably believes they are in immediate danger of being touched unlawfully, injured, or killed, the civilian has a right to use force in self-defense. A civilian must reasonably believe they need to use force to prevent great bodily harm from happening. When a civilian uses force in self-defense and that force stops the threat, the civilian must immediately stop using force.

In other words, a civilian is only allowed to use the amount of force that is reasonably necessary to stop a threat and no more. If the threat was stopped and the civilian continues to use force, that force may be considered excessive and unnecessary.  If this ends up being the case, the civilian may be charged with a crime.

If the attacker wields a deadly weapon, you may fight back with a deadly weapon. If an attacker has no weapon other than his hands, you can probably not shoot him, but the use of pepper spray or a stun gun may be justified. There are far too many situations to list out every possible scenario, and that is not what you want to be thinking about during the split-second decision you need to make at the moment. But if you carry a firearm for self-defense, it is a great idea to take some local training on defensive pistol techniques and the use of force continuum. Non-lethal means of self-defense have fewer restrictions but are also situational.

Your EDC Necessities

The exact EDC gear you should carry will greatly vary from person to person. It is often defined by one’s experiences, hobbies, occupation, and daily errands. Ex-military guys may carry more tacticool gear. Someone personally affected by previous acts of crime will need far less persuading to carry self-defense tools. There are no specific rules as to what you must carry. You only need to carry what makes sense for you. If you carry even a basic multitool or Multi-Function Survival Tool Business Card, you are probably better prepared than 90% of people out there, if you need to tighten a screw or open a beer bottle. Every man should have at least one knife in their EDC arsenal to either open an Amazon package or use for self-defense, and women too.

And if you believe that bad things can happen to good people, minding their own business, even in good neighborhoods or safe cities… perhaps you should consider a couple of the items we discussed in the Civilian EDC Support Gear section above. I truly hope you never need to use them. But I also truly hope you have them on hand and have practiced how to use them if you ever need to defend your life or the life of a loved one. The pepper spray in your kitchen junk drawer, stun gun abandoned in a hall closet or other self-defense item that you just haven’t gotten around to purchasing yet will never help you.

If you follow us on Instagram, I often post daily pictures of some of the EDC gear I carry. Usually, I am showing off some cool firearms or knives in my collection, but occasionally I also show what pepper spray or other self-defense tools I am carrying.

Be safe, and be prepared. I’d say like a boy scout, but they only have flashlights and folding knives, not firearms, pepper spray, or stun guns. Flashlights and folding knives will only get you so far, but I’d rather have those than nothing at all on the street.


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