What is Everyday Carry, Anyway?

stainless steel pocketknife with blackwash finish on blade and handle
Nor Gal/Shutterstock.com

Everyday carry is a preparedness accessory hobby and internet subculture that’s been around since at least 2005 when everydaycarry.com was launched. But that really just tells you when the “Everyday Carry / EDC” branding began in earnest.

For the true origin of the practice, we’d probably need a team of anthropologists. That said, it seems pretty clear that modern-day EDC was born from a broader revival of historical accessorizing (more on that later).

Everyday Carry Explained

Every day carry man items collection: glasses, leash, sneakers. High resolution.
Here we have an everyday carry kit that’s been optimized for a nearsighted dog-walker who likes drinking straight, body-temperature gin Yevhen Vitte/Shutterstock.com

It’s pretty much there in the name, but if you’re a stickler for specifics: it’s the idea of curating (with intent) a set of items that are carried on your person daily, as well as the subculture that has grown around this practice.

It gets a little trickier to determine what objects do and do not count as everyday carry. Really, for me, it’s about intent and repetition. An everyday carry item should be something you make sure to bring with you all the time, and that fills an anticipated need.

Basically, it’s your daily kit—your pile of pocket things that sleep on the dresser but then go right back in your pants the next morning before you head out the door.

For example, in the ’90s, my dad had the following EDC kit in his pockets: loose change, his wallet, keys, and half a pack of Rolaids. Of course, my dad didn’t (and does not) know what EDC is. He was participating in the practice, if only passively, but not the subculture.

overhead view of camping gear on a wooden surface
Brian Goodman/Shutterstock.com

For me, I’ve been carrying keys, phone, earbuds, wallet, sunglasses, and a pocket knife (when I’m not in the city), all well before I’d ever heard of EDC. And I was big into multitools as a kid.

Is either of us practicing “EDC” proper? I have no idea. For me, you don’t need to post on r/EDC to take some interest or even pride in the stuff you keep on you. It’s about aiming for preparedness, kind of like being a Scout.

For more examples, check out our lists of keychain knives, pens, and other stuff (feel free to submit us for an award). If you don’t like to read (any more than you already have), here’s a video of the affable guy from MythBusters showing off his EDC kit.

Where it Came From (Probably)

Victorian Era Collection, Gentleman's vintage accessories doodle collection. Hand drawn men illustrations set. Gentlemen in a tuxedo and a top hat. Vintage vector engraving style
No 19th-century gentleman would be caught dead without his breakfast, lunch, and dinner pipes (each one bigger than the last). alex74/Shutterstock.com

It’s always hard to pin down the origins of these sorts of things, but EDC is probably linked to the broader trend of readopting and taking pride in simpler things and lost practices.

Specifically, I’m talking about how men in previous centuries kept a lot of accessories in their pockets: pipes, pocket watches, snuff boxes, pipes, knives, etc. Now it’s the 21st century, and urban men dress like lumberjacks, get WWI-era undercuts, and accessorize like their great grandpas.

Couple that with the survivalist/preparedness craze of the early 21st century, and you’ve got the recipe for EDC.

EDC Is Just a New Name for an Old Thing

The takeaway is this: everyday carry, or EDC, is a new(ish) name for an old practice. Throughout human history, people have carried their essentials with them. As we got settled and life became easier, folks stopped carrying their whole lives on their backs (and started hoarding more stuff).

But history repeats, or rhymes, or whatever. If you don’t believe me, then check out Otzi the Iceman’s Copper Age everyday carry kit (and check back for our “Best Therapeutic Fungi for Everyday Carry” list).

Alex Johnson Alex Johnson
Alex Johnson is a freelance writer for Review Geek who has been writing professionally for over 12 years, but has been a critical geek for nearly 34. He also writes history books with curse words in them. Read Full Bio »

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