The Every Day Carry Dilemma: Less Is More

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Dear Brendan,

I want to continue to build on our discussion about Every Day Carry items (EDC) and tie in the old adage that, “less is more.”  Ask yourself what is in your pockets and Go Bag, and why? More and more people are putting together their own EDC kits.  I have a few different EDC kits and Go Bags that meet my needs and I wanted to pass along some of what I’ve learned along the way.  I’ve tailored my kits/loadout to address my environment/area of operation; weather, movements, concealability, threat level, family, and other variables come into play.  Basically ask yourself the 5W’s & How.      

There are more and more vendors pitching and selling EDC items and the market is becoming flooded with products.  You have to be able to discern the contenders from the pretenders.  It’s easy for Joe Civilian to look at Hollywood celebs, former military with their own business, social media and say to himself, “Hey, if those guys carry x, y & z, then I will carry the same.”  I’d say you are not asking the right questions or seeking the right sources for the best information to make well informed decisions for you and your family.  There is no one size fits all EDC kit.  Everyone is different and you should design your EDC kit around your requirements. 

What works for a SOF operator in Iraq might not be the best fit for you and your family.  For example, how you carry your handgun depends on your own size, height, weight, belt, holster, type of handgun, etc.  Do you spend a lot of time driving?  This is important and may dictate how you setup your belt and holster.  You also need to decide upfront what it is you want to get out of a specific piece of gear.    

Since we are on the topic of your handgun, do you want an external safety on your gun or internal safety like a Glock?  Do you want a single stack or double stack mag.?  Some people swear by the 1911 model with a single stack mag, external safety and the stopping power of a .45 round.  Others do not like to carry locked and cocked so the 1911 is not a viable option for them.  Are you going to carry a flashlight?  Okay, which brand, type, model?  Surefire or Streamlight are the two brands I use most often.  Are you going to mount the light onto your handgun or carry it as a stand-alone item?  I have a Surefire mounted on my Glock 21, however I do not have a light on my Glock 19.  How many lumens do you want your flashlight to have?  Think battery life and level of brightness.  What about your knife? Do you want to carry an automatic folder or standard folder?  I switch between automatic folders by Microtech and standard type folder by Emerson with the wave opening feature.  In Iraq I carried an automatic folder by Microtech with a partially serrated blade and glass breaker.  The reason I selected an automatic folder was to engage the blade with gross motor skills by simply pressing the button with my thumb and in some cases while wearing Mechanix gloves. The serrated edge cuts through seatbelts easily and the glass breaker does a very good job breaking out passenger car windows.  Everything should have a purpose.  We carried Glock 19’s, the full auto Glock 18 with extended mag and we used kydex holsters.  I suggest you step back, assess, study, and conduct your own research to figure out what you truly want/need and make sure each item/tool fits those requirements.    

http://www.microtechknives.com/

http://emersonknives.com/

One of the most important questions you can ask yourself when deciding what to carry is whether or not it serves a purpose.  Before you add anything to your EDC kit or Go Bag, ask yourself if you really have a use for it or is it just something cool to carry on you.  Simply put, if it doesn’t serve a purpose don’t carry it around with you.  Do some addition by subtraction. 

I recommend you find items that have multiple uses.  A good example of this would be a Leatherman, or as mentioned above a knife that has a glass breaker on it.  You only have so many pockets and space to carry items on your person.  Keep it functional and low profile. 

Let me pause for a minute and say don’t let any of this overwhelm you.  I encourage you to try different items.  Field-test them if you will.  Hey the fact is you may buy several holsters, knives and flashlights before you find the ones that work best for you and your family.  The good news is there’s a market for used gear.  So if you don’t like something, you can resell it.

Let me say something I’ve said many times to you, only with a twist…  “Two is one and one is none.”  Be careful with this mindset when it comes to EDC and building out your Go Bag.  Would it be nice to have a backup for everything you carry?  Yes, of course it would, however it’s not practical in everyday life as a husband or dad.  Here it is…  Everyone knows the old saying quality over quantity.  So make the investment upfront with quality gear and you shouldn’t need that backup item/tool. 

Here are a few items to consider.  I suggest you seek out a quality non-weapon mounted flashlight from Surefire or Streamlight.  A reliable pocket flashlight can be invaluable at times.  Whether you’re walking to your vehicle in a dark parking lot, or assessing a potential threat in a low-light situation, a flashlight can be a great asset.  The reason why I say non weapon mounted is because a weapon mounted light can be a great tool in a low light shooting scenario, it can also be dangerous if used for everyday tasks as that is not its purpose.  Think muzzle awareness.  A solid pocket flashlight by Surefire also makes for a great impact weapon.

http://www.surefire.com/

http://www.streamlight.com/en-us

I know this next one is a given for most people, however I’ll state the obvious.  Don’t leave home without your cell phone nor should you leave your phone behind in your car.  Your cell phone should always be on your person.  Think of your cell phone as an endless resource of knowledge, communications is your lifeline and a great means to keep up to date with current events as they unfold real time on social media.  I have an iPhone as does my wife and daughters.  I also protect my phone with a Lifeproof case.  It’s on the high end, but remember quality over quantity.  Make the investment in quality gear and it shouldn’t fail you when you need it most.      

http://www.lifeproof.com/

Now let’s touch on an area that most overlook when talking about EDC and that’s your mindset.  It’s about being mentally prepared and mission planning.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself. 

·       Do you know your local laws?

·       Do you understand what happens to the body in high stress situations?

·       Do you maintain a good level of situational awareness (SA)? 

Here’s another important area to consider that too often gets neglected.  Ask yourself if you are physically prepared. 

·       Do you have a solid working knowledge of your gear?

·       Do you know how to clear malfunctions with your firearm?

·       Do you know how to use your medical/trauma kit?  Do you carry one at all?

·       Do you train with what you carry?

·       Do you consistently carry the same items/tools?  Don’t switch out your gear all the time.  Only make changes for a purpose.  (Summertime with shorts, t-shirt, or wintertime with coats, pants, etc.)

·       How is your physical conditioning?  Are you in shape?  Can you run when needed and fight when you need to fight?

I’m sure you’ve heard the term, grey man.  You want to be the grey man and blend into your environment.  I know many of us are gear junkies.  We have a collection of so called high speed, low drag gear with Velcro, and everything in-between… However in most public places such as a restaurant, grocery store or shopping center these types of things can stand out.  You have to find what is practical and functional without drawing unwanted attention to yourself.  There is a lot of great clothing and gear out there that is as good if not better.  For example I’m a big fan of Carhartt pants and coats, Asolo hiking boots, Salomon shoes and boots, UnderArmour shirts, Patagonia shorts and coats, Arc’Teryx coats, Suunto watches, and it’s hard to beat an all black pair of old school Chuck Taylor’s by Converse.  Bottom-line is blend in and always be ready to fight the good fight.

Superior gear will never make up for a lack of training or attitude.

 If you can stand, stand now!  If you can help others, do so.

Prepare to WIN the fight!

Your Friend,

-Travis

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