My Three Most Important EDC Items


My Three Most Important EDC Items

I see a lot of “top 5” lists on the Internet–we run quite a few here. And most of the time, the number three or four or five got picked because of some sort of arbitrary convention or tradition. But not so with this list. In my case, there are exactly three things I always have on me whenever I leave the house, and if something really bad went down and I was missing any one of these three, I’d feel under-equipped.

Now, this list is not comprehensive, of course. For instance, “pants” are not on it, but I don’t leave the house pantsless. Neither is “smartphone,” “keys,” or “wallet,” although I don’t leave the house without that stuff, either. No, these are the three simple pieces of “gear” that I carry, use, train with, maintain, and put serious thought into.

The list goes like this: good shoes, a sharp knife, and a loaded 9mm handgun.

Shoes: because you can’t wear flip-flops to the apocalypse

I’m so sorry if you’re a grown man who wears flip-flops in public and this offends you, but, dude, you just can’t wear flip flops to the apocalypse.

I mean, I guess you could, but you’re pretty much guaranteed to die in the first wave, which, now that I think about it is probably something I’m okay with because it leaves more canned goods for those of us in real shoes.

But seriously, I always try to leave the house in shoes that I’d be okay spending the next six months of my life in, and/or doing one or all of the following: walking all the way back home, running for my life, picking through rubble.

This means I mostly wear leather boots. To be totally honest, I really just love leather boots of all kinds — cowboy boots, work boots, hiking boots, biker boots, dress boots, etc. My latest jam is a pair of elephant-hide ropers that are comfy as socks and as tough as tank tread, but I could go on all day about boot selection. So this entire section may well be a rationalization for my boot obsession.

Still, what if you really did have to walk all the way home from wherever you’re going? Is what you’ve got on really gonna go the distance? Have you thought good and hard about what happens if you’re out in the middle of wherever, and everything just stops?

Knife: the oldest tool

If I even have to explain to you why I carry a knife at all times, then you should never read this site again. With that out of the way, my current tool of choice is a Skeletool CX, often with a small Spyderco Dragonfly 2 that never leaves my watch pocket.

At the end of January, I’m supposed to be getting a Ferrum Forge Gent, so look for a review of that. If it proves itself, I may make a rare change to my EDC and swap out the not-so-svelte Skeletool after about six years of straight carry.

The last thing I’ll say about my knife is I keep it well stropped. I use green stropping compound on a leather paddle strop, and if things get really bad I’ll use the mousepad-and-sandpaper trick. I also keep it cleaned and lubed.

The Nine: because the caliber wars are over, and 9mm won (for now)

My carry guns are pictured at the top of this article, a pair of SIGs with action jobs from Gray Guns and coatings from Robar Industries. Depending on wardrobe, I’ll either go bigger or smaller, but it’s always one of the above.

I carry either Remington Golden Saber or Barnes TAC-XPD +P. I used to carry Federal HST, but after seeing the TAC-XPD rounds put through series of gel tests I was pretty much sold. I’ll write more about that later, though.

If I’m carrying the P229, I use Mec-Gar extended mags, either the 15-round or the 18-round mags depending on dress and concealability. If it’s the P239, then it’s either 8- or 10-round mags.

Also, with apologies to the Col. Jeff Cooper, the near-universal consensus of all the operators who are way harder than me (not a high bar, but still) is that 9mm NATO is the current best-of-breed EDC round for capacity, accuracy, and lethality. I’m not inclined to argue — I’m just gonna carry and train with 9mm, until an obviously-better round comes along.

And I do train. Not as much as I should, but who can really say they do? I’m lucky enough to have an 80-yard range out my back door and to work from home, so I can pop out at lunch and ring some steel with one of my two carry guns. (Incidentally, the triggers on these two feel almost identical, which helps me economize my training time.)

Conclusion: know where to draw the line, & keep your gear dirty

I want to make two points by way of conclusion. The first is that this list is very short by design. At 42, I’m now what is referred to as “an old,” and as a newly minted “old,” I’ve decided to do what olds have done since the dawn of time, which is pare down and simplify.

I don’t carry a whole massive loadout of stuff because I want to always have the basics on me every time, rain or shine, regardless of wardrobe or destination or whether I’m with or without a man-bag. I can and have run the above, simple loadout in everything from a suit to a T-shirt and jeans.

I drew the line once so that I don’t have to keep re-drawing it by making a bunch of decisions about what to bring and what to leave behind on every outing. I just grab the exact same gear and go whenever I leave the house, no matter the occasion. Sure, I may add a spare mag or some other items to the mix if I’m going on a trip, but mostly I stick to the basics outlined above, and consider my bases covered.

The last point I’ll make is that these items of mine are all either well-worn or on their way to it. I don’t carry stuff that doesn’t have wear marks and isn’t a bit dirty from having been broken in, at least I don’t carry it that way for long.

Related to the above, I also don’t buy a lot of random things and then put them in some rotation where each thing gets used every so often. No, I save up my beans and blow them on a very few really nice things that I use the heck out of all the time. If I get caught in a bind, I don’t even want to have to think about whether or not I can rely on the gear I have on me, or regret that I left the good stuff at home on this particular outing. No, I always bring the good stuff–the same good stuff–everywhere, every time.


Avatar Author ID 36 - 532554813

Jon Stokes is Deputy Editor at

Read More