The “Core Four” of EDC

EDC is a worn out, tired topic, but we discuss four items you can have nearly anywhere that will help you be an asset in any circumstances.

December 30, 2019
ISG Team

Recently, when discussing EDC, a community member at ISG asked:

“What is the foundation of your everyday carry (EDC) items? What are the things that you shouldn’t be without?”

The answer varies by who you ask. Each person’s level of ability, comfort, dedication, and skill determine what’s best.

However, if you’re interested in a foundational approach to maximum utility over the widest variety of situations, in the widest variety of places, these tools are our mainstay.

The following EDC tools all share a unique quality: they supplement a natural deficiency.

What do we mean?

Let’s take a look:

1. A knife

Using a knife to improvise a water filter

This ubiquitous tool has a permanent place in our EDC. The cutting instrument is widely useful from the start of a task to its completion. Regardless of the environment, a knife is an addition that expands on our natural lack of cutting appendacies. With a knife, we can do everything from fabricating natural tools to opening boxes in an office.

The knife makes up for our body’s absence of any sort of organic cutting structure. No matter how much we train or build skill, we will never have the ability to cut efficiently without a blade. This makes the knife a “de facto” part of our EDC kit.

2. Multi tool

A multi-tool in the middle of a battery hot-swap. The Multi-tool shines in a pinch, when you're "ideal" gear and what you've got are two different things.

The multi-tool gives us several useful tools in a compact package, but unique to them is the ability to exert torsion (rotational leverage), as well as apply leverage in grip.

This alone would qualify a place on a belt for pliers, but the multi-tool gives us, at a minimum, a back up blade and screwdriver. The amount of utility you get from one lightweight tool is exceptional, and the inability of the human form to exert leaverage in such a way makes it a great too to have in a pinch. Our environment is made of complex machined parts, and at present, evolutionary biology has given us no sufficient means of exerting torsion on screws or bolts. In a situation where you will need to be as resourceful as possible, having a multi-tool can make a serious difference.

3. Flashlight

‍Using a flashlight to illuminate an abandon church.

While our eyes do their best to gather ambient light and interpret the data, hours of darkness relegate us to a largely diurnal existence. While advanced technology exists, the basic concept of a lamp has been a component of the human existence for thousands of years, out of necessity.

In present times, flashlights with rechargeable batteries are available and inexpensive. With a good flashlight costing less thank $75, it is an exceptionally good investment that will give years of service, both on a daily basis, and during emergencies.

4. Lighter

ISG CenTex building a primitive fire.

The lighter doesn’t compensate for a natural inability. However, in an age where the garden variety Bic lighter is cheap, tough, long-lasting, it’s a good failsafe to have. The ability to make fire is instrumental to how we address the rule of threes. Fire helps us stay warm, dry, purify our water, and cook our food. As such, while we advocate being able to use primitive methods to start fires as a baseline skill, it’s a good idea to have an expedient method as well. While not perfect or absolutely necessary, the common lighter can save us time when we don’t have time to spare. It’s size, weight, and low cost make it a great addition.

All of these items are useful, and all of them pick up where our physiological limitations leave off. We have no natural ability to shape things with our nails, create light, or exert mechanical leaverage, therefore these items represent a bridge between our physical limitations and our learned abilities.

With these items at your disposal, you’re well on your way to handling the vast majority of situations daily life throws at us, as well as those unpredictable moments when it matters most. It's not meant to be a "all inclusive" discussion on the topic of EDC - which we do have and can be found in our Article on Lines of Equipment: EDC, and again in "EDC: Everybody's Wrong".

In conclusion, this gear represents what we assess as the “bare minimums” in terms of an EDC. As you become more skilled, we can build on this framework to add abilities and equipment.

Stay safe by staying sharp.

-ISG Team

Editors note: Some items couldn't be added to the list because thermal sensitivity, and space. This burrito is an excellent addition to EDC, however, the lack of ability to keep it warm and not smashed could not be resolved.

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