Building a Carry: My EDC Essentials

It’s slightly ironic, but being into everyday carry has caused me not to have a true EDC. After years of collecting, I’ve amassed a collection of gear that allows me to swap out key pieces, depending on the tasks I expect to encounter. What you’ll find below are categories of gear that I carry daily. Starting from the pack and working my way in, you’ll see how I organize and store my gear so that it’s easily reached and ready for use when needed. Some of these items may sound a bit strange, but they all work together to create an entire “carry system” that helps me solve 90% of the problems I encounter daily.


A high-quality pack is the foundation of my EDC, and it has the potential to make or break my entire system. I have three main criteria for my packs: it has to look good, have a functional layout, and be made from durable materials. With these criteria in mind, I have a small rotation of packs that serve different purposes.

The first pack I frequently use is a GORUCK Heritage GR1 in an olive colorway. This is the largest pack I carry, coming in at 26 liters in capacity. I love the waxed canvas and leather look and the open main compartment allows me to stack pouches and other items inside as needed. Having a dedicated Quick Access Pocket (AKA, a QAP) gives me a convenient spot to stash my keys and earbuds. Thanks to the waxed canvas fabric, this bag will continuously patina and look even better as it ages. 

Another pack that I use regularly is the Unicorn Two, a collaborative pack from Mystery Ranch and Carryology. Designed as an update to the original Unicorn, this pack was designed with EDC and travel in mind. It features a moderately sized, open main compartment, accessible through Mystery Ranch’s iconic “Tri-zip,” and two smaller side pockets that will hold a water bottle or organize small items. Unlike the heritage GR1, the Unicorn is made from X-Pac, a high-performance fabric produced by Dimension Polyant. X-pac, easily identified by its “X” pattern, is not only lightweight but also waterproof and highly abrasion-resistant. Due to its waterproof properties, I always choose this bag if there’s a chance of rain, and to this day, even torrential downpours can’t get my gear wet. 



This is one item that I’m confident is a universal EDC item among Worn & Wound readers. I’ve found that I gravitate towards larger watches, usually between 40-44mm, with a preference for diver-style watches. My most commonly worn piece is a custom-built Seiko mod, built by a good friend in Texas. This piece, a mix between a diver and a pilot watch, has an NH-38a movement, a PVD case, and looks great on a single-pass fabric or rubber NATO.


Despite my best efforts not to, I’ve dropped, slammed, and beat this watch against every solid surface from here to Kentucky, but it just keeps running, and the PVD case only has a few small scratches. Even if I hit the lottery and could afford my grail watches, this one would remain in the collection and on the wrist as this is the watch I consider the start of my collection.


When I set out to create an EDC toolkit, I knew that I wanted to have a compact kit that could handle most light/medium-duty tasks. I’m not trying to rebuild a car with this kit, but I would like the ability to tighten a loose screw on my office chair. This kit started with a Leatherman Signal and a Leatherman bit kit. The combination of these two items gives me pliers, a variety of bits, an extra knife, a whistle, and even a firestarter. Even with all these tools, 90% of the time I use it to tighten up the baseplate on my camera. In addition to the multi-tool, I carry a small pry bar (useful for scraping things), a cheap pen, and a pair of collapsible tweezers. Once I knew what items I wanted to be in the kit, I tracked down a Garage Built Gear “Mightier” pouch to keep this all organized. 

Pen and Notebook

Despite living in a digital age, I’ve found that I enjoy taking notes on paper and that making a checklist helps me be more productive. I’ve found that I prefer my pens to be at least 5” long, and it has to be compatible with some kind of gel refill cartridge (preferably a Pilot G2 or Sharpie S-Gel), and it’s even better if it’s made in the U.S.A. While I haven’t tested many pens, I’ve found that I enjoy the Tactile Turn Side Click Slim, and the BigIDesign Bolt Action Pen the most. Both of these pens have been made in numerous different colorways and materials, so you can find any combination to fit your EDC theme.

For a notebook, I like the classic Field notes, with either a lined or a dot grid page. Much like the pens above, there are many different designs and themes, from solid colors to national parks, and even cut-up posters. What I’m trying to say is that you should be able to find a pocket notebook that matches, or stands out, whatever your style.


You might be thinking “Why would I need a dedicated flashlight when I have one on my phone?” Well, the answer is that phone flashlights aren’t that great, and there may be times when you need to talk on the phone and use the flashlight. Of course, you could put your call on speaker and turn the flashlight on, but having a dedicated flashlight always helps. As a bonus, you can get a combo unit (white light and UV light), allowing you to find lost items and charge your lume for that ‘gram-worthy #lumeshot’. 

All jokes aside, carrying a small flashlight in my pocket or on a keychain has been extremely handy on numerous occasions, either for finding a lost screw under a shelf, or when the power has randomly gone out. One of my all-time favorite flashlights is the Streamlight Microstream due to its small size and moderate light output. Since it runs off a single AAA battery, I can carry a spare, or buy a replacement at almost any store.


Whether I’m opening a box, trimming loose threads on a bag, or cutting down a rubber NATO, I find myself using a knife multiple times a day. Being in New York City, there are many different laws/regulations I have to abide by, and it’s always a good idea to make sure to do some basic research on what you’re allowed to carry wherever you might live or be traveling to. Of the many different knives I own, I regularly find myself carrying either a Benchmade Bugout mini or a Spyderco Para 3 Lightweight. Both of these knives are compact, have a blade length under 3”, and are easily operated with only one hand. Given their compact size, they are easy to carry and do not draw unwarranted attention while being used. Additionally, both of these manufacturers offer a free, lifetime sharpening service, provided that you pay for postage both ways. 

Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK)

Let me start by saying that I am not a licensed healthcare provider, but I’ve learned a thing or two over the years. One of the things I’ve learned is that if you use a knife enough, you are bound to cut yourself at some point accidentally. If you have a basic understanding of how to treat a cut, have kids, or just want to be someone’s hero, it’s a great idea to carry a basic “ouch pouch.” As such, I carry a small first aid kit with bandages, Neosporin, meds (pain and allergy), and a couple of floss pics. I never reach into this pouch on a perfect day, but accidents do happen. I’ve sliced my finger countless times on boxes (not knives) and have a habit of catching splinters when I move pallets. With the contents of this kit, I’m happy to report that I still have all ten fingers, and have avoided infections.

Tech Kit

Since moving to the city, my phone has become the singular most important piece of my EDC. Not only does it give me directions and tell me when the bus/subway is coming, but I use it to pay for almost everything. Using tap to pay, especially on public transit, has made my life much easier, but it requires me to always have a charged and working phone. In my “tech” kit, I keep an Anker battery bank, a charging cable, a USB-A to USB-C adapter, and my wireless DJI mic. 

Over the last year, I’ve been slowly replacing everything with USB-C devices, allowing me to carry one cord, but I’ve held on to an older model battery pack that functions fine. I love new tech as much as the next person, but I do like to be semi-thoughtful of the waste I create, electronic or not. 


This is the one item on the list that is carried out every day. Regardless of what I’m doing or where I’m going, I always have my camera with me, a trusty Nikon Z6.  Photography has been my hobby for almost ten years, and I try to shoot daily to grow my skills. Since moving to NYC, I’ve begun shooting street photography in addition to the EDC photography that I shoot for my Instagram. I usually keep a 24-70mm F/ 2.8 on my camera but sometimes switch to a wider, 28mm lens. While I enjoy carrying my camera, I’ve found that most camera inserts do not work with my loadout. Instead of a rigid cube, I prefer the Matador Camera Base Layer. It’s a thin “wrap” for your camera, and it does a great job at adding protection without adding bulk inside your pack.  Since it conforms to the shape of my camera, it fits in more places than a standard camera storage cube. 

If you’ve been looking at EDC as a potential hobby, I hope this list gives you an idea of gear you might want to carry. I can say that it’s taken me years to dial in my current carry ecosystem, and I’m happy that it isn’t perfect. Finding the “perfect” combination of items would mean that I wouldn’t need to try out new gear. That might make my wallet happy, but there’s something special about getting a new piece of gear (hint: it’s the same feeling as when you get a new watch). At this point, only one question remains: what piece of gear are you adding to your collection next? 

Images from this post:
Related Posts
Garrett is an avid photographer and seasoned collector of many things, including backpacks, bourbon, EDC gear, and watches. Originally born in Kentucky, Garrett recently moved to NYC in search of new adventures. When he's not enjoying his existing collections and hobbies, he spends time planning his next adventure.