You’re probably thinking “Oh, great, another pocket dump article.”
While you’re not exactly wrong, im hopeful this will be more than that.
To start with i hate that wording. Pocket dump. Every time i hear it i conjure images of a pants pocket full of nice warm feces…….
Since thats NOT what we are talking about, lets describe what we are going to discuss. Your every day carry system. This is just as much about software as it is hardware, and its flexible to your situation or environment so keep that in mind. For instance, what i “need” to keep oh my person around my homestead is different to a degree than what i “need” to keep on me when going to the larger city. This is also not focusing on off-body options/additions in the role of a backpack or vehicle.
Now why is this a topic worth talking about? Given the context of the majority of the information on this website that is. Well, as much as its prudent to prepare for the potential (distant?) future, we also need to prepare for the most likely (near?) future. Realistically as it stands we are more likely to need to render aid to a bystander, deal with low light in a walmart parking lot, or defend ourselves or our loved ones on or near our property; rather than the potential invasion by foreign power or physical encroachment by big brother.
So what are some things you should have on you on the daily? While i cant tell you exactly what to have, i can tell you what i have and why. Maybe it will shed some light on things for you or validate current choices. Who knows? Keep in mind my area. I live in a small rural town thats relatively low crime and what crime there is typically is not violent. Compare that to the larger city I work in and the situation is vastly different. Remember to tailor things to your needs. Also, this is not a “hard truths” article as I dont know everything and I’m still learning as time and experience take place. These are my personal examples of choices that I’ve made and what I’ve settled with needing on my person for my daily living and why I chose those items.
Now lets get down to it.
Software, not Hardware:
First things first. No high speed pistola, razor sharp fixed blade, or super bright flashlight can replace simply removing your head from the exit hole God made. Being switched on, head on a swivel, eyes of an eagle, living in the red; whatever you want to call it, being aware of your surroundings and reading whats in front of you to prevent problems in the first place is rule numero uno.
This is important for situations that may not even directly involve you as well. How many times have you been in traffic and seen a hit and run? Having your head up and eyes open could be the difference between you getting details of the vehicle that ran, or just being another lump on the log. What about when out in the field? Being aware of your surroundings instead of trudging along looking at your bootlaces could keep you from walking into an ambush or spotting that bear and her cubs on the hill.
Above all, understand that Im not trying to patronize you as the reader, or present myself as some un-faltering awareness legend. Im just as susceptible to getting stuck in my phone reading messages or checking content as the next person. Especially when on home turf or in my “green zone”. However we need to try and make more ardent attempts at being aware of our surroundings. The latest info on your favorite sports team can wait until your in a more secure location. The dude rounding the end of your truck coming to mug you at the gas pump cant.
With that out of the way, lets dive in to what 90% of you reading this actually want to hear about. The hardware to the software. This is in no real particular order, but ill be going from most frequently used items to least and saving the handgun and its support items for last because honestly its the least important. As much as everyone wants to talk about them and harp over them lets be realistic. Its the least important from a frequency of use potential aspect.
Now…lets dump the pockets…..
One thing thats a requirement is a cutting tool. Multiple options is acceptable, but dont go overboard and end up looking like Jason Statham from The Expendables.
For me its a pocket knife and a fixed blade on the belt. Ive carried everything in my pocket from Case sod busters and classic Bucks, to Emerson CQCs and Benchmade’s. These days i tend to stick with a multitool. The Leatherman Free P4 has been awesome over the past year. Ive used every option on it. From the leather awl on my belt, to the scissors (almost daily opening some trivial toy thing for the kids); it has been as handy as a pocket on a shirt. Prior to owning it i generally disliked multitools as “id rather have the right tool for the right job!” And having to completely unfold them to get to the knife blade got old fast. The Free P4 fixes the latter by having all of the tools accessible from the folded position, and the former i find having a “stop gap” option to address the task until i can get the appropriate dedicated tool being a better solution than no option at all.
The fixed blade I opt for these days is a winkler belt knife. Mine is one of the Case co-branded Skinner models. I love the classic frontiersman belt knife style and its quality is next to none. Having spent the better part of my years dealing with $40 bargain bin belt knives, this was a huge upgrade and I see why people own them. I keep it on the belt as primarily a functional tool, and secondary a defensive tool. Its use for me could be as simple as cutting thick rope or opening the bong hole on a plastic drum, or as “complex” as skinning game. Its basically there to handle the larger tasks that the pocket knife doesnt perform as well at.
On the topic of cutting tools, there is no truer statement than “the only thing more dangerous than a sharp knife is a dull one.” Having to work harder and in a more frustrating manner with a dull knife has led to more personal injuries than i can count. Early this past year someone suggested the Fjallkniven pocket sharpener and its been great. If i use either of my blades during the day, they get sharpened in the evening. Ive only had to use the golden diamond side to shape one of my older pocket knives. The majority of the work is nightly touch ups with black side. One thing i did was add green sharpening compound to the rough out side of the sharpening stones case. The usual routine of 10 swipes on the stone, followed by 5 on the rough out/compound, and 5 on the smooth on each side of the blade for each set keeps my knives hair poppin sharp.
Next we have fire starting. While this may seem odd to some, i find myself needing to start a fire weekly if not more often. Whether its burning cardboard, brush piles, or simply lighting candles to freshen up the smell of our home for the missus. Its also a survival tool in the event i become stranded in my vehicle or in the woods. Getting caught in a thunderstorm in the bush and huddling for warmth under an overhang sucks. It sucks even more without a fire. For me the choice is a simple high visibility Bic lighter. Its simple, effective, and essentially weather proof (seriously, ive washed my current one with my jeans at least 5 times and it still works). Ive wrapped a piece of bicycle inner-tube around it for added purchase when my hands are slick and for a little bit of fire starting tinder material in an emergency. This brings me to a point I want to make, and one that i differ a good bit on from other woodsrunnin frontiersman it seems. Flint and steel. There is no doubt that making a fire using flint and steel is uber cool and mucho bravado to show off to your buddies or the girl you have your eye on. Its a handy skill to have and know. However its much more time and potentially calorie intensive compared to “flick your bic” levels of fire starting. While i still practice it and maintain the skill its not my goto for daily tasks and i reserve it as a backup method for survival. My goal is to get a fire going as quickly and easily as possible to accomplish my task or warm my body temp. Accomplishing this quickly allows me to focus my time, attention, and other calories on other survival tasks that may be necessary.
Next is my wallet. While this may seem odd to include, its a part of my daily carry and functions more than just a card and cash holder. My wallet i purchased from the folks over at Integrated Skills Group ( integratedskillsgroup.com ). Not only is it very handsome being made of black horween leather, but it also has a secondary compartment for holding access tools like a pick set and a hall pass. Entry/access tools and the skills to use them are a must in my opinion. Having the ability to get out of or in to a location could be a matter of life or death. At a minimum carry a torsion bar and rake somewhere on your person. Its came in handy several times since i acquired it and i practice the skill weekly at home. Im no Thieves Guild member, but i can hold my own.
Moving on we have some form of handheld light. I want to make sure you understand something first though. Having a WML (weapon mounted light) on your hand cannon DOES NOT take the place of a hand held light. As opposed to the other way around which is handheld and no WML. The reason being is you should not be searching unknown areas or potential threats with a light thats attached to your muzzle. Thats a great way to get the cops called on you, get shot, or accidentally shoot someone/thing that startles you due to sympathetic reflex. With that being said and out of the way, my preferred handheld is the Surefire EDCL2-T. Whew, now thats a mouth full. Essentially its a 1000lumen handheld powered by 2 CR123a batteries. Nothing ground breaking there, but the size of the over all package is what appeals to me, along with the gas pedal switch. Having used a lot of different models of lights they all ended up being or feeling to large. The SF isnt a ton larger than a penlight but has great performance. The gas pedal switch is nice because i can push the tailcap slightly for only a little light (daily tasks), or mash the end and deliver all the brilliant lumens to someones retinas. Its intuitive and i dont have any type of multi-step process to achieve it. Good things dont come cheap or without problems though. The pocket clips surefire uses are notorious for being crappy and breaking when put under tension. Mine is no exception. After about a year of use it broke. I just stuff the light in my pocket and go on about my day any more. It hasnt been a problem and i havent bothered replacing it. After almost 3 years of use, i cant complain. The light has held up great and always performed well. Its been with me through countless classes to include Craig Douglas’ ECQC. Every time i consider replacing it i talk myself out of it. If it aint broke dont fix it.
The next to last topic is medical. Having medical items on your person is extremely important. You dont have to walk around with a trauma bag on your back, but you need to be able to handle the emergent issues at the least. Typically what is focused on is mass lacerations and penetrating trauma in terms of IFAKs (Individual First Aid Kits) with airway considerations thrown in as well. Even if your not interested in carrying a firearm or martial defense, having medical on you could be crucial for yourself or others. Examples could be your out chopping wood, miss the block, and drive an axe into your leg; traveling down the road and come upon a motorcycle accident (personal experience. Nothing like being responder zero (Integrated Skills Group term) in flip flops and a only having a handkerchief), or in todays world of high likelihood mass shootings. So what does my IFAK look like? For me I use the Ryker Nylon AFAK (Ankle First Aid Kit). Essentially its like a pocket IFAK and an ankle holster had a baby. This allows me to free up a pant pocket, and since i wear work pants and boots 99% of the time its very discreet. The contents include a package of compressed gauze, a “micro” compression bandage, permanent marker, a set of chest seals (2 seals 1 package), and an emergency blanket. Coupled with a tourniquet in my pocket (easier general access) and im decently set for most of what i would encounter until i could get to a more comprehensive aid bag near by. On tourniquets, id like to make note that not all are made equal or as effective. To start with you should order all medical supplies from trusted sources like North American Rescue, Dark Angel Medical, or Chinook Medical. This ensures you are getting legitimate high quality life saving supplies. Stay away from “deals” on amazon or wish.com as these tend to be knockoff airsoft level junk and will break on you in use. As to types of tourniquets i tend to opt for either the CAT, SOFT-T, or Ratcheting. Out of those three i have the most real world experience with the CAT and SOFT working in a trauma ER. However i carry a ratcheting style (sourced from vdevgru.com) in my pant pocket on the daily. The reason being is its very simple to use, effective, and most any bystander in my area that may have to use it on me has used a ratchet strap to tie down a load; so instructing them on use should be easier than the other options. At least in theory. The two other prevalent types of tourniquets are the SWAT and the RATs. These are generally less than ideal. The SWAT requires both hands and a good grip to apply and be effective along with decent strength. The RATs tends to be difficult to apply one handed, technique critical, and too short to fully wrap enough times around an adult male thigh to be effective at stopping a femoral artery injury. They do have a place in treating pediatrics, animals, and the elderly due to their size and design, but id rather opt for one of the pediatric sized ratcheting tourniquets. Other things that can be included are a NPA (nasopharyngeal airway or trumpet) and a Needle Decompression (chest dart). Be weary of adding these to kit that could be used on yourself and others by strangers though as they may do more harm than good with improper knowledge or technique. Its for this reason these reside in my larger medical kits and not in my on-body IFAK.
Now, the coup de gras. The moment you’ve all been waiting for and portion you most likely skipped to. The smoke-wagon. Ive tried almost every type, make, model, variant, and color of handgun out there in todays world of options. Either through being loaned them, purchased them, or tried them at classes; lots of semi-autos and revolvers have passed through my hands or carried on my person. They have all had their pros and cons, but i always seem to return to the infamous Glock 17. Its size, capacity, price, and performance always seems to find this sweet middle ground for me. Ive carried the 43, 48, 19, 17, and 34 of their 9mm offerings and various generations there of. My current carry gun and so far the one ive been most pleased with is a modified Gen 3 17. It sports a Bore Sight Solutions frame, a Victory First slide and barrel (slide done by ATEi and barrel is a KKM i believe), an Apex Trigger, and a Trijicon RMR06 Type 2. Do you have to have these upgrades? No. Ive carried plenty of bone stock guns and performed well with them. All of the above help give me a little bit of an edge (perceived at least) when the chips are down and the decks stacked against me though. Much like handguns, ive used a wide array of holsters. Lately ive settled on the Seraph from Vdevgru and have been pleased with it over the least year. It conceals well and rides comfortably due to the minimal wasted material decreasing bulk and the tear drop foam pad aiding in comfort and concealment. The DCC (Discrete Carry Concepts) clips hold the holster secure to my belt with minimal printing, while remaining relatively easy to remove when i want to at the end of the day. My 9mm pistols get fed a healthy diet of 124gr Speer Gold Dots for defensive loads. Once my stock is shot up ill be moving to 147gr Federal HST though as the HSTs seem to be more consistent in performance from the data I have seen and they produce better results suppressed in terms of noise. The handgun is one of those “ebb and flow” items for me. Meaning I dont ALWAYS have it on my person. If im around home i usually dont bother as there is almost always a long gun within a few steps of me. If im leaving the house to go to town though its on me. Like the cool kids say. Stay strapped or get clapped.
Well thats pretty much my daily carry in a nutshell. Is it perfect? No, probably not. Will it change as i learn new skills or fine tune things? Most definitely. However over the last decade this has settled in as my base line for carry gear. As always, dont go out and copy/paste this to your situation and life. Figure out what works for you, stick to high quality items, and roll with it. Go out, have fun, learn, and stay safe. The other guys will be posting their daily carry kit as well, and we encourage you to do the same in the comments! Were all here to learn and none of us have all the answers. You just might teach us a thing or two. Once all of us have posted our articles i will make a down and dirty TLDR compilation of our choices and our areas to compare and hopefully help guide folks.