Thursday, January 24, 2019

Everyday Carry

Everyday carry, or EDC, doesn't appear to mean the same thing to everyone.  My take on it is the ideally small collection or items that you pick up on your way out the door every morning.  On second thought I guess it does mean the same thing to everyone, but the vast majority of resources on the topic seem to focus on maximizing the number of sharp, pointy, and often serrated objects, with the occasional firearm thrown in.

I have just reached what I think is the end of a very long term project to slim down and optimize what I carry with me on a regular basis.  I'll undoubtedly continue to tweak things over time, but I'm in a very good place right now as compare to a couple years ago.

I started with a decent sized bifold wallet, zip up because I have this semi-irrational fear of losing things, and a keyring containing every key I owned and a bunch of trinkets and dodads.  This was before I got a cell phone so I had one front pocket for bulging wallet and another for bulging keys.  Sitting was, unpleasant at times without some rearranging.  With the introduction of my first cell phone, a simple flip phone, nothing much changed and my wallet pocket just got to share space with a phone.  Getting the phone in and out proved to be problematic at times, but I didn't use it very often.

Enter the smart phone, the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.  It's been over a half a decade at this point and I can't say for sure, but I think this was the start of my project to lighten the load.  That new computer in my pocket needed to be able to slide in and out much more easily and sharing with a wallet was getting old.  Loot this officially became technology related.

My first step was just to pare down what was in my current wallet, and on my current keyring (a stainless steel carabiner meant to hold livestock), so that they could both fit together in a pocket; so long doodads.  Pretty low bar, and that was still a very full pocket.  Unlike the flip phone which could live next to my wallet, it was a top/bottom situation now and it was either the keys or the wallet on top.  This led to a bit of a juggling act each time priorities changed.

Step two was to find a slimmer wallet that could still carry the bare necessities, and that allowed the keys to live next to the wallet.  This was where things really started to feel different, shedding a few ounces was more liberating than I would have guessed, and I would have never known had I not tried it.  At the same time I also flipped to a smaller carabiner and began keeping my keys in groups which I could add and remove based on the day.  It makes little sense to carry two sets of car keys when you usually only use one car at a time, or to carry work keys on a weekend.

A related side project was to deal with the sometime carry items such as phone chargers, headphones, and the like.  The solution for that was pretty easy, buy duplicates and keep them everywhere.  Any problem that can be solved with money, isn't a problem.

Fast forward to the present day and I flipped wallets one more time.  My wife had been using a small zippered wallet with a keyring on it for years and I thought that would be perfect for the couple keys that I always carry.  I ended up finding something similar on a small hanging display at the end of an aisle at my local home improvement store, and I am extremely pleased with it.  It's a Chums Surfshorts Wallet which has two zippered pockets, one divided with a ID viewing window, and a "marsupial" pouch with a keyring on a nylon tether.  So I have my ID quickly accessible, a pocket for lesser used cards, a separate zippered pocket for the credit cards I use regularly, and a place to keep those couple keys I always carry (plus a tiny pen knife).

The last step, the one that got me excited enough to proclaim my achievement to random people on the internet, was to flip out my conventional keyring for one of those flat pocket knife style ones, and flip out my tiny pen knife for a tiny multi-tool.  I ended up finding the key organizer at the same home improvement store, a knock off of the KeySmart things I had been looking at called Turnkey Pro; it was less than $10, aluminum, and mine.  I had read many a comment about the screws on similar products loosening up over time so I just picket up some threadlocker and preemptively ensured the screws would stay put.  The key organizer helped considerably since the conventional keyring and keys point opposite directions and end up taking up a lot more space than needed, that got them stuck every once in a while requiring me to shake them out.  The key organizer slides out easily when needed.

The last addition to my wallet was a Leatherman Squirt PS4, which slides right into the pouch on my wallet next to my keys.  It is strange that it is just a tiny bit bigger than the pen knife it replaced, and has an almost identical sized blade, but also manages to fit a pliers, scissors, screwdrivers and file.  It's more than I probably need, but it's nice to feel that extra bit of preparedness without it filling your pocket.  I will still pretty much just use it for opening boxes and cutting straws to length in restaurants for my toddler, which will be a lot easier with a scissor than a knife.

If you were unaware of the straw trick, in order to prevent your toddler from tilting a cup towards them to reach a straw, simply cut the straw to be shorter and shove the cut end inside the cup (in case there are any sharp edges).