Building Functional EDC Systems Module 2: On Body EDC

What is On Body EDC and Why is it Important

The first line of gear we can rely upon daily, either through our normal activities or in the wilderness, is the gear we carry on our body. This includes anything in our pockets, on our belts, or any other form of attachment to our bodies or clothing. This gear is vital because it is the easiest to access and has the lowest chance of being separated from you. While in non-emergency situations it may be nothing more than a minor inconvenience to go get your bag or run out to your vehicle to grab something, in an emergency seconds count.

EDC and Social Media

We often see pictures or videos of people’s EDC setups on social media; what you may see are a lot of items that lack practical application. While these items are often looked at as morale boosters and fidget toys, which serve a purpose to the individual who owns them, they will do very little to help you in a wilderness or emergency situation. We are in no way saying people should not carry these items, but we do want to ensure that people are carrying the things they truly need and that assorted non-functional items are not impeding an individual’s ability to access the essential items.

Something else that we often see in EDC photos and videos on social media is the frequent rotation of EDC tools, particularly knives. This may not be an issue depending on the person, but what you must keep in mind is that your EDC gear should be both reliable and familiar to you. Knives and other tools can be very different and are often designed for specific purposes, and just because something looks cool does not mean it is efficient for your daily tasks or emergency situation. Your EDC tools, like any tool, should be things that you train to use and you are confident in their reliability.

Mindset and EDC

The EDC world seems to be primarily focused on the gear that people carry, but mindset should still be the basis of what an individual chooses to carry. The primary aspect of mindset that goes into our EDC gear is planning, which is vital in our daily lives as well as any excursion into the great outdoors. Let’s take a look at the roles that planning plays in choosing our EDC equipment.

-Planning for Daily Tasks

Planning for our daily tasks seems like an obvious thing to do, but I have personally experienced and heard many stories from others regarding the wish that we had a specific tool on us that we did not. While it is impossible to carry everything we need on our bodies it is a good idea to take a good look at the following factors to help us develop our ideal EDC toolset:

-Work-Related Tasks

This area is the one aspect of EDC most people pay attention to when selecting their EDC gear. This will vary from person to person depending on what they do for a living, so it is impossible to create a uniform guide. We suggest taking an inventory of the tasks you perform for work and create an idea of what you will need. After that take a look at the following concepts and see what items can also be well suited for the other tasks.

-Other Daily Tasks

What other daily tasks do you need to accomplish? I find myself needing access to screwdrivers, cutting tools, and lighting on a daily basis; Often because I am helping my kids out replacing batteries in their toys, opening packages, or fishing some lost item out from under a piece of furniture. These are all pretty mundane tasks, but I do them daily so my EDC tool set should reflect that. 

-Environmental/Social Factors

This is an important and often overlooked aspect of selecting your EDC. Social factors are pretty easy to cover, what is considered socially acceptable for your location? In urban environments, having a larger belt knife on your may not only be frowned upon it may also be illegal. Knives are not the only things we need to consider, but as a general rule you don’t want to stand out too much. It is very good to be prepared, and it may even be very tempting to look the part, however this draws unwanted attention to ourselves and can make us a target. 

Environmental Factors essentially make up the places we are and the weather we may be facing. As I spend most of my time in the woods, near bodies of water or and have no issues being out in the rain or snow I choose my EDC gear accordingly. I gravitate towards tough stainless steels or coated tool steels for my tools because I recognize they may get wet, but I need toughness for my woods tasks. I live in a rural environment so no one bats an eye at a belt knife or outdoor type clothing.  If I am traveling to a more urban location I may not carry the same things, as I realistically will not need a larger belt knife and it is not socially acceptable to have one.

Potential Emergency Situations

This is the most difficult to plan for and often overlooked part of EDC. It is impossible to factor in every single emergency situation, but it is a good idea to hone in on the most common or most likely situations to occur. We are advocates of always having the ability to make fire and produce clean drinking water, as well as always having a cutting tool. These are some basic things that will get you through a wilderness or urban emergency, as fire creates warmth and can be used to signal, water is essential to keeping your body functioning properly, and a knife is the most versatile tool out there.

The types of emergencies you can potentially face are huge, but is very dependent on your location. Things that happen in the wilderness can be very different from things that can happen in urban locations. As always it is best to have situational awareness to avoid potential emergencies, but if one can’t be avoided it’s best to be prepared. We will discuss a variety of emergency situations in other courses.

Skill Set in EDC

As we have already mentioned, having the skills to use the gear you carry is essential. There is no point in carrying gear you either don’t know how to use, or are not comfortable using, all it does at that point is add weight and get in the way. This is something that occurs more frequently than you would think and a common culprit is medkits. I’ve seen some folks rolling around with comprehensive (and very expensive) medkits, but have no training in how to use the components. This is just a waste of space and a lot of money. People would be better served spending the money on some first aid training and carrying a basic cost effective medkit. Medkits are not the only culprit here, we also see this frequently with self defense items, fire starting equipment, and even some types of knives.

Practice leads to improvement in both your skills and your comfort level in using your tools. This is why we recommend not doing a tremendous amount of rotation in your EDC gear unless your intention is specifically to develop skills and comfort levels with new gear. When doing this it is a good idea to still carry the equipment you are comfortable with until you develop that comfort level with the new item. 

Gear Set in EDC

Gear Set…the part of EDC that people get most excited about! There are a lot of opinions out there regarding what gear you should be carrying, who you should get the gear from, and what is the best you can carry. For the purposes of this program we are looking at EDC in terms of function. I will demonstrate equipment that I personally use and I know can be relied upon. For more inspiration you can check out the many reviews we have here on the Black Flag Survival Website as well as our social media pages. 

It is important to understand that the cost of the item does not always indicate the practical value of an item. In some cases inexpensive options can be just as effective as expensive options. In other cases it may be just the opposite. 

As stated earlier in the module, everyone’s situation will be unique to them, however there are a few essentials that we feel apply to just about everyone. These essentials are:

  1. Knife
  2. Flashlight
  3. Multitool
  4. Pen
  5. Fire Starter
  6. Personal Survival Kit


In most cases your knife will be your most used tool, it can be used in a variety of work scenarios, in day to day tasks, in the wilderness, and in an emergency situation. What type of knife you choose is going to be very dependent on your planned activities. The above video discusses this concept in more detail.

We typically use EDC fixed blades and we have developed a few great options that we recommend for our students based on what we use ourselves. These knives are made by our co-founder Knives by Nuge and you can find more information on them here.  As for folding knives we recommend the Woods Monkey Banana Peel Modular Friction Folder

Flashlight, Multitool, and Pen

These three tools make up my core of EDC use tools that will also serve well in an emergency situation. Flashlights produce light to help us see in the dark or into dark places, this will serve us well in daily life, like in the wilderness or in the event of a power outage. Multi Tools serve a variety of purposes in our daily life and can really make some tasks a little easier and are far more compact than carrying around a variety of screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, etc. Finally a pen is something that most people use frequently in daily life and is very important in an emergency. Being able to take notes, leave a message, or write down vital medical information is essential.

Fire Starter

I said it a few times already, and I’ll keep saying it…the ability to start a fire is absolutely essential to everyone. While recreationally we use it more in the woods then you would in an urban environment, this is an absolute survival essential. This is an area where your skill set plays a big factor is your choice. While it is common to see outdoors people carry a Ferrocerium Rod, these will do you know good if you are not experienced in making fires this way. We strongly encourage everyone to develop this skill, but until you do, a lighter is an easier  though less reliable) tool to carry. Personally I carry the Wazoo Spark Necklace daily as it is super compact, creates sparks easily, and looks really cool when you wear it.

Personal Survival Kit

The Personal Survival Kit, or PSK, is last on the list because it is not always something that you keep on your person and may be commonly kept in your EDC bag. I recommend making this kit as compact as possible so you can easily move it from your bag to your body. My PSK is currently housed in a Tuff Possum PSK Pouch, which easily fits in a coat or cargo pant pocket. This kit holds a variety of survival tools that can help me out in an emergency situation check out the above video for more details.

Featured Video of my EDC Set Up

Nick’s EDC Gear List

Knives by Nuge Puukko and Wicket

Woods Monkey Banana Peel

PNWBUSHCRAFT EDC Tray/Caddy and Forgaging Pouch

WAZOO Gear Spark Necklace

Fenix PD25

Tuff Possum PSK Pouch

Leatherman Style PS

Nice Ize DoohicKey

Hinderer Investigator Pen