Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

The Gentleman’s EDC

I’m hooked. Have been since The Rake debuted their Pocket Guide series.


Truly elegant men manage to get away with carrying so little. There was a widely held belief that the Boston Brahmin didn’t even carry an umbrella. His driver always had one, after all. I remember reading that in “Dress for Success.”

My father, when he wasn’t carrying his black Samsonite hard-shell briefcase to work, carried very little on his person. He felt prepared with something like a handkerchief, pen, a wallet, key case, watch and coin case (and rosary — which was strange for an Anglican….). I’ve recreated his everyday carry — or “EDC” as it’s called these days — using his watch and breast pocket wallet (which is capable of holding those massive foreign bank notes.) The USB drive is roughly the size of his key case which held a house key and two car keys (one for the valet.) He also carried a stainless steel Parker Jotter, as I do. On inclement days, he wore a raincoat and carried an umbrella. He once used it to run off two pickpockets in Naples.

Obsessive as I am, I’ve begun to delve into the EDC world. Time recently called Everyday-carry.com one of the best websites out there. It is addicting.


I remember when I was shopping for my first briefcase after I decided to do away with carrying an Israeli paratrooper shoulder bag that had been with me since high school (you used to be able to buy things like that at Banana Republic…). I opted for a British Tan leather envelope from Coach. You see, I hadn’t planned on carrying much more than a pen, my keys, a document or two, a small paperback and my sunglasses. In my pockets I would have a handkerchief, a Swiss Army knife, my money clip and my wallet (a breast pocket wallet in the early days. It fit my credit cards, ID’s, and a cheque book.)

These days, I carry a lot more on my person and in my bag. Maybe it’s the electronics. Maybe it’s the “emergency supplies” to deal with kids’ scrapes, allergies, sudden intense hunger and the like. Maybe it’s a by-product of reading the EDC blogs and forums. Maybe it’s a post-9/11 hangover. If you took apart my shoulder bag, you’d label me with the “Gentleman Adventurer” tag. I look fairly well prepared for anything short of invasion. Not as much as some of the “preppers” and operators out there, but I’m in pretty good shape overall. Although I can’t shake the feeling that James Bond carries less and is more inclined to need some of the kit I pack.

On days that find me in a suit, I wind up with some variation of the following, carried on my person:

(I don’t carry two knives. The CRKT Pazoda works well with grey flannels because of the colour. If I have a watch pocket, the Swiss Army goes into it. Those scissors get a lot of use.)

Today, more casually dressed finds me schlepping my shoulder bag and changing out the pocket knife for a clip version. (That’s the fifth Swiss Army knife I’ve had. They do tend to get lost. The Spyderco Dragonfly and my other clip knives stay put.)

Not much difference, eh? I’d like to pare down. In particular, I’d like to find a solution to the key issue. My electronic car key lost it’s fob/ring thing the day I got it. Broke right off. I’m considering carrying the valet key, but I like the remote opening feature and the ability to set off the alarm, if I had too. I may consider dropping the pen and Moleskine book with the business cards in favour of the iPhone electronic solutions. I’m not sure yet.

EDC is constantly evolving. That’s part of the fun. What do you carry in your pockets? And does it share a colour scheme? Or are you a bag person?

14 thoughts on “The Gentleman’s EDC

  1. I absolutely love The Rake. It’s rare we see such a refined gentlemanly blog. Thanks for sharing about the pocket guides.

  2. EDC? What’s wrong with “everyday carry” Sometimes I find the American compulsion for creating and acronym out of everything quite odd. Is it lazyness, so they do not need to write a whole word? Does it make people feel more cool? For it does sound lazy and pretentious most of the times.

  3. IGU, it sounds cooler. Remember the audience for this sort of thing. Many ex-Military sorts.

    Jo, cowhide rugs, huh? I, too love The Rake. Check them out online and you can now subscribe via Zinio which cuts down on the cost considerably.

  4. Agree. Anyone who has served any time in the military develops a thing for acronyms. It’s funny listening to one government-type talk to another, it seems they can go on for ages without interjecting an actual word! Love this post, one of your best, I think. I am still resolving the whole Blackberry vs. paper thing myself, although I’m starting to use my BB calendar and memo pad more and more. It is almost always on my person, with sunglasses and a Tiffany’s key ring with one key. Having been in the Army, my bag is another story. Theoretically, I could grab it and hop the next flight to an exotic locale. Unfortunately right now I’m just going to the grocery. N.G.

  5. My husband also travels light, for every day and otherwise. He carries a handkerchief (ironed), his wallet, which isn’t overwhelmingly thick or bursting at the seams, a well-outfitted Swiss Army knife–which he has had to run back to the car to store countless times before we go through the security gates (having forgotten to pull it out and check through with his bag). His sunglasses live in the car or checked bag, he never carries them. Oh, and he always, always carries a pen because he works crosswords every day, everywhere. So many a fine shirt has been ruined with ink leaks . . . this was an inspired post and caused me to give thought to what I carry every day in my handbag, too. You could ask Mrs. E and your female readers to share their EDC . . . could be very interesting!

  6. Oops, I forgot–he always carries his smart phone these days, too, pretty much a necessity for his work, travel, and communicating with our two 20-something kids in other states (they are the only ones who ever send us a text).

  7. My wife finally found a substitute for reading glasses, which I need only for reading. It’s the size of a credit card and is a thin magnifier with which one can easily read a menu, map, or other printings, and fits conveniently in the wallet. Now relieved of the need to carry reading glasses, I’m down to wallet, comb, keys, and cell phone. Oh, yes, and a wedding ring. No watch, though, as there always seem to be at least a few means with which to get the time (e.g., cell phone). Now, if I could get my body weight down to my EDC level, I’d be nearly floating.

  8. The old English saying is that before a gentleman leaves the house, he checks “spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch.”

  9. Isn’t EDC stuff awesome? I’m seriously addicted to the whole subculture! I’m working on making my personal EDC more streamlined but it’s going through a lot of transitions lately. It doesn’t help that I’m indecisive! Anyway, nice post! 🙂

  10. Elliott, three out of four ain’t bad!

    Ashley, streamlining is difficult. I tend to go the other way and am now carrying my discreet messenger bag (it helps with the iPad, too), which just got really heavy. Hmmm. Nice site you have!

  11. What type of watch is that square watch next to the comb in the first picture? It has a square, white face and a brown band. I must know, sir! Thank you very much.

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