EDC Part I: Multi-tool and Knife

Photo by Jonas Bergsten

Your “everyday carry” or EDC is whatever you always have on hand–everything from your multi-tool to your cellphone to your credit cards. And, as it turns out, entire websites detail the fetishistic search for the Platonic ideal EDC. I especially like the EDC porn on everyday-carry.com.

In part I of our EDC review I’m going to describe my multi-tool which I’ve worn on my belt everywhere I go for almost 20 years. Subsequent posts will detail the other things I tote and the complex contents of Mrs. Homegrown’s purse.

For years the centerpiece of my EDC was the original Leatherman “Pocket Survival Tool” like the one in the picture above, a gift from Mrs. Homegrown back when I worked in video in the early 90s. Last year I broke the file off of it and finally lost the tool while re-doing our greywater system. I replaced it with the cheapest Leatherman I could find, the Leatherman Kick:

Leatherman 830018 Kick Pocket Multi-Tool with Leather Sheath

I have to say that I like my old Leatherman better and, thankfully, it turned up again. The Kick works fine but I prefer my old Leatherman’s all metal construction, its superior leather belt case and that fact that it’s ever so slightly smaller. That old Leatherman also has a tiny flathead screwdriver I find handy. With both, I use the pliers more than any of the other tools.

Now the Leatherman is to the Swiss Army knife what, say, Robert Johnson is to prog rock. One is direct and the other has, well, too many notes. The designers of the original Leatherman tool apparently felt that it’s fine to pop open a beer bottle after a hard days work but far too Eurotrashy to uncork a bottle of wine, at least that’s what I assume from the lack of a corkscrew. Though I just met someone who carries a tool I didn’t know existed, the Leatherman Flair:

The Flair,  Leatherman’s obvious attempt to imitate the Swiss Army knife, has a corkscrew, scissors and a fork like thingy. It’s been discontinued, though Leatherman still makes similar tools (though without the odd fork–how to skewer that olive?). And, of course, there’s Leatherman’s gardening, hunting, bicycling and even military and law enforcement multi-tools.

Leatherman is the Budweiser of multi-tools. There’s a whole array of other companies that make higher quality products but, alas, we don’t sell enough books for me to peruse the finer offerings at our local Ross Cutlery shop. Again, my basic Leatherman seems to have enough tools for most situations.

Of course a multi-tool is just part of one’s EDC. On days that I’m removing a beehive from a wall I’ve taken to carrying a Bushman knife to cut out the comb.

Cold Steel Bushman Black SK-5 Steel Cordura Survival Sheath

 It’s all metal, durable and easy to clean. And the hollow hilt can accept a stick to turn the knife into a spear should you need to “harvest” a feral pig for lunch, let’s say. But the Bushman is too bulky and sinister for my EDC, at least in urban areas. I wore it around the house one day, but Mrs. Homegrown said she thought I was acting like a preschooler and, frankly, what do I need a big knife like this for blogging, answering emails and trips to the post office? Plus this sucker is a one way ticket to junk touching and a Mr. Toad’s wild ride through the porno scanner should you get within a square mile of an airport or other secure facility. Bushman aside, the right to carry a small multi-tool is, incidentally, one of the reasons I prefer rail to the indignities of flying these days.

Stay tuned for what else is in my EDC, as well as Mrs. Homegrown’s EDC musings. Perhaps I’ll get around to a full-on EDC centerfold photo like the ones on everyday-carry.com. In the meantime, what’s in your EDC? Leave some comments . . .

A special thanks to Phil Noyes (author of an amazing book  Trailer Travel: A Visual History of Mobile America) for introducing me to the concept of EDC.

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  1. Victorinox SwissTool Spirit on the belt; Arc AAA flashlight on the keyfob.

    I totally agree with you on the air travel restriction. Before 2001, I was used to depositing my multi-tool (at the time a larger original SwissTool) along with my keys in the inspection basket while I walked through the metal detector; the agent would always pick it up, turn it around while peering at it, then hand it right back to me. I’d return it to its belt sheath and that was that. Now we get security theatre instead. I imagine someday my flashlight will be banned for being able to produce light, as we all sit in the quiet and darkness, sedated and handcuffed to our seats for the duration of the flight.

  2. I’ve carried my leatherman multitool, also a gift from my wife ;o) for about 10yrs now and would be lost without it! The EDC site is neat.. amazing what some people carry.

  3. That Leatherman looks awesome. My EDC is a piece of crap no-brand fake swiss army knife I got when I was like 19. It’s most often used to do things like cut apples for my toddler and preschooler to eat, but I do find many various other uses for it when we’re out of the house. I do hope to get something a little fancier and fun one day.

  4. I went to carpenter jeans. That side pocket that most people don’t even know what its for carries my phone and I am never without an old Buck rigging knife .
    The fact that my vehicle is a complete mobile wood shop also helps

  5. I’m a single Mom with an 11 y/o son, now living in the boonies… I think we all need to know how to cook, clean, garden, protect and survive. My son now has a camp saw, leatherman, hatchet, pocket knives… That Bushman is right up his alley as we are homeschooling and our current unit is about discovering “survival skills.” Thanks for the link. I see a gift in his future. 🙂

  6. Two keys on a keyring the size of a bracelet, cell phone, nail file, lipstick,and nail nippers.I am prepared. The nippers are a great tool. I used them to cut off the serpentine belt edge where the belt was shredding. The guy with me thought I was nuts and we should stop driving. We drove three more hours with me cutting off the serpentine belt shreds. For anything I cannot do when I am away from the house and need a serious tool, I use the nippers.

  7. My EDC is an original Leatherman (Portland, OR) that I scored at a pawn shop for free. The tool was coated in tar or similar substance but looked otherwise near new. The clerk looked it over and said I could just have it. Score! Took me about an hour to clean it up. Two years later it still looks and works great. I prefer it to other Leatherman models I’ve handled. An incredibly well-made and handy tool.

    For quick access I sometimes also carry a Gerber mini-Paraframe knife which has a strong pocket clip. It’s a great knife, especially for the money. The blade is still surprisingly sharp even after years of use.

    Regarding the broken file on your Leatherman you might be able to get it repaired under their warranty service.


    – Damian

  8. SwissTool RS, one or another Victorinox or Wenger SAK (Huntsman, Executive, Classic or Nomad–also have a Vic Tinker, but haven’t carried it so far). 4Sevens Quark AAx2 light, a small pistol, cell phone, Benchmade 556, Spyderco Delica, whatever is in the boat anchor that is my bag.

    BTW, the PST is long out of production, but you can still find ’em on ebay. I have one (not from ebay) and compared with the SwissTool, it feels like a torture device with the pliers open. Also sits higher on a belt if I’m foolish enough to try that (which I did today), which means it pokes me in the side or the ribs.

  9. BTW, I’d bet that if you sharpened that Paraframe, you’d discover that it’s not been as sharp as you thought it’s been all this time. It’d probably feel like a completely new knife.

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