Everyday carry for the constant traveller

Mon Aug 20, 2018 · 6 min read

travelgear review

Everyday carry gear has become mainstream since an increase in the availability and thus popularity of buying tactical and survival-kit-style items online. The concept of EDC is a lot more fundamental than titanium pens and tactical pocket knives, however. When a good majority of my life is spent flying with only one carry-on bag, most multitools won’t make it past the checkpoint. As a constant traveller, being prepared for everyday situations requires a few special changes.

The list of things the TSA is afraid you’ll poke people with seems to grow every day, and based on my flying around Southeast Asia, paranoia doesn’t seem to be alleviated by tropical weather. (I suspect that I have recently become the sole supplier of quality but rather blunt nail files for this region’s airport security personnel.) With those irritating lessons learned, I’ve settled on a carry that covers most of my daily needs, and situations that might arise, while being completely carry-on approved.

If you’re coming from /r/EDC, I’ll warn you, there are no knives in my carry. Yet, somehow, I still get by with my unsliced fruit and cheese. ;)

The perfect-for-me EDC pack

My EDC lives in a Helikon-Tex Possum Waist Pack.

Helikon-Tex Possum Waist Pack, Black

Yes, it’s a fanny pack. It’s also easily the best form factor I’ve so far encountered for a hands-free, backpack-compatible, and very functional carry solution with multiple configurations. I carry it every day, in every situation. Here are a few configurations, besides hip pack mode:

Cross-body sling bag

Cross-body sling bag

Cross-body sling bag carried in front

Backpack-compatible pickpocket deterrent

Over-the-shoulder purse

Over-the-shoulder purse

No-bounce sling bag with the addition of a strap

No-bounce sling bag for running, with the addition of a strap (a repurposed removable sternum strap from my day pack)

Any black fanny pack could be used similarly, and they make some these days that are quite stylish. I like the Helikon-Tex Possum in particular for its internal organization (“just enough” as far as I’m concerned), its silent zipper pulls, and the patch-friendly front panel so I can peacock when I feel like it:

Canada patch attached to Helikon-Tex Possum Waist Pack

Not bad, eh?

The constant traveller’s everyday carry

Here’s my EDC. I wear the Watch and hair tie on my wrists; the rest all goes into the Possum pack with room for even a few protein bars left over.

The essential components

From roughly left to right, top to bottom:

I’ll elaborate on a few of these items where reasons may not be obvious.

Why do you carry a…

Compass? It’s possibly my most-used navigational tool for traversing new cities, and especially helpful on cloudy days or when I don’t want to be walking around with my phone in my hand. Besides, I’ve never found the compass on my phone/in map apps to be very accurate, and unlike a real compass it takes several steps to get to. (Also: no batteries required.)

Whistle? The JetScream Whistle emits a shrill, high tone at 122 dB. That’s louder than an emergency vehicle siren, and even a thunderclap. I carry it in case a situation should arise in which I need to be definitively heard. I haven’t had the need to use it yet.

Tourniquet? Accidents and attacks can and do happen every day. Just because you’ve had the good fortune so far of not having this experience first hand, it doesn’t mean you never will. If something really terrible were to occur, knowing how to apply a tourniquet can save a life. At the RATS Tourniquet’s relatively small size and low weight, the benefit of having one literally outweighs the trouble of carrying one, so I do.

Cutlery set? Living primarily out of hotels and Airbnbs creates more unpredictability than you might expect as far as the general availability of a fork when you need one. I also want to do what I can to reduce the ubiquity of single-use plastics, so I carry this multi-use nylon instead. The Humangear GoBites Duo is super lightweight, and really easy to clean. Just a quick rinse or wipe after use is enough that I can slip them back in my pack. I use these really frequently, but the fork more often than the spoon.

The extended version

When I’m not in transit, I’m usually cafe-hopping and working. For days like this, I add a few more items to my carry.

The extended components

I toss everything into my Timbuk2 Rapid Pack, a great lightweight bag that packs flat inside my Minaal Carry-on 2.0 when it’s not in use. Leaving my regular EDC stuff inside the Possum makes switching modes quick and easy.

The things I add:

Why do you carry a… (part II)

Stylus? I like to doodle for relaxation, my own amusement, and to help explain coding concepts in my programming articles. I use the SketchBook app.

External keyboard? Since I discovered it works with my iPhone, I’ve been using this as my lightweight writing setup. On days when I’m focused on getting words out of my head and into places where other people can read them, I don’t need to bring my laptop with me. When I do code, I’ll bring my laptop and my Roost Stand.

Towel? It’s a shawl or leg blanket in over-air-conditioned cafes, cushioning for aesthetically pleasing but totally impractical hard wooden stools, and while I might use it from time to time to dry my hands or wipe sweat off my forehead, I mostly just like knowing where my towel is.

Carry-on approved

I’ve flown with this complete EDC set several times now and can confirm there’s nothing here to worry even the most stringent checkpoint agent, even one who’s down on their nail file quota.

Since I don’t expect airlines to be changing their views on pointy things in the near future, I think my everyday carry is pretty complete for the time being. It covers most of my daily needs and even a few possible high-consequence situations. If you ask me, that sounds like a pretty decent level of preparedness - which is really the point of EDC, after all.