Monday, June 3, 2013



If you look back in time, even just a few decades, you will see that many so-called prepared folks packed what today we often refer to as EDC items, but in their time the essential objects were for EDU or every day use.

Lessons can be gleaned from separating the EDCs from the EDUs. Almost every prepared individual I know has some things that are reserved for the imagined emergency. Unlike the constant rumble from the shooting range that is evidence of putting practice into practice, most so-called EDC items, sans the knife and flashlight, are rarely if ever put into play.

The danger with the unused EDCs is the lack of practical experience with the item.  While food, water, and even first aid supplies are naturally cycled in even the most basic of prepping, the equipment of survival is often reserved for when you really need it. But will it preform as advertised? Have you really used it beyond a few quick tests? Are you concerned about wearing it out or breaking it before you really, really need it? Take a hint and push the thing to its limits Strangely, high quality items retain their quality and that translates into peace of mind. Cheap crap dissolves quickly right before your eyes.

There is also a good side to failure. When something goes south, you learn something new (whether you wanted to or not). Failure is actually the only way we learn, otherwise, we don’t know what we did right. For every bloody knuckle, smashed finger, splinter, eye poke, shin bang, stubbed toe, slice, gash, cut, or bell ringing, we advance our understanding of the interaction of our body and the rest of the universe. The same is true with EDC items. 

While many things work well right out of the box, after a few cycles it soon becomes obvious what is show and what is go. But unless you push the object, you will never know its practical limits. Have you really ever tried to do something with 14 feet of usable paracord unwoven from a bracelet? If you really need a tourniquet then you will find something even if its your buddy’s calcaneal tendon. Sure I’ll concede that several yards of paracord can come in handy, but  seriously, any lifesaving wrought by the cord will be an anomaly likely rising to the surface thorough lack of planning elsewhere. Handy is different from essential.

Don’t rely on brand name to indicate perfection. I have dumped some Snap On tools on eBay because frankly, they sucked. Snap On makes great stuff and when TSHTF, I want good tools. But not everything they make is perfect. Same with traditional EDC marketed brands like Benchmade, Gerber, Surefire, Kershaw, Fenix, Leatherman and of course Swiss Army. Quality is both in build and performance.

Ever bust a fingernail trying to open a SA knife? Me too. And don’t get me started about trying to open one when cold or with wet hands. Or that crazy awl (where’s my screwdriver? (see below)) I just love that scene in the movie The Eiger Sanction where Clint Eastwood has to open his knife with two hands while hanging on a rope a thousand feet up a frozen mountain while his European counterparts push a button and ka-pow!, a blade snaps into action.

Putting your pry bars, whistles, fire starters, and the micro-compass to the daily test is impractical, but even pulling them out wherever and wherever possible can shed loads of photons on their actual performance, or more often, lack there of. Don't rely on the mall ninjas writing product reviews on to be your guide. Don't baby anything unless it's made of glass. And in that case, don't count on it with your life.

More times then I want to think about I have helped a fellow motorists first by unboxing an unopened tool set. You know the kind, where each and every socket has its own perfectly fitted home from which it cannot leave soon enough when the case is opened. Or tearing the plastic wrap sale tag off jumper cables discovering that the microclamps at the end of paracord-thin four-foot cables might be better served for drying laundry than sharing electrons. Or worse, digging through one of those pre-prepared “survival kits” only to find oozing fluids, dissolved plastics, label-less containers, and a one-size-fits-none lug wrench.

Farmers and ranchers were well known for using a large pair of channel lock pliers for just about everything from fence mending to general dentistry. While a farmer might be impressed with your carbon fiber-handled tanto-bladed auto-knife, he’ll have you beat in 95% of necessary daily tasks with just his pliers and a large slotted screwdriver.

For years I have carried a large screwdriver and a large knife in the door pocket of my truck. Except for hacking my way into an impenetrable bag of chips, when the average challenge presents itself, I more often reach for the screwdriver than for the knife. Would you want the rancher to use your new blade to dig a rock out of a horse’s hoof? Or how about even cutting through a one inch reinforced fuel line?  If your first thought was to grab your backup knife, then your EDC is not an EDU.

Use a writing pen as your role model. Carry it. Use it. Replace it. That way you will know your equipment and be better informed when its time to upgrade. But like the pen, if your EDCs AKAs as jewelry, then perhaps being prepared is more your state of mind then a state of preparedness.

Carrry on.

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