The New Ten Essentials

I’ve become interested in the concept of everyday carry (EDC) lately. Preparedness is pretty central to the mindset of a “Renaissance” person, so it makes sense to spend some time considering what you bring with you into the world and how these things allow you to react to unforeseen problems. There are entire blogs dedicated to this subject, including Everyday Carry, which inspired me to write this. Anyone with a background in hiking, camping, scouting or similar will be familiar with the “10 Essentials.” Trouble is, these are tailored to outdoor, backcountry settings where you may need to survive without human contact for hours or days if something goes wrong. I love the idea of being ready for anything, but it doesn’t make sense to run around with a tent and change of clothes when you’re going about your usual business. So, I looked over some common EDC choices and tried my hand at a list of essentials for a more ordinary, civilized setting. 

The Ten Essentials for the Civilized world:



Communication (Phone)



A cell phone has become completely ubiquitous in modern society. It pays to give some thought to which one’s going to serve you best. I’m not going to go into exhaustive detail here – plenty of ink has been spent on the relative merits of the phones out there. I’m just suggesting that you need one, whether it’s a minimalist prepaid phone or the most decked-out convergence device.

2) Analog Capture (Pen and Paper)


I’ve become a notebook enthusiast lately. It may seem old-fashioned, but pen and paper offer a simple versatility and ruggedness that you can’t get by digital means. They can’t run out of batteries, you can go from sketch to printed word to checklist without any complicated format changes, and they’re relatively cheap. Some of them are even waterproof! As a bonus, you look intellectual writing something down with pen and paper. Even if it’s your grocery list, people will think you’re up to something.

3) Digital Capture (USB Drive)

Despite the reliability of a pen and paper, the ability to carry and move files quickly in the absence of an internet connection is vital. 

4) Protection 

I left this one vague since everybody’s risks are different. Whether protection means sunglasses, an umbrella, or a concealed handgun, I propose that you should keep this stuff close at hand.

5) Light

You never know when you’re going to end up someplace dark. Carrying a flashlight and possibly a lighter of some kind can get you out of small scale binds (needing to plug in an HDMI cable inside a cabinet) and major ones (power outage during a flood, for example).

6) Access (Keyring, passcards)

It goes without saying that you carry keys of some kind. I’m suggesting that some thought should be given to how the keys are carried. After all, there are carabiners of various styles and qualities, keyrings, key cables, even modified multitools with keys in them.

7) Identity

Losing your ID or having it damaged could be catastrophic. A good wallet should keep everything in order while being slim enough to keep your spine aligned.

8) Water

The most abundant natural resource. Between aluminum, steel, titanium and BPA free polycarbonate, there are plenty of ways to carry some water with you. I believe this is a must in any environment. 

9) Health

Chronic disease is a part of daily life, like it or not. If you need to jump a plane to go to mozambique on a whim, your asthma or diabetes shouldn’t hold you back.

10) Multitool

This is kind of a holdover from the wilderness ten essentials. It can be a pain to get around on trains and in certain venues with a multitool but the ability to handle so many random situations with one piece of equipment means you should have one whenever possible. The smaller keychain models may raise fewer eyebrows.