Why do you carry, what you carry…

…or maybe a better question is why don’t you carry what you leave at home?

You only have the tools and equipment, you have available to solve any problem.  So it only goes to reason the more you have with you, the better equipped you are to solve the problem.

Unfortunately “stuff” has volume and mass (and quantity)

I like to travel light…

When I am out by myself, in my pockets I keep a single car key (which is also the key fob), a phone, folded cash and a minimalist wallet with as little in it as possible.  Clipped to my pocket I keep my knife (which I am considering swapping out) and on my belt is a pistol (when legally permitted). That’s it!

My Jeep, however is stocked with everything I would need to “get home” and alone, I’m never more than 1000’ from my Jeep.

When I’m out with my kids I typically ramp it up a bit, when I’m not going to be near my Jeep I ramp it up more, when I’m leaving my community I ramp it up again.  More risk, more stuff…. But always knowing my phone can get me out of most major issues.

I don’t carry more because I am sensitive to quantity… I don’t like sorting through stuff when I reach into my pockets. When I ramp it up I mitigate the quantity by combining it into kits, adding weight and volume. Some people are adverse to weight and others volume.

Recently I have joined the backpackinglight.com forums, to try to understand and mitigate this issue.

So far I have found it fascinating!

  1. To minimize the required tools, they minimize the risk by controlling the environment, tasks and responsibility they have for others.
  2. In some cases they also accept more risk, by selecting tools that are more fragile and knowing they have an “out.”
  3. They minimize weight by carefully selecting each item and identifying the minimum requirements and investing in lighter weight materials.
  4. They minimize bulk, by using smaller tools, advanced materials and increasing the density (compression, deflating, nutrient/caloric).

All of that makes complete sense right? But I’m not worried about suddenly having to camp.

I can’t control my environment!  If I have an issue it is going to be with my wife, my kids and the 10 other people near me that planned to rely on their phone.

If I need a tool it is because I need it to work! I train and prepare for when there is no out.

(This is my “Weight of Fear”)

But that doesn’t mean there is nothing to learn right?

Because of my focus and intent, and general insensitivity to weight, many of my kits are pretty heavy… my range bag for example is over 20lbs without guns or ammo.

When the kit is my Jeep or at home or I just need to carry it between stages, the weight isn’t an issue.  But having to cover ground with it could be problematic, not that it is my 1st plan anyway.

I can definitely consider the minimum acceptable size/weight of individual tool, I can look into lighter more advance materials, but I also think I need to look at the packs a bit more to allow me to carry more weight, more easily. I also need to consider the who, what, when, where, why and how of some gear that I know I should keep with me, but don’t.

What gear do you think you should carry, but don’t.  Why not?


  1. says

    The one item I would add is a spare mag for your weapon. You likely won’t need the extra rounds, but even the most reliable semi-auto will FTF on occasion. Having a spare mag for remedial action could be a life saver.


  2. says

    It appears I’m minimal in the same way you are. Like 95% of American males 5 pocket jeans are the lowest common denominator clothing option. My EDC has to fit in those 5 pockets while still looking like the other 94.9% of males on the street next to me wearing 5 pocket jeans.

    Going to work or out in the car a day bag goes with me. It’s modeled around the ideas in listening to Katrina. Moore’s Law means this gets denser/lighter every year. And after five years of removing anything I haven’t used in a month the physical contents are pretty streamlined too. My flashlight is in the bag, for example, instead of on my person because that works for me.

    Recently reading the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy I’m thinking about adding a towel. Can’t say I’ve ever wished I had one though, so maybe sensible need/want analysis will win out in the end. ;)

    Our cars don’t lend themselves to kits; no trunks so theft is an issue. But I’ve squirreled away things I regularly use in them. And winter does get a duffel with replaceable survival stuff. Theft risk is worth the possible reward here in MN.

    Finally, the office has a FIRE! bag with stuff that could be helpful in getting out of that. I don’t have to carry it, and I’ve got leftover gear all over, so why not? I review/refresh it every Sept 11th.

    So, yeah. Figure out what you use everyday and keep it with you or close to you in proportion. Figure out the stuff that’s very high reward (gun to avoid death, data to combine with insurance) or very low cost (a bag of handy leftover gear in the office) and keep that around in proportion.

    • says

      Recently reading the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy I’m thinking about adding a towel. Can’t say I’ve ever wished I had one though, so maybe sensible need/want analysis will win out in the end.

      Well, you could compromise and add one of these to your bag. While it has its flaws (it’s not as sturdy as some other camp towels), it’s extremely compact while still in its original packaging.

  3. Scottie says

    Thank you Ron. You have inspired me to clean out my wallet and fix my knife so I’ll start carrying it again. I took out about a half inch thick pile of cards and crap I don’t use. Now if I could just part off these damn student loans so I could afford something smaller and lighter than 1911 tp carry. thanks for making us think Ron. Keep up the good work.

  4. says

    Ron, I’ve been struggling with the weight issue of my EDC as well. Normally, I will carry the following: compact 9, knife, small flashlight, wallet and phone. These few items carry with relative ease.
    My real problem occurs when I go out for a jog in the evenings. I run down a fairly remote path and it is not well lit. Though I know better, more often then not I leave my EDC at home because I have not figured out a way to comfortably carry while jogging? Any suggestions?

    • says

      Honestly when I run, I run on a treadmill because of my knees, but I play with my kids all the time with my MTAC. The key is going to be to find a holster that holds the gun very snuggly so that it can’t beat you up. For me that mean IWB.

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