Ask anyone what “EDC” means and you will get about 100 different answers and that’s because EDC, known as Everyday Carry, is personal and as individualized as people themselves. There is no correct answer.
Everyday Carry refers to what a person carries on their person each day to help them with any challenges and those things that may arise that are unexpected. These are items needed by an individual to function in their daily life. EDC for a doctor, let’s say, might be much different than the EDC of a ranch hand.
Along those lines, military EDC might be much different from branch to branch, and military EDC can also be influenced by whether or not a service member is deployed. Nonetheless, we’re going to take a stab at it.
Here’s USAMM’s 10 essential items for a great military EDC in no particular order.
Military EDC Essential #1
If you’re in the military, you have a boss. Even the highest-ranking general officer in the U.S. military answers to someone, the president of the United States.
That said, most military personnel learn in basic training or at officer candidate school that it is important to always carry a pen and paper. This shows preparedness and professionalism.
It’s always important to be ready to copy, whether it is a directive from your staff sergeant, a part number for something you’re repairing, or a map grid for you to meet another squad, having the ability to jot stuff down is important. Many military members find small notebooks with pens or mechanical pencils useful. The notebooks are small enough to fit in their uniform pockets and the writing instruments can slide into any compartment in the uniform. Weatherproof notebooks are a plus.
Military EDC Essential #2
A knife or a multitool is a must have for any EDC. Opening boxes delivered to the unit? Bust out the knife and slice through that packing tape easily. Got a loose screw on a piece of protective equipment? Tighten up that sucker with your multitool.
This is one of the most important EDC items for a service person. Downrange or in the field, knives and multitools should be mandated, because of their utility, but they are not. Best part, most attach to your belt and are tucked away unnoticed until you need them.
Military EDC Essential #3
If you work a job that isn’t just during daylight hours, it’s probably a good investment to get a high-quality flashlight. Now, clearly, you don’t want some Paul Revere lantern or something overly heavy or large. Luckily, today’s illumination tools are high-powered and are tough enough to manage the rigors of most environments.
Most of the quality flashlights ideal for a military EDC have LED lights and are made of a non-corrosive metal. Some have added features like a compass or storage, and they also can be carried as part of your military EDC on your belt or in your pocket.
Military EDC Essential #4
A phone is a critical piece of a military EDC. In garrison, a phone can come in handy when you are out of the unit and you need to look up a regulation on the internet or reach out to a fellow soldier to talk about a particular unit matter. The camera can come in handy too to photograph something you are working on or to capture a unit event for social media.
In the field, most units do not allow phones for communications and they are not considered tactical comms. However, if you choose to take it, for whatever reason, ensure you bring along a solar panel charger to ensure your phone has enough battery to capture those embarrassing photos of your buddy.
Most phones and chargers can fit in a cargo pocket.
Military EDC Essential #5
Once long ago, there were these things called watches and everyone wore them so they could arrive to places on time. Today, they’ve been replaced by cell phones which display the time and they tell us the time anywhere in the world.
But watches are great for a military EDC because if we are ever without our phones, we know the time and that can matter for shiftwork and relief, reporting times of incidents, and for general awareness. It will also help you stay on time, arriving at meetings and appointments as expected.
We recommend a wristwatch since pocket watches can be cumbersome.
Military EDC Essential #6
Glasses, for those who have vision problems, can also be considered a critical piece of a military EDC. You won’t be able to read, write, observe, or perform most duties if you cannot see.
Whether they are your government issued “BC” (birth control) glasses or just over the counter readers, make sure they are included in your military EDC. Drop them in your pocket and go.
Military EDC Essential #7
Along the lines of glasses are sunglasses. If you work outside a lot or you are deployed or in the field, sunglasses are a must. Not only do sunglasses reduce glare, making it easier to see, but they also protect your eyes from getting sunburned. Not to mention, the squinting done by most while they are outside can lead to headaches and tired and sore eyes.
Depending on the brand, many of these glasses can fit in a uniform pocket. And some fulfill the requirement for eye protection when on the shooting range. Pew pew!
Military EDC Essential #8
Identification is a huge part of any military EDC. Most of us have been taught from day one in the ranks that our military identification stays on us at all times. It is important because on post, you need to show your ID, when not in uniform, to receive a haircut or shop at the post exchange. But did you know that if you’re in uniform, you are required to have the ID on your possession at all times?
A military ID will also help you gain access to military installations. Therefore, ensure that your information is updated in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) so you don’t run into any hiccups. Along those lines, keep your driver’s license on you when operating a motor vehicle. The same applies to operating government vehicles.
Carry your ID in a clip or in a wallet, but carry it.
Military EDC Essential #9
If there is a group of people who know long days it is those in the U.S. military. Those duty days can drag on and when there is a looming task, it can be hard to find the energy to keep going.
Keeping a light, high-quality snack in a cargo pocket is a great way to be prepared for anything that might pop up and force you to miss a meal. Beef jerky, protein bars, energy bars, fruit or anything that keeps your blood sugar up and provides good energy to your muscles is a good choice and should be a requirement for any military EDC.
Military EDC Essential #10
Last, but certainly not least, is our friend, good old H2O, water. Water is really good for you. It keeps you hydrated and keeps your body functioning properly.
If you’re working outside or in the field, or even worse, if you are forward deployed to one of the many desert environments the U.S. military has been known to frequent, hydration is a critical part of your life.
The military issues canteens that you can fill up and carry. If you’re not a fan of lugging around those old school canteens, then your water can become portable and go where you go if you fill a hydration system and wear it. Just ensure you comply with chain of command directives.
Lastly, you can also simply tuck a water bottle in one of your cargo pockets and drink, and refill it, as needed.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Firearms were intentionally not included in creating this list since most military installations do not allow service personnel to carry their personal firearms on post.