Bernard Capulong – founder of the Everyday Carry blog talks about the philosophy behind EDC

Bernard Capulong

Bernard Capulong’s blog, ‘Everyday Carry’, listed this year as one of TIME magazines ‘best blogs of 2011’  is the seminal website representing the ‘Every Day Carry’ or EDC community on line. We interviewed Bernard, about how he started his website, the philosophies behind EDC, involvement of the fashion community, mall ninjas, the survivalist end of the EDC spectrum, and how the community has developed over the last few years. The concept is simple – it’s all about listing an inventory of what you carry in your pockets every day. His blog is compelling – as TIME puts it, “you can peruse an endless stream of photographs in which random strangers list what they keep in their pockets and on their person”. More importantly, in a broader sense – according to Bernard’s own blog, EDC is “… a lifestyle, discipline, or philosophy of preparedness.” Implicit in the term is the sense that an EDC is an individual’s personal selection of equipment, arrived at after deliberation, rather than a mere standardised kit.

How he started

We started by asking Bernard how he became interested in Every Day Carry, to which he told us “I’ve always had an interest for gadgets and technology since I was a kid. I think I randomly stumbled across a Maglite Solitaire on eBay, but an older, incandescent model. I wanted one just to have on my keys or something (this is so strange that I can’t think of an actual reason now that I’m trying to recollect) but I was unimpressed with its performance. I ended up doing some research on portable flashlights, and discovered LED flashlights… I found that for about the same price I paid, I could get a whopping 10 lumens. That was the Fenix E01, my first LED flashlight. A little more research and stumbling upon CandlePowerForums led me to an even brighter light in the same size, so naturally I needed to have it… and then I started collecting flashlights. My friend was into pocket knives like I was into flashlights, so we discussed with each other the benefits of our respective hobbies and eventually once I got a knife and light, everything else in the EDC discipline sort of fell into place. I liked the idea of keeping tools with me because nobody I knew did it and I crave novelty for some reason and I appreciate gadgets, utility and good design.”

As for how he started the website itself– Bernard told us that he “started the blog a long time ago just because I was already familiar with blogging (I think I’ve been blogging since middle school, on the now-defunct greatest journal platform – kinda crazy now that I think about it).” He went on to say how “My daily research on various EDC-related topics like battery chemistries, types of lock mechanisms, best current value gear, etc led me to awesome pictures and products that I wanted to keep for reference. I put my personal EDC progress as well as things that I liked onto the blog without any expectation that it would amount to anything. It was all really personal reference. Once I became more involved in the EDC community and with the help of some of my friends who are also popular bloggers I started to grow in readership. From then, I made up my mind that this blog could serve as a novel vehicle for spreading the idea of everyday carry and I hoped to, in any capacity, help people in the way that I could — either by providing ideas to carry better, inspire people new to EDC to start carrying potentially life-saving tools, and to promote self-reliance. Things really started to take off once I bought a domain, it helped with SEO and legitimised the site a bit. I am lucky to have such great contributors to help drive content for the site and keep things interesting. I do everything on my own and don’t really profit at all off of it but hearing feedback and knowing that some people appreciate what I have to say motivates me to keep the site going and to expand in what little ways I can.”

Every Day Carry Website

Bernard’s website ranks number one for the term ‘Every Day Carry’

Philosophies behind EDC

The philosophy behind EDC is one of the most intriguing aspects of it – there appears to be a whole culture built up around the items people carry with them every day, along with their selection and significance. On this topic, Bernard told us how “…the philosophy of EDC differs depending on who you ask.” “The act itself of having things in your pockets every day is universal — almost everyone at least has a phone and a wallet with them these days, and that’s normal expected behaviour. The slight distinction with the approach to EDC I try to take, however, goes a bit beyond this. The theme of the blog and the ideas that it tries to promote include preparedness, self-reliance, and efficiency. To be prepared is to have whatever tools you might need every day at your disposal in order to be self-reliant and to be efficient. It can save a lot of time and hassle each day if you’re equipped for what comes your way. It also can benefit those who don’t EDC if you’re willing to help them. However, this is more of a generalised explanation. In EDC circles, everyday carry philosophy differs. For some, an EDC should be ‘tactical’ and be able to protect you and your loved ones from harm’s way when calling the police is not an option. For others, an EDC should include all the supplies necessary to survive in case of an emergency. The scope, scale and application of EDCs differ from person to person, and that’s what makes it interesting. The common theme as I see it though, still comes down to preparedness, self-reliance and efficiency. These ideals are in accordance with the majority of traditional EDC philosophies. While some may take the term literally to apply to anything in anyone’s pockets, carrying tools is a more authentic version of everyday carry.”

The carrying of weapons

The carrying of weapons is commonplace among many in the EDC community – so we put the question the question that many might be asking to Bernard himself – why is it that so many in the community feel the need to carry knives and guns for ‘preparedness’? Bernard responded “Firstly, it is important to note that for many, the folding pocket knife is not to be used as a self-defence weapon, but rather, as an edged tool. That should be simple enough — we can’t cut with our bare hands, and sometimes a knife is the best tool for the job. On the other hand, a gun serves really only one purpose. I should note though, I don’t carry a firearm and I have limited knowledge of that facet of the EDC world, but I’ve read a fair amount of discussions about firearms (many of which come from the comments section of my blog posts). One argument for carrying a firearm, even though there are police forces and other authorities meant to protect citizens, revolves around the idea of self-reliance. In a life-or-death situation, it might be impossible or too late to call the authorities to come to rescue you. With a firearm, you have a better chance of defending yourself and your loved ones in such situations. People who EDC a gun most likely subscribe to the idea of self-reliance, and would rather not risk putting their lives in the hands of a stranger with a badge. It’s still a controversial debate and there are many arguments for and against carrying a gun. I don’t have a stance on the issue because I’m not entirely informed on the matter to make one just yet.”

The official line (UK) when it comes to carrying any kind of weapon, is that you are “more likely to become a victim of crime, or harm yourself if you’re carrying a weapon (knife or gun)” – when we told Bernard about this, he told us that he had “not heard about this view until now”, and he went on to explain that “I can understand some people would say you are likely to harm yourself, but the way I see it,they are likely to hurt themselves simply because they most likely have no training with a knife or firearm. There are some people who carry knives or firearms either illegally, irresponsibly, or both. Those are outliers in the EDC community, contrary to popular belief. It’s mindboggling to see so many people accuse contributors to of being criminals who carry a gun for the sole purpose of wantonly murdering other people — that makes absolutely no sense. EDCers who carry potential weapons are more than likely to be law-abiding citizens who have knowledge and mastery of the tools they use. I am confident they have respect and understanding of their tools and wouldn’t put themselves or others in danger. As for being a victim of crime, I would say you’re more likely to be a victim of the law — and both of these most likely apply to the aforementioned irresponsible users who do not comprise the majority of EDCers.”

So – does the EDC community encourage the carrying of knives/blades and/or weapons? Bernard explained that “The EDC community encourages the carrying of tools and safe, legal, responsible and appropriate usage of those tools.”

The fashion element of EDC

As the EDC philosophy grows rapidly in popularity – we thought Bernard would be well placed to answer the next question – are businesses starting to target the EDC community? Bernard told us that “I haven’t watched the market close enough or long enough to make a definitive assessment, from what I’ve seen, companies are trying to garner the attention of the EDC community with EDC-related products. I can say with some certainty this is true for the fashion market. Whether I like it or not, some companies have been introducing pocket tools as ‘accessories’ of some sort.”

Some also say that fashion element can also influence EDC selection. We asked Bernard what he felt about the ‘fashion element of EDC’ – for example “’Tactical’ flashlights and designer pocket knives that tend to look far ‘cooler’ than the cheaper equivalents which might work equally well in certain situations.” To this, Bernard told us that “I would say I have a fair involvement in the fashion community as well, and I agree, EDC has sort of overlapped into the fashion community. In hindsight, I think a part of this is a result of my blog and my friends in the fashion world who supported and shared it, as well as some fashion forums… When it comes to a pocket dump, I wouldn’t say it’s fashion necessarily, but just the aesthetic. Everyone has personal style to some degree, and it is easy to express it in the pocket dump medium. It’s actually one of the things I enjoy a lot about the idea of EDC — the successful marriage of utility and design, style and practicality, and so on. With that said, some gear will look cooler than others, and most likely come with a higher price tag. The difference in price is rarely ever purely for aesthetics. Things that look cooler are usually just designer better, and good design usually accompanies good materials and an overall higher quality product. “Cheaper” gear (this is different from affordable) might have simpler designs to lower production costs or lower quality materials to drive down the price. Personally, I feel it’s better to spend more for higher quality, durable, reliable gear that you use every day (or close to it) and that could potentially save your life. Buy the best and cry once…”

Mall Ninjas

A term has been coined for “someone who may have no legitimate need for ‘tactical’ clothing or equipment but who nevertheless gets some satisfaction from acquiring the trappings of, and perhaps fantasising about the life led by, those for whom the clothing or equipment was designed – and this is the Mall Ninja. We asked for Bernard’s opinion on this too – to which he responded “Mall ninjas are lame and for the most part don’t show an adequate understanding of EDC principles. They might be overly materialistic and impractical or unrealistic. A good, genuine EDC should fit your needs in a logical manner, nothing more.. nothing less. To carry overly tactical or survivalist gear that doesn’t see use won’t help you, it just looks contrived and cheapens the idea of EDC to those who practice it honestly.”

The survivalist end of the EDC spectrum

Other members of the EDC community take things further – carrying survival equipment and camping gear with them daily – we asked Bernard his opinion on these members of the community, to which he told us how “[urban] Survivalist carries definitely have their place, such as in a bug out bag, but IMO could be overkill for actual everyday carry. I am not against the idea of having at least 24 hours of supplies to survive off of in the case of a natural disaster or other emergency, but to lug that around with you on your person daily might suggest paranoia of the apocalypse or something. Some people really do subscribe to the ‘better to be safe than to be sorry’ adage and I would imagine those are the same people who gravitate to the survivalist end of the EDC spectrum. I mean no disrespect to those types of EDCers, I just don’t agree fully with it.”

Is EDC largely a male pursuit?

When looking through an EDC community online, one can’t help but notice that it appears to be a largely male pursuit – so we asked Bernard’s opinion on this – to which he described how “…the everyday carry movement for the most part is predominately male centered. Guys just happen to like tools and the whole EDC concept carries a sort of machismo with it. With that said, I think it’s unfortunate that while there are some females in the EDC community, there aren’t as many as there should be. It seems to be a consequence of obsolete gender roles and traditions or something, but women have purses! They could hold a lot of stuff in there but in my experience I think they use it as a crutch to carry a lot of unnecessary things in an unorganized way. The purse space sort of buffers them and lets them over carry instead of think about streamlined minimalism, efficiency, and utility. With that said, the demographic EDC appeals to most is probably males from the ages of 14-60. At 21, I’d say I’m on the younger side of the spectrum and I’ve read numerous times that people were surprised to hear I’m only in college and they thought I would be older. I think most of my contributors are older than me as well.”

What does the average EDC entail?

Bernard explained how “The most common EDC items are staples that people who don’t even consider themselves EDCers carry — phone, keys and wallet. This is partially why I think the keyring is a great place to start adding more traditional EDC gear. Within the EDC community, the ‘trinity’ so to speak for general/urban carry is the pocketknife, the flashlight, and the multitool. Other popular items include watches, pens, lighters, and firearms. There are plenty of other EDCable objects out there, and some that aren’t as common as they should be… I learn something new pretty much every time I go through user submissions and look through their pockets.”

He also went on to add “What they carry specifically most definitely varies with their lifestyle, but the purpose for carrying it should be fundamentally universal.”

Bernard Capulong Every Day Carry

Bernard’s EDC – his phone, wallet, keychain, primary flashlight, primary folding knife, handkerchief, and ‘sometimes a pen and pocket notebook’

The natural question now would be – what is your own EDC? “My EDC for the most part is my phone, wallet, keychain (this has my keys, a Swiss Army Knife with scissors, bottle opener, pen, knife, screwdrivers and tweezers, a flash drive for data storage, and a backup flashlight), my primary flashlight, primary folding knife, handkerchief, and sometimes I carry a pen and pocket notebook. I have a lot of other school and EDC related things in my backpack.”

He reaffirmed – “I actually do carry these daily. At the very least, I have my phone, wallet, keys, and watch. If it’s daytime, I might forego carrying a flashlight, but I’d still have one on my keys because I don’t even notice it’s there. With a good, streamlined carry and well-thought out pocket distribution, it is very feasible to literally EDC.”

His favourite item – the 4sevens Quark 123 R5 in titanium

He also described how the favorite EDC item out of his collection is probably his primary flashlight. “It’s a 4sevens Quark 123 R5 in titanium. It wasn’t my first, but maybe third EDC light, but since getting it a few years ago I haven’t upgraded or changed my light. For under $100 I got a titanium light from a great company using cutting edge technology (at the time). It has a lot of qualities I appreciate, and reflects many qualities I strive to attain. At the time, it was unique, ahead of the game, a great value, simple, rugged, reliable, attractive, etc.”

EDC communities online – “I learned maybe 75% of what I know from forums and discussions”

We then went on to ask Bernard where he feels the top EDC communities are online – other than his own site of course, to which he told us how “My top three EDC communities aren’t blogs, but forums. Forums in my humble opinion are the best way to learn about any hobby. It’s important to share and discuss ideas with others who are passionate and experienced in your hobby. I learned maybe 75% of what I know from forums and discussions, the rest through personal experience. I recommend checking out EDCForums for general EDC everything, BladeForums for knife info, and CandlePowerForums for flashlight discussion. I’d also like to stress that if you are knowledgeable and passionate about something, anything, please please please try your best to publish and share what you know with others. If you know a lot about EDC, please start a blog or website or something. The internet allows for such a rapid spread of ideas and I hope more people try to contribute to a more substantial world wide web.”

The future of EDC – and it’s appeal to the ‘pedestrian EDCer’

“EDC is definitely growing and expanding, but I think it is diverging from the more traditional definition of EDC to be more accessible to the average pedestrian EDCer, so to speak. This is not necessarily a bad thing, one criticism I had of the existing EDC communities was that it seemed inaccessible and intimidating to those who were unfamiliar with the concept. I try on my blog to remain ‘authentic’ but at the same time to be inviting. The recent growth in the EDC movement across different communities may be a trend or a fad, but even if it dies down, people who EDC will continue to carry, just like they’ve been known to do.. yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”