When I was first starting out with EDC (every day carry) over twenty years ago, I had no idea where to start. Today, there are sites like ours, where you can read about people’s favorite gear, the pros and cons of different equipment, and now there are even EDC subscription boxes where you can get monthly drops of new gear to try out.
With that in mind, I thought I would put together a list of items under $20 that I would start out with today to see if EDC is something I would be interested in. You really don’t know unless you carry this stuff every day and learn what you need on a daily basis.
So, here’s my top 30 budget-friendly EDC starter items:
This is a category of EDC that I have found that you either need or don’t need. If you don’t have a daily need for bit drivers, a pry bar, or a screwdriver you can probably just skip this section. My opinion would be to grab a cheap Swiss Army knife, like the Victorinox Classic SD, and see if you end up using it or not.
- Gerber Shard
- Nite Ize Doohickey
- Victorinox Classic SD – I carry this one in Champagne Gold.
- Uncle Bill’s Sliver Gripper Tweezers
Pens, next to knives, this has been my most purchased category. I just can’t get enough of them. My daily carry includes a $200 custom-made pen, however, here are some really good ones to start out with to see how you can incorporate a pen, or pencil, into your EDC.
A must-have for EDC is a good flashlight. The things to weigh in this category are size, battery type, and brightness. I have found that I prefer something that is around 5 lumens (I have never needed more), a rechargeable USB battery, and something smaller than both my pen and knife. My daily carry for years has been the Olight i1R 2 EOS.
- Olight i1R 2 EOS – much easier charging now with the twist design. I love this one!
- Olight i3E EOS
- Olight i3T EOS
- Lumintop Tool AAA
- Lumintop EDC01
- True Utility StashLite
Man, do I hate keys. I wish I could just not have keys at all. This is an area that thankfully is very cheap to switch between different solutions because I have never found the right solution. Time after time I go back to the Exotac FreeKey system both for ease of use and the slim profile. Add in a few Nite Ize S-Biner locking carabiners and you have the best solution I have found over time.
- Bang Ti Titanium Key Clip
- Exotac FreeKey System – my favorite!
- ZAK Tool Zt52 Tactical Stealth Police Keyring
- True Utility Key Shackle
- Solid Brass Forged Bow Shackle
- Steel Cable Keychain
So this is easily the largest category to sink some money into (unless you are a watch guy). I have picked a lineup of very different knives that come in under $20 that I have used and liked. If I had to choose a favorite from this list, as far as a traditional knife, I would have to go with the Squid. It is very solid, durable, and reliable.
- CRKT Squid
- Kershaw Shuffle II
- Geber EAB Lite
- Gerber Paraframe
- Screwpop Utility Knife – add a lanyard and combat bead for easy access in your pocket.
It was a bit harder to pick out a wallet that is under $20. These are all solid options, but you will find that you will want to upgrade over time in this area to something more durable, like leather.
- Kinzd Elastic Minimalist Slim Wallet
- Travelambo Front Pocket Minimalist Slim Wallet – this is what I carry currently.
- Chums Marsupial Wallet
- Gerber Barbill Wallet
I included this section for those who also camp. If you are a smoker, I am assuming you already have a favorite lighter that works for you. I like the keychain options so that, like my keys, a fire solution is always on my hip. The True Utility line is very reliable and tiny, but I can’t give up my classic Zippo lighter either.
- Classic Zippo Chrome Lighter – I carry this with a leather cover.
- True Utility FireStash
- True Utility FireStash+ – my favorite for Altoids Micro-EDC
- True Utility Classic Lighter FireWire
- USB Rechargeable Plasma Lighter
I hope this list is helpful in getting you started on your EDC journey! I would love to hear what combination you chose to go with. Drop us a line below to let us know what your favorite starter gear was when you get into EDC.