Everyday Carry - The Basics

Everyday Carry - The Basics


They both had that slight look of worry on their face. It was as if they had just lost something valuable, but they were not yet sure it was gone.

Just finishing my run, I was sweaty, but I walked up to the ladies anyway.

“Is everything okay?” I asked.

“No! I just locked my keys in my car and I’m going to be late for a meeting,” she said.

The woman with blonde hair replied in a bit of “Like you could do anything about it” tone as she glanced at her friend.

I asked, “Would you like me to open your car for you?”

“Umm… can you do that?”

“Sure, I’ll be right back.”

I went to my truck, threw my shirt on so I didn’t freak them out anymore than they already were, grabbed my entry tools and went to work.

About five minutes later (I’m getting rusty) their car was open. By this point, the mood had significantly changed from mild irritation and suspicion to gratitude and amazement.

“What? I mean… How did you do that? Who are you?” the friend of the driver said.

My hair was a bit on the long side and I had a full beard, so I probably looked a bit suspect to them. But, I think because of how organized my tools were in their little black bag, and the speed at which I worked, they must have assumed something more interesting than a common criminal.

“Oh. I used to work for the government,” I told her.

Their jaws dropped a bit, and they just kind of stared as I got into my truck and drove away.

As I passed, the blonde driver shouted, “Are you married?”

I don’t wear a wedding ring so I just stuck my hand out the window and gave them an ambiguous thumbs up and kept driving.

“Always be prepared”, I thought to myself as I cracked a smile and headed home to tell my wife what had happened.

You Are What You’re Ready For

They say that luck favors the prepared. I say, “You are what you’re ready for”.

Either way there is no greater indicator of preparedness than what goes into someone’s personal “Everyday Carry”.

The story I shared is a little more on the lighter side of readiness, but the topic itself is much more serious and can get incredibly deep. For these reasons, there are many professionals who consider their Everyday Carry a matter of life or death. That’s because it is.


I’ve recognized that we have many seasoned operators here at GovX. When I sent out “Everyday Carry – RFI”, I received tons of valuable and extremely seasoned inputs. My thought here is to begin this series with the basics. Something you could send to a friend or family member. So for you salty bastards out there, please send in the comments, but send them in with a spirit of teaching those who may be new to this kind of thinking.

1st Line – 2nd Line – 3rd Line

The “line system” for gear distribution layers your capabilities in order of priority and, as in all special operations principles, applies to every situation in life.

The line system is broken down into three distinct categories.

First Line is carried on your person and includes items that you would never be without. This line is meant to help you survive. It’s your last line of defense.

Second Line is carried close to your body and would include things such as load-bearing equipment (combat belts), fanny packs, etc. This line is meant to support your primary mission and aid in sustainment and survival.

Third Line would be carried on your body, like a backpack, or carried in a vehicle. This line is meant to increase your capabilities as well as sustain you for long periods of time.

All lines are considered portable. The “First Line” is commonly referred to as “Everyday Carry”, meaning it is what one would have on them on or off duty. I follow an “Everyday Carry” philosophy for all lines, which means there are things I keep on my person, in my bag and in my car every day.

Today we’re going to cover your “First Line”.

First Line: “Everyday Carry”

This is what you carry on your person and would never remove. For me this means my clothes and pockets.

Your First Line will modify depending on the situation.

If you’re in a combative tactical situation, this could include a knife, personal weapon, a “blow out kit” (first aid), survival kit, money, blood chit, etc.

If you’re in a non-combative tactical situation, say a trip to Disneyland, this would, at a minimum, include your car key, money, credit card, I.D. and cell phone.

** Pay attention to this part **

When you go anywhere, you should always ask yourself this question: “If I had to drop everything and run away, what would I need with me?”

So if you were at Disneyland and you had to run out of there, what would be the one thing you would want to make sure you had? Could you imagine not being able to get into your car and drive away? That’s your “First Line” gear!

My Ideal First Line

The Core:

A single car key without any type of remote, my I.D., money and a credit card. On a day-to-day basis I’ll carry these items in a normal fashion (i.e. key ring and wallet).

If I go anywhere atypical, I’ll take my car key off its ring, remove my money, I.D. and credit card from my wallet so that I could carry them in my bathing suit if I had to.

This way if I were to get robbed, I could hand over my backpack, cash, camera, whatever and still get my family out of there. Being stranded leaves you vulnerable and forces you to engage with unknowns. It ain’t happening on “Dad’s Watch”.


I carry an iPhone inside of a LifeProof nüüd case. This allows me to grab pictures, navigate and communicate. Worst case, if I were to lose the phone, I could still drive, buy or run my way out of there.


Shades: Gatorz sunglasses

Gatorz sunglasses are a “Team Guy” favorite, and I love them. They’re made of aluminum so they can be formed to a perfect wrap on my pumpkin.

It’s important to protect your eyes from all elements so that they don’t fatigue.

I just ordered their new “Cerakote” coated glasses. It’s the same coating used on modern day weapons. Love it.

Knife: SOG Trident

I’ve used many different knives, but right now I’m loving on the SOG Trident. A great blade at a great price, it has a line cutter built into the handle which is perfect for cutting paracord, fishing line and sometimes can be useful on seatbelts in an emergency.

Gun: Glock 26

When I’m in a situation in which a gun is necessary, I carry the Glock 26. Nothing fancy on it, I just added grip extenders and called it good.

To keep things streamlined and tight, I just “stuff” the gun into my waistband. I know a lot of people don’t love this idea with a Glock, but it’s worked well for me for a long time.

Watch: Nixon-The Unit

I tend to obsess over watches. Right now I’m wearing the Nixon Unit watch. I love the higher functioning and higher priced watches with GPSs, etc., but often I like to keep it simple. The Unit is easy to use and looks cool, so I’ve been wearing it for a while now.

Escape and Evasion:

I don’t know of any place to buy this, but here’s what was given to me. The small plastic “dime bag” carries a teflon string for tying or cutting through things (using friction), a small ceramic blade to cut out of hand ties, a plastic handcuff key, and one other item that I can’t mention here.

So, I know with a group like this there has to be many variations, thoughts, opinions and better ideas on what to carry. Every time I write an article like this one I’ll receive comments that make for a better final product and that’s what I’m all about.

What do you carry and why?


About Eric Davis

Eric Davis served our country as a U.S. Navy SEAL and decorated veteran of the Global War on Terror. Eric has been recognized as one of the premier sniper instructors in the U.S. military and has served as a Master Training Specialist at the SEAL sniper school. Davis is also the host of The Loadout Room, author at SOFREP, a GovX "Insider" and founder of the human performance company Average Frog. Follow him, and all his exploits, on Twitter @EricDavis215

Leave a comment:

Barry L.

5/12/2014 4:21 AM

Cool read, but carrying a handcuff key is illegal in some states. FYI

Eric D.

5/12/2014 3:29 PM

Yes - Don't carry that if it's illegal. The kit included here represents a mix of what I carry here and overseas.

Steven B.

5/12/2014 8:05 AM

OK, so it was an 'interesting' read = until I got to where you mention "When I’m in a situation in which a gun is necessary, I carry the Glock 26. Nothing fancy on it, I just added grip extenders and called it good." PLEASE tell me when that is,so I can stop my EDCing of a CCW ?. All above stated with tongue FIRMLY implanted in cheek.

Eric D.

5/12/2014 3:31 PM

Not sure what you mean by "EDCing"

Andrew N.

5/12/2014 4:01 PM

I, too, carry a "detector proof" handcuff key. I slit one of the vertical seams in my trouser label, stuff it between the label and and the belt seam of the trousers, and a couple of whip-stitches later, have a virtually undetectable hidden key.

Shane F.

5/12/2014 5:14 PM

Great article Eric, and thanks for your service! On the list of essentials, I would also submit that one carries the following items: Length of paracord - use whole to secure anything (including people) or rip out the guts to sew, fish, stitch, etc. 100 mph tape - secures anything (including people) and can be used to patch leaks, wound dressing, blister care, you name it. Extra mags - you can never have too much. Mylar or space blanket - the obvious here is heat retention, but they can also be used as a heat reflector for a fire, signaling, water purification, patching a sucking chest wound. Quality multi-tool - gerber or leatherman both have good choices. Those are all on my short list of things to have around all of the time!

Eric D.

5/13/2014 11:58 AM

Excellent additions: I'm working on "Get Home Bags" right now as well as "Bug-out" bags as part of this series. We'll get those things represented soon. Thanks for the add!

Alan W.

6/13/2014 5:22 AM

Is there a site that you perhaps host that covers more information? BTW I have a couple of ideas as to the unmentional item in your 'escape and evasion' kit, but am curious. Is there somewhere else I can go to see your answer?

John L.

6/24/2014 11:51 AM

So...How did you open/unlock that car?