carry smarter

Showing 7 posts tagged carry smarter

There seems to be an idea that carbon fiber is popular for one’s everyday carry because of its dominant color and premium price, but there is some science to the fiction for why it’s a fantastic material to use on products. In the seventh installment of Carry Smarter we cover a complete carbon fiber carry and see why its properties make good equipment even better.
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Despite not having a lot of real estate to work with, sunglasses frames can still benefit from carbon fiber’s light weight and high temperature tolerance. Ray-Ban infuses its classic Aviators with carbon fiber to make its arms lighter and tougher without added weight.
BUY ($138)

Flashlights with magnetic control rings are rare by themselves, and ones with premium material construction are even rarer. Niteye’s EYE10 TIC falls into the latter camp with a titanium/carbon fiber body on top of its base rotary system model that has four modes and an output of 260lm. Withstanding high temperatures along with minimal thermal expansion are definitely key benefits for anything that produces a lot of heat, and the carbon fiber on this light is no different.
BUY ($297)

The Spyderco Sage 3 is already a great everyday carry with its 3” drop point blade and ambidextrous Bolt Action Lock, but add in light weight, chemical resistance, and high tensile strength in its carbon fiber/G-10 scales, and the result is this easy-to-carry, handsome, and highly-functional knife.
BUY ($134)

Multi-tools are generally quite heavy and bulky so the light weight yet high strength of carbon fiber is a welcome enhancement. The Leatherman brand needs no introduction in the world of quality EDC. In addition to its sleek carbon fiber accents and highly capable tool complement, the affordable Skeletool CX packs a better 154CM plain edge blade compared to its standard counterpart into the same five ounce frame.
BUY ($60)

What makes for a great EDC pen is usually a combination of good writing action, reliable ink, and portability and weight. At a mere 0.5 ounces including its refill, carbon fiber certainly allows the Tombow Zoom 101 to fulfill the latter categories. It also doesn’t hurt having the pen in one’s bag or pocket due to the high stiffness and strength its full CF body affords, making it a solid carry.
BUY ($91)

Being worn on the wrist certainly exposes a watch to the wear and tear of the environment and other elements, so if there’s a type of product that could benefit from high strength and heat resistance, a carbon fibre-infused timepiece would be it. The Seiko SNAE17 Velatura chronograph definitely looks the part of the roadworthy watch; the addition of a carbon fiber face adds some welcome function to its sleek form.
BUY ($369)

While a completely carbon fiber-covered wallet would be rather uncomfortable or impractical as an everyday carry, a money clip would fit the part far better. So in the true spirit of utility, how about one that adds a bottle-opening feature to its already thin profile? The Flexy money clip does just that, at an astonishingly light 0.46 ounces, yet still strong enough to pop open a brew thanks to the strength afforded by its multi-layer CF construction.
BUY ($45) High-res

There seems to be an idea that carbon fiber is popular for one’s everyday carry because of its dominant color and premium price, but there is some science to the fiction for why it’s a fantastic material to use on products. In the seventh installment of Carry Smarter we cover a complete carbon fiber carry and see why its properties make good equipment even better.

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With 10% of the world’s population being left-handed, it’s an unfortunate truth that EDC gear that accommodates them is in short supply — and that’s not all right with us. In the sixth installment of Carry Smarter, we give you southpaws a hand with our lefty-friendly and ambidextrous recommendations so you don’t get left out.
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Pushing a pen against a page instead of pulling it as designed often leads to inconsistent writing action, with smearing and skipping being key drawbacks when writing left-handed. The Zebra Surari ballpoint not only writes exceptionally smooth but also dries particularly fast due to its unique emulsion ink. Furthermore, its light weight and clicky activation make it a great carry choice.
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Smudging while writing towards the right and binding getting in the way while writing from the left are the consistent gripes of the left-handed writer. The Doane Paper Flap Jotter deftly addresses both needs by not only having excellent absorption and bleed prevention with its 70# paper stock, but its wire-o-bound flap cover also gets out of your way while allowing the Flap Jotter to lie completely flat for optimal writing position.
BUY ($13)

For southpaws who wear their watch on their right wrist, the 3 o’clock crown on most watches can be inaccessible or visually off-balance. Orient’s M-Force Beast “destro” dive watch provides lefties with some suitable wrist presence and a more natural 9 o’clock crown position. An in-house automatic movement, lume markers, and power reserve functionality lurk within this 47mm beast of a timepiece.
BUY ($795)

In a market dominated by tactical knives, it’s rare to see a newer knife designed with everyday utility in mind. The Spyderco Chaparral deviates from the tactical trend, providing a small but highly usable and staggeringly thin blade, great ergonomics, and sleek handles in a lightweight package. Fortunately for lefties, this incredible value of an EDC knife features ambidextrous thumb holes for deployment, a central back lock, and a reversible clip for left-hand carry.
BUY ($98)

The Benchmade 556 “Mini Griptilian” is a highly-recommended EDC knife because of the tremendous value you get with its quality and features for its price. What makes it even more appropriate for lefties is the fact that the 556 is completely ambidextrous, from its dual-sided thumbstud deployment and center AXIS lock to its reversible clip position. Coming in a variety of blade profiles as well as scale colors, the Mini Griptilian is an inexpensive yet fantastic EDC addition for any hand orientation.
BUY ($89)

The Chris Reeves Small Sebenza barely needs any introduction being one of the most desired and well-built custom knives on the market. It’s already a rare and special knife in its original right-handed configuration, but the fact that Chris Reeves Knives went out of their way to create an actual left-oriented framelock is truly something remarkable. If there’s one “grail” EDC knife for lefties to try and get their paws on, this is it.
BUY ($350)

Nearly every multitool on the market, especially those featuring one-handed opening blades, are designed with the right hand in mind. The CRKT Zilla aims to even the score with pliers that unlock from either side of the tool, as well as an assisted-opening center blade that makes ambidextrous deployment convenient. Throw in a wire stripper/cutter, bottle opener, and screw bits within ergonomic scales, and the Zilla holds its own as the right tool for the job.
BUY ($29) High-res

With 10% of the world’s population being left-handed, it’s an unfortunate truth that EDC gear that accommodates them is in short supply — and that’s not all right with us. In the sixth installment of Carry Smarter, we give you southpaws a hand with our lefty-friendly and ambidextrous recommendations so you don’t get left out.

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Keys are an essential item of most everyone’s daily routine. Unfortunately, they can be tricky to manage, as evidenced by some keychains so cluttered they seem to have their own gravitational field. In the fifth installment of Carry Smarter, we explore keychain gadgets and how to optimize your keychain to really unlock its true potential as a mini EDC system.
[[MORE]]The essential EDC keychain possesses a few good characteristics: it’s organized, it’s useful, and it’s with you wherever you go. This guide is designed to act as a primer for setting up an EDC keychain. There are other, more expensive alternatives to the options shown here (not to scale, by the way), but these relatively affordable starting points should help inspire some ideas. 

Multiple keys for your everyday routine (work, home, car, mail, etc.) can be difficult to keep in order. Luckily, there are several products on the market that can organize keys and keep them in one place. Swiss Army Knife-style frames for your keys allow for quiet storage and a smaller footprint on your keyring. It might take some getting used to with these products at first— instead of fumbling through your keys, you’ll be efficiently sliding out keys in no time. Here are some great ways to stop that awkward pocket bulge or to transition out of that janitor aesthetic:
KeySmart 2.0 ($23): Elegant Swiss Army Knife-styled key organizer.
True Utility Keyring ($11): An affordable, simple shackle system with extra hardware.
KeyPort Slide 2.0 ($29+): A high-tech, high-end retractable key system. Most configurations can get expensive.
BladeKey Bolt ($25): Another simple option for keeping keys together. 
With all those keys tidied up, minimalists can stop here and call it a day. However, because keychain-sized gear can pack a lot of utility without adding much bulk to your essentials, the extra keyring space afforded by a slim set of keys makes for a great place for beginners to start experimenting with new tools. From here, we can assemble a compact or backup EDC system.

Carrying the right multitool for your needs on your keychain gives you much more functionality when you need it, without carrying bulkier, heavier dedicated tools for tasks you might do only occasionally. Some useful features to look for include a decent backup blade, scissors, screwdrivers, a bottle opener, and more. You can choose from traditional Swiss Army Knife and clamshell folding multitools, or the newly popular one-piece multitools which focus more on prying and driving than they do cutting or slicing. Here are some great multitools to start off your keychain:
Victorinox Manager ($25): Everything you need, nothing you don’t.
Leatherman Style PS ($21): Solid, travel-friendly multitool.
Gerber Dime ($18): A complete, unique toolset for your keychain.
Nite-Ize DooHickey ($6): An affordable one-piece tool and carabiner.

The keychain is a great place to keep a backup flashlight because often times, you could use a little extra light when using your keys anyway, such as unlocking your front door or starting your car for a late night drive. With today’s technology, some keychain lights can even match the performance of full-sized lights. Opting to use more exotic battery types like CR2 or lithium ion cells yields even more powerful keychain options for more seasoned flashaholics. For beginners, here are some AAA and button cell lights that work great as backups or as general EDC lights:
Olight i3S EOS ($25): Excellent all-around starter keychain light.
FourSevens Atom A0 ($25): Unique wide beam and useful moonlight mode.
Veleno Designs Quantum D2 ($48): Innovative design for an enthusiast’s keyring.
LRI Photon Freedom ($11): Simple, easy, minimal backup light.

With your keys in place and a backup “core” of functionality in miniature multitools and flashlights in place, you need a secure, yet easily accessible way to carry it all. One common way is to wear your keychain on a belt loop, the other is old-fashioned pocket carry. Wearing keys externally grants easier access, but the risk of losing your keychain is higher. Conversely, front pocket carry is more secure, but takes up pocket space and can cause discomfort or awkward pants bulge. No matter your preference, gadgets like these should accommodate your keychain carry needs:
Corter Bottlehook ($37): Sturdy combination of bottle opener and keyhook.
Nite-Ize S-Biner SlideLock ($5): A locking version of the popular carabiner.
TEC Accessories P-7 ($12): A pocket clip that suspends your keys to prevent pocket bulge.
OBSTRUCTURES Small Pry/Open ($32): A solid one-piece multitool that can serve as a suspension clip or a keyhook.

Lastly, consider all the other gadgets that might make your day-to-day easier or gear you’d want in an emergency. The market for keychain accessories is huge, and it isn’t limited to just urban EDC gear. Explore outdoors or survivalist gear, keychain electronics, phone accessories, and other tools. Here are some ideas of other gadgets that could fit right at home on your keyring that might not be covered in the rest of your kit:
Split Pea Lighter ($15): An impressively small emergency lighter.
Kingston DTSE9 ($6): Lots of storage in a tiny package.
Nomad ChargeKey ($29): A cord-free way to charge your mobile devices.
Mophie Power Reserve ($50): Stay connected, not tied down.
Because of all of the individual components involved, optimizing your essential EDC keychain might require many revisions. It’s difficult to balance adding utility to a keychain without making it cluttered again, and without being too heavy (this can strain your car’s ignition or cause your hardware to fail prematurely). Hopefully this guide can facilitate the process, and you can find a product mentioned here that will elevate your keychain and make your EDC even better. High-res

Keys are an essential item of most everyone’s daily routine. Unfortunately, they can be tricky to manage, as evidenced by some keychains so cluttered they seem to have their own gravitational field. In the fifth installment of Carry Smarter, we explore keychain gadgets and how to optimize your keychain to really unlock its true potential as a mini EDC system.

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As technology pushes us towards a paperless world, the pen has become somewhat of an endangered species. For many, it’s still an invaluable tool, and one that’s worthwhile to carry. If you’ve ever had to borrow a pen and are considering adding one to your daily kit, we’ve got you covered in this installment of Carry Smarter. After consulting with fellow EDCer friends and resident pen experts, Ed Jelley and the Pen Addict himself, Brad Dowdy, we present our top ten pens that are truly mightier than the sword.
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These solid pens from BigIDesign combine a pen and a touch-screen stylus into one sleek tool. Constructed from a durable, lightweight aluminum with a super deep-riding pocket clip, the pens are easy to carry. Adding to utility and durability in desirable features for an EDC pen, they also show versatility by taking just about every refill you can throw at it. One common issue is that the pen becomes long and unwieldy when the cap is posted on the end of the pen, however. If don’t need a clicky mechanism, are particular with your pen refills, and often use touchscreens, this pen is for you.
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Turning heads among pen addicts are the Mover and its smaller variation, the Shaker—newcomers fresh from their successful Kickstarter campaign. Tactile Turn’s precise machining and attention to detail give these aluminum pens a solid, pristine fit and finish. Its retractable tip deploys a variety of compatible refills via a silent metal knock clicky mechanism, which, combined with a deep clip and aluminum body, makes for a great pocket carry. Even better is its feel in hand: a satisfying heft and innovative micro-groove grip pattern put the Tactile Turn pens in a league of their own.
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Inexpensive and unassuming, the Signo UM-151 will surely impress. Despite having a plastic body, it’s surprisingly sturdy, especially with its metal tip. Its rubber grip feels great in hand and Uniball’s excellent ink flows smoothly and consistently for a pleasantly comfortable writing experience. Unfortunately, it’s not as quick to access as it lacks a retractable tip, but at least its cap’s clip lets it ride deeply and snugly in the pocket. Available in almost every color of the spectrum, in various widths, and at an attractive pricepoint, it’s worth picking one up.
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Famous for its pressurized ink cartridge that writes in zero gravity, underwater, and in other extreme conditions, the Fisher Bullet Space Pen unsurprisingly finds its way into the pockets of many adventurous EDCers. Its compact body and smooth finish let it play nicely with other gadgets, or it can be clipped with a decent friction-grip style pocketclip. It writes adequately well, but its real value lies in reliability to work on practically any surface in any situation.
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A longtime favorite among EDCers, the F-701 is another great value for a durable everyday pen. Its stainless steel body and non-threatening, industrial design ensure it can take some abuse and still go to work. A knurled grip keeps it secure in hand while its clip and retractable tip keep it pocket-friendly. The F-701 really excels, however, after a few DIY modifications — swapping out plastic parts for metal ones and some tinkering here and there gives you an all-metal pen with added Fisher refill compatibility. Admittedly, its writing performance could be smoother and its clip could be a bit beefier. But for the price and some effort, a modded F-701 makes for a great entry-level EDC pen.
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All too often I see permanent markers in pocket dumps with scratched up bodies, faded logos, and worst of all, broken pocket clips. With the Stainless Steel Sharpie, you’ll have an attractive, sturdy marker to withstand daily use. Its solid pocket clip won’t be so prone to snapping, meaning you can always keep it ready in your shirt or pants pocket. Unfortunately for those looking for other colors, this shiny-armored Sharpie marker only accepts black, fine tip refills.
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Zebra’s Sharbo X line of multipens is a multi-tasker’s dream and an excellent option for the student or minimalist EDCer. Its slimmest configuration, the LT3, manages to cram any combination and permutation of up to three components—ballpoint, gel ink, stylus, and mechanical pencil—into a solid brass barrel. The brass’s heft helps make the pen a smooth writer. Unfortunately, its refills are small and expensive for how often they need to be replaced.
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For one of the very best pocket-friendly mechanical pencils on the market, look no further than Rotring’s flagship model, the 800. It’s truly a top-notch writing instrument, with a sophisticated, industrial design and solid, all-metal construction. The 800 stands out in particular for its retractable tip—a must-have protective measure on a mechanical pencil for pocket carry. Few pencils feel as luxurious, commanding, and capable as the Rotring. This writing experience comes at a premium, however, so pencil pushers on a budget might need to look elsewhere.
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Tucked away in the scales of one of Victorinox’s best keychain offerings is a tiny, pressurized ballpoint pen. It sits idly on the sidelines, warming the bench for the other fantastic tools in the Manager’s arguably perfect arsenal, waiting for its time to shine. Humble and patient, the pen implement slides out, only when needed, to jot down a number or to sign a receipt, and stays out of your way otherwise thanks to a clever locking mechanism. The Manager lives up to its name, handling most everyday tasks. It’s my both my favorite keychain SAK and the only keychain pen I’ve found that does its job, even if it does write a bit awkwardly.
BUY NOW ($25)

Fountain pens are usually less than ideal for everyday carry by design: their fragile nibs are often protected by a loose cap, which is easily lost and a hassle to remove when needing to write quickly on the go. But if a smooth, comfortable writing experience is more of a priority than accessibility and reliability in extreme conditions, the Kaweco AL Sport makes for an extra fine EDC fountain pen. Its ability to post the cap both balances the pen when in use and helps prevent it from being lost. An aluminum body helps it stand up to wear and a compact design ensures it doesn’t take up precious real estate in the pocket, which might be the way to go with a pen that only uses a friction grip pocket clip.
BUY NOW ($76) High-res

As technology pushes us towards a paperless world, the pen has become somewhat of an endangered species. For many, it’s still an invaluable tool, and one that’s worthwhile to carry. If you’ve ever had to borrow a pen and are considering adding one to your daily kit, we’ve got you covered in this installment of Carry Smarter. After consulting with fellow EDCer friends and resident pen experts, Ed Jelley and the Pen Addict himself, Brad Dowdy, we present our top ten pens that are truly mightier than the sword.

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Multitools are ounce for ounce the most useful thing you can carry, albeit at somewhat of a compromise. They may never be the best tool for the job, but they’re rarely the wrong one. Recently, the multitool market, once justifiably dominated by Leatherman and Swiss Army Knife tools, has seen much greater diversity with the rise in popularity of one-piece multitools—ultra-compact pieces of metal designed to hang on your keychain with a number of functionalities. In the third installment of Carry Smarter, we list our top picks from both classic multitools and the new wave of one-piece multitools.
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The one-piece multitool trend has not gone unnoticed by the big manufacturers—both Leatherman and Gerber, among others, now sell one-piece tools. Of all the mass-market one-piece tools out there, the Shard stands a cut above the rest. Its simple, functional design features a swift and easy-to-use bottle opener, a decent pry tip, and most notably, a unique 3D Philips screwdriver on its end. Its black coating hardly holds up to everyday wear and tear, but the premature patina is forgivable given the Shard’s price and performance.
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This gem is one of our favorites – we’ve mentioned in another post how much we love it. Few tools are as classy, useful, affordable, and well-made as the Cadet. Victorinox swapped its iconic bright-red cellidor scales in favor of a ribbed aluminum material they call Alox—making the tool not just visually appealing, but also more durable and much thinner. The Cadet’s tool implements are uniformly excellent as expected in a Victorinox knife. Unfortunately, you won’t find scissors or pliers on the Cadet, as it foregoes these implements to achieve a great balance of useful tools and slimness. The Cadet is often found riding shotgun to much more expensive custom knives in a given carry, and understandably so—it’s a real worker that makes any EDC better, regardless of your budget.
BUY NOW ($26)

Released just less than two months ago, the ClipiTool is a strong newcomer to the multitool market. It’s a phenomenal tool—compact, inexpensive, and very easy to use. Being a Spyderco design, it unsurprisingly has wonderful ergonomics with a one-hand opening blade, a pocket clip, and an in-hand feel unmatched by any other multitool available. Its blade is also impressively useful, thanks to its full flat grind. The ClipiTool line offers three variants: blade + scissors, blade + saw, and blade + driver/opener. We prefer the driver/bottle opener configuration best, as it provides more distinct functions instead of merely different methods of cutting.
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Of the myriad of options from Leatherman and SOG for general purpose, medium-duty work, none are better than the Skeletool CX. An inconvenient commonality of multitools is that they’re heavy, bulky, and generally lacking a strong knife implement. The Skeletool CX avoids all of these missteps with its excellent knife, robust drivers, and comfortable design that feels great in-hand and rides lightly in the pocket. Perhaps its only minor shortcomings are that its pliers are stubby and aren’t spring loaded. Nonetheless, the Skeletool represents a huge leap forward in design from Leatherman. The CX is the version to get for its better blade steel alone, as its carbon fiber doesn’t significantly reduce weight. Overall, its great medium-duty tools and fantastic knife implement make it a viable replacement to a dedicated pocket knife in your kit.
BUY NOW ($72)

If the Skeletool doesn’t have enough tools to get the job done, you have a few options—the Victorinox Spirit or Swiss Tool, the Wave, a few SOGs, and the Charge. Natural selection in the marketplace has shown the Wave reigns supreme. Time and time again, companies release tools designed to best the Wave with little success. Even Leatherman’s own feature-packed Charge, meant to improve upon the Wave, falls short. The Wave’s success lies in its compliment of tools—it has everything you could reasonably need and nothing you don’t. Furthermore, its blades can be easily accessed using one hand, without opening the tool. Its pointed pliers are decent, but we feel their lack of a spring-loading mechanism holds the Wave back from truly being heavy-duty perfection.
BUY NOW ($71)

Carabiner-based multitools seem so promising in theory—always hanging around, doing work even when they’re not being used—but they are often disappointing in practice. Although a few carabiners deviate from this trend, none are as awesome as the Carabiner V.3. While it features only a minimum selection of tools, each one is extremely well-executed. An amazing one-piece design outfitted in premium materials, hand-made in small batchces by master craftsman Jens Anso, makes the V.3 easily worth its steep price. 
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Once legendary, Gerber’s quality has declined significantly over the past decade. Compared to the competition, recent Gerber products have suffered from dreadful fit and finish causing multiple major recalls, and exorbitant prices for subpar materials. The Dime, however, is a glimmer of hope for a turnaround to Gerber’s former glory. With its more complete tool complement, the Gerber Dime outclasses the popular Leatherman Squirt as the new reigning champ of the keychain tool market. The Dime was the first keychain tool to feature a useful clam-shell cutter for stubborn retail packaging, setting an example for other keychain tools to follow suit. Its fit and finish varies wildly, but for the price, a good copy of the Dime is a steal.
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In this Internet Age, where a mill and a blog can give rise to a new tool brand, the market has seen a proliferation of one-piece multitools. Peter Atwood is the most famous and his tools are the most sought-after, but the Chopper from TT PockeTTools matches, if not bests the functionality of Atwood’s finest designs. The Chopper is a perfect one-piece multitool—compact, with a great bottle opener and a handy assortment of other implements. The snag edge, just under the pry, is perhaps the best surprise here—enough to tear open a package but not so sharp as to cause concern when stuffed in your pocket. Compared to Atwood’s tools, the Chopper is fairly affordable and reasonably available to purchase (the newest batch will restock in May).
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Multitools are ounce for ounce the most useful thing you can carry, albeit at somewhat of a compromise. They may never be the best tool for the job, but they’re rarely the wrong one. Recently, the multitool market, once justifiably dominated by Leatherman and Swiss Army Knife tools, has seen much greater diversity with the rise in popularity of one-piece multitools—ultra-compact pieces of metal designed to hang on your keychain with a number of functionalities. In the third installment of Carry Smarter, we list our top picks from both classic multitools and the new wave of one-piece multitools.

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The Best EDC Flashlights
Compared to knives, people have only recently started carrying flashlights on a daily basis. In the past, carry options were limited to giant, dim Maglites or plastic Energizer torches. Since then, innovation in LED, battery, and optical technology brought a new generation of lights that outshine their predecessors. These brighter, smaller, and more useful modern lights are worth including in your EDC. In the second installment of Carry Smarter, we recommend our favorite lights to carry with you.
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When buying an EDC light, there are many features and technical nuances to consider. If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, choosing your EDC light can be daunting. Some features are straightforward, such as a pocket clip, battery type, or output. Keep in mind that while there are plenty of great lights that take common AA and AAA batteries, the best of them will require lithium ion or rechargeable cells. Also, there’s more to a light than how bright it is – generally, anything with more than 100 lumens will be sufficient, and anything over 400 is overkill. Runtime, beam and tint quality, and a good user interface are just as important as brightness, if not more so. Lastly, some terms worth explaining – CRI refers to a light’s ability to preserve colors accurately (think of how your skin looks under a fluorescent bulb versus sunlight), and tailstanding refers to a light’s ability to stand vertically to act like a candle in an emergency situation by bouncing its beam off of a ceiling for diffuse illumination. With that said, let’s take a look at our favorite lights to EDC.

This is the entry level for modern flashlights. Compared to an old Maglite, it’s a revelation – two to three times brighter than the MiniMag on a single AA battery. While it uses a twist, twist-again UI, its modes are well-spaced and fortunately start on low to preserve night vision. The clip is an excellent bolt-on clip, which is unusual at this price point. Most inexpensive lights have flimsy clips that clamp using friction and simply don’t stay in place. Finally, this light tailstands well. A light of this size and price isn’t without drawbacks – on high, it puts out a meager 70 lumens with an overly bluish tint.
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This tiny jewel truly demonstrates just how far flashlight technology has progressed. It’s only the size of a AA battery, but ten times brighter than the colossal, common 2D Maglite. It not only has a screaming high output, but it also has a beautiful medium mode and a perfect, moonlight low. You’d be surprised just how often its dimmest setting is more than enough to get the job done. No light is a better showcase of flashlight technology than the HF-R. It’s called “Holy Flashlight” for a reason.
BUY NOW ($88)

No flashlight manufacturer stays on the cutting edge of LED technology like FourSevens does. The super compact Atom AL is one of the most affordable lights on the market to use a staged twisty UI – one that accesses output modes by continuously twisting the head of the light in one direction, without needing to toggle on and off to change modes. If you’ve been turned off by hassling with complicated UIs, using the Atom AL will spoil you – it’s amazingly easy to use. The light is also compatible with a headstrap for hands-free work (or if tremendous dork is more your style).
BUY NOW ($35)


While the diminutive D2 comes in at only 1.5” long and 0.5” in diameter, its ability to reach a 100 lumen high is no small feat. In addition to its impressively compact design, the D2 is unique in that it operates using a quantum tunneling composite (QTC) UI. The QTC material in the light varies its conductivity with applied pressure – in the absence of pressure (twisted off), the material acts as an insulator and the light stays off. Twisting the light compresses the material, increasing its conductivity to produce infinitely variable output. Although QTC lights can be inconsistent when dialing in a desired output, the well-machined fine threading on the D2 mitigates jumps in brightness levels and allows for more a more stable, precise output.
BUY NOW ($48)

Much like the smooth, heavy knobs of quality, vintage audio gear, the HDS Rotary’s selector ring provides a classy, silken feel and very intuitive user interface. Using the ring, you can seamlessly dial into one of 17 separate outputs, as the jump from one brightness level to another is so subtle, it’s virtually unnoticeable. Additionally, you can select brightness and then turn on the light – allowing for convenient, direct access to your desired output without the hassle of cycling through modes and ruining your night vision. The Rotary’s stroke of genius that sets it apart from the many selector ring click lights on the market is its design. Putting the click button and selector ring in such close proximity allows for one-hand operation. Add to this a 200 lumen output, immaculate fit and finish, and a build quality so robust it turns tanks green with envy, and you have one of the most praised lights ever made. As such, they aren’t easy to come by.
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Jason Hui of Prometheus Lights is no stranger to making quality lights, with his full-sized, custom Alpha flashlights under his belt. The Beta-QR is Hui’s sophomore effort – a smaller, more mainstream production light that maintains the look and feel of a custom light. Fortunately, it isn’t as expensive as its luxurious design would suggest. Its unique list of features starts with an ingenious quick-release method of connecting to a keychain. Above all, it boasts a beautiful and uncommon Nichia 219 emitter, producing beautifully accurate light with a CRI of 93 out of 100.
BUY NOW ($55)

Even for the discerning flashlight enthusiast, the McGizmo Haiku needs to be experienced to understand why it costs a hefty $500. Simply put, there is no flashlight in the world that can fit in your pocket and do things as well as the Haiku can. It can be fitted with a high CRI emitter and operates via a fantastic clicky UI. It’s supernally beautiful and incredibly well made. And yet, the Haiku’s success lies in its reflector – it’s been tweaked and redesigned until it reached an unparalleled usefulness, able to balance the light’s smooth, flawless beam between flood and throw better than anything else on the market. Even though it has a maximum of only 140 lumens, you’ll reach for the Haiku first and frequently for lighting tasks. $500 for a flashlight is quite an investment, but if you need the best, the Haiku delivers.
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One of the best lights in the world regardless of price, the SC52 can do it all. It has the versatility to reach over 250 lumens on a single alkaline AA battery or an utterly amazing 0.01 lumen low for a three-month long runtime. Zebralight has worked extensively and almost exclusively with AA battery lights. While other manufacturers relied on the newest LED or most powerful battery on the market, Zebralight focused on efficient circuitry for the common AA. The result of their efforts is absolute mastery of the battery like no other, giving us a light with runtimes and outputs that lap the competition.
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The Best EDC Flashlights

Compared to knives, people have only recently started carrying flashlights on a daily basis. In the past, carry options were limited to giant, dim Maglites or plastic Energizer torches. Since then, innovation in LED, battery, and optical technology brought a new generation of lights that outshine their predecessors. These brighter, smaller, and more useful modern lights are worth including in your EDC. In the second installment of Carry Smarter, we recommend our favorite lights to carry with you.

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A symbol of preparedness, the pocket knife is widely regarded as a staple of everyday carry (EDC) gear. A knife is like a truck – just having one expands the kinds of things you can get done. Most EDCers will use a knife for general utility: opening packages, cutting thread, or mild food preparation. A 3” blade and most types of locks will be sufficient to perform these tasks. Choosing the right EDC knife and budgeting a purchase can be daunting. We’ll save you the headache of the trial-and-error process of the upgrade treadmill and present our favorite EDC knives under $350 in the first installment of Carry Smarter.

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Despite ZDP-189 being one of the most technically advanced steels on the market, the Spyderco Dragonfly II manages to stay fantastically affordable at under $75. Its steel boasts remarkable hardness, able to cut down inch-thick cardboard boxes with ease, as well as incredible edge-retention, keeping hair-popping sharpness even after heavy use. It features a full flat grind blade, making it perfect for slicing, and its blade shape (the classic Spyderco leaf-shape) is wonderful for a wide variety of tasks. As a food prep blade, the size is a little small, but as a slicer, it is unrivaled.
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A graceful beast of a knife, the ZT0560 might be too big for most EDC kits. However, it uses one of the best opening systems in the world—a flipper that rides on miniature ball bearings to keep the pivot smooth and tight. Once you overcome its detent, the blade unleashes with almost poetic fluidity. Although admittedly too big for office carry, the 3.75 inches can melt away when used outdoors on the trail or up a mountain, leaving you with a knife so incredible that it set the bar for large batch production blades upon its release. Three hours of machining goes into the handle scales alone. Despite its bulk, it’s a worthy purchase at around $200.
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The Benchmade Mini Griptilian 555HG is like so many Yankees teams of old – formed from all the best parts available, regardless of origin. Its AXIS lock is quite good, especially for EDC, as it’s both stable and fully ambidextrous. Additionally, you can open and close the knife one-handed via ambidextrous thumb-holes (one of our favorite ways of deploying a blade) while keeping your fingers clear of the blade path. Finally, the knife features a very competent hollow ground sheepsfoot blade with 154CM steel. Its resin handle is comfortable in hand, but some may find it feels a bit insubstantial. At under $100, it’s a great all-around EDC knife.
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If you want a flipper-opening knife but don’t want to break the bank, start here. The Skyline’s innovative design (“flipper” opening mechanism and only one liner between its scales) makes it uber pocket-friendly – as light and slim as you can find on a knife this size. The steel, Sandvik’s awesome nitrogen 14C28N, is one of the best values on the market, packing corrosion resistance, edge retention, and toughness properties of steel two to three times its price. It also comes in about a dozen different finishes to fit your style (we think the blackwash blade looks cool and hides wear doing so). Very few knives are as good a buy as the Skyline at just $35.
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San Ren Mu, an experienced subcontractor for many big knife companies, shows their knife-making know-how in their execution of the 605. It’s a cheap gem, but it has everything you really need in a knife. Its classic drop point, full flat ground blade is small but sufficient for most everyday tasks, featuring a great entry-level 8Cr13MoV steel. However, because of its $10 price tag, the 605’s fit and finish can be a bit spotty. If you snag a good copy, rejoice. The better examples of the 605 are easily worth more than a single Alexander Hamilton and represent one of the best buys in the gear world.
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The Strider PT CC is the master class in grip design, with smooth, convex handle scales, and an excellent forward choil for superior control. There is virtually nothing that the Strider handle does poorly. It seems a bit primitive, but in reality you’ll have both the precision of a surgeon and the grip of a grappler, all in one handle. The lack of a pocket clip is disappointing, but a lanyard can make the knife easy to retrieve. An excellent all-around performer with superb fit, finish, and ergonomics, the PT CC won’t come cheap, however.
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There is more fervent, frothing praise of the Sebenza than any other blade out there. And every single bit of it is well deserved. Often the benchmark for knives of any price, the Sebenza is an understated marvel of design as well as one impressive work tool (“sebenza” means “work” in Zulu, after all). One reason for the lavish praise is its perfect blade—a clean drop-point with one hell of a hollow grind. The blade’s thick enough to do real work and ground so perfectly that it slices like machines at the deli counter. Newer models come with a well-performing S35VN steel, especially when implemented by a knifemaker like Chris Reeve. Coming in at the upper end of our price range, the Sebenza 21 starts at $350 – a bargain in the opinion of many knife enthusiasts.
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Pump up the banjo music, and grab a stick for whittlin’ because A. G. Russell’s Barlow is one of the best traditional knives available. The Barlow design, including its defining extra-long bolster, was implemented out of necessity at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to deliver an affordable, good-quality, mass-produced knife. Comfortable in the hand, this Chinese-made Barlow runs 8Cr13MoV steel, which sharpens easily, but conversely doesn’t hold an edge for long. The French cut, or long groove along the top of the blade, allows for easy, one-handed opening while retaining traditional aesthetics. You can enjoy brilliant innovation in a form more than 200 years old for under $50.
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So you want a cool looking knife? Enter the CRKT Swindle. The Swindle is a design from Ken Onion, and it echoes the lines of the classic traditional knife, the Swayback Jack. With its upswept handle and wharncliffe blade, the Swindle effectively mimics the Swayback Jack while also bringing cutting edge features to the table. Firstly, it deploys via no ordinary flipper, riding on extra smooth IKBS bearings. Its spring-mounted pocket clip rides along the spine, helping the knife disappear into your pocket in addition to keeping the handle clear of any obstructions. All in all, this package is one of the most striking knives on the market from one of the business’s best designers. And at just under $40, the price ain’t bad either.
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A symbol of preparedness, the pocket knife is widely regarded as a staple of everyday carry (EDC) gear. A knife is like a truck – just having one expands the kinds of things you can get done. Most EDCers will use a knife for general utility: opening packages, cutting thread, or mild food preparation. A 3” blade and most types of locks will be sufficient to perform these tasks. Choosing the right EDC knife and budgeting a purchase can be daunting. We’ll save you the headache of the trial-and-error process of the upgrade treadmill and present our favorite EDC knives under $350 in the first installment of Carry Smarter.

Read more