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Illustration for article titled The Never-Ending Quest To Shrink My Everyday Carry

Photo: Whitson Gordon

Top Product: Samsung Galaxy S10e | $359 | Back Market

I’m fascinated by the Everyday Carry (EDC) community, showing off the useful tools they use to get through the day. But I feel like I have the opposite goal: to carry as few things with me in my pockets as humanly possible. As a result, I’ve come up with a slightly different strategy: My everyday carry is extremely small, with everything else I need strategically placed around my house and car—sometimes in multiples—so that I have access to it when I need it without actually carrying it on my person.

The Stuff I Carry Every Day

I only carry four things in my pocket: my phone, my wallet, my (necessities-only) keychain, and a box cutter for the myriad of shipments that come to my door. (Working in product reviews is a blessing and a curse.)

My phone is a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S10e I got for a very reasonable price off Back Market—nothing too interesting about that, except its now-basically-extinct headphone jack.

I occasionally pop a slim case on it, but usually I like to live dangerously (and it’s only then that I inevitably drop my phone on the pavement, so do as I say, not as I do).

Everything else I try to keep as small as possible. I keep my ID, debit card, and a single credit card in the Ridge Wallet, an aluminum wallet that is literally the same size as the cards themselves—which makes it noticeably smaller than even the slimmest leather wallets. All other cards live in my car (restaurant gift cards, for example), my phone (my health insurance card), or my desk (my business credit card that doesn’t see much use in brick-and-mortar stores). The Ridge Wallet is a bit pricey, but if you’re on a strict budget, there are plenty of knockoffs out there of varying levels of polish. This one, for example, works well but has a bit of a nails-on-a-chalkboard sound when you pull cards in and out, as opposed to the smooth glide of the Ridge.

You could, if you wanted to, combine all of the above with a wallet case for your phone, too.

My keys are … well, they’re keys, though I mostly only keep a house key and a few miscellaneous keys for stuff inside my house—plus a YubiKey for two-factor authentication. I used to think these were unnecessary, but after realizing how much faster they are than looking up a code on my phone, I keep one on my keychain for easy access all day long. If you have more modern devices, there’s also a USB-C/Lightning version that should cover everything you need. Noticeably absent from my keys are my car keys—I’ll get to that later.

Finally, while tactical knives are incredibly popular among EDC-ers, I went a bit less survivalist and stuck with a small, fold-up box cutter from Gerber. I’ve sung the praises of the Gerber EAB before, but suffice to say it does exactly the job it was meant to do without taking up much space in my pocket. Once you’ve opened enough Amazon boxes to dull the blade, pop in a new one and be on your way—the standard EAB is the smallest, but the EAB Lite offers a slightly bigger form factor with slightly lighter weight. Either will work beautifully, I own both and barely notice the difference between them.

Oh, and I guess people often include watches in their EDC posts, but it exists in this weird space between clothing and tool, so I don’t think of it as part of the kit—if it isn’t in my pocket, I don’t lump it in with EDC. But for those curious, the Orient Ray is my personal favorite watch. It’s decidedly low-tech (for a guy who writes about tech), but it’s easily one of the best automatic watches you can get for the price, with a hand-winding and hacking movement, 40-hour power reserve, and 200-meter water resistance. I’ll evangelize this watch until I’m blue in the face, but if you’re on a budget, Casio has plenty of robust alternatives at cheaper prices.

The Stuff That Lives Elsewhere

Illustration for article titled The Never-Ending Quest To Shrink My Everyday Carry

Photo: Whitson Gordon

These are far from the only items I find myself needing throughout the day, but everything else is non-essential, and can be stashed in optimal locations for grabbing on my way out the door. My car keys, for example, live on a magnetic key holder next to the door leading into the garage. That way, I keep my useful keys on my person while the car’s bulky fob only takes up space when I’m actually driving.

The same goes for my many pairs of cheap sunglasses, earbuds, mask and hand sanitizer, pens, and everything else I might need.

In fact, for most of these things, I buy cheap multiples so I can stash them all over—I have a pair of non-isolating earbuds in my car, for example, when I’m out and about, as a companion to my nicer Bose SoundSport Wireless I use at home. My personal favorite face mask is the Wake Up & Fight Mask from Hedley & Bennett, which come in convenient 3-packs you can spread out wherever you might need them. Before I started carrying the YubiKey and Gerber EAB with me everywhere, I had a few of those stashed around too for quick access.

I say all this not because I think everyone should carry the exact same stuff as me—we all lead different lives with different needs (although I will personally vouch for each and every thing on this list). Instead, I’m only trying to point out how much you can slim down those pockets with the right approach—and the right tiny gear. If your pockets are feeling a bit heavy, hopefully some of these tricks can help. Meanwhile, I’ll just wait for the rest of the world to adopt contactless payments so I can ditch my wallet for good.

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