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Convenience v. Survival v. Defense

Discussion in 'Where, When, & How Do We Carry All This Stuff?' started by Rawls, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. Rawls

    Rawls Loaded Pockets

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    Why do you carry the things you carry?

    If you look through the threads and pictures, most of the time you can figure out which of these three concerns motivates people to carry what they do.

    Having carried stuff my entire life, or at least since I was 8 and got my first SAK, I have ranged from one of these three motivations to the other at various times, but I have realized a few things.

    First, survival is not a viable reason for many people. Most of us live in areas where the best chance of survival is calling 911. It is fine to be prepared, but carrying around bandages is not going to do you any good without the requisite skill and training needed to use them. Additionally, a true survival kit is larger than most of us can carry without the aid of a pack. A small firestarter kit, some cotton balls, and a few safety pins is not a survival kit. It is a grown up blankie. It will not save you, if that is all you have, in a blizzard or in the wilderness. So survival, I have figured out, is not the reason why I carry stuff. Can't be. I do have a separate pack with enough stuff but I don't carry that on my back all the time.

    Second, defense. Again, you need training, which I do not have. Additionally, my job has shown me that most of the time there is no better defense than a gun. A knife is okay, but most of the time, in a knife fight both people get injured (knife cases are surprisingly common). It is just as silly as the cotton balls kit to think that a five inch stick or a bezeled flashlight or a metal pen is viable defense. In the vast majority of situations requiring defense, the reach necessary to employ these things is not there because of the other people having a superior weapon, or most often, because the person is taken by surprise. Finally, keeping your wits about you and not doing stupid things, is usually your very best defense.

    All this leads me to this: my EDC is about convenience. That is why I don't carry a lot or need a lot. I am never going to carry a knife with a blade longer than 3 inches. It is silly. I am never going to rely on a metal pen to save my life.

    This realization has allowed me to get rid of the "hobo" look and bring some realism and convenience to what I carry.

    What about you? Why do you carry what you do? Is there another reason other than those three?
     
  2. ssmtbracer

    ssmtbracer EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Well put I myself carry for convenience and SD. I carry a Glock 26 and a SAK classic and a photon micro light on my keys and seem to be just fine with that stuff I don't like to carry a lot of stuff on me. The glock weighs me down enough without all the other stuff. And in any kind of situation that comes up I am sure most of us here can figure out a soulution. Like if some one pulls a knife on me even if I was carrying a sword I would still go for my Glock. I would like to stay as far away as possible from an attacker.
     
  3. solocanoe

    solocanoe Empty Pockets

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    your post seems a bit argumentary, but I'll hope it's meant in the spirit of just getting people to self- evaluate.

    IF THEN, like me, they determine to carry all they want- all that makes them feel comfortable...I personally am happy for them. For some folks, that's a little...for some it's a lot....but whatever the amount of carry they prefer....it's personal.
    This forum is wonderful for learning - that's why I proudly support it with real dollars. It's a great place to learn and share.

    Thankfully, I am able to legally carry a gun, back up gun, and knives as I see fit.
    I love my EDC backpack as well...carry it everywhere and don't think a thing of it.

    It gives me great comfort to be able to carry what I would need to help me get thru any situation.
    I've never once considered it a "hobo look", and it means I'm OK if I can't get home to my BOB.

    Because I may need to live out this bag...a survival knife is inside. It's not for SD, that's for the Izula or Hest on my belt, which is only part of the layers of SD I carry....but I don't consider it silly to carry the larger knife.

    you are correct, of course, in stating your mind is your best weapon...but an open mind - always learning - seems better.
     
  4. hovaczech

    hovaczech Loaded Pockets

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    First off, I must compliment you on your clear and well thought out post. Everything you say is well thought out and makes very good sense. Concise if I had to use one word.

    MY EDC - I carry a phone for work and personal communication. A BRKT mini-Canadian (2.25" blade I believe), a fisher space pen and a maratac copper AAA flashlight in a pocket sheath. All of these fall into your third category. Convenience and work related uses are the primary reasons for my small EDC list. I imagine in self defense or survival situation they might help to an extent but I agree without training and other gear they do not give you a definitive edge.

    I do keep a B.O.B. in the trunk of my car but it is truly geared more toward either being witness to an accident and being able to offer assistance and the odd winter off road experience. Not a base pack for survival in a natural, biological, nuclear or undead disaster. First aid and temporary comfort would be the main things it would allow me to provide.

    The only other category you might add to your list is the ultra important cool factor. It seems alot of us buy these things because of the tacti-cool image it presents and just the neatness of the items. Guilty as charged! My maratac copper falls into this category, functional yet I bought the copper for appearances sake. MY BRKT maybe also. Paid a little more for spalted maple handles. Doesn't add functionality but does look good. The knife itself is probably the best knife I have ever owned. It gets abused daily and hits the leather at night and is good to go.
     
  5. saniterra

    saniterra Loaded Pockets

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    I generally agree with the points in your post. The concept of using a knife, or a gun for that matter, for self defense without some sort of training or expertise in their use is, at worst, self-deception and, at best, a pacifier. However, when backed into a corner from which you cannot escape, a weapon of some kind - any kind - can defuse a situation by indicating that you will not go down easily or be the only one hurt in the confrontation. That alone may save you in some situations. If it saves you once, it's worth the effort to carry a self defense tool, no matter what your level of expertise in its use may be.
     
  6. Rawls

    Rawls Loaded Pockets

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    Yes, I was purposely argumentative in the post to generate discussion and reflection, hopefully.

    As for survival and self defense modes, I think they are perfectly viable reasons for EDCing stuff, but you should always be realistic and purpose driven. A survival set up is probably not that necessary in downtown NYC unless you are unfortunate enough to be homeless. A self defense set up is probably silly in a large, upscale urban mall (see: mall ninja).

    I just had this realization a few months ago--I do this for convenience. And since then I have paired down to a few items.
     
  7. eeph

    eeph Empty Pockets

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  8. WillCAD

    WillCAD Loaded Pockets

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    My EDC has always been about convenience, and never about survival or self-defence.

    What I carry and why

    What I EDC is all about what I actually use on a daily basis. It's not "just-in-case" stuff, it's "yeah, I use it all the time" stuff. I EDC a knife and multitool, a large flashlight and several keychain lights, a watch with alarms and stopwatch (fob style, not on wrist), a smartphone (iPhone 3Gs), a bluetooth headset, nail clippers, a pocket organizer with a bunch of stuff in it (more on that later), and keys, cash, and wallet, like most folks. In the aforementioned pocket organizer, I carry several meds that I use on a daily or regular basis - ibuprofin, 2 allergy/sinus meds (Bennedryl and Zyrtec-D), Immodium AD (don't use it often but when I need it, I need it IMMEDIATELY), Prilosec OTC, a few chewable Pepto tabs, and a roll of Roll-Aids. Other compartments hold a Chapstick, a small disposable pack of hydrocortizone, a few safety pins, and a tiny USB flash drive. In my wallet I also carry - no not what you're thinking - a credit-card size Fresnel lens.

    When I go out during the day I typically add a pair of sunglasses on a neck cord to the mix. In the cold weather, when I wear a jacket, I add a pair of gloves, and keep the sunglasses in the jacket pocket instead of on the cord. I also tend to have a few extra keychain lights and a large S-biner in the jacket pockets, and often an inhaler for my asthma.

    What I don't carry, and why not

    I live in the suburbs of a major city - Baltimore - and rarely venture into wilderness areas, so I have absolutely no need of gear for fire making, hunting, fishing, trapping, or shelter building

    I am unlikely to be out of range of professional medical help, even when on the road, so I have no need of major wound care items or anything beyond basic first-aid gear that will tide me over till the paramedics come.

    I practice a method of self-defence I like to call Situational Awareness and Avoidance. It's simple - be aware of where you are and what's around you at all times, and avoid those situations most likely to present risk of crime. In other words, stay out of high-crime neighborhoods, stick to places with lots of people, avoid parking in isolated spots, and pay attention to where you're going and what's around you. I don't walk around with headphones jammed into my ears all the time, because acoustic isolation, besides making me uncomfortable, would make me less aware of what's around me. I don't walk around with my eyes glued to a book or my iPhone screen, because tunnel vision, besides making me trip over stuff and possibly get hurt, would also make me less aware of what's around me. Because of all of these things, I've never felt the need to EDC a firearm, and although I EDC a knife and a fairly solid aluminum flashlight, I don't do so for the purpose of self-defence.
     
  9. Chocula

    Chocula Loaded Pockets

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    Months ago I started a thread in a similar vein--I suspected that most people carry things out of fear rather than pure utility. I had noticed that much of my edc was fear based (self defense and survival). Even the things I packed for "convenience" were out of a fear that I would need it and would have to walk home or across a building to get it (such as backup/spare items, SAK's, FAK's etc).

    For example, you may not use or need your credit cards or drivers license or computer daily, but you still carry it. I claimed it was out of fear, others claimed utility, and in general it turned into an argument of semantics. I still think most of us here are a little paranoid, but depending on your definition of good and bad, it may be a good thing.

    In response to the OP, I carry out of convenience and fear.
     
  10. eeph

    eeph Empty Pockets

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    Fear is an emotion. It's perfectly possible make preparations against an undesirable event without being in fear of it. I wear a seatbelt whenever I'm in a car, but I'm not in fear of crashing (usually).

    Many of the items I carry might be useful in an emergency as well as (less critically) on a day-to-day basis, but I don't think I'm particularly fearful.
     
  11. Eagle Scout
    • In Omnia Paratus

    Eagle Scout Loaded Pockets

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    Great thread Rawls. Have always enjoyed reading your posts and this one's no exception.

    I would add "Get Home" and "Problem Solve" to Convenience, Survival, and Defense. Not expecting to defeat the undead or survive armageddon with the humble contents of a Versipack. I am however carrying the items I believe necessary to get home on foot rural or urban in 2-3 days. That's worse case - "Get Home."

    The "Problem Solve" aspect of my EDC is centered around self sufficiency and is more an everyday thing. It puts the tools and materials in hand quickly to mend, adjust, or improve the situation while I'm out there.
     
  12. Rawls

    Rawls Loaded Pockets

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    Though it is not a REASON to carry something, appreciation of design/craftsmanship aka "cool factor" is a reason to choose one thing over another. There is something about a great knife or light that is fun to handle.
     
  13. eme714

    eme714 Loaded Pockets

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    I started out with Fear/Survival tried to rationalize by saying Self-Defense, but now after experience I realized none of those were practical. I still carry a lot but it's pure convenience not fear. I still keep an extended edc/GHB in my truck. I now carry a preon 2 instead of a bezeled tacticool light. I am carrying a 3" blade instead of a 4" self defense. I now carry a juice s2 for convenience instead of my charge tti for "survival/just in case".
     
  14. Gorbag

    Gorbag Loaded Pockets

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    So what are people to do when they live or work in areas where carrying a gun isn't an option? Not have anything? I'm not trying to be a doo doo head here, as I'm in agreement with many of the points raised here, but if you can't carry a gun, and don't want to be a victim, there are tools to fill the gap.

    And even when keeping and carrying a gun, training is still necessary. Being able to punch holes in a piece of paper doesn't teach tactics and techniques, it just makes you a good bulls-eye shooter. Training and learning is necessary for all tasks.
     
  15. Valerian

    Valerian Tea-powered admin

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    I agree on the survival issue. I live and mostly stay in urban environment, where "survival" consist of avoiding cars. Well, with our current, unusually hot weather, it also means avoiding heat stroke, so I do actually carry a hat and a water bottle for survival reasons. But that is not normally the case, and perhaps I'm stretching the definition of survival a bit far.

    But like others suggested, I do think a fourth category might be necessary. There are often reasons to carry some things "just because", be it fun, cool, decoration, novelty of whatever. Not just a "might need", but something you know full well you probably won't ever need, but carry it anyway, perhaps just because you simply like it. A patch on your bag, a mini grappling hook, keychain fob, good luck charm... Since it means willingly carrying something extra, let's call it "inconvenience" :)
     
  16. Rawls

    Rawls Loaded Pockets

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    I don't know what to tell you if carrying a gun is not an option. But thinking that a 6" stick on your keychain, even with training, is going to save your life is silly 99.9% of the time. If they were so effective why don't the police, military, and in fact, the bad guys (whoever they are) use them and carry them regularly? Pepper spray and a taser seem to be effective, in my experience in the US criminal justice system (admittedly I am a lawyer, so none of this is first hand, but I do get a good seat to the action after the fact). I guess the point is not their effectiveness, but the way that these "defense" items delude their owners. You are no more safe with a bezeled flashlight than you would be with a regular flashlight the VAST majority of the time. The chance that your MIL SPEC pen wards off an attacker or saves your life is about the same as that pen being used to sign a peace treaty between the Hatfields and the McCoys. Carry them if you want, but realize that they are providing you with a false sense of security most of the time.

    I honestly believe that the best way to stay safe is to avoid problems and don't do stupid things. I know that this does not fit in with the gear obsessed theme of the forum, but really this is the best strategy. That, and carry a cellphone.

    I agree with you to a certain extent about the gun issue, but really guns are so effective because they can be used well even with little training or strength. To use them in a maximally efficient way requires training, but a gun without training is vastly more effective than a 6" stick on your keychain without training. Again, that is why the pros get them and use them. Think of it like this: in a home defense situation, just about anyone can win an encounter with an unarmed person when they are armed with a shotgun. Sure there are things that can go wrong and sure training would help, but in the cramped confines of most people's houses a shotgun really levels the playing field between a 250 pound unarmed intruder and a 110 pound home owner.
     
  17. seeker_two

    seeker_two Loaded Pockets

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    Pondering the question...I'd have to say that what I carry is there in order to "get to" the next, better thing. My pocket/cell pouch EDC (band-aids, pill fob, LM Squirt, pocket lights, Kershaw Leek, fire starter, etc.) is enough for me to "get to" my vehicle, where I have bigger, better stuff. My vehicle load-out has enough for me to "get to" my house....my house has enough for me to "get to" a hospital and/or emergency shelter....etc. I know I can't amass everthing I could possibly need for every situation....but I try to keep enough to last until I "get to" help....
     
  18. solocanoe

    solocanoe Empty Pockets

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    On a lark this summer I have set my kids upon a mission.
    Find ANY of their friends or their parents, anyone over 12 that doesn't have a cell phone.
    I bet 'em $100 (it's taped to a cabinet door)...

    been a couple months...the $$ is still there!
    did it to show them several things - how much the world has changed since we were kids, how important contact is, how small the world has gotten, etc, etc, etc,...

    on a related note...we just cut off our home phone...I griped about it for years...all we got were telemarketing calls...or stupid election calls...we tracked the bills for 6 months...not ONE person in our lives called our home phone. it's a different world.
     
  19. WillCAD

    WillCAD Loaded Pockets

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    I've known a lot of people who have done that, and not missed the land line at all. I hardly use mine anymore, either. But I haven't yet gotten rid of it, because the E-911 system that many urban areas have allows a 911 operator to trace your location in an emergency, whereas a cell phone can only narrow it down to a particular cell tower, which can be a huge area. Admittedly, this is more of a "just in case" thing than anything I EDC, but considering the importance, I don't mind.

    Besides, the EDC mantra of "Two is one and one is none" applies in my situation; I live alone, so I only have one cell phone. I like having the land line as a backup, not just for emergencies, but for routine phone outages due to weather, power outages, system failures, etc.
     
  20. comando293

    comando293 Loaded Pockets

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    To answer the op;

    My EDC does three things. First, it make my life convenient. Phone, lighter, and tools (including knife) get used every day. It would be inconvenient to not have these items with me at all times. Second, it provides peace of mind/mental comfort. Phone, knife (in defense mode), flashlight, car key, and my two feet all provide some defense/escape/intimidation that makes me feel better. The last is entertainment. I get bored easily, and its nice to have such items as weed/rolling papers, computer, phone, iPod, etc.

    I do have a basic first aid kit, a firesteel, etc, but I think those fall under peace of mind. I know my FAK won't stop major bleeding or a sucking chest wound, but the band aids will make my baby sister feel better. That means I should carry them.