This is a long one, even for me A world of temptation I’ve been doing some thinking about EDC in a more a rational context lately. I obviously care about what I carry and I like well made gear, that's much of why we're here. The thing that got me started on this string of thought is the irrational value we put on scarcity. I know we all have different motivations for what we buy and carry, and I'll touch more on that, but altogether, there is an unreasonable demand for irreplaceable tools. Where's the logic in that? It seems like the boundaries between avid collectors and carried away users are blurring and I'm not sure everyone in the latter category are aware of the implications og have have given them significant thought. In short; spending an endless amount of time online to stay on top of the game and maybe catch an expensive, super limited "tool" because it's more effective or better in any way, creates a cognitive dissonance. If it's a repeating pattern, the upside is even less obvious. This post, for anybody who bothers to read a wall of text these days, is not an attempt to point fingers at anyone, I'm in no position to do that. It's merely a counterweight to all the temptations we as consumers are confronted with. Reasonable boundaries I do understand that the EDC umbrella thighs together people with lots of different perspectives on gear acquisition. We are not all here to achieve the ultimate nirvana of self reliance. Collecting can be a meaningful hobby, as it is for many on here, but it’s not the responsibility of every person to be a curator of everything EDC. If you’re not a true collector at heart, just acknowledge that, save the money and learn to enjoy the work of a true collector, dedicated to his area of expertise and interest. Publishing pictures and history and background relating to their collections. The same can be the case if you’re in it for the jewelry aspect. EDC items are great jewelry pieces, they can often reflect your personality and values better than conventional jewelry, and there’s a useful side to it as well. But it’s important to be deliberate about this too. There is no limit to how much can be spent on these items, so know your own limitations. And don’t get carried away by what others do. Find out what you need to be happy, and don’t buy anything to keep up with- or impress others. Buying stuff is not a skill nor a virtue, so don’t let the buying itself become your hobby. If you get restless or disappointed when there are no active entries in your mail tracking application, something might not be as it ought to be. We can all slip Reflecting on my own behavior in recent years, I realize I have a somewhat split personality. Maybe in more ways than I’ll go into here, but how that relates to EDC is the opposing forces of fundamentally being a reasonably pragmatic and resource conscious person, while at the same time being easily intrigued by (apparently) well made things. Especially if they are fundamentally useful and I somehow feel that the items project a more or a less fulfilled part of my personality. I’m aware of both forces, so I thought I had everything under control. Then again, it’s a slow process, so maybe it slipped under the radar, or maybe I let it happen under some misjudged justification. It’s not really important which one it is. The fact is I, and probably a whole lot of other people who consider our selves users, will benefit from keeping our acquisitions more in tune with reality. Stuffication Taking a step back and examining our spending habits, it’s pretty amazing how irrational it comes across. In both ends of the spectrum. Any item with limited availability trips a red flag with me these days. Some of them used to get me excited, but I was generally too late to the show anyhow, and as of lately I've generally lost interest. In most cases, limited availability or artificial scarcity will affect my willingness to use it as a proper tool. I can go expensive to a certain point, but I will avoid limited products like the plague (with very few exceptions). Yet, what I see everyday, is people going crazy over sprint runs, limited editions, drops of custom made pry bars and bottle openers. It’s insane. Sacrificing a horrific amount of their free time, family time or working hours just to have a shot at getting in on their next fix. Not to mention the money involved. Often times ending up with safe queens that never see any real use. In the other end of the spectrum we find all the things we buy without even wanting them or needing them in the first place. There is no deliberate process initiating the acquisition. It’s on sale, there’s two for one, the value is through the roof - you almost can’t afford not to buy it. Right? Well, maybe not. A lot of just in case items get justified for the wrong reasons. Again, I don’t want to step on anybody's toes. I only realize where this can go, because I was approaching the deep end of the pool myself. And any one person might have a perfectly meaningful reason to acquire some of these items. It is my impression though, that many do not. Buying patterns evolve I’ve been into EDC more or less four years now, and like most of us, I’ve gone through different phases. The initial phase of not knowing anything, desperately researching every corner of the internet, looking for information. So eager to find the just the right tool and pull the trigger. Thinking you found it. Digging it for 15 minutes and then realize, maybe it wasn’t exactly right anyway. There’s different reasons this happens; unreasonable expectations fueled by a product being too hyped, insufficient research or a misalignment between the adventurous needs we project in our minds and the actual needs produced by our super predictable, mundane and overly protected lives. These mistakes are pretty much unavoidable in the beginning, and it’s better to just consider it an educational expense. But it’s important to learn from it and not fall into a habit of hoarding in the never ending chase for the perfect tool. While most of us get better at knowing what we need and what we like, something else happen to quite a few of us. We become sophisticated. Maybe it’s conscious sophistication and maybe it’s not. As you gain experience you want to prove your membership in the knowledgable group by getter better things, so you can advertise to the world around you that you’re no longer in the noob group. It’s a natural thing. Sophistication isn’t inherently bad. I appreciate quality, I respect IPR and I’m willing to pay for it, I want fair working conditions and sustainable production. Once you gained enough knowledge about these things, you can make deliberate choices. That’s actually good, but where does it end? At a certain point the sophistication bites you in the tail. Blurred lines The concept of EDC is great, the community is great and there are lots of really creative makers that genuinely wants to give us the best product they can reasonably make. And coincidentally we often want to support these makers. I’ve seen many examples to suggest that it actually is a genuinely good community with good people, and this has a value in it self. Being part of something can have a therapeutic effect, but this blurring of boundaries between supplier, maker, friend and stranger we can feel in this online community (all platforms, like IG, YT, forums etc. included), it can lower our guard and influence our ability to be rational. I think there is more pros than cons to this community, but it will be tempting for some players to take advantage of these blurred lines, and some do, so you got to keep your eyes on the road and stick to your plan and your values. If you get to carried away or you feel like you have to spend beyond your means to be an equal participant in the community, then the community is no longer an asset to you. The real weight of your gear We share this interest and join this community for many different reasons, but for a large percentage of us, a fundamental part of our justification is that we want to be prepared. For the convenience of nice to have, the safety aspect of need to have, or both. We want to be the sheepdogs, not the sheep. But we can reach a point where the gear is dragging us down. This can materialize in different ways; the physical clutter of the gear itself, the mental clutter of keeping track of gear, organizing and maintaining it, the value distraction and the opportunity cost of our investment. Our gear is only an asset if we keep these things under control. Value distraction might not even be a term, but it needs to be talked about and it was the best I could come up with. Most of us suffer from this. I’ve been living in denial myself, but I realize I suffer from it as well. Anyone that has a beater knife, a beater watch or a beater anything surely does. As far as I’m able to identify the root cause, it is closely related to the sacrifice we make to acquire our tools, i.e. the time, effort and monetary investment. And with any investment there is an opportunity cost that further helps to increase the level of value distraction we experience, in other words; what we actually sacrifice to get these material objects that we often project too much meaning onto. Maybe that time, effort and money would just have been better spent elsewhere? Most of us have upgrades planned for our house, a mortgage that should be paid down, a car that makes a strange sound, a family vacation we’re dreaming of. Sometimes we need to be distracted from all of that and do things that bring us joy, but not always. There are times when some of these things will be more important than that 27th knife you really want? Basically, unless you spend “go reproduce with yourself” money, the sacrifice to get the item might be substantial enough to cause value distraction. And then it probably isn't worth it. If your need to make sure your item isn’t damaged or lost, will be stealing mental resources, taking focus away from the task. And maybe even take some of the joy out of the experience. The tool is, to some degree, actually compromising instead of enhancing your ability to carry out whatever you’re using it for. Excited sheep To round off this part, cause I have some ideas for a second part spinning around in my head, I’ll just say this; Be mindful in your quest for the best gear to support your self reliance and preparedness. There is always the risk of yourself unconsciously becoming a sheep in the process. Constantly getting each other excited with new and shiny gear, acquiring ever more tools and gadgets to keep up with the Jones’s will eventually weigh us down, while giving up more and more of equally or even more important tools like our mental, physical and financial agility along the way. Keep it real, folks.