Today's post is about designing my "every day carry", or the things I bring with me every day when I leave the house. The punch line is that I've converged to a solution that would make most woman say, "oh, so you've discovered the purse?", but I just prefer to call it my "Dad Bag". It meets my criteria for being small, easy to grab, hard to lose, and a good complement to what goes in my pockets.
I love every day carry (EDC) as a category, because it so closely marries function, and the utility of an object, with form and the statement an object makes about it's owner. Most of us aren't lugging rolling tool chests around with us either, so I also love the challenge of honing in on the smallest set of features that will provide the most value, while taking up the smallest amount of space in my pockets.
As an aside, I have an untested theory that what people carry with them and why is small little window into who they are as a person, (for example: Android or iPhone, phone case or none, decorative key lanyard or a plain ring, etc...), but that will have to wait for another day.
My EDC Criteria
Anyway, over the years, I've developed a few criteria that are important to me for my every day carry. I want my EDC to be:
Hard to lose - I'm often absent minded to the point of being dysfunctional. If an object loses physical contact with my person, the odds that I will lose it only increase exponentially.
Frequently useful - This criteria is really about minimizing what I carry, without cutting back too far. I'd say my rule of thumb is that the item makes the cut if it gets used at least weekly.
Conducive to Dad-ing - My children can only be described as having "momentum". Getting them started on something, or stopped on something takes effort. Once they have momentum to get out of the house, turning back to pack snacks, for instance, is a mistake.
Previous Iterations - The One Pound Keychain
In the pre-dad era, I made my keys hard to lose by making them comedically heavy. I attached every spare key I could conceive of and a medium sized Leatherman tool to a load rated, actually-made-for-climbing carabiner. Those were indeed, quite hard to lose.
We're now entering an age of keyless entry, though. My house has a keypad and my car just requires a fob. The opportunity to minimize was calling. More on this later.
The Dad Bag - The Early Years
My first iteration of the Dad Bag was more born of a frustration with diaper bags. First, I couldn't find where anything was inside it, which made it difficult for me to know if it was stocked with the appropriate wipes, diapers, milk, snacks, toys, etc, and second, getting things in and out of the bag, as a flustered dad trying to chase a small squirming child, often felt Sisyphean.
The solution was a supply bag / tote. Here was top loading, easy access, compartmentalized storage solution that was meant for quickly grabbing things.
This worked perfectly, but has since been retired as the kids outgrew diapers.
The Dad Bag v2, for a Keyless, COVID World
My second, and current iteration of the Dad Bag, is also meant to complement a lighter weight load of things in my pockets. Here's the breakdown:
In my pockets - The stuff I carry in my pockets every day, both in and out of the house.
- Not so smart phone
- Miniature utility knife - I keep this on me so it's always within quick reach for opening boxes. Also comes in handy often for opening beers, and the screwdrivers come in handy for odd things, like tightening the knobs on kitchen drawers. I like this model in particular because it can be opened one handed, is small, and has a spring retractable blade.
In the Dad Bag - This is a small sling from Chrome messenger bags (this particular model is no longer sold).
- Food knife - for dividing food evenly for children, cutting pizza into smaller slices, and cutting apples into wedges at the park. It's a carbon steel Opinel blade, it's cheap, but it looks awesome and holds an edge like woah.
- Boo-boo kit - let's be clear. Calling it a first-aid kit would be a stretch. It's an altoid tin sized band-aid container
- Hand sanitizer - because COVID
- Sunscreen - because my children are the same shade of alabaster as their mother.
- Sunglasses - cause the only time I want them is when I'm out of the house, which is the only time I carry the Dad Bag
- Gum - in a nice, flat tin from Trader Joes
- Business card holder - doubles for holding business cards and also as a wallet. I realized I only needed my wallet when I was going somewhere, and if I was going somewhere, I'd have my dad bag. So now the bag is where my "wallet" lives.
- Key fob - works great from inside the bag to both open and start the car
- Snacks - so I can always grab the dad bag and know that I'm stocked up to go
- Water bottle carabiner clips - for attaching my kid's water bottles.
- Notebook / pen - for the odd art sketch, or more than likely, diverting a small child by providing the opportunity to doodle
At some point, I ended up making an organizer out of duct tape to keep everything tidy, and its been working well, so far.
The phone and utility knife now live in my left and right pockets, respectively, and checking for them out of force of habit is why I don't lose them. The Dad Bag, meanwhile, is physically tied to my body.
And that's the carry that works for me these days. I'm genuinely curious what you carry and what it says about you.
aka THE Awkward Engineer