Everyday carry might be the most important, and most fun to geek out about, category of gear. It’s the stuff you put in your pockets every single day, the gear you can’t leave the house without.
“It’s not just a wallet or a knife,” says Charlie Carroll, founder of Dango Products, which makes sleek leather-and-metal wallets from American materials in California’s Bay Area. “It’s an extension of who you are.”
And the EDC category is enjoying a renaissance right now, as upstarts like Dango take a fresh approach to the staples that define our day-to-day. And like Dango, many of those EDC companies are making their gear right here in the U.S.
“We started Dango because we wanted to redefine the wallet,” Carroll says, adding that using local materials and local workers is part of his attempt to redefine a common good. “There are a lot of qualified machinists in the U.S. and a lot of great materials to be sourced here. It’s not easy, and it’s not cheap, but we don’t want to take the easy approach.”
Here are five of our favorite EDC essentials from companies that are taking the not-so-easy but always satisfying American-made approach.
Dango Dapper Wallet ($70)
Dango’s blend of leather and aluminum helps its wallets walk the line between tactical and stylish. The RFID-blocking Dapper is slim, weighing just two ounces, but it has room for 12 cards and cash. It also has a built-in bottle opener and a slot for Dango’s MT02 Multi-Tool ($25), a sleek card tool with a dozen different functions.
Benchmade North Fork Knife ($145)
Benchmade’s Mini Griptilian is a favorite among pocketknife enthusiasts, but the North Fork is almost as small and pocket-friendly, with a hell of a lot more style. You get Benchmade’s premium stainless-steel blade with a beautiful, contoured wood handle, and it weighs just 3.2 ounces and is crafted in Oregon City, Oregon.
Karas Kustoms Bolt Pen ($70)
All of Karas Kustoms pens are designed and machined in Mesa, Arizona. You can go fancy and choose a brass fountain pen, but we dig The Bolt, a superlight aluminum pen (just 1.1 ounces) with a very satisfying bolt action that engages the pen tip. And it even accepts the ubiquitous Fisher Space Pen refills, so you can use it forever.
Hitch and Timber Pocket Runt 2.0 Organizer ($45)
The trouble with being an EDC enthusiast is keeping all your favorite things organized. Hitch and Timber is a husband-and-wife duo out of California who hand-make leather caddies that help keep small tools from tumbling around in your pockets. The leather and stitching have a well-aged, almost vintage feel to them, in a variety of different leather slips, from single knife sheaths to bifold notebook holders. But we like the Runt 2.0, which has room for two small tools (knife and flashlight) and a pen.
Princeton Tec Tec-1 Light ($60)
Carry this tiny torch (3.2 ounces with batteries; 3.25 inches long) and you’ll never have to fumble for the flashlight mode on your phone again. Princeton Tec, which makes all of its lights here in the U.S., wraps a metal frame with molded polymer for a waterproof LED flashlight with 250 lumens of output. The deep clip means you can carry it in your pocket, on your belt, or on a pack.