Building Your EDC On A Budget – Building Your EDC For Less Than A Benjamin

So, maybe you have to travel and you are concerned about losing your good knife or flashlight. Or maybe you are new to the concept of EveryDay Carry (EDC) but are limited on funds and don’t want to spend the next month eating ramen. I’m leaving guns out of this discussion partly because legality varies by state.

I’m sure most of us already carry our ID, phone, and keys. Whether you use a wallet or not is up to you. Lately I haven’t been. I have a gorgeous Stingray wallet but it’s kind of bulky.


I wasn’t real serious about carrying a flashlight early on in my adulthood. One night I happened to be carrying an original Surefire 6P. On that occasion, I found myself in need of a light to temporarily blind someone who was dead set on my letting him ride in my truck. Worked great. He pulled his hands up to shield his face and let go of my door. That allowed me to close it. A couple years later I was working for a supply company and my job required frequent visits to the daylight basement style warehouse (i.e. it only had windows and doors on one side). One day I was in the warehouse when the power went out and I couldn’t see a damn thing. I made up my mind that from then on I’d carry a light.

Flying with flashlights of of single or two cell (AA or 123) size hasn’t been a problem for me. It’s usually on me or in my carry on. Spare lithium batteries always go in my carry on per the FAA (pdf is here).

So let’s talk about lights. While I love my Surefire lights, they aren’t typically inexpensive. One light I have been impressed with due to it’s all around use is the Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA Dual Fuel Flashlight at $41.24 as of the time I write this. It takes your choice of a single AA battery or a single CR123A. The 1L-1AA is also a light I wouldn’t feel a need to change out later except for specific sets of circumstances. If you’re really on a tight budget, you can probably find an even less expensive light though you may wish to upgrade it later when more money is available.


I’ve carried a knife everyday since I was in high school. Yes, school administration yelled at me. Nowadays you’d likely get expelled. In case anyone is wondering, it was a Victorinox Huntsman (this is the II version). Anyway, that brings us to knives.

Out of our original $100 we have $58.76. So now we need a knife. Here we could opt for one of several. I tend to lean towards knives with locking blades. The 3 options I see that are affordable are:

Kershaw Brawlerat $22.71*

Kershaw CQC-6K at $23.95*

Kershaw CQC-7K at $21.82*

None of these knives have blades made of any kind of wonder steel. That said, they will hold an adequate edge and work in a pinch. I’ve been carrying a CQC-6 for a few months now and I actually like it. I might actually upgrade to an actual Emerson when I can afford it. I really wanted to include a Spyderco Tenacious but at $38.80*, they aren’t quite as affordable as they once were.

If pocket knives are more your style, I’m partial to the Victorinox Spartan II . Sadly, multi tools start to run our cost up. In general I’m going to estimate we spent another $23.00. That leaves us with $35.00


Other items I find worth considering are a decent pen such as a Zebra F-301.  The Zebra F-701  cost more but is a nice pen. It’s worth consideration later. Both are stainless steel barreled (or at least sleeved) retractable ball point pens. So we’ll say another $4.00 spent.

So we have $31.00 remaining. Not quite enough for a CAT tourniquet. That said, a SOFTT-W tourniquet from the Red Cross can be obtained here. That will likely require another $7 or so for shipping so. I’m sure that can be scrounged up in a pinch. I don’t generally like to buy tourniquets off of Amazon or eBay as it is too easy to get a counterfeit or even the wrong version. If you decide to go the tourniquet route, it’s worth getting a Phlster Flatpack to carry it with. Keep in mind, between the two, we’ll be outside of our budget. You can add them later though along with some other small first aid stuff, like Celox gauze, if you so choose.

If you didn’t go the tourniquet route, you’d have about $31.00 left (depending on taxes which are all over the board), would you stop there or grab something else?



*Prices as of the time of this writing. I make no guarantees on price changes.

8 Replies to “Building Your EDC On A Budget – Building Your EDC For Less Than A Benjamin”

  1. Great recommendation on the light; I like the idea of “Dual Fuel”. In places where we were not allowed to be armed the early SureFires were a good choice for breaking contact as your example shows.
    I’ve been fortunate in being less constrained in my budget; though I will say that if I can only have one knife it’ll be my Victorinox “Climber”. I do have a Cold Steel locking folder on me as well but if it came to choosing between the two, I’ll take the “Swiss tool”. It’s got everything I need and nothing that I don’t.
    Ref tourniquets; while I have carried CATs and appreciate them you might look into the “RAT” Rapid Application Tourniquet which is about half the price of a CAT. I initially bought them for potential use on my dogs – a CAT is too big for nearly any canine leg – and have found them to be of good quality.

    1. Yeah, remember when 60-65 lumens was enough? lol

      My general default in a knife is my old Benchmade 710. I wish they hadn’t stopped making it. if I need a multitool, I have what I have dubbed a Leatherman “Re-charge” XTi. I swapped in the jaws from a Rebar and trimmed the scissors to accommodate the jaws and allow the tool to close. No an inexpensive knife set up overall but I like it.

      That CATs plastic thing drives me nuts. The people I get advice from don’t recommend the RATs (for reasons that are over my head) but I have heard it said they are suitable to pets. Personally, my issue with a RATs is that I have a difficult time believing that I would be able to self apply it on an arm and get enough occlusion.

      1. I’d be interested in hearing(reading) their objections. While CATs are great I can’t get too wrapped up in what’s “better”; because when it comes to bleeding out even the old Boy Scout neckerchief and stick will work to greater or lesser extent. For those of us counting our quadrupeds in our tactical calculations a RAT is pretty much the only choice – well… that, or the neckerchief and stick.
        Self-applying ANY of them to an arm (particularly the dominant one) is a real trick and needs to be drilled regularly (something I haven’t done with a CAT since I took the uniform off, to be honest).
        The mention below of the SOFTTW at that price is a great idea for those on a budget.

        1. If you jump on the Facebook page for the Flatpack TQ Carrier Users Group, Ian Wendt can explain better. It’s over my head.

          I have a hard time getting suitable tension on any sort of bungy with both hands. Say nothing of the idea of trying to get it to work one handed on myself as a tourniquet lol

          1. I’m not on bookface and my google-foo is inadequate to get me to the page. I’m not gonna worry too much about it at this point. I will play around with the RAT and see what comes up. As mentioned I initially got them because my dogs are very valuable to me.

  2. Stormseeker Surplus routinely has SOFTTWs for $17.

    My blade is Victorinox Soldier08. ~$35 on Amazon. Incredibly versatile.

    I got lucky and bought 2 Surefire p3xs for $110 & 130 on Amazon when they changed models. Busts the $100, but they’re incredible. 500 lumens would be the bare minimum for me, 1k if at all possible. There’s a protac hl on Amazon right now for $67, 750 lumens.

    $109 all day. Not as sexy as sub $100, but my choices for sure.

    Great article, though. Been digging your work. Thanks again!

    1. Interesting. Not counterfeits? And what’s shipping like?

      Detail some don’t know about me is I’m an accidental Victorinox collector. Most have been gifts to me over the years. Though I do have a red alox model that I’ve forgotten the name of.

      Oh, you can find some great deals on old Surefires through eBay if you keep your eyes open. It’s just that a lot of them suck for pocket carry.

      Glad to hear you like the work. It’s appreciated.

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