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Jim Ross/The Globe and Mail

The question

I love gadgets and have become something of an EDC fetishist. That means I need roomy pockets – preferably cargo pants – or some kind of fanny pack with me at all times. How do you suggest the EDC community stay fashionable?

The answer

Story continues below advertisement

Okay, I admit I had to look this one up. EDC refers to "everyday carry," meaning a kit of essential and emergency items that the supposedly well-prepared man has with him at all times. EDC is used to refer to one's individual kit – you say "here's my EDC" and you post a picture of your essential items on a Web forum where other enthusiasts will critique it for you, suggesting where to get a smaller flashlight or a cooler titanium multitool or a more waterproof pen.

EDC exists at the strange confluence of design aficionados and survivalists. There are more than a few gun nuts in the group as well. (Pictures of American EDCs often include a wallet, a coin holder, chewing gum and a Glock.) For some reason, they almost all contain a vicious-looking knife or pepper spray, as if we all have to fend off violent attackers every day. The obsession reflects no small amount of paranoia, as well as a kind of childish adventurer fantasy. Some of the larger EDCs contain all sorts of high-tech commando stuff like titanium grappling hooks and mini pry bars. It is not clear whether these Batman-like devices are ever used. The less pretentious guys just like to show off their beautifully designed multitool knives, their tiny folding binoculars, their flashlight pens.

For a design enthusiast, the EDC blogs are a kind of porn. If you are interested in futuristic tiny tools, check out the knife-wrenches of Peter Atwood (atwoodknives.com) – they look like alien cyborg parts.

Now, obviously, beautiful as some of these objects are, there is just no way to carry them in your pockets and stay stylish. Cargo pants are just no longer a part of urban man's wardrobe. Your only option is to carry a small bag – preferably leather, with a shoulder strap, not – ever – a fanny pack or nylon knapsack. You have every right to be a complete nerd, and long may you enjoy it, but it is not in your interest to advertise the fact to the world.

Novelist Russell Smith's memoir, Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book.

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