Wilderness EDC vs Urban EDC: Common Gear + Differences

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By Bryan Lynch •  6 min read

I have spent an abundance of time in both the outdoors and urban environments. In either case, I have always had an EDC loadout appropriate for the day’s activities.

Over the years I have heard a lot of talk about EDC items and only recently have I began voicing my opinions and views on it more frequently.

The topic of EDC sort of became a trendy thing in conversations and in sharing pictures of what a person was carrying that day.

This took on more of a tactical role or appearance with knives and other sorts of defensive tools being displayed.

The term EDC may be fairly modern, but I think it is important to remember that most people have been implanting this practice for a long time. The gear may have changed but the principles behind the method have not.

I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss the differences between an outdoor and urban EDC. I am going to start by quickly defining EDC just to make sure we are all on the same page.

What is EDC?

EDC stands for everyday carry and it refers to items that an individual carries on their person every day to help them accomplish certain tasks. For example, many people carry a pen for taking notes, writing a check, or signing a receipt.

There are many commonplace items like the above example that fall under this topic for most people. However, I understand there may be some people that do not like that example because the idea of EDC has become more tactical in nature.

For this article, I prefer to replace the word tactical with preparedness or readiness as I believe these terms are more applicable. If a person is being honest with themselves, they will admit EDC gear is used far more in non-tactical situations than tactical ones. But I may be getting a bit off topic. 

Wilderness EDC vs Urban EDC

I believe, by in large, that there is not a huge difference between an EDC loadout across these two environments. At first, that may sound like a crazy statement but remember that EDC refers to what is carried on your person and not necessarily what is in a bag or pack.

I think it would help to cover discuss some quite common gear to better illustrate this point.


An EDC knife is one of the most popular and useful tools to carry. When given the option of only carrying one tool, most everyone will choose a knife.

In the outdoors, it is more helpful and acceptable to carry a large knife that is attached to a belt for example. Due to laws and different perspectives, a person generally does not carry a four-inch plus knife in city limits in this fashion. Instead, people are more inclined to carry a pocketknife in town rather than give up this versatile tool.


I am a huge fan of plier-based multitools like a Leatherman or SOG. I have yet to find an environment in which this tool was not helpful, and I use them often.

Multitools have so many functions that they can be used equally as much in both the outdoors and an urban environment.


I recently wrote a few articles on this underestimated tool and I do not think anyone should go anywhere without one. After all, if you cannot see, how useful are other tools?

A flashlight is helpful in any low-light situation, but I will offer this personal experience. I have found more need for this tool in urban environments than I have in the outdoors.

Even in extreme nighttime conditions outdoors, the eyes will adjust and allow a person to at least make out some shapes or detail. Doing this within a structure where there is zero light is impossible.


This is another common outdoor item to carry that helps a person determine where they have been, where they are, and where they are going. You may be thinking that you do not know anyone who carries a compass in an urban environment and you would be right, sort of.

While it is not a traditional, physical compass, almost everyone does carry a smartphone. All smartphones have GPS and mapping abilities which provide the same basic function as a compass, indicating direction.

Water Bottle

This is a highly coveted item to have in the outdoors. A vessel in which to collect, boil and transport water is often thought of as a critical piece of gear.

It may not be as critical for collecting or boiling, but many people in urban environments still carry a water bottle wherever they go.

Self Defense Tools

Items that can be used in this manner are many, but I will assume that the two most popular ones would be a knife and a firearm.

Knives have many uses other than self-defense and firearms can be used for hunting purposes as well. The types of knives and firearms that are carried between the outdoors and urban settings will differ, but knives and firearms are the two most popular EDC items to carry no matter the environment.


I am not trying to contradict myself, but I would be foolish if I did not say there are obviously some differences between an outdoor and urban EDC loadout.

A common example might be a tool to create fire. For people that spend most of their time in an urban setting, carrying a butane lighter or matches is probably a low priority. Whereas that is obviously not the case for someone who spends their time outdoors. 

And although technology has made its way into the outdoor community, an urban individual may be more prone to carry electronic devices such as charging cords, a laptop, etc.

Wrap Up 

Just as an EDC loadout can change from person to person, so can it change depending on the environment we most likely find ourselves in.

However, in my observation, there seem to be enough EDC items that remain constant that one loadout could be used in both environments. 

Thanks for reading and stay prepared!

What are your thoughts on wilderness EDC versus Urban EDC? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know!

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.