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A Minimalist Approach to Everyday Carry

Unburden yourself, your pack and your wallet.


Everyday carry is not about bringing everything but the kitchen sink with you no matter what the occasion; it’s about packing the right gear, and doing it with style and simplicity. That said, it seems just about every day, some new product comes to light that we feel we need. A big fat 48mm diving watch, a large folding knife, giant headphones, new phablets and their corresponding cases, notebooks, and naturally the right bag to carry it all in. And then there’s your wallet, the size of a triple-decker turkey club with none of the flavor.

At some point, it all just becomes burdensome, and it looks like you’re taking a weeklong trip instead of just heading down to the local coffee shop for an afternoon of semi-productive work. This is where psychology comes in. We tend to carry far more than we need because we don’t want to be left in the lurch should we need something. It’s also why we tend to overpack when we travel; it’s more out of a sense of security than any legitimate need to have a particular item. But the time has come to face your fears or forever be burdened, literally and figuratively. Whittle back on the physical stuff, and reap the rewards of packing light, every day.

1Clean house. In order to un-complicate your slew of gear, you’ve got to cull your herd. Most of us have pack rat tendencies, and we get emotionally tied to things we don’t need without realizing it. Start purging yourself of accoutrements that don’t provide some degree of everyday utility. Take a hard look at what your daily gear looks like; if you haven’t used it in the past month, you probably don’t really need it. Sure, that deck of cards looks cool, but if you’re not practicing your poker game every day, leave it home. Same goes for those portable chopsticks you swear you’ll use someday.

2Eliminate redundancies. Carrying more than we need oftentimes stems from having too much of the same thing. Unless you’re traveling or headed to the gym, there’s no need to have two watches. You have four pens, two notebooks, a pocketknife and a multitool, and two pairs of headphones. When did this become necessary? Start by eliminating what you’ve doubled up on. You’ll find that one was pretty much all you needed — and the benefit isn’t just a lighter load, but also far less to keep track of.

3Make your wallet relevant. Yes, the famed George Costanza wallet has a basis in reality. And it’s not just ridiculous — it’s bad for your back. When’s the last time you cleaned your wallet out? Those twenty receipts for your expense report need to go. File them. The eight business cards from people you’ll never call — get rid of ’em. If the contacts are important, get them populated into your smartphone and file the paper versions. That calzone shop’s frequent eaters card you haven’t used in a year can be tossed. And then there’s the credit cards. An April 2014 Gallup Poll showed that the Americans owned an average of 3.7 credit cards per person. That’s overdoing it a bit, isn’t it? If you’re not using it or it doesn’t serve a practical purpose, lose it and then downsize your wallet to something thinner, like the Bellroy Slim Sleeve.

4Group items by task. There are everyday essentials you take with you everywhere you go — phone, keys, watch. Keep your basics basic. For everything else, segregate, since you rarely need all of your gear with you all the time. Use a few cases like this and save space and weight by grouping your items. Headed to the office? Keep your pen, notebook, charging cables and gentleman’s folding knife in one case. When you’re headed for the great outdoors, take the case that holds your compass, flashlight, multitool and first aid kit. Swap out cases based on needs rather than taking it all with you. Sure, you can swap out gear when there’s overlap, but the idea is to stay streamlined, and compartmentalizing helps.

5Downsize your bags. There’s no real need to carry a fat messenger bag or backpack when your gear only occupies 25 percent of the space — or you tend to toss in more in your bag or pack than you need just to fill it because you feel you’re not making good use of it. Keep in mind, you’re headed out for the day, not an excursion. Consider getting yourself a carryall that’s more appropriate for the amount of gear you bring with you and having a smaller internal pack that’s even more portable. In the process of using it, you’ll start to pare down your gear and get acclimated to the new, slimmer you.

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