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What is an Every Day Carry Pen?

Every Day Carry, or EDC, could be described as making a hobby out of the things you have in your pockets. Which makes it sound a bit weird. But maybe it is a bit weird. But it’s kind of compelling, it’s practical, and it involves pens, so you can count us in.

A Traveler's Notebook, passport sized, with Kaweco and Caran d'Ache pens on it, and a Koh-I-Noor pencil in the pen loop.

What is EDC?

So before we look at what makes a good EDC pen, we should probably cover what EDC itself is. And it’s a bit hard to explain. You have things that you carry with you every day - likely including your phone, your wallet, your keys, your pen. You may also carry some sort of multitool or penknife. Well, EDC is just about paying a bit more attention to these things. Choosing the very best things for you. And it’s a very personal thing. Some people find a clever way to carry their keys, so they’re not in a noisy bundle, rattling around in their pocket. Some go for a big and fancy wallet, with spaces for everything; but many others go minimalist, paring down their wallet to a small card holder, to avoid bulking up their pockets.

In general, the things most liked for EDC are those that are tough, and can last a lifetime, or at least a very long time. Things made to be used, that will wear nicely, showing the signs of their use over the years. Materials like full-grain leather, brass, stainless steel, ripstop nylon and anodised aluminium are popular.

While some EDC fans would probably frown on it, we don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with a more disposable EDC setup, if that’s what works for you. Carefully chosen items that can be readily replaced if and when they wear out could be a valid choice.

What Makes a Good EDC Pen?

The first thing is that it has to suit you and your usage. And if you’re a bit of a pen geek, your idea of a pen you’d carry every day might differ from some of the regular EDC people. Keep in mind that your EDC is about what works for you, it’s not there to impress other people on Instagram. Well, ok, maybe it is a bit, but the ‘for you’ part is important here.

With that in mind, if you like writing with a BIC Cristal, and that’s what you’re happy with carrying, there’s nothing wrong with that. Some EDC people may sneer, but most understand that the point is what you’re comfortable with.

And some pen people love their fountain pens, and will happily take the care that’s needed to take their expensive luxury fountain pen everywhere, or accept an element of risk to it.

But for most people, an EDC pen needs to be tough. It needs to be able to roll around in a pocket, probably up against their keys, without being damaged. It’s probably going to be a ballpoint, maybe even using a pressurised refill for the ability to write on damp paper, or upside-down. Yes, ‘space pens’ have their uses down here too. Something like a Fisher ‘bullet’ Space Pen is a great choice. We also love Kaweco Sport pens, especially the AL-Sport and Brass Sport. If you want to go smaller, the Liliput is a super tough little pen. And both of these can be fountain pens, too.

While there tends to be an emphasis on compact pens for EDC, pens aren’t usually huge items, anyway, so don’t ignore ‘normal’ pens. Even a relatively large pen is still quite a small item to carry. If you use your pen a lot, a bit more size and weight can easily be worth it for a more comfortable pen to use.

A common way of looking at EDC items is to think not only of how they look now, but how they’ll look in a few years, after a lot of use. Will they get scuffed and look bad? Will shiny plating wear away showing a different colour underneath, and will that look bad? It’s hard to beat brass for aging well, but many metal pens can actually look good as the paint or anodising wears down, and the plain metal showing through highlights how you use the pen. Like the old pair of jeans, with a faded mark on the outside, showing where your wallet sits inside. It’s more beautiful than ‘pre-worn’ or stonewashed items, because it’s real, and it shows the story of you, using that item.

A Fisher Space Pen sitting on a notebookA Few Favourite Brands for EDC

  • Kaweco - the Liliput and Sport ranges especially make great EDC pens, with metal finishes available for both.
  • Britton Scotland and Lihit Lab both make great ways to carry your pens, in very different styles - hand-made Harris Tweed for Britton Scotland, and a range of tough multi-compartment cases for Lihit Lab.
  • Caran d’Ache for their metal 849 pens - painted finishes that may wear with use, but they can wear out nicely.
  • Fisher Space Pen - pressurised refills are very practical, and the little ‘bullet’ pens are very compact.
  • Traveler’s Company are best known for their lovely leather notebook covers, which can be a great part of your EDC, but they also make some nice brass pens and accessories.
  • mt Tape - a bit of a wildcard, and they don’t make any pens, but this Japanese washi tape can be surprisingly handy to have around - hold things together, closed, or in place, but remove easily with no residue.
  • YStudio should also get a special mention - not often seen in EDC circles, maybe because they’re a little more towards the luxury end of the market, but many of their pens and accessories are specifically made of brass or copper for long-term wear and patina. They used to make a pen that was actually named ‘Brassing’, the name given to wear on a pen where the brass shows thrown when the pain wears off.