Working as a forester and volunteering for search-and-rescue...
Current Occupation: Editor, RECOIL OFFGRID Magazine
(To read more about Tom's background, including his time as a U.S. Army Captain and independent contractor in Afghanistan, refer to our interview with him from Issue 34.)
What is your general approach/philosophy for everyday-carry tools? What do you see as the most likely threats/issues you might deal with in your daily routine, and what items are necessary to address these issues?
I believe that equipment selection is a form of mission analysis. In simpler terms, it’s impossible to carry every piece of gear for every single possibility. So, select tools for EDC that fit most seamlessly into your daily wardrobe and routine, and those which will be the most helpful in the most likely problems you might face.
Please outline the gear you carry on a daily basis. Include specific brands/models, and why you chose each.
A sturdy belt is the foundation of a solid EDC gear setup. I use a Mastermind Tactics Specialist Pro belt, which features medical-grade, high-cycle hook-and-loop, a chemically dipped stiffened tail end, and an almost non-existent steel loop in lieu of a larger buckle to help reduce printing when carrying appendix inside the waistband (AIWB). In my pants pockets, I have a Zero Tolerance 0566 folding knife, a Cloud Defensive MCH flashlight, Pocket Trauma Kit from Live The Creed, and a small keychain with Glow Rhino prybar, Carbon Tactics TiSlice razor blade, and two tools from Gearward: their Ranger Bic waterproof lighter sleeve and keychain duct tape roll. I keep this on a second key ring, completely separate from my car and house keys. This way, if I lose my daily life keys, or hand them off to someone, I still have the emergency tools. My Suunto Traverse Alpha watch also wears the Gearward A-K band, which conceals some escape tools. If the situation dictates, I’ll add my custom Glock 48 MOS pistol and a spare mag in my LAS Concealment Ronin-L holster, and/or the JB Knife Ditch Pik fixed-blade defensive knife.
What is one underrated piece of EDC gear that more people should strongly consider carrying, if they don’t already?
I always go by the rule of “The Big 4:” Defend, Move, Communicate, Medicate. Your EDC gear should include tools that enable you to defend yourself, navigate your daily world (urban or rural), call or signal for help, and treat likely medical issues (boo-boo level or trauma).
What was the most recent change you made to your EDC kit?
I recently swapped my smartphone into a Juggernaut IMPCT case. In addition to offering military-grade bump and drop protection, the IMPCT is compatible with Juggernaut’s line of mounts and brackets. Now I can pop my phone off my belt and directly onto my plate carrier, hiking pack, or dashboard vehicle bracket.
Which make/model of bag did you choose, and why?
I use a 5.11 AMP12. This bag is large enough to hold not only my daily work supplies (laptop, chargers, cords, snacks, paperwork, etc.) but is also augmented by a Grey Man Tactical Rigid Insert Panel, sized specifically for this bag.
Where is this bag staged (or carried) and what specific purpose does it fulfill in your daily preparedness plan?
I carry this bag almost every single day — to the coffee shop or cigar lounge while working on articles, to business luncheons, and on road trips. If I need to fly, I can remove the Grey Man panel with weapons and pyro on it, without having to disassemble each individual pouch and tool, and still have all my administrative gear in a carry-on bag that fits under an airline seat.
Above: The Greyman Tactical Rigid Insert Panel can be removed from the bag to make it TSA friendly without having to fully reconfigure placement of pouches or holsters every time.
Please outline some of the most important items you have in this bag, to include brands/models where possible. Discuss why you chose these items and how they complement and expand upon your EDC gear.
I augment the main compartment of this bag with a Rigid Insert Panel from Grey Man Tactical. This is a single polymer panel that I can permanently mount gear on, that can be removed as a single piece without having to dismantle all the individual pouches. The RIP holds a customized Glock 17 in a QVO Tactical holster on a G-Code RTI mount, one spare magazine, a multi-tool, smoke signal, 5.11 compact Operator Axe, and North American Rescue IFAK with full trauma kit and hard tourniquet. This supplements my EDC by providing medical and self-defense redundancy with the addition of a hard tourniquet (which I don’t carry on-body) and a larger, more capable handgun. The ax can be used for everything from cutting brush or small trees for shelter or fire-starting to emergency egress from a building or vehicle (smashing a window or breaching residential-grade doors).
The rest of the bag holds general-use first aid supplies (Band-Aids, pain relievers, cold/flu meds, etc.) as well as a compass, NATO issue TCCC reference cards, pens/pencils, business cards, etc.
What is one extra item you’ve considered including in this bag? Briefly explain why you haven’t added it yet (space, weight, cost, likelihood it’ll be needed, etc.).
Above: The AMP's zip-pouches hold important paperwork, pens and pencils, and some basic travel meds like cough drops, analgesics, and gastrointestinal remedies.
I’ve gone back and forth about adding some food to this bag — even something quick like meal bars or dried fruit or granola. Whether it’s for snacking during a day full of meetings, getting stuck on the side of the road, or on an airport layover, extra calories become a priority quickly as stress levels rise. I haven’t really stuck with it due to a combination of not having much physical space left in this bag, and that sometimes finding food that’s edible on the go but holds stable in the desert heat can be a difficult task, especially if the bag is left in my truck or sits at my feet outdoors for any length of time.