These days, 90 percent of what you need on a given day exists on a thin piece of plastic and glass, and the ubiquitous and all-knowing Cloud. But the remaining 10 percent can go a long way in helping define and express your identity.
So don’t limit personal branding to your phone's wallpaper – have some things you carry in the real world, that you can touch and feel in your pockets, to remind yourself who you are, where you came from, and where you’re headed. Of course, different kinds of guys will find value in different kinds of things – which is where our EDC Extras series comes in.
For some guys, it doesn’t matter if you're walking through a meager park in the middle of a city or if you're so deep in the mountains that your phone loses its signal. If there's dirt and grass under your feet and a stiff breeze in the air, you're happy.
If that sounds familiar, your everyday carry probably has a very functional focus. But a little extra weight is a small price to pay for a select few creature comforts that go beyond the outdoors-y basics. They won't so much help you climb a mountain or set up a campsite, but they will help you enjoy the scenery once you're there.
An Old-School Pipe
A smoldering bowl of fragrant tobacco has long been the friend of the walking man. Small enough to fit in a jacket pocket or the top of a pack, a good pipe makes any calm outdoor moment all the more indulgent and relaxing, especially when the sun starts to set on a balmy evening with a good view.
Pull yours out by the campfire, when you're lounging on the grass on a lazy afternoon, or just during a nighttime walk through the neighborhood.
Obviously, though, there's a disclaimer here: smoking tobacco, even via a gentlemanly pipe, isn't great for your health. Like all things, moderation is key.
A Zippo Lighter
Although matches are the traditional way of lighting up a pipe or cigar, you’ll burn through an entire pack before getting a decent ember if it's a windy day. Same goes for setting up a campfire.
Better to stick with the tried and true windproof Zippo – a favorite of World War II GIs, Don Draper, and any modern-day guy who values the uncomplicated, highly functional design. The satisfying clink when it flips opens is icing on the cake.
Keeping one filled and ready will serve you well, whether you're lighting tobacco or tinder. It's also helpful for sterilizing knives on a camping trip – if you just gutted a fish, give the blade a quick wipe-down and a pass under the lighter's flame.
A Top Quality Pen
For those who love the outdoors for their own sake, rushing isn’t part of the deal. Things happen as they happen, and you make good use of what you’re given. For the relaxed, nature-fueled inspiration that pops up along the way, a pen to log your thoughts is a helpful thing to keep nearby. Pair it with a notebook, then sketch or write whenever a creative mood strikes.
More practically speaking, some of the best ideas can come when you've got a clear head that's not focused on anything in particular other than putting one foot in front of the other. So the next time a brilliant idea for a new project at work pops into your head halfway through your hike, you'll be able to jot it down. And yes, you could just use a note-taking app on your phone, but there's something special about putting pen to paper.
You can either go for something more functional – like this tactical number with pressurized ink, a glass-breaking tip, and a solid aluminum body – or take a more old-school approach with a fountain pen. The latter lends a more refined vibe to your EDC, and while it's trickier to use and less durable, we figure that anything worth writing down is worth putting a little care into as well.