Dear Brendan,

I’m calling this letter “Back to Basics.”  The reason is I was recently thinking of the average family or retired couple that is about to take a vacation or travel across the country or even around the world for that matter.  It hits home because my parents recently retired and will start travel across the country.  Here is some of the information I shared with them to help prepare them for their travels.

You are what you are ready for in most cases.  Some say luck favors the prepared.  I say you are what you’re prepared for and train for. 

Either way there is no greater indicator of preparedness then what goes into a person’s everyday carry.

This is a serious topic and can get very detailed.  For these reasons, there are many professionals across the intelligence and SOF community who consider their everyday carry a matter of life or death.  As well they should, because it is.

I recognize that for those salty operators out there who are very knowledgeable on this topic their own real-world experience is priceless. However, my intent here is to start a conversation that gets you, retired couples like my parents and other family men thinking about the basics of EDC.  This is what I would tell my own friends and family members.  So for the high speed low drag operators out there any thoughts you have please feel free to share them, although keep them in line with teaching others that may not be used to training and thinking like an operator.  

For those that may be new to all of this, let me introduce you to something we call the Line system.  This is a system of gear that is layered into your capabilities in order of priority and, as in most SOF/SMU principles, applies to various situations in life. 

The line system is broken down in to three basic categories.

The first line is carried on your person and includes items that you would never want to be without.  This line is meant to help you survive.  Think of it as your last line of defense.

The second line is carried close to your body and could include such items as riggers belt/combat belt, and a small go bag.  This line is meant to support your primary mission and aid in sustainment and survival if things go sideways in your area of operations/community/neighborhood. 

The third line is to be carried on your body, like a backpack/rucksack, or in your vehicle/family car/truck.  This line is meant to increase your capabilities and sustain you for a longer period of time. 

All three lines are considered portable.  The first line is commonly referred to as everyday carry (EDC).  This simply means it is what one would have on them on or off duty, period.  I recommend following an EDC philosophy for all lines, which means there are things I keep on my person, in my bag/pack and in my truck everyday. 

For now we are going to cover down on your first line EDC.  This is what you carry on your person and would never remove or leave home without. For me this also means functional clothes with pockets, footwear to move-move-move! I swear by Salomon shoes and Asolo hiking boots.

You will modify your First Line EDC gear depending on the situation.

If you’re in a combative tactical situation, this could include a knife, personal weapon, a “Blow out kit” (first aid), survival kit, money, comms, etc.

If you’re in a non-combative situation, say a family vacation to Disneyland, or traveling in an RV across the US sightseeing, as my parents will be doing soon,  I suggest at a minimum you include your car key, money, credit card, I.D., cell phone and folding knife. (Carry a knife to save a life)

When you go anywhere you should always ask yourself this question: “If I had to drop everything and move off the X with or without my family, what would I need with me?”

So if you were at Disneyland with your family or at some tourist destination sightseeing with your wife and you had to escape from there what would be the one thing you would want to make sure you had? Could you imagine not being able to get into your car and drive away? That’s your “First Line” gear!

Your First Line gear is your core/base.

Take your extra vehicle key, house key, your ID (driver’s license/passport), money/cash and a credit card.  Stash it all on your person and not in your wallet or key ring. On a regular day-to-day basis I’d carry these items in a wallet and keys on a carabineer. 

However if I’m traveling or in a atypical environment, I’d take my car key off its ring, remove my cash, ID and a credit card from my wallet so that I could carry them in my green silkies/ranger panties if need be (aka short swim trunks for our non-military types out there).  Bottom-line here is that these items should not be in your wallet. 

This way if you were to get robbed you could hand over your wallet or backpack, cash, whatever and still get your family or wife out of there. Being stranded leaves you vulnerable and forces you to engage with unknowns. Simply put that is not gonna happen on my watch, or as my little girl says, not gonna happen when I’m with my Pop! 

Communication is paramount.  I carry an iPhone6 in a Life Proof case.  This allows me to communicate, navigate, and take photos.  And if for some reason I lost my phone I could still drive, and have money to facilitate my way out.

You may not think of this next piece of gear as that important, however it is wise to include a solid pair of sunglasses into your EDC.  Think protection.  I like Oakley’s and Native sunglasses.  Some operators swear by Gatorz, I simply don’t like the metal frames.  Find what works for you and your family.   

Hey it’s important to protect your eyes from the elements and so they don’t get fatigued. 

Staying with protection I always carry a knife.  I’m currently caring a Microtech automatic folder or an Emerson folder.  I may also carry a Leatherman tool depending on the situation and environment I’m in.    

For a handgun my EDC pistol is a Glock 19.  They don’t call them combat Tupperware for nothing!  I didn’t make any crazy mods to it.  I did add night sights and an upgraded guide rod. For a holster I like Kydex IWB.  There are many different manufactures and models to pick from.  Find what works for you.  Think concealment, comfort and quick access to draw.

Here’s a no brainer for us guys and that’s a solid timepiece.  Invest in a quality watch.  I don’t mean a Rolex or James Bond Omega.  I’m talking about a Suunto, Marathon, or Lum-Tec is another favorite of mine.  Think how important is it for you to have GPS, timer, elevation, dual time zone, waterproof and other features.    

On an escape and evasion note I carry a handcuff key on my key ring and a plastic handcuff key inside my wallet that I can take out and hide/carry almost anywhere on my person.  I may also carry a small Bic lighter, Surefire flashlight and pen.  

So ask yourself, what do you carry and why?

Prepare to win the fight.

Always Faithful & Always Forward,

-Travis

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27.17