It’s the classic example: you’re just getting into this whole “everyday carry” thing and you’re excited about building a mountain of stuff to put in your pockets. You’re looking to start buying a couple pieces of gear to add to the basics you already have. Most people seem to start with a knife and a flashlight. Those are great things to consider carrying right off the bat. Of course, as with most people, you don’t have a mountain of money to buy your mountain of stuff.
Looking at the available options you’re probably a bit overwhelmed, I know I was (still am - there’s so much stuff to know). There are so many things out there to choose from. As you’re just starting to consider buying these sorts of tools you’re not too familiar with them; are those pricey items really worth it when there are plenty of far less expensive options?
The temptation to buy an inexpensive flashlight and an inexpensive knife is persistent. If you do you can have both right now and then arrange your purchases into a neat little pile, take a photo, post it to the internet, then bask in the glory that’s in your pockets.
Not so fast
Quality gear is an investment. Spend the money on something bomb-proof and it’ll treat you well. Buy cheaper gear and you’ll likely be looking for a replacement sooner than later, most likely after you’ve experienced a gear failure at an inopportune time.
If you’re on a relatively tight budget and can’t afford to buy quality gear all at once, it’s better to construct your carry piece by quality piece.
Evaluate your needs, determine which items are more important, and devise a strategy of purchasing which emphasizes picking up quality pieces over a longer time. In the end, you’ll have far better gear that will serve you far longer and, ultimately, you’ll be more satisfied.
Obviously, buying pieces that aren’t within any fathomable budget isn’t necessary. You don’t have to break the bank; there is a middle-ground between high-end and crap and it’s populated with awesome things. There are great pieces available from reputable companies for reasonable prices.
Of course, this “higher-quality is better” argument should be qualified; you probably shouldn’t be buying an incredibly high-end product if you haven’t established a strong need for it. For example, spending $500 on a Strider for your first knife isn’t necessarily the best decision. There’s a period in the very beginning of developing an EDC discipline where you discover what you really need. It wouldn’t be a wise investment to buy a high-end custom knife just to discover months from purchase that you haven’t opened it once.
Don’t jump in head-first
You’ve convinced yourself that buying higher-quality gear is the right idea, where do you go from there? To the internet, of course!
There’s a wealth of information available online about practically everything. There are plenty of third-party reviews and discussions about various products and product features. You should know what you’re buying before you buy it; not just what it looks like and the various specifications, but how those things affect its functionality and how it measures up to other products. If you’re not sure about something there’s bound to be a forum with someone who has an answer, you just need to ask.
The most important thing to remember is that half the fun of buying new gear is the process of finding something that you truly love. The more time you spend deciding which gear to purchase likely correlates to the longer time you’ll spend enjoying your purchase rather than lamenting a hasty decision.
Not to mention, in the process of researching technical details, reading reviews, and browsing through pages of products you’re learning quite a bit. Learning is still fun, right?
An investment of time and consideration into your gear guarantees a far better return on any financial investment.
A couple places to get started:
Layman’s Flashlight Reviews
The Edge Observer