Here at Budget EDC we are big believers in the saying, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." And, well, we can't help with your opportunity but we know for sure you'll be prepared when it comes.
This site is specifically focused on budget everyday carry. With very few exceptions, every item on this site will be the best gear we know about in its respective category, under $50. This is a short, single-purpose site; for more pen and refill information check out Unsharpen.com.
We may live our lives on our smart devices, but a pen is still incredibly handy to have around. After all, they never run out of batteries and they work no matter where you go. Here are some of top EDC pens, without any of those ridiculous "tactical pens" that are huge and awful looking!
1. Fisher Space Pen
The Space Pen is a great choice for budget EDC because it's sturdy, writes anywhere and on any surface, and they are reasonably price given the design and build quality. The worst thing about the Space Pen is that it's available in so many varieties that it can be hard to find the right one. Our favorites are the X-Mark because of its matte black finish and use of a clip; the Space Pen ST Space-Tec, with its rubber coating and $10 price tag; and the Raw Brass Bullet Pen, which trades off some function for form but is quite striking and develops a great patina.
2. Machine Era Solid Brass Pen
If you go purely by Amazon feedback, the Machine Era solid brass pen might be a no-brainer. Selling for under $40 it's at the high end of "budget" EDC but we love its near-flawless reviews, use of the Pilot G2 refill, and its all-brass build. If you want something classy that's going to fit in your your EDC kit while not looking out of place in an office or with a tie, keep this on your list. Two serious issues with it that are worth pointing out: it doesn't have a clip and brass is soft, so if you drop your pens consider steel!
3. Zebra F-701 Retractable Pen
Dollar for dollar, the Zebra F-701 is perhaps the best EDC pen ever made. Why such a strong statement? Try to think of another pen that is A) entirely metal B) under $8 C) easily moddable and D) works with a pressurized Fisher cartridge. Come up with anything yet? Didn't think so -- the F-701 is unique in the value it offers. It also looks and writes great, plus it has a really nice weight to it.
The F-701 skews a bit on the functional side, even for an everyday carry tool, so it won't be as ideal in an office setting or signing your next big contract. That said, the tough steel can take a drop, the knurling on the body means it's works with gloves on, and the Fisher cartridge works in any conditions -- hot, cold, wet... whatever.
If you want the F-701 in an all-metal design, then check out the F-xMD from Zebra. It's a bit new and not widely available (in the US it will be sold as the "Steel Series" F-701) but it's a great pickup. This is basically the new and improved F-701.
4. Rite in the Rain All-Weather Clicker Pen
Whether you write in the rain very often or not, this is a good use of $13. This pen has a hard black exterior and an metal body. Think that's tough? Your expectactions are too low! It also works at up to 35 feet under water and anywhere from -30 degrees F to 250 degrees F, regardless of the angle. No matter how crazy your EDC gets, this pen has you covered.
5. Parker Jotter Stainless Steel Ballpoint
If you want a pen that is simple and classy that's under $15 then the Parker Jotter can't be ignored. The pen is full stainless steel (thread included) with a classic Parker look that fits in well in the pocket of a work shirt or in in the cup holder of a truck. It works with ballpoint or gel Parker-style refills and is just about the perfect size for EDC use.
Stainless Steel Sharpie Pen: Often imitated but never duplicated, the Sharpie is perhaps the most useful writing instrument since the pointy stick. At under $5 and in a handome stainless steel, this is a great offering.
Pilot G2 Limited: The Pilot G2 is one of our favorite pen refills and one of the best cheap office pens, but it's a bit light duty for EDC use. As luck would have it, Pilot makes a premium version with a full-metal body, a classy design, and a nice big of heft to it. It's a nice little package for about $10 and you get that near-perfect G2 refill.
Lamy Pico Ballpoint: The Lamy Pico might look a little small and design-y to be a good EDC pen but don't discount it too quickly! First of all, it's from Lamy to you know it's well-built and writes well. It's a ballpoint so it inherently writes more places than a gel or rollerball pen. It's also expandable, so it's small enough to carry in any pocket (3.75" long when collapsed) but grows to be large enough for full-sized hands.
Above is a comparison of two popular EDC pens: the new for 2018 Rotring 600 ballpoint and the Retro 1951 Hexomatic. Both are handsome, rugged pens with a great -- and clearly related -- design. They have hefty brass bodies and work with the popular Parker-style "G2" refill.
Best EDC Knives
Almost every EDC (everyday carry) kit includes a knife of some sort because a cutting tool is useful in a huge variety of situations. The ones we've chosen are just that: useful tool, nothing too big, too small, to expensive, or too flashy. And nothing custom that is too expensive to use.
To fit our paramaters for the best budget EDC knives, we're going to keep the knives foldable, with under 3.25-inch blades, and under $30.
New Addition: Kershaw Cryo II
At just $25 the Kershaw Cryo II BlackWash is a compelling addition to any EDC kit. The "blackwash" color is an awesome looking faded black that matches nicely with any of your used everyday carry, plus it wears quite well. The knife has a 8Cr13MoV stainless steel blade, a sturdy pocket clip and a great frame lock design. This is a winner.
Gerber Ripstop II Knife: Selling for about $14, this is a sturdy, reliable, and simple offering from one of the best names in production knives. The Ripstop I, with a smooth edge, is even cheaper and has been a classic EDC offering for years.
Ontario Knife (OKC) Rat: This knife is a bit on the larger side (good if you have big hands), but the reviews say it all: there is considerable bang for your buck here. Our favorite features are the grippy nylon scales and 4-way reversible pocket clip. It's nothing fancy, but you can't go wrong.
Gerber EAD: More of a cutting tool than it strictly is a knife, the EAD is basically a dressed up box cutter. The good news here is that it's super cheap and it accepts a standard utility blade any time you want to sharp it. That said, the edge won't be as sturdy as a standard knife.
Opinel No8: This is sort of a gentleman's knife, a picnic knife, or somethingy your grandfather might have carried. It has a classy wooden handle, it doesn't look scary (a plus for us) and it's just $15.
Spyderco Byrd Meadowlark2: This is basically a cheaper version of the Delica. So it's not quite the classic knife that the Delica is, but it'll get the job done for about a third of the price. If you want something a bit larger, check out the Spyderco Byrd Cara Cara2.
Kershaw Shuffle: This is an ultra-affordable knife with some multi-function tools. In addition to a sturdy blade, it has a screwdriver and bottle opener. The downside is that it's quite tiny and only good for small jobs.
CRKT Drifter 6450K: This is a compact, handsome knife that is ideal for budget EDC. It's under $25, has a 8Cr14MoV stainless steel 2.8-inch blade, and it's super versatile. The 6450K has a straight blade, but you can also get it in serrated (6460K) and a few other styles.
CRKT Squid: The Squid EDC knife is compact and handsome. It has an all-steel blade and body, making it a rarity in the sub-$20 market. Fully open it's under 4.5 inches.
Cold Steel Micro Recon 1: This knife is quite compact (it has a 2-inch blade) but it makes up for it with a tactical look and aggressive posturing.
Best EDC Tools
Gerber Suspension Multi-tool: It's not as fancy as some others, it's not murdered out in slick all-black, and it doesn't carry the Leatherman brand, but this multi-tool sells for under $25 and will never let you down.
CRKT Viva Keychain Multi-Tool: At $8 this is the perfect keychain, prybar, wrench, screwdriver combo. It comes in a classy stonewashed black steel which is a nice bonus as it'll add some character to your EDC.
Griffin Mini Pocket Multi-Tool: This one is a whole lot like the CRKT Viva -- which we actually prefer. The Griffin was included because it's a popular, and cool-looking option that has a more striking design than most other pry tools, even if it does seem unnecessarily expensive.
CRKT 9006 Snailor Bottle Opener: This is a whole lot less useful than the Viva, but we see a lot of people carrying snailors so this one made the list. This one is a steel bottle opener and keychain. It's sold in two versions: one with a hinge that makes it a carabiner and one without. It's worth noting that this tool is based on the popular, highly sought-after (and very expensive) Vox Knives Snailor.
Smith's PP1 Pocket Pal Sharpener: You carry an EDC knife with you, right? So why don't you carry a sharpener for that knife? When you think of it, this thing is a no-brainer for any pack, car, camping setup, boat, or RV. It's compact and under $8. Oh yeah, and it actually works!
Best Budget Flashlight
A good flashlight is part of almost every EDC, even if you don't want to spend too much. That's because a light source is super important under so many occassions (even during the day). Plus today's flashlights have gotten so nice that most of them are a pleasure to carry, even if you only use them now and them. Serious buyers tend to buy based on battery type (AA, AAA, CR123, CR2, etc.) but we don't need to get into that now.
Olight 90 Lumens i3E: Olight is one of the top names in EDC flashlights. Their models skew from very cheap to well over $50 (not that expensive in the scheme of things). This 90-lumen model is keychain-sized so it doesn't produce a lot of light, but it'll work in a pinch (under a cabinet, etc.). And it's just $10, so it'll sufficient but not going to be good for finding those keys you lost while trail-running at night.
Olight AAA Flashlight i3S brass: By doubling the price tag ($20) you can get 180 lumens and 180-lumen brightness from Olight. This is definitely a much classier piece, especially in the raw brass, if you care about the aesthetics of your EDC.
ThruNite Ti3 EDC Cree XP-G2: This mega-reliable, popular option has almost flawless reviews because it's so good and so simple. It's compact and gets the job done. It's the sort of flashlight you'll toss in your back or front shirt pocket and be covered for years to come.
Best Budget Wallet
Wallets tend to be expensive and non-functional. All too often you get an expensive piece of leather that is sensitive to, well, everything. Sure it looks nice but it's not ready for anything except a day at the office. And the design is the same as your dad's wallet. We'll be avoiding those and looking for affordable, versatile credit card storage devices.
The EDC wallet list will focus on models under $20, but we know wallets are often associated with success and are popular gifts so we are going to throw in a few higher end models (under $40).
Radix One Slim Wallet : This is another slim wallet like the Roco, but it's plastic (polycarbonate) instead of aluminum. It has super slick design that is barely larger than the credit cards it holds. If you want a minimalist wallet, this is the top choice for under $20.
Roco Aluminum Slim Wallet : When you think "EDC wallet" this is probably exactly what comes to mind. This aluminum wallet is really more of a money clip that tightly contains your cards and cash, while keeping everything tucked into a nicely pocketable shape.
SimpacX Slim Front Pocket Wallet: This is nothing fancy and it's from a no-name brand, but it's slim, has RFID blocking built-in, and it'll keep you light. It's built for 4 credit cards, 1 ID card, and a bit of cash. Everything you need, nothing you don't.
Herschel Supply Co. Men's Roy Wallet: EDC doesn't always mean unconventional or tactical. This is handsome wallet with a more standard design. What's not standard? It's made of durable, non-leather materials and it's RFID scanner blocking.
Machine Era Wallet Stainless Wallet: This is one of our splurge picks. It comes from Machine Era, maker of fine EDC-friendly products, it's steel instead of plastic, and it has a built-in bottle opener. That's a solid gift.
Decommissioned Fire Hose Wallet: It's not that cheap but it's recycled, it's obviously super rugged, and it beyond durable. Plus, it's made of recycled fire hose, how cool is that?
This site is all about being prepared for whatever may come, most especially the situations that are inevitably going to arise, as we all live our lives. That's because tires go flat, bikes breakdown, and all sorts of other things happen every day, so your EDC is about being prepared. It's also about having trust and pride in the tools you carry with you. We are firm believers in the fact that this can be done on a budget without sacrificing quality or reliability. And, because your tools represent you, quality and and a presentable nature are also important to us. There is no question about it: EDC has a style all to its own.