Submitted by Ed Jelley

Editor’s Note: Ed Jelley is a long-time EDCer and authority in the pen and paper blogosphere. At his blog,, he’s published dozens of quality reviews of everything involving the finer points of writing, including pens, pencils, ink, paper, and other accessories. I’m excited to introduce him as the newest contributor to our editorial team. This post also marks the return of Carry Smarter, a series of informative, enlightening and empowering articles to help you improve your day-to-day by making the most of your EDC.

Why bother with analog writing?

In today’s world of smartphones, note taking apps, and the increasing use of technology in every day life, I strongly believe that there is still a place for analog writing tools. Not everyone carries a pen or pencil and paper, but it can be a valuable addition to your EDC that may have more utility than you had thought. There are plenty of reasons why you should revisit analog. To name a few…

  • It feels better: I think that putting pen to paper has a unique tactile feel, much better than that of tapping a note into a phone.
  • It’s physically permanent: I find it easier to go back and look over past written notes, especially when digital notes are easily deleted.
  • It’s a more gratifying experience: I personally carry a Field Notes pocket notebook with me every day and use it as a micro journal. It’s a great feeling to accumulate a stack of notebooks that have a few thoughts from each day and go back over them from time to time, much more so than scrolling through an electronic feed of files.
  • It helps you remember: Writing analog commits your thoughts to muscle memory and it’s been scientifically proven to help you remember what you write better.
Why should I carry a pen?

Have you ever had to borrow a pen? Not unlike the feeling when I first started carrying a knife, you may not know how much you will use one until you start carrying one. Whether it is signing a receipt, jotting down a phone number, or taking notes at work or school, there is no shortage of uses for a pen. Here’s just a few upsides to carrying a pen daily:

  • Longevity: You won’t have to worry about it running out of battery
  • Convenience: You won’t need someone’s email/number just to leave a note
  • Cleanliness: You’ll avoid picking up germs from shared pens in public places
  • Preparedness: You’ll always be prepared to write down emergency information (car accident, medical condition, etc.)
Which pen is right for me?

As for which pen to carry, there are thousands of options from dirt cheap ballpoints to $1,000 fountain pens and each one is unique. Different ink types have different properties such as water resistance, permanence, fade-resistance and even how smooth a pen writes depends on what kind of ink it has. For me, it’s been a fun journey to find that perfect pen. A quality pen or pencil can be a very personal item that can be worked into your EDC and be enjoyed for years to come. Here are just a few places to start, depending on if you want…

…an EDC pen that won’t break the bank:

Zebra F301 Ballpoint

It is hard to find as sturdy of a pen as the F-301 anywhere near the price. Coming in under $5, the Zebra is a click action ballpoint made of stainless steel with a checkered finger grip. Common amongst EDC enthusiasts due to its wide availability and affordable price, the F-301 is a great option for those who want to try out carrying a pen without breaking the bank. The pen also has refills available, cutting down on the waste associated with disposable pens.

BUY ($5)

…to be able to write anywhere, on anything, under any conditions:

Fisher Bullet Space Pen

Despite being the brunt of several jokes in a Seinfeld episode, few pens have the ability to go anywhere and write anywhere like the Fisher Space Pen. The bullet version is compact for pocket carry and the cap posts on the end of the barrel to make for a comfortable writing experience. What makes the Fisher Space Pen unique is its pressurized ballpoint cartridge that is capable of writing upside down, underwater, over grease, at extreme temperatures (-30ºF to 250ºF) and of course, in space. The pen refill cartridge has a shelf life of 100 years, so you can always count on the Fisher Space Pen to write when you need it most.

BUY ($18+)

…to carry a pen without crowding your pockets:

Move Bolt Action EDC Keychain Pen by Oliver Sha

The Move Bolt Action EDC pen is a great option for those who may not want to dedicate pocket space to a pen, but still wish to carry one. The Move is an excellent keychain pen with an integrated key ring loop. The bolt action mechanism prevents accidental extension of the writing point and the aluminum construction has no problems staying in one piece while jingling around with your keys. The pen is quite small and takes up about the same room as a key, so don’t expect to write any novels. It is stylish, convenient and available in three finishes to suit your taste.

BUY ($52+)

…a more substantial alternative to your beloved Pilot G2:

The Mover / Shaker by Tactile Turn

The Mover and Shaker by Tactile Turn are some of my favorite pens out there. A sleek body design with a unique machined grip pattern at the tip make for an awesome EDC pen. The steel pocket clip is strong and resilient, having no problems grabbing onto a thicker jeans pocket. The pens take a ton of different refills, including the common Parker Style (Shaker) and G2 Gel Ink (Mover). Between the two models, the Tactile Turn pens can write however you want them to, whether it be gel, rollerball, or ballpoint. Available in several anodized colors and different metals (including brass, titanium, bronze and copper) there is sure to be a colorway to coordinate with your EDC.

BUY ($69+)

…a fountain pen robust enough for EDC:

Karas Kustoms INK

Karas Kustoms has a killer lineup of pens, all machined from aluminum, brass or copper and made in the USA. Out of their pen offerings, the INK resonates with me the most. The all-aluminum pen can be configured as either a fountain pen or rollerball. For further customization you can order new grip sections made of different metals and you have a choice in several anodized colors. The INK is the first fountain pen I have come across that can take a real beating through every day use and continue to provide a great writing experience. It has one of the sturdiest clips I have seen and it is built like a tank.

BUY ($85+)

These options just barely scratch the surface of analog writing. There are thousands of options, each with their own unique look, feel, and writing experience. Check back for part two of the guide, as we explore pocket notebooks and their many uses in an EDC.

Editor’s Note: Do you prefer writing analog? If so, what’s your go-to EDC pen? Drop a comment below and let us know!

Recon: Stealth Operator Pack in Kryptek Typhon

While in search of a sub-1000 cu. in pack, I found that this type of pack just doesn’t seem to get the attention that larger packs get. 

This small wonder is the coolest little pack I’ve seen in a long time. It’s very low profile, simple yet very cleverly designed for civilian or law enforcement use. Too often smaller packs are very narrow or too flat. Grey Ghost Gear has found a happy medium. It doesn’t stick out or draw attention and it won’t throw you off balance when it is loaded like a larger, heavier pack would. 

The Stealth Operator Pack is 887 cu. inches and just big enough for daily essentials. It has a vertical front pocket for access to the admin area, with open pockets to secure pens or other EDC options in addition to a rather large zipper pocket for things like wallet or passport. 

True to it’s name, this pack is sneaky. Behind the admin pocket is a hidden holster pocket with adjustable hook and loop straps to secure any sidearm well out of view. If you opened the pocket to glance, you’d never find it, so prying eyes are none the wiser. Honestly I almost missed the pocket on initial inspection, but I’m glad I found it as it is one of the packs most redeeming qualities. CCW (Carrying a Concealed Weapon) in your EDC never felt so good!

The main inside compartment is big enough for a change of clothes, a jacket, IFAK or whatever you might need for one day. Inside, the top lid of the pack has three mesh pockets, two are open at the top secured with hook and loop strap closures that would be ideal for multiple AR mags, a radio, tool kit etc. Below those two side by side pockets is one zip closure mesh pocket. 

The back is well padded and lined with breathable mesh. Behind the padding is a space for a water bladder. It comes with a sternum strap and the shoulder straps on this pack are sufficiently padded but not overly so, as you shouldn’t need too much padding to carry EDC items. 

The Stealth Operator is like much of the Grey Ghost lineup in that it comes in many material and color options. This pack is an urban Kryptek Typhon in 500D Cordura. It is a darker more subdued camo but just like the Kryptek in Highlander, I wasn’t sure about the markings at first but within hours I was really liking this pattern. GGG offers 15 color ways and 3 different fabrics, Ripstop nylon and LiteLok as well as the trusty 500D Cordura. 

The Stealth Operator sells at $76.30 in ATACS and $109.00 for the rest of the color and material options.

Find the pack here

I give Grey Ghost Gear a lot of credit for pushing the envelope with new materials and new camo types and designing packs. They maintain their ties to the operators and LEO in the field and stay true to the game. 

Stay up-to-date with GGG here Submitted by Chris Szaroleta

For an impromptu recording session with a guitarist buddy, these are the items I carried. Obviously, my actual drums aren’t pictured. These Pro Marks are the sticks I’ve been using for years and I love them dearly. I always keep water with me when I play…gotta stay hydrated! This Klean Kanteen does very well. The Shure SE425’s are phenomenal. I tried so many other types of headphones/earbuds in years past, but after these, I will never look back. There’s my phone, which among its 1,000 other uses, is also my go-to metronome. I have the app pulled up on the screen. The Leatherman Sidekick is usually thrown in my bag anyway, but here, I’ll use it for any emergency repair work on my kit. I use the “OF COURSE I’M IN A BAND” card case any time I’m playing. It’ll hold my ID, a couple credit/debit cards and a few bills. This drum key is super special, because it was included in with the purchase with my drums…you can’t just buy a gold drum key anywhere! Enjoy. Submitted by Mikey Bautista

Jens Anso is a Danish knife designer and industrial designer known for gear designs that break convention and excite in their uniqueness. When he decides, then, to start a project for a new product, people sit up and listen. The Matrix is Jens’s first project on Kickstarter, and it’s his own unique take on the popular minimalist titanium wallet. CNC-machined in the U.S. to high tolerances, the Matrix is manufactured from extremely durable but lightweight titanium and carbon fiber, and can hold up to six credit cards with its integrated center spring. There is a little under a month left for this original Anso design, and backers can choose between four colors for their Matrix.

PRE-ORDER ($122)