Reader Essentials with Jed

Jed Edwards, a retail manager, joins our conversation and shares his top 3 essential carry items.

Recommendation 01: Cotton Shemagh

Why? Not bombproof, but infinitely useful – a 1x1m square of cotton can be an extra layer in any weather: a scarf in winter, a shade in summer, a towel when you’re wet and soaked in water when you’re hot.

Even off the body, in a survival situation these have a hundred different uses, from a pre-filter for water to a sling for a broken arm. They come in a range of colours and price points, but the basic design is a literal classic. I never, ever leave the house without one.

Why? Let’s face it – instant coffee is rubbish, coffee shops cost too much, and a day without coffee is too bleak to consider. A decent thermal bottle then becomes a necessity, whether at work or out in the woods. There are a fair few on the market but I’ve found Stanley’s one-hander works best for me. The insulation is excellent (I’ve had my coffee kept hot for six hours. The same brand’s larger bottle advertises twenty-four!) and the build is guaranteed for life. I have heard of them failing with time, but a quick phonecall gets them replaced.

The reason I went with the one-hander is it just suits my uses. The lid is totally leak-proof so there’s no spill risk, no forgotten cups to get cold. The bottle can be sipped at across the day without leaving my seat or breaking stride whilst moving.

Recommendation 03: Victorinox Compact

Why? The Swiss Army Knife is an icon. Their quality is legendary, their design is flawless, their range stunning. They are almost universally recognised as a utilitarian tool rather than a vicious weapon and out of the hundreds of users I’ve spoken to I think I’ve heard of only two failing, ever.

In Victorinox’s huge range, there is a knife to suit every task, but – in my opinion – for day-to-day, in town use, the Compact is the best. It cuts the bulk down, dropping tools I don’t need. It cuts out the second blade, the second tin opener, and instead adds unique features such as a ballpoint pen, and a small screwdriver for spectacles or other tiny jobs.

For outdoor use a larger knife becomes more appropriate (my go-to is the Morakniv Companion) but doesn’t replace the Compact entirely. Scissors for opening food packets or a file for my fingernails when I get to camp.

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