Some of you may already know Rob Robideau. He runs a gear site called Personal Armament. He focuses on guns in addition to other EDC gear. He also puts out a very good podcast, probably the closest thing to an EDC podcast. Rob is quickly becoming one of the leading voices for gear information.
Following those sources of information, he also put out two ebooks and sent me a copy of each for review. The ebooks are available here:
The books are a pair, one a checklist of gear to help you wade through the options available and the other a series of interviews with folks in the gear community. The checklist is helpful enough, but the Practical Guide, the interview book, is really quite extraordinary. Think of them as a Matrix-style jack in for EDC information.
Those of us that like gear and gadgets don't have much in the way of traditional media--books, radio, and TV--that cater to us. We are, after all, a unique brand of weirdos that spend, say, half a grand on a flashlight (or run a contest to give said flashlight away). In this void though, there are a lot of new media sources to sate our appetites. Rob's book then is really a first of its kind--a new media writer crossing over back into an old media (really a new media adaptation of an old media).
The book itself is a pretty substantial work. There are interviews with Michael Janich, David Chow, Marshall Hoots, and my good friend Dan from Bladereviews.com. All of these folks are, in some way or another, an expert in a given area. Janich is a martial blade craft expert that works with Spyderco (the Yojimbo and Yojimbo II being perhaps his most famous collaborations). David Chow is the head of 4sevens. Marshall Hoots is the owner of the uber-gear site GoingGear. These folks and others are interviewed by Rob in a style that is both quite readable and very accessible. A book based on interviews is not easy to do. Go read one of the Faber and Faber On series books (my favorite: Lynch on Lynch). The problem you usually encounter in these style books is that interviewer, in order to really get good answers from the subject, has to be so advanced in his or her understanding of the subject that it is impossible for a non-afficiando to follow the conversation. Not here. Rob's decision to make the interviews relatively short, and his perceptive questions make the interviews really open to people with all sorts of knowledge backgrounds--from beginners to folks that have been carrying and caring about gear for years.
This book is perhaps as close as you can get to a perfect introduction to the idea of EDC. He takes you through all of the major categories of gear in interviews with knowledgeable experts--everything from guns to watches to pens. I had, prior to this book, considered writing a series of commentaries for beginners, but with this book available there is really no point at all. Rob covers all of the bases quite thoroughly.
But the book is not just for beginners. Folks that havr thought about and carried gear for years will learn new things. I, for one, found Chow's commentary on lumens both insightful and complementary to my own personal view on the subject. The experts do clearly express opinions here. They tell you want gear is better, maybe not by model number, but by design and features. I find this insight incredibly useful in shaping how I research, evaluate, and use the gear I have.
There are really only two problems I have with the book. First, it does not cover clothing or packs. I would like to see that happen in a second edition. Second, there are a few, very few (and coming from me, Mr. No Editor, this seems kinda hypocritical) spelling mistakes. These aren't even the kind the computer can catch (like Phoenix Flashlights instead of Fenix Flashlights). It is a very small point and one I could care less about, but some persnickety people might get all rankled by it. Yes, you folks that email me about split infinitives and dangling participles you know who you are, you might be flumoxed.
In short, this is something that if you are just starting to refine those pocket friends that go with you everyday and help with basic tasks often you should read. It reads very well on an iPad, the device I used and I would assume that it would do so on other readers as well. And if you are a gearhead from way back, take a gander. You will definitely learn a thing or two you didn't know.