So… EDC bags and backpacks. Which one is right for you? In order to answer this, we have to dig a little into your needs and lifestyle…
What job do you have? Do you work from home? Do you travel a lot? Do you live in an urban, suburban or rural area? Are you a man or a woman? Do you have like-minded people around you that won’t raise their eyebrows if you start carrying too much gear with you? These are all good questions to ask yourself.
Rule #1 for your is to never raise suspicions. Ever.
You don’t want a nosy co-worker to see some of the gear inside and make fun of you:
Hey, John, what’s with this? Why do you carry a folding knife with you at the office? Are you afraid Mike’s going to attack you for stealing his raise?
Since you’ll be carrying these items every day, chances are someone is going to see them at some point, unless you’re really careful. You don’t want people to give you the cold shoulder simply because you’re a prepper. If you live in a city and you have a job you want to keep, things like this may hinder your career.
That being said, your everyday carry pouch shouldn’t be too big. You don’t need to carry a hiking backpack with you at the office that’s full of gear (though, if you can, you’ll get such examples of recommendations as well). On the other hand, a smaller backpack could not only conceal your gear but can also be useful to carry your laptop, documents and anything else you need on a daily basis.
This is the reason I don’t recommend you get the absolute smallest bag possible, like some folks do. A larger one, such as a laptop bag could have a double purpose, meaning no one is going to ask any questions about its contents. It’s all about balance. This whole “not standing out” concept is also referred to as being a grey man or woman, by the way.
Rule #2: only get the essentials.
On the one hand, you want to have as many items with you as possible. On the other, you don’t want too much stuff because it’ll weigh you down and you’ll have trouble fitting everything in your pockets or your survival edc bag.
Here’s the kicker: even if you can fit a lot more stuff in your bag, don’t do it. I know it’s tempting, but it’s best to keep everything as light as possible. It’s also a good idea to start small, so you don’t end up with a bunch of gear you regret buying.
Ok, let’s talk about what you should look for when choosing an everyday carry bag…
The Ideal EDC Bag Should…
- be large enough to hold most of your items
- be lightweight and strong
- be kept under the radar (nobody should ever suspect you’re prepping)
- have plenty of pockets
- (optional) have MOLLE webbing to allow you to attach more gear to it when needed
The Best Everyday Carry Bag for You
Here’s my full list of the best edc bags that are out there, I trust you’re going to keep in mind the questions from the beginning of this article before making your choice.
The Laptop Bag
You don’t even have to carry a laptop, the things you need and use on a daily basis are enough to justify having it. A lot of them have zippered pockets that can store all sorts of EDC gear.
A Messenger/Shoulder Bag (for Men)
This is the most stylish EDC alternative for guys and I think you should consider it even if you’re not trying to dress dapper. However, keep in mind that a good bag doesn’t leave any clues as to the gear that it’s hiding inside. Many guys are wearing messenger bags in cities so it’s easy to blend in when you have one.
Keep in mind that the look and feel of the bag should match your surroundings. You don’t want anything too fancy if you live in a small town, it will only attract attention. On the other hand, if you have a corporate job in a big city, one that’s more stylish will work. The best way to protect your survival items and yourself is to never stand out form the crowd.
If you’re not interested in the fashion aspect, you can go for a proven brand and get the Maxpedition Veldspar Shoulder Bag. If you’re looking for something cheaper, the Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag is also great, in addition to being waterproof.
A Sling/Waist Bag
If you’re looking for something small to carry around your waist or shoulders, how about the Maxpedition Fatboy Versipack or the WATERFLY Waist Bag? Lots of options here, so why not go for something that is waterproof?
A Big Purse
Ladies, I know guys sometimes make fun of you for having big purses but you should probably consider getting bigger ones. It’s either that or sacrificing some of your less useful EDC items.
Besides, no one is going to say anything when you show up with a big purse, like they would if you showed up with a big tactical backpack. Purses are socially accepted, making them great EDC carry bags. And don’t shy away from wearing something that’s brightly colored on the inside, at least:
A Tablet Case With Card Holder
Not really a bag, but you think of it as an extension of your wallet. If you take your tablet with you every day, why not opt for a case that has some extra storage space. Whether you have an iPad or an Android tablet, there’re plenty of such cases to choose from.
The Travel EDC Backpack
A backpack is great because you get used to having weight on your back every day. It’s good practice for when you’re gonna need to carry your bug-out bag. Some of them are also meant to hold laptop, meaning they have straps and sponges to protect it from shocks.
This is a great alternative to option #1, the laptop bag (that you’d normally carry in your hand). The other benefit is that it’s good practice for carrying your bug out bag. As you get used to it, you should add more weight (such as a big bottle of water). It’ll be quite the workout…
EDC Backpack recommendations:
A Tactical Backpack
If you live in a smaller town and use your car a lot, you can go for something a little more advanced such as a tactical backpack. This will allow you to pack more stuff in to cover a wider variety of scenarios. Do this right and you’ll also end up with something that will act as a get home bag and even a bug out bag.
A Belt Pack
Belt packs are smaller and go around your waist but they’re more than enough to keep your EDC gear as well as some of the stuff you use everyday, such as your keys and your phone. If you choose one, you’re gonna have to put the rest of your EDC gear in your pockets. Plus, you can’t really fit a bottle of water like you can in a purse or a backpack so you’re just gonna have to settle for a few water purifying tablets.
If you don’t mind carrying a lot of weight with you, then how about a bag from a company that’s more or less as good as Maxpedition but has lower prices? The Voodoo Tactical Mammoth Deployment Duffle Bag may be what you’re looking for.
A Camera Bag
If you’re a photographer, you’ve got a good excuse to wear such a bag with you at all times. Just like laptop bags, many have lots of pockets where you can fit all sorts of things.
Camera bag recommendations:
- the Domke 701-83A F-803 Camera Satchel Bag
- the Fujifilm F-803 Camera Bag
A MOLLE EDC Pouch
This one is just great. The fact that it’s MOLLE compatible means you can attach it to other tactical backpacks that are also compatible.
The beauty of it is that it’s specifically designed with survival situation in mind. So what you have is one large compartment where you can put the bulk of the items and smaller pockets where you can add the things you might need quick access to.
Other Places to Hide Your EDC Items
Besides having an actual bag to keep your edc gear, you can stash some of them in other places such as:
- the front pocket of your shirt or polo shirt
- the extra pockets of your cargo pants
- on your wrist (think paracord bracelets)
- your phone! (to keep survival knowledge such as offline maps, your car’s owner’s manual and survival ebooks)
- around your neck (using a lanyard)
The Following Do NOT Make Good EDC Bags
- large backpacks that you would normally use as get home bags or BOBs
- camouflage/tactical bags (you’re just asking for it)
- bags that are too small (and don’t allow you to store all the items you think you’ll need)
I hope you didn’t just scroll here, and actually read the entire article. Here goes:
- the Camelbak Urban Assault Pack
- the Tamrac 5788 Evolution 8
- the TT Medic Assault Pack – a little big and tactical-looking, but some people love it
- the Maxpedition Pygmy Falcon-II Backpack
- the Tactical Tailor Operator Urban Pack
- the Mountainsmith Red Rock 25 Backpack
- BFG Dapper Insert Panel
- Field Operator’s Action Pack
- Quiksilver Men’s Lone Walker Waist Pack
- Messenger Bag for Laptop Briefcase Satchel – very stylish and spacious
- Maxpedition Fatty Pocket Organizer
- the EDC Tactical Assault Bag with Molle Webbing
- Oakley Mens Icon Backpack
- OneTigris Compact MOLLE EDC Pouch
Well, that was it. I hope by now you have a pretty good idea of what to get. And if you’re still in doubt because you may need one for certain types of activities and another one for other types, why not get two of them? The advantage of EDC bags (as opposed to bug out bags) is that you can just take out the contents and quickly move it into your other bag.
So, what’s the best EDC bag for you? Only you can answer that by looking at your daily activities, and making a list of all the emergencies you might have to face.