Best EDC Bags To Safely Stash Your Precious Gear

By Just In Case Jack | Last Updated: July 11, 2022

Best EDC BagsA quick look online proves I’m not alone in my passion for Every Day Carry Bags (a.k.a. EDC Bags).

And thank goodness today we have way more options to choose from than the 1990’s fanny packs!

Nowadays, there are dozens of EDC bag manufacturers, each with a unique lineup of styles and sizes.

So many, in fact, deciding on the “best EDC bag” can feel a bit overwhelming. To be honest, it took me quite a while to settle on the right EDC bag for me.

So today, I’m going to share with you the exact process I followed.

This guide will ensure you find the perfect EDC bag and avoid costly mistakes. There are five main steps to my EDC bag selection process:

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EDC Items

1. Determine Your EDC Gear

The biggest mistake people make is buying their EDC bag before they know what’s going in it.

This means you’re not selecting the best tool for your specific needs. You’re making your plans fit the bag instead of your bag fitting your plans.

This is a recipe for disappointment!

You’ll end up with a bag far too big or too small, and without the features you need.

This means it won’t be as useful as it should be and you won’t want to carry it. Defeating the purpose of having an EDC bag in the first place!

So let’s go over a few of the most popular EDC items you may want to carry broken down into 3 main categories:

  1. The Standard Don’t-Leave-Home-Without Items
  2. The Mission Critical Tools and Devices
  3. The Convenience Matters Items

The Standard Don’t-Leave-Home-Without Items

Ok, take a moment to think through all the situations you face daily. What tools do you absolutely NEED to succeed in those situations?

List all the items you’d turn around and head home if you forgot.

Sure, many of these will be the items that you “could” carry in your pockets. But, I also urge you to resist the temptation to add too many of these items to this list.

You want to keep it short and concise as this will be the primary load you carry EVERY day.

Some examples that fall in this category are:

Keys

Whether it’s a car, home, or office, you’ll need them at some point.

Wallet

I’ve found out the hard way, it’s difficult to get anything done without the contents of my wallet.

Cell phone

People didn’t have cell phones 50 years ago, and they somehow got through the day. But times have changed. The expectation of instantaneous communication is now part of daily life.

The Mission Critical Tools and Devices

Next, consider the tasks, challenges, and threats you might encounter during your day. This will help you choose the items that help get your job done, reduce your risks, and help ensure your safety.

These are items that make your day harder or more dangerous to leave behind.

This might include:

Small specialty tools

If there’s a small tool you use frequently, it might be worth keeping a spare in your EDC in case you need it.

I used to keep a spare ultra-small screwdriver in my bag for adjusting delicate equipment. It was the only tool I knew I couldn’t borrow or improvise on the job.

Flashlight

There are plenty of reasons to carry a compact flashlight, both for work and for safety in the dark.

You can even get a smaller tactical flashlight without adding too much size or weight.

Safety Whistle

Survival whistles are compact, lightweight, and great for signaling for help.

Self-defense weapons

Daily life carries certain risks.

Ones you can only properly mitigate with self-defense weapons. Whether that means a knife, pepper spray, or firearm, this can be an essential tool to have at the ready.

Radio

Cell phones are great, but they don’t always have service. Some situations call for direct communication, and a small radio receiver is perfect for this.

If you get your HAM license, you have access to all kinds of communication channels.

Small multi-use items

You might want to add a small roll of duct tape, some paracord, a good multitool. Think of the little odds and ends you reach for to solve all kinds of problems.

Laptop

It’s a reality of daily life that some people have to carry a laptop computer throughout the day.

I go from meeting to meeting for a good part of the workday, so I have to count myself among them. I chose a smaller, lightweight laptop with good battery life so I can leave the cords at home.

The Convenience Matters Items

Finally, choose the convenience items that make your daily tasks easier. These aren’t critical items, but they’re ones that help your productivity and that you use frequently.

A few suggestions:

USB battery pack

If you depend on your cell phone, you know how quickly the battery can die.

If you’re not in the office throughout the day, it can be hard to recharge, so toss a USB battery pack in your EDC bag.

Notepad & tactical pen

I take lots of notes. Sure, some of it can be done with a notes app on my phone.

But a small paper notepad and tactical pen can be indispensable to share info or leave a note for someone.

Sunglasses

Let me just say, if I forget my sunglasses on a hot bright day, I’m not a happy camper.

Water bottle

A small water bottle is another wise addition to your EDC. I use a collapsible one, so it stores small when I’m not using it.

Headphones

NOT a necessity but headphones can help you focus on tasks or block out extraneous sounds.

Your EDC list will be different from mine based on the situations you face. These are things I’ve found I use often enough to warrant carrying.

However, I’m constantly reevaluating my EDC list. Determining if I still need to carry an item or to decide if I should upgrade to a newer, lighter version.

Over the years, I’ve found that some items which were once necessary no longer apply to a new daily routine.

Remember, these items shouldn’t be identical to the ones you carry in your Bug Out Bag. There may be some overlap, but your EDC bag should be much lighter because you’ll be taking it every day.

Think of it as the least amount of tools to get through a day. If you add too much, you’re weighing yourself down.

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Backpack

2. Choosing The Right EDC Bag Size

Now that you have a well-rounded list of EDC items, it’s time to see how much space your load requires.

If you plan to carry some of these items in your pockets or on your belt, you can set them aside for now.

For example, I keep my cell phone and a folding knife in my pocket, so I don’t need space for them in my bag.

Often, the largest item in your EDC list is the thing that drives your bag selection. My EDC bag has to fit a 13″ laptop, so anything smaller isn’t a viable option.

If you carry rain gear, safety equipment, or heavy tools, you’ll face a similar situation.

EDC bags range from small organizer pouches to full survival backpacks. So bag choice is heavily influenced by the amount you need to carry.

I recommend choosing one on the smaller end of the range that fits your EDC items. This will do two things:

  1. Force you to stay organized
  2. Keep you from adding more items “because there’s room.”

Once you’ve identified your largest items, it’s time to think about how you like to organize the rest.

There should be a lot of organizational pockets inside a quality EDC bag. That way you have plenty of flexibility to organize in any way that suits you.

I keep most of my items sorted by use (electronics in one pocket, first aid in another, etc.) and by the frequency of use.

My car keys are in a secure external pocket. That way, I can grab them without digging through the rest of the bag.

But my cell phone battery stays near the bottom since I don’t need it as often.

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Closeup view of closed zippers on a bag.

3. Selecting An EDC Bag Style

Just as there’s a wide range of features and sizes, there are also several different styles of bags.

I don’t mean “style” in the same sense as “fashion,” but more in the shape and functionality of the bag itself.

Depending on how you plan to use your EDC bag, you may prefer one style over another.

EDC Organizer Pouch

The smallest of EDC bags aren’t “bags” at all.

Instead, they are organizational pouches meant to fit in your pocket or on a belt. Most of them are under 1L in volume, roughly the size of a water bottle.

Due to the small size, an EDC organizer pouch is more discrete than many other options. If your EDC list is short and all the items are small, this can be a great option.

1
FTIM-5x7 (Gen-2) Maximizer
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2
Orca Tactical MOLLE Utility Pouch Gadget EDC Admin Organizer
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3
Barbarians Tactical MOLLE Pouch
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EDC Lumbar Pack

If you need a little more space but still want to avoid a pack on your shoulders, check out an EDC lumbar pack.

Unlike the formless “fanny pack” of the 1980s, these packs are well built and full of features. They have many inner compartments and water bottle pockets, to keep you organized.

They remain tight against your lower back and keep your gear from shifting back and forth while on the run.

When paired with a messenger bag shoulder strap, you can slip it to the front for quick access. Some are even compatible with backpack straps to haul around heavier loads.

4
G4Free Sport Outdoor Waist Pack Tactical Sling Bag
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Mountainsmith Day Lumbar Pack
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EDC Sling Bag

The next step up in size, the EDC sling bag is something between a lumbar pack and a backpack.

They’re designed to hug close to the upper body and swing around for quick access.

With the size increase, more features are available such as:

  • A hydration system
  • Laptop sleeves
  • Concealed carry pockets
6
Tactical Sling Bag Pack Military Shoulder Sling Backpack
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5.11 Rush Moab 6 Tactical Sling Pack
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Allen Tactical Lite Force Tactical Sling Pack
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EDC Backpack

Finally, for the more cumbersome loads, look into an EDC backpack.

If you’re committed to carrying a laptop and a decent about of other items, this may be your best (or only) choice.

These have ALL the options and features available. Plus, tons of space for all your EDC items, but they can get quite cumbersome if you’re not careful.

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5.11 Tactical Military Backpack
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The Bag I Own
EVATAC Combat Backpack
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row of images combat bag

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4. “Gray Man” Theory & Urban EDC Bags

If you’ve learned about the “gray man” theory in emergency situations, you’ll know that blending into a crowd is wise.

You’re less likely to be identified as a threat (or a savior). That way, you can accomplish your objectives with the least amount of hassle.

This can mean the difference between:

  • becoming sucked into the problem or
  • slipping past unnoticed

However, you’re probably also wondering how an EDC bag fits into this idea.

Many EDC bags have a very distinct, tactical look.

These survival bags tell a story. They advertise to everyone you have resources inside.

This isn’t ideal if you plan to be discrete while out in public.

Even if you aren’t looking to blend into a crowd, sometimes the tactical look isn’t what you’re looking for.

In my office, a rugged pack covered in MOLLE looks out of place. It would set some of our clients on edge in a way a more streamlined bag wouldn’t.

Luckily, gear manufacturers today make EDC packs that blend into an office setting.

This stems from the rise of cycle commuters in the outdoor-friendly Western US. Nearly everyone on the street in cities like Portland and Seattle has a daypack or messenger bag.

EDC bags for all sorts of settings from rainy city streets to Silicone Valley boardrooms!

Whether you have to blend into a crowd or just fit into the company dress code, urban EDC bags are a great option.

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5. Pulling The Trigger – Choosing Your EDC Bag

At this point, you should have some answers to the following EDC questions:

  • Which items you want to carry daily
  • How much space you need to carry them
  • Which style of bag you like best

So now it’s time to choose the one that suits you.

Whether you buy online or in-store, take the time to try packing your potential EDC bag to see how things fit. Sometimes you’ll find that dimensions aren’t accurate and a 15in laptop won’t fit in the “15in laptop sleeve”!

While you’re getting hands-on time with the bag, check for the quality of construction and materials.

If you notice bad seams, crooked attachments, or other signs the bag wasn’t made with the highest care, return it immediately.

Remember, this is a bag you’ll carry daily and count on for years. If you see problems at the start, they’re not going to get better as time goes on.

Again, the process of selecting your EDC items and the best EDC bag to carry them is a very personal one. The features that work for me may not work for you.

It’s also a process. One you should revisit on occasion as your needs change. You may find yourself carrying different items to adapt to your daily tasks.

Remember, at the end of the day, you’re building yourself a toolkit to get through your everyday life.

It’s a whole lot easier to face those everyday challenges with an EDC bag full of your personal gear.

Jason K.

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