Choosing the best EDC bag to hold your every day carry items is an important part of your day to day preparedness. There are many brands, styles, features, and sizes of bags out there, in this article we will help you identify what of these to look for as well as what to avoid when finding the best EDC bag for you.
- Step 1: Choose Your EDC Items
- Step 2: How Big Should Your Best EDC Bag Be?
- Step 3: Choosing the Best EDC Bag Type for You
- Step 4: Features You Need and Want to Avoid in an EDC Bag
- Finding The Best EDC Bag For You
- Want Even MORE Info On Building Your EDC Kit?
- Where to Go From Here: Prepare Your Bug Out Bag
Step 1: Choose Your EDC Items
Whether you are new to the idea of Every Day Carry or someone who has been carrying a kit around for years take this as an opportunity to assess your EDC needs and what the minimum items are that you need to address these. We cover this in depth in our article How To Make An EDC List but we will recap here for your convenience. We will do this by performing a EDC List Review by stepping through the following questions.
- What items do you NEED to carry with you to accomplish your basic daily routine?
These are the basic items that you can’t leave your house without. It would minimally include a wallet, keys, and phone. You may require more than this based on where you live or what you do professionally. Keep this list as minimal as possible, it will be the core of your EDC kit and we will add on from here.
- What are the threats, risks, and common problems that you are likely to face on a day to day basis?
We covered how to perform a risk assessment in the article we mentioned above (here) but the basics of this are to take a look at your environment and identify what potentially negative events are most likely to occur. Part of knowing this is to understand what has happened historically in your area as well as keeping apprised of evolving risks around you. Once you have a list of medium to high probability risks add to this commonly occurring problems in your daily life. Do you need to frequently open boxes or packages? Would carrying a knife help you with that? Is it common for you to be in dark areas or to be out late at night? Maybe it would be a good idea to start carrying an EDC flashlight (Check out our article here on the best EDC flashlights). What we are looking to address here are items that address common problems and high probability risks. Think critically about these two elements and be shrewd about what you plan on packing.
- What could you carry that would be universally useful across many situations?
This follows the methodology of multipurpose survival items we covered here. What items could you carry that have many uses? Items like duct tape, paracord, and a multitool fit perfectly into this niche. Is there anything that you can add to your every day carry bag that fits this profile?
- What items do you want to carry to assist with a low probability/high impact situation you may have to face?
These items are ones that are nice to have but not things that you hope to have to use except in extreme circumstances. They may include egress tools such as a seatbelt cutter/window breaker for escaping vehicles, a spare handcuff key, or a pry tool for forcing doors open. Think about low probability events with a high, negative impact that you could greatly improve your survivability by having a simple tool.
Carefully consider the questions above when crafting your EDC list. Keep in mind that you are not striving to solve every problem or cover every possibility with your EDC kit, for that you will want a full Bug Out Bag. Keep your EDC kit as simple and effective as possible. If your intention is to carry these items with you EVERY DAY you do not want a bloated list of gear that you carry around and never use.
Step 2: How Big Should Your Best EDC Bag Be?
After determining your ideal every day carry list figuring out the best EDC bag size to contain it is relatively straightforward. I suggest finding the smallest bag you can that can fit all your items. Start with measuring the largest item. Its size will be the minimum dimensions of your EDC bag. Also consider if you will be adding any items on a occasional basis to your EDC kit such as rain gear, water bottles, food, documents, or anything else you will be carrying as the need arises.
You will want extra space or the option of modular additions through a MOLLE system or other method to fit these occasional items. EDC bags come in many styles and sizes, from a small organizer pouch that can fit into a cargo pocket up to 30 liter backpacks. Anything larger than this is moving into Get Home or Bug Out Bag territory.
If you require a bag larger than 30L, you either have some BIG EDC items to carry or may want to re-examine your EDC list.
Step 3: Choosing the Best EDC Bag Type for You
There are many types of bags used for Every Day Carry purposes. The most common EDC bag types are:
EDC Organizer Pouch
An EDC Organizer Pouch is the smallest style of EDC bag. This is for people who have too many items to simply carry in their pants pockets but not enough to require a pack.
EDC organizer pouches typically:
- Are 1 liter or less in volume
- Have many interior pockets, hooks, and webbing for organizing EDC gear
- Have MOLLE attachment points for integration into larger kits
- Fit in a cargo pocket or are worn on a belt
Common EDC items that are stored in an EDC organizer pouch include:
- Folding Knife
- Tactical Pen
- Waterproof Notebook
- First Aid Items
- Credit Cards
- Survival Whistle
We recommend: The OneTigris Compact MOLLE EDC Pouch
EDC Lumbar Pack
EDC Lumbar Packs are larger than organizer pouches but smaller than a sling bag or backpack. This is useful if you plan on carrying larger items or a greater quantity of smaller items. Because this style of pack does not strap around the shoulders and arms it may be the best EDC bag option for someone who needs a full range of motion.
EDC Lumbar Packs typically:
- Are 5-10 liters in volume
- Are worn around the waist but also have a carry handle if you need to carry them by hand
- Have MOLLE webbing both to attach them to larger bags or to attach smaller pouches to the lumbar pack
- Have multiple compartments which will each contain various webbings, pouches, hooks, etc for organizing your EDC gear
Items typically carried in an EDC Lumbar Pack include anything that is mentioned above as being carried in an EDC Organizer Pouch plus:
- Fixed Blade Knife
- First Aid Kit
- EDC Flashlight
- Lockpick Set
- Full Sized Notepad
- Rain Gear
- Water Bottle
We recommend: The Maxpedition Proteus Versipack
EDC Sling Bag
An EDC Sling Bag is typically used to carry heavier items than a lumbar pack due to its over the shoulder design. They are made to be comfortably carried further with a heavier load and can be the best EDC bag choice for someone who has many items to haul on a day to day basis.
EDC Sling Bags typically:
- Are 10-20 liters in volume
- Have MOLLE integration
- Allow left or right side carry
- Are easier to secure tightly to the body than a lumbar pack
- Have many pockets and compartments that allow for easy organization of every day carry gear
In addition to the items listed to be carried in an organizer pouch and lumbar pack, items that can be carried in an EDC Sling Bag include:
- Extra ammunition
- Small Laptop
- Mid-sized Medkit
- Prepackaged Meals
- Fire Starting Kit
- Pry Tool
We recommend: The Red Rock Outdoor Gear Hipster Sling Bag
An EDC backpack is perfect for someone who likes to pack lots of “just in case” gear. It is the obvious choice for anyone who has large sized every day carry items or a long EDC list based on their personal needs.
EDC backpacks typically:
- Are 20-30 liters in volume
- Have MOLLE integration
- Include hydration bladder systems
- Have fewer pockets but more modular customization possibilities for external pouches
In addition to the items listed for the 3 bags already covered, every day carry items carried in EDC Backpacks include:
- Folding Saw or Hatchet
- Hydration Bladder
- Change of Clothes
- Full Sized Laptop
- Full Medkit
- Mini survival kit
We recommend: The RUSH12 Backpack by 5.11
Step 4: Features You Need and Want to Avoid in an EDC Bag
This is a highly personal choice. We suggest carrying the smallest bag that suits your every day carry needs. Fortunately many of the best EDC bags come with customization options to add or remove space as you need it via modular MOLLE pouches so your EDC bag can evolve with your requirements. Regardless of what bag style you choose here is a list of features to seek out and avoid when finding the best EDC bag for your needs:
High quality craftsmanship
If you are planning on carrying the best EDC bag EVERY DAY you do not want something cheap that is going to fall apart on you. Invest in a quality bag from a brand that has a good reputation and it will pay dividends.
MOLLE integration is a valuable feature to have in any tactical or preparedness bag as its widespread use allows for limitless customization options. Having it as a part of your EDC kit, regardless of the bag size and style that you choose will allow flexible adaptation as your EDC needs evolve.
This applies to sling bags and backpacks. Having a hydration system built into the bag will save space and reduce the need to carry a separate water bottle. Hydration is essential if you have to cover large distances with your EDC bag.
As we all know every body is different. Buying a bag that is meant to fit all people is a recipe for frustration and discomfort. For a bag to be the best EDC bag possible it needs to fit your body shape securely and not restrict your movement. This mean having multiple adjustment straps and clips at the following points at minimum:
Being able to adjust the fit of the bag at these 3 points will ensure that you have a securely fitting bag that you can wear all day, every day if need be.
Ability to run with the bag
This goes hand in hand with having a well-fitted bag. You never know when you need to run with your bag, you may need to catch a bus or evade detection from unfriendly people. Either way having a bag that both stays in place and does not jumble your EDC items around is an important feature to look for when choosing the best EDC bag for your situation.
Organization pouches within the bag
A good indication that you have a high quality EDC bag instead of a more general consumer style bag is that it has well laid out, accessible, and practical organization features built into the bag. This helps you find your EDC items when you need them and allows you to organize them in the manner that is most logical to your EDC needs. Most quality EDC bags come with a variety of webbing, pouches, velcro, zippers, sleeves, and compartments that allow for efficient storage of your items.
Tough, corrosion resistant zippers
The zipper is a weak point in any bag. Being that you will use them thousands of times over the life of the bag it is important that your EDC bag has strong zippers that will not bind or break on you. Additionally it is better to have zippers and pulls that are made from a strong plastic, aluminum, or other rust-free material. If you are carrying this bag every day it will at many times be exposed to the elements. Over time this will cause corrosion and failure in cheap zippers. Zippers are where cheap manufacturers will look to cut corners. The best EDC bag makers on the market know that a quality zipper can mean the difference between a reliable bag and a piece of junk.
Features to avoid
As important as the above mentioned Essential Features are to include it is also necessary to be aware of features to avoid when finding the best EDC bag for you.
One large compartment
If you are going to carry your carefully selected EDC gear in a bag that has one large compartment you might as well just tote around a burlap sack. It will be cheaper and accomplish the same thing – jumbling your gear so you can’t find what you need in an emergency and making for an uncomfortable carry. Choose a bag with multiple compartments and organizational options within the bag to optimize accessibility of your EDC items and better manage the load.
This is a way that cheap bag makers cut costs. Instead of making strong, padded, adjustable straps they will use elastic ones that make the bag a one-size-fits-none. Additionally the elasticity of these will wear out over time making the bag hang lower than desired. If a bag uses elastic straps to attach it to your body avoid it at all costs. Look for robust shoulder and hip straps with adjustable buckles for comfortable, long lasting fit.
Once again, even the best EDC bag is not intended to cover every possible circumstance. This is what your bug out bag is for. Carefully assess your every day carry needs and try these tips to minimize what gear you will be carrying:
- Review your EDC list of items and see what you actually use on a day to day basis and what you can cut out.
- Utilize multipurpose items to save space and weight
- Try to find lightweight options for the items that you do carry that include materials such as titanium, micarta, carbon fiber, and plastics
- If an item comes in multiple sizes choose the smaller version – small medkit versus full sized or folding knife versus fixed blade
Finding The Best EDC Bag For You
As you can see, the journey of finding the best EDC bag to meet your every day carry needs is a highly personal choice.
You will have to balance the threats you are likely to face with what you are able and willing to carry with you every step of the way. Once you have come to a decision of what your EDC kit will be it is best to find a high quality bag that is comfortable and small enough to not encumber you if you need to move quickly. Having a smaller, lighter kit with useful, practical items is more desirable than having a huge bag full of items you are unlikely to ever use.
Plan you kit thoughtfully and choose the best EDC bag you can to meet YOUR needs. Remember, chance favors the well prepared.
If you want to read more on putting together your EDC kit, check out our related articles on:
- How To Choose The Best EDC Knife
- Picking an EDC Flashlight
- Building Your EDC List
- Finding The Best Tactical Pen For Your Kit
Want Even MORE Info On Building Your EDC Kit?
If you are looking for even more information on how to build your ultimate EDC kit you can check out my book, The Every Day Carry Guide. It is a comprehensive manual that will teach you:
- How to be prepared at all times – no matter where you are
- How to build your first EDC kit from scratch
- How to refine an existing kit to make it more effective
- How to pick the best gear to realistically make you more prepared
- How to assess threats and risks in your every day life
Where to Go From Here: Prepare Your Bug Out Bag
Once you’ve developed your EDC kit, if you haven’t done so yet, you may want to consider putting together and packing a bug out bag. We are the most comprehensive source for bugging out and take pride in our helpful Bug Out Bag List that covers all the essentials to help get you packed in no time.
What do you think the best EDC bag is? Are there any features that you think are essential for the best EDC bag to have? Please let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!