Choosing the best EDC bag to contain your every day carry items is an important part optimizing your day-to-day preparedness.
There are many brands, styles, features, and sizes of bags out there, and in this article, we will help you identify what to look for as well as what to avoid when selecting the right bag for your EDC kit.
Step 1: Choose Your EDC Items
Before choosing an EDC bag, we need to go over exactly what gear we plan to carry.
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 reassess your EDC needs.
We cover this process in depth in our How To Make An EDC List article but we will recap here for your convenience.
Let’s perform our EDC list review by asking ourselves following questions.
1. 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. These items usually include a wallet, keys, and cell 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.
2. 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 paying attention to evolving risks around you.
Once you have a list of medium to high probability risks, add to this the 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.
3. What could you carry that would be universally useful in many situations?
This follows the philosophy of carrying multipurpose survival items.
What items could you carry that have many uses?
Items like duct tape, paracord, and a multitool fit perfectly into this category. Is there anything that you can add to your every day carry bag that fits this profile?
4. 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 less common circumstances.
They may include emergency tools such as a seatbelt cutter/window breaker for escaping vehicles, a spare handcuff key, or a pry tool for forcing doors open.
Do you have to walk through a rough neighborhood on your way home from work every? Maybe carrying pepper spray would be prudent?
Consider 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 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 that can fit all your items, once discounting any items that you may decide to carry in your pockets.
Start by measuring the largest item. Its size will be the minimum dimensions of your EDC bag. Also, consider if you will be adding any items to your EDC kit on an occasional basis 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.
Here is a list of the most common EDC bag types:
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 bag 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, and hooks for organizing your EDC gear
Items typically carried in an EDC Lumbar Pack include anything that is mentioned above in EDC Organizer Pouch list 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 EDC 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 Features to Avoid in an EDC Bag
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.
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.
Every body is different. Buying a bag that is meant to fit all people is a recipe for frustration and discomfort. Your EDC bag needs to fit your body shape securely and not restrict your movement.
This means having multiple adjustment straps and clips at the following points at a 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 right 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 quality zippers that will not get stuck 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 the 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 are constructed in 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:
- Building Your EDC List
- How To Choose The Best EDC Knife
- Picking an EDC Flashlight
- 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 everyday life
Where to Go From Here: Pack Your Bug Out Bag
Once you’ve developed your EDC kit, if you haven’t done so yet, you should consider preparing a bug out bag.
We are the most comprehensive source for bugging out and take pride in our helpful Bug Out Bag List to help you pack!
What do you think the best EDC bag is? Are there any features that you think are essential for EDC bags?
Please let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!
13 comments on “How To Choose The Best EDC Bag”
Thank You!! It never occurred to me to carry an “Everyday Carry Bag” until reading your article. Now that I’ve read through the entire article though I can see the wisdom of this and can easily remember times when I wish I had something like this with me. Am going to take the time to reassess my particular area and what I might face and, therefore, what items would be most needed. I’ve always been of the mind to “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best” and this indeed fits right into that. Again I say THANK YOU for bringing this issue to my attention and the attention of others who may not have given this a second thought.
What an awesome article! This really helped me narrow down my choices. I was thinking about getting a larger backpack to carry with me everyday, but after reading the article I realized that all I really need is a small pack for my flashlight, keys, wallet, phone, some first aid stuff and my knife. After searching high and low I finally got the Red Rock Slingkick at: http://zuffel.com/collections/sling-bag/products/sidekick-sling-bag-black
I was surprised because it was only $29.99 + $8. I made it my EDC using the list you gave out. I saw other way more expensive “EDC’s” bags but because I was just starting out I didn’t want to spend $$$ on a bag I might not like. I think the next bag I get will be Maxpedition. What do you think? I know why you are saying invest in a better bag hopefully this one pans out. Thanks Bro!
Glad you liked the article, thanks for your feedback. Maxpedition makes top quality bags but you are right, they are pricey. If you are not going into a combat zone you could probably spend less and get a good bag that won’t last quite as long as a Maxpedition bag but will serve you well.
I have an eleven year old jansport backpack that I’ve used in Asia for the same amount of years.
I also carry a black Northface backpack with my multiple slingshots, ammo, knife,Multi tool, water.
I’m not interested in carrying a man purse so I make my backpacks my EDC.
Would the Tactical Assault Backpack with Molle – Bug-Out-Bag EDC Pack work for an active college student (he hikes constantly but also has to carry around pounds of books).
Yes, the Tactical Assault Pack would be a perfect mixed-use pack for both hiking and school. It is a good size for both.
I would caution about a tactical looking bag in an urban setting. They have their place and at least for me that is when I am in the field. I wouldn’t get camo patterns for urban carry. Neutral colors work very well. No black, no coyote. They scream to everyone that this person has supplies/training/weapons. I just picked up a Grey Ghost Gear throwback pack in green with tan accents. Reason is I’m working just outside of town. It isn’t larger than you’d find in an assault pack and will be utilized for trips up to 24 hours. It has velcro on both of it’s interior pockets for modularity. No molle on the outside of it, but compression straps, bungee for a garment, hydro pocket, and small item pocket for my medkit. I work in aviation so typically I’ll have a knife, multitool, first aid, pistol, 2 extra mags, fire, water, and some shelter in addition to other options. Gopd luck.
“screams that this person has military training”? Haha! Nope, screams that “this person likes playing armies, paintball, and call of duty on his pc”!
Kids will think that but not everyone. But you can laugh that off when you actually find out.
EDC Organizer Pouch
I would recommend a small .25 or .22 cal handgun light weight and tactically useful for game and defense with proper training
Pair it with a suppressor if legal in your area and you have a potent combo for hunting and such.
My 9mm is about the same size as a .25 and will actually do some damage. with a .25 you are just going to piss someone off. “Carry a 25 if it makes you feel good, but do not ever load it. If you load it you may shoot it. If you shoot it you may hit somebody, and if you hit somebody, and he finds out about it, he may be very angry with you.”
– Col. Jeff Cooper
Can anyone recommend a small 22L BACKPACK with a great harness, padded waist belt, ventilated back, that is NOT a sling style, one strap deal? No offense, but 5.11 Tactical bags are too heavy-so how about other product suggestions.