Selecting and equipping yourself with the perfect EDC load is a source of joy and frustration for many preppers, in equal measure. Trying to find the just-right combination of gear and small items to support you as you go about your daily tasks while at the same time keeping you equipped in an emergency is often mildly maddening. In a good way! Maybe… Argh! I wish I had more pockets!
If you are anything like me, you struggle between two seemingly mutually exclusive ideals: one is being well equipped for all feasibly possible emergencies, and the other is not dressing like some combination of mil-surp enthusiast, fisherman or tactical Timmy Doll.
The natural solution is obviously luggage of some kind, but that brings with it its own set of problems. Therefore careful choice of bag or pack is essential to remaining low-profile, blending into the crowd and social environment so you get nary a glance while you tote your essentials around.
In today’s article, I have assembled a list of EDC luggage choices to suit any possible plan, environment and budget. From the simple to the highly intricate, you will definitely find a bag that will seamlessly fit your attire, environment and preference.
Read on to learn more.
I have assembled this list based on my own preferences, and with a strict adherence to true EDC principles. That means packs that will conceivably fit into a social environment, be it office space or not. This is highly subjective, I acknowledge, but unless your “office” is the middle of the woods or on a mountainside, most of us live and work around other people and that means maintaining a relatively low profile lest we scare the horses or make ourselves targets for thieves or worse.
So considering I’ll be looking at packs for the average suburban American that means no giant technical hiking or military rucksacks, humongous rolling duffels or deployment bags, etc. Just good, solid packs that will let you carry a little extra gear in an innocuous way or don a bag to carry some extra items should you suddenly find yourself in a foot mobile situation.
If you are looking for recommendations for larger or more technical packs you’ll need to check out another article. Whatever category these belong to, all of them are durable, comfortable and more than capable of doing their jobs: helping you haul the kit you want and need.
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Best Pack for On the Move EDC
Fitting somewhere between a conventional sling pack (that’s a backpack with a single strap) and a satchel, the Sitka marries excellent design, plenty of internal and external organization and sturdy construction into a bag that is eminently usable for preppers who stay on the go.
The Sitka’s biggest advantage over a conventional pack is that you can swiftly and easily rotate the bag from your back to your chest when wearing it, and when in the frontal position your large exterior and main internal compartments are situated for easy efficient access, allowing you to draw weapons or other gear without taking it off or going through other gyrations.
Plenty of PALS webbing, an ample admin pocket with bungee lining, loop lined hidden compartment behind the back panel, and water bottle carrier round out your storage options. The main strap marries to a roll out sternum strap to create a sort of wishbone rig that ameliorates the biggest weakness of sling bags: lack of stability.
Additional features that round out this nifty little pack include a quick release buckle and heavy duty grab handles. One nice feature is a whistle built into the buckle of the support strap that also makes a great place to lash a clipper compass. Lastly, these work superbly as in car organizers when handily sling over a passenger seat headrest; they sit perfectly for easy access of the contents. Available in multiple subdued colorways.
It is not a great back for going super far or loaded heavily, but the flexibility and versatility of this little sling bag is tough to beat when you need to access your gear on the move, by foot, train or car.
Best EDC Pack for Pickpocket Protection
XD Design Bobby XL Anti-theft Laptop Backpack
Pickpockets in some places hardly deserve the moniker, and instead are closer to the antique epithet of cutpurse, seeing as how they will directly attack the piece of luggage a person is carrying with a blade to either access the contents when they are unaware, or remove the bag entirely and run for it.
If you have concerns about attacks like this, you can choose a bag that is designed from the ground up to prevent them, while still affording ample storage and a clean, modern aesthetic. the Bobby XL from XD Design.
This clever bag features hidden zippers and pockets that are only accessible from the back of the pack. This will confound the casual pickpocket, while an integrated, concealed cut-proof shell prevents a scumbag from slashing your bag open and nabbing the contents.
Even better for those on the go with devices in tow, the bag features a cleverly concealed USB charging port that connects to a power bank inside the bag. You can stay charged on the go easier than ever and manage cables at the same time.
Excellent security and organizational features, a super clean design and low-pro appearance, this one is a favorite.
Best Bag for Budget EDC
JanSport City Scout Backpack
Ah, the classic JanSport. Almost all of us had one of these at one point in our lives and bunch of us still do. Simple, clean and completely ubiquitous, the JanSport brand is completely inoffensive and inexpensive, but that does not mean it brings nothing to the table.
The JanSport City Scout is durable, and has ample storage inside and out: a large exterior pocket, a small exterior pocket, a large main compartment and a sleeve for a laptop or use it as a divider. That’s it. But that may be all you need.
Its other biggest advantage is it is so common and available in so many innocuous colorways, no other pack on this list is as likely to go unnoticed and uncared about as this one. Heck, you can even have it in a simple woodland camo or army green if you really want. It will not let you ruck for miles loaded down like a mule in Hell, and it cannot carry an SBR, but it does not have to: for carrying the essentials to keep your ass alive, the humble JanSport does just fine.
You need not spend a paycheck on a backpack for your EDC items to call yourself ready; yes, high-end, fancy bags are sexy and bring a lot of convenience, utility and efficiency to the table, but you also may need to ration your funds for bigger fish. In that regard, the humble, perennial JanSport will do just fine.
Best Backup or Just-in-Case EDC Pack
Grey Ghost Gear Turnout Pack
Sometimes you want a proper backpack handy, but are best served by some other piece of luggage, one not ideally suited for an intense crisis. Maybe you carry a briefcase for a living, are traveling extra light or simply don’t want to waste space and room on what may be an item of tertiary importance to you. Grey Ghost Gear has you covered with the Turnout.
The Turnout is an ultralight collapsible pack made from fire resistant 70D nylon. This little wonder rolls up and stows in its own integrated pouch into a nice 7×6” bundle that is eminently easy to store, carry or stash. When you need a backpack to tote a basic load of gear, you can whip it out in no time, faster than Clark Kent making his change into Superman in a phone booth.
The Turnout is far from a dinky, wimpy nylon sack though: it can hold 768 cubic inches of kit in its main compartment, and features both a zippered front pocket for basic admin and a stowable beaver tail that lets you lash anything from a helmet to a jacket to the exterior of the bag. Compared to other, similar bags, the Turnout has mesh lining under the shoulder straps for ventilation and comfort. A loop field lets you attach name tape or other patch. Available in black or coyote brown.
Perfect for folks who want a pack just in case, but hate carrying one!
Best Pack for Those Who Want More Gun Handy
Grey Ghost Gear Apparition Bag
Another fine piece of kit from Grey Ghost Gear, the Apparition bag was designed for one thing: to keep a short barreled long gun or AR “pistol” as handy and concealed as possible. In what is an obviously smart but surprisingly rare departure for bags of this nature, the Apparition does so by style and form factor: instead of miles of webbing and military tones, we have aggressively bright and cheery colors along with an uncommon coffin-shaped profile that screams “outdoorsy” not “shooter” or “prepper.”
Far from just being a pretty face, the Apparition bag has plenty of storage options as well: external skinny water bottle or tripod pouches mate to lashable straps for longer items. Small zipper pockets for phones and small items. A loop lined secondary pouch so you can customize your kit or carry a separate AR upper or similarly sized item. All of this is great but the main event is inside the primary compartment.
Two dedicated pockets with bungee closures hold AR sized mags or boxes of ammo. Multiple movable keeper straps let you lash down up to a 10.5” barreled AR or similarly sized weapon. For you guys still rocking 16” barrels, have no fear as an AR broken down into its two halves will fit just as tidily. For the rest of you with even longer barrels, GGG did you a solid and installed an extendable nose on the bottom of this compartment to accommodate your longer guns, though this does increase the “signature” of the bag somewhat.
All of this is capped with an integrated rain fly in a contrasting color and excellent construction. For those of you are just not happy leaving your musket at home, this pack is overwhelmingly your best choice for moving around without drawing undue attention.
Best EDC Bag for Urban Preppers
ITS Tactical Discreet Messenger Bag
A common sight in every major city in the West, messenger bags are not simply man purses. These bags are an easy and inconspicuous way to carry plenty of your needed essentials in a stylish and unobtrusive way. These simply look good anywhere from the coffee shop to the office and back. ITS Tactical has taken this concept to its logical zenith for EDC by making a bag that allows nearly infinite customization while also looking great and being incredibly hard wearing thanks to clever design and materials choice.
The bag itself is made from a combination of water resistant waxed canvas and nylon pack-cloth. Aside from looking cool and trendy, this material choice means your bag, and its contents, will weather anything but a serious soaking. The interior itself features four snap compartments for insertion of matching bags or similarly sized items, allowing you to use them for subloads, or just as organization.
A generous field of genuine Velcro loop allows attachment of any correspondingly hook lined pouches, panels, sleeves holsters and more, truly allowing you to tailor the bag for your specific requirements. If you need a bag to carry the company laptop and also a spot for your EDC medkit, or spare pistol mags, or survival gear, the ITS Discreet Messenger will accommodate.
The whole shebang is secured by mega-tough and sharp looking AustriAlpin COBRA buckles, and is 100% U.S. made. Available in pale green and wolf gray colors for easy blending.
Best EDC Bag for Boardroom Bound Warriors
Saddleback Leather Co. Classic Leather Briefcase
It costs more than a Glock, but for preppers who occupy the upper echelons of corporate topography, this monstrously strong briefcase is one of the few in its class that combine supremely strong and elegant construction and the ability to be quickly converted into a backpack when the sirens start wailing.
The large model of this briefcase features generous internal storage and a variety of subtle external hardpoints for lashing and attaching exterior loads. Smaller side pockets and pouches on the inside hold smaller admin items, and a thin rear pouch holds papers and other skinny goods. An integrated lanyard with clip holds onto items you cannot lose.
The entire bag is made from full-grain leather, which is impervious to anything short of flame or an extremely sharp edge. An abundance of heavy duty rivet fasteners hold the whole thing together along with marine grade thread, and its minimal number of pieces ensure strength. Best of all, the bag has a, really, 100 year warranty, which won’t mean much after the end of the world, but it does mean this is the last one of its kind you’ll have to buy until then.
Available in a variety of pleasing leather shades.
Best EDC Bag for Laptop Toters
Vertx EDC Courier Bag
For the mouse and keyboard commandos who are never without their laptops, or just want to give the appearance of carrying a laptop with that crowd, a laptop bag makes perfect sense. Part briefcase and part satchel, these bags are often quite voluminous and have plenty of internal organization, meaning your average laptop bag will work fine for most EDC needs.
However, if you want to step up your laptop bag game a bit, you can get into Vertx’s EDC Courier Bag, which has all the features you’d want for actually carrying your laptop, plus a ton of additional modularity, like a hidden full loop-lined panel you can customize with a holster and pouches to fit up to a fullsize handgun.
The front flap of the bag can function as a sling for large items and it stows to reveal a surprise field of MOLLE that is otherwise hidden, perfect for deploying additional mags and gear should the need arise. Lastly, a pocket lined main compartment will furnish all the additional storage you might need for small items. The total capacity of this muscled messenger bag is a sizeable 23 liters, plenty for almost any EDC loadout.
The biggest advantage of a messenger type bag is that they are easy to draw a handgun or other needed gear from as far as off-body carry goes. It that is an option you are considering, or stuck with, give this and others like it a look.
It is available in innocuous standard colors like black, brown, gray, navy and charcoal.
Best All-Purpose EDC Bag
Oakley Gym to Street Small Duffel
A small gym-type bag fits in everywhere. In or out of almost any place and it will draw nary a glance so long as you are not sitting down to dine in a swanky restaurant. A bag of this type will let you carry pretty much whatever you want in there and no one will pay it a second glance.
Think about it: commuters carry gym clothes in them for after work. Drivers keep work stuff and lunch in them. Blue collar professionals keep tools and a spare set of duds handy in them. The only drawback to bags of this type is their typically limited options for organization unless you are packing you gear in cells yourself.
Oakley has you covered with this smartly made and classic duffel bag, with a large main compartment and two smaller side compartments. You can stuff this with gear to your heart’s content, with or without items you may actually need for work, you’ll be all set. Oakley makes pretty good bags and this one is no different. Their typically outlandish colors and patterns emphasize an “aggressive mimicry” appearance that is right at home with the loud and garish fashion and advertising sense of today.
If you need a simple, sturdy bag, check out duffel, and especially this model by Oakley. Just don’t forget to take out those stinky gym socks!
Best EDC Bag for Road Warriors
For preppers constantly on the go and in their cars, a bag that supports you while you are in the car is a good thing to have. Cops are especially familiar with the concept of a work bag that rides shotgun in the front seat and holds all the essential items they need to do their jobs, including support equipment and other gear. These bags are typically called patrol bags.
Enter the 5.11 Wingman bag, a patrol bag purpose made to function as a front seat storage and organization solution with nearly endless customization and expansion capability thanks to a ton of MOLLE webbing on its interior, double-decker attachment panels on the top lid and a couple of MOLLE fields on the outside at either end for expansion.
The main feature of this bag is the lay flat front organizer panel for seat top access and the headrest restrain to hold the top panels against the seatback. A sleeve on the back of the bag lets you route the seatbelt through and anchor the bag as securely as imaginable to the seat. This ensures it stays put during any maneuvering and also will not go flying in a crash. Any possible thing you need to access from this bag you can, all without opening it up and rummaging while in the car.
Outside the car everything folds up as nice and neat as you please to tuck back into the form factor of a standard patrol bag, something akin to the form factor of a large briefcase or tool bag for those of you not familiar with the concept. A sturdy shoulder strap means you won’t be lugging this thing all over with just a top handle and allows a little hands free capability.
You can have this one in any color you want as long as it is black.
EDC bags can be as simple and sublime to as technical as you want them to be, based on your needs and preferences. Assess your lifestyle and typical area where you desire to have it and choose accordingly: with the right pack, you can carry a ton of extra life-saving gear with you and none of your fellow citizens will be the wiser. Slingbag, satchel, briefcase or classic backpack, all of these packs deserve a look.
Charles Yor is an advocate of low-profile preparation, readiness as a virtue and avoiding trouble before it starts. He has enjoyed a long career in personal security implementation throughout the lower 48 of the United States.
4 thoughts on “The Best EDC Bags for Everyday Emergencies”
The Quest back-pack sold at Wal-Mart has some respectable good marks on reviews for it. Only $30 too – and likely going to be on sale for even less being as its Christmas.
While we do shop @ Wal-Mart, I don’t generally think of them for most camping supplies; but, that pack may be worth looking at as an addition to my standard EDC.
I have two of these backpacks. I have used these items for years. I use the small mail bag as my purse. The quality is good and the price is low enough to get everyone something for Christmas. (Shop around to see more of their product.)
My standard EDC is carried in a combination of pants pockets and a 5.11 tactical vest that has 17 pockets. I have both heavy and light weight versions. In winter I’ll often add another jacket over top, which is normally an NRA tactical denim coat in winter or a Frog Toggs Jacket in warmer weather.
In each vehicle we carry a nearly identical kit, with some of the contents changed for the season. This equipment fits in a large Rubbermaid tub and in a UTG Ranger Field Bag. like this one: