Choosing the Best EDC Backpack

One of the most important tools you can have for optimizing not only your everyday life, but also your preparedness in case a disaster strikes, is a EDC backpack. Everyday carry (EDC) bags are on of your most important pieces of gear, and something that you’ll have with you wherever you go. So, it’s important to find a backpack that has all the features you need and is built to last.

What is an EDC Backpack?

An EDC backpack is the bag or backpack you’ll have with you every day. When you’re going to work, heading out for a leisurely bike ride, or meeting up with friends for a meal or a drink, you’ll have your EDC backpack with you.

Your EDC backpack absolutely must be able to carry the things you take with you everywhere like your phone and keys. But an urban EDC backpack should be able to hold more than just the basics. Many people carry a laptop, pen and a notebook, snacks, an extra jacket, and more in their everyday bags.

There’s more to an EDC backpack, too – it should be a home for your emergency preparedness gear. That may mean adding a headlamp or flashlight to your bag, a multitool, and anything else you’d need to get you back to your primary bug-out bag.

Why Carry an EDC Backpack?

EDC backpacks have a lot of advantages – so many, in fact, that after a while of using one you’ll probably feel naked without it.

To start, an EDC backpack allows you to be self-reliant. You can have everything you need to tackle the day, and everything you need in case the unexpected happens. Whether that means staying out later than you originally planned or dealing with an emergency, you’ll have the clothing and tools on hand to deal with the situation.

In a similar vein, an EDC backpack just makes your day go more smoothly. Need a pen or journal? It’s in your bag, and you know exactly where to find it. With an urban EDC bag, you can easily and simply organize the things you use most frequently so there always at the tips of your fingers.

Choosing the Best EDC Backpack for You

Picking out an urban EDC backpack is a big decision. It will be the one bag that you use all the time, so having the right size and organizational features is key. On top of that, your EDC bag will be the thing you’re most likely to have with you to deal with an unexpected situation.

Ideal Backpack Size

The first step in choosing an EDC backpack is to figure out what size your bag needs to be. Your goal should be to get the smallest EDC backpack that fits your needs, but still leaves enough room for seasonal items like an extra jacket or things you may grab in an emergency.

The best way to approach this is to consider all the items that you’ll carry with you every day. If you just take the essentials, you can get away with an EDC backpack that’s much smaller than if you’re carrying a bulky laptop and multiple jackets. 

Also consider things you may grab and add to the bag if there ever was an emergency. Think about this, you are at work and disaster strikes somewhere close. You grab your bag to head home quickly. Make sure you have room in your bag to grab a few extra waters or snacks on your way out of the office! You don’t won’t to have a completely packed bag all the time.

Backpack Quality and Construction

When you’re choosing an EDC backpack, you need to be a lot pickier about construction quality than when choosing a bug-out bag. Whereas your bug-out bag might only see heavy use once a year or less, your EDC backpack will get used every single day. That means it needs to be able to stand up to all of life’s little abuses.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you need a heavy-duty bag, but it’s worth looking for the details that impact durability. Abrasion-resistant fabrics like Cordura nylon and canvas will perform much better over the long term than lightweight fabrics like polyester. Also look for quality zippers, reinforced buckles (not cheap plastic ones), and double-stitched seams and webbing.

Backpack Waterproofing

While your EDC backpack doesn’t need to be waterproof (or resistant), it’s worth considering. Unless you truly live in the desert, eventually it’s going to rain on you and your stuff. Urban EDC bags like the Timbuk2 Spire backpack are built with a waterproof exterior and a roll-top that prevents water from leaking into the bag. If electronics like your phone or a laptop are among the items you’ll be carrying every day, it’s well worth opting for waterproofing to keep them safe from the weather. Also consider your mode of transportation. If you bike to work, or walk to and from a bus or train station, you may opt for something that can withstand the rain and elements.

Backpack Organization

Another major point to think about is how your EDC backpack is organized. This comes down to personal preference – are you the type of person who prefers to stuff everything into a single cavernous compartment, or the type of person who wants every item to have its own pocket?

EDC bags and backpacks come with both levels of organizational capacity, and everything in between – including tactical EDC options. Again, think about what you’ll be carrying in your EDC pack and where it will go in the bag you’re looking at. Having a small exterior pocket is almost always nice for the items you need close at hand, like your phone or keys. Meanwhile, if you plan to carry a laptop most days, look for packs with a dedicated laptop sleeve to protect your computer. The small amount of extra padding comes in handy when you carry your lap top everyday.

Backpack Comfort

It’s also important to think about whether your EDC bag is comfortable. If it’s not, you won’t want to carry it every day – and then it’s not a very good EDC pack at all. Look for features like a ventilated back panel, which will stop you from sweating through your shirt on the way to work every day during the summer. Padded shoulder straps are a big plus, and a padded hip belt can also be an advantage if your pack is going to be on the heavier side. Many bags have a hip belt that can be secured and hidden during normal use.

Backpack Style

Finally, consider how your pack meshes with your style. As an extension of yourself each day, your urban EDC backpack should reflect the aesthetic you like. If you feel good about the way your pack looks, you’ll be extra incentivized to carry it everywhere.

One major consideration here is whether you should use a tactical backpack, like the Direct Action Dust backpack, as your EDC backpack (or these other options). Tactical backpacks have their place, but the urban environment isn’t usually it. Ideally, your EDC backpack should look good without attracting undo attention, like a tactical bag often does. Don’t make yourself a mark for anything looking for supplies in an emergency – remember grey man style wins the day!

My Top 3 EDC Backpack Picks

1) Timbuk2 Spire Backpack

This EDC backpack is a great option for a variety of reasons. First its made by Timbuk2 who has a great reputation for quality and convenience. The backpack is made of Canvas, has a padded laptop pocket, various other pockets, vented and padded back support, oh and did I mention it is water resistant?  All around great EDC backpack option.

2) North Face Recon Backpack

A great quality back from a great quality company.  When you buy a high quality brand like North Face expect to have your back for a LONG time! This bag comes in tons of color options which is an added plus.  Each one includes a padded laptop pocket, various other storage pockets and options, vented and padded back support, and much more. Great EDC laptop backpack option for those looking to hold onto a bag for a long time.

3) North Face Jester Backpack

The same as the Recon, the North Face Jester backpack is high quality and should last a long time. This version EDC backpack is a bit less tactical or outdoorsy looking. This bag also comes in tons of color options which is an added plus.  Each one includes a padded laptop pocket, various other storage pockets and options, vented and padded back support, and much more. Another great EDC laptop backpack option for those looking to hold onto a bag for a long time and sport a look a little more subtle and less tactical.

EDC Backpacks are Critical!

Making the switch to carrying an urban EDC backpack is something that every city-dweller should do. These bags are versatile and help ensure that you’re prepared for whatever life throws at you. When choosing an EDC backpack, keep in mind that it’s well worth investing in a high-quality bag that will last for years to come, as well as one that suits your organizational and aesthetic styles.

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