An Intro to Tactical EDC Bags

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If you're looking for a bag you can rely on day in and day out, it's hard to beat a tactical nylon bag. They're popular for EDC because their design and construction put them a step above your run of the mill bookbags. Unlike most casual bags, tactical packs are built to last through the most demanding missions, usually for military, law enforcement, or emergency applications. Luckily for you and your EDC, you can find tactical-style bags with the same focus on high performance and longterm durability in a wide variety of styles, from small day packs to large duffel bags. In this guide, we'll go over some key features and qualities to look for in a good tactical bag for everyday carry as well as some of our favorite bags, each with a specialized purpose.

What to Look for in a Tactical EDC Bag

  • Durable materials and fabrics: The most common fabric used in tactical bags is nylon due to its strength and adequate water resistance (some bags feature an even heavier ballistic nylon). You'll usually see manufacturers list a “denier” rating of the nylon to denote how heavy duty it is. Denier (D) is a measure of the mass density of the fibers in the fabric. For example, you might see bags rated at 500D on the low end for a lighter weight and softer feel, to a more common 1000D or above. Generally, higher denier means a stronger fabric at the expense of a heavier bag.
  • Superior hardware and construction: Good tactical nylon bags have heavy-duty zippers and closures that will stand up to constant use and resist breaking when you're packing your bag to the max. They're also stitched together well, lending to extra strength in terms of hard use.
  • Expansion and modularity: Many tactical bags stay compact using compression straps, which can loosened to pack in more gear. Most tactical packs can accommodate additional pouches and attachments to increase the overall capacity as well. MOLLE is a standard that lets you hook modular storage and gear to your bag without falling off easily. Bags with this have tell-tale webbing in and around the bag. Older surplus tactical bags use the ALICE system, which also lets you hook gear up to your pack. Both were designed for heavy duty military applications.

To help you get a better idea, let's take a look at some examples of different styles that feature the hallmarks of a solid tactical bag.


Quick Access Sling Bag: 5.11 Tactical Rush MOAB 10

If a sling bag is your preferred way to carry, the 5.11 Rush MOAB 10 has you covered. It's a 18L capacity tactical sling bag with an ambidextrous padded strap that makes it easy to carry your gear with you wherever you go. It has a plethora of MOLLE attachment points on its exterior, letting you customize this bag with the modules and accessories you need. It's also highly durable with strong YKK self-healing zippers and 1050D nylon construction.

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Laptop Messenger Bag: Maxpedition Incognito Quad

This tactical tech messenger bag will accommodate up to a 13” laptop and keep it safe with its close-cell foam padded interior. The 1050D ballistic nylon exterior further protects your gear because it's triple polyurethane coated, making it water- and abrasion resistant. It also has numerous pockets and organizational compartments that you can access reliably with the help of paracord pulls on its YKK zippers.

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Emergency Bail Out Bag: LA Police Gear Tactical Bail Out Bag

A tactical nylon bag like the LAPG Bail Out Bag is the one of best ways to store your emergency preparedness gear. It’s a lightweight, shoulder-mounted go-bag made out of durable 600D nylon that can hold a surprising amount of gear in its 15L capacity. With its numerous pockets, compartments, and organizational areas, it gives you easy access to your gear when you need it the most.

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EDC Daypack: GoRuck Bullet Ruck

This streamlined tactical day bag is the perfect size for taking your EDC with you on your commute. It's made out of tough 1000D nylon and its stress points will stand up to 400 pounds of force. It opens flat for easy access and packing, and it even fits a hydration bladder if you need it. While it does have MOLLE attachment points and hook and loop patch areas, it's a very low-profile bag that's great for the urban environment.

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Heavy Duty Gym Bag: Tactical Tailor Gym Bag

This gym bag by Tactical Tailor is designed to help you carry a pair of shoes, a change of clothes, and your everyday essentials all in one lightweight yet durable package. Like a lot of gym bags, it features zippered side access to its separate shoe compartment, which is actually big enough to carry boots. However, unlike most gym bags, this one's made out of heavy duty 1000D Cordura nylon.

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Waist Pack: Direct Action Foxtrot Tactical Waist Bag

A waist bag is a great way for you to supplement your regular EDC bag or to carry around your essentials while keeping your back free. The Direct Action Foxtrot waist bag is made out of lightweight water-resistant 500D Cordura nylon. Its 6.6 liter capacity is an ideal size for just your EDC essentials, but not too much that it’ll bog you down with its size and heft. The bag can also be easily converted to a shoulder bag if you need to, making it extremely versatile.

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Minimalist Hydration Pack: Eberlestock Mini-Me

The Eberlestock Mini-Me is a minimalist pack that fits a hydration bladder and your EDC pocket gear when you’re going out for a run. While it is small and lightweight, it is expandable if the situation demands it.

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Travel Duffel Bag: First Tactical Specialist Rolling Duffel

This travel duffel by First Tactical mixes the ultimate storage space and durability of a tactical nylon duffel bag with the ability to roll it it around when you’re on the go. It’s made out of a lightweight mix of 1000D/1680D nylon that will help you out when you’re traveling on an airline that limits check-in bags. Plus the wheels are seriously robust because they’re made to be rolled over rough and uneven surfaces without breaking.

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Heavy Duty Camera Bag: Hazard 4 Freelance

If you EDC a camera, you know how important it is to have a good bag that will protect your valuable gear. The Freelance by Hazard 4 is a tactical sling pack that has enough padding and space for your cameras and lenses, or any other delicate equipment you might use in the field. It’s made out of water-repellent coated 1000D Cordura nylon and has a 14.5L configurable divided space capacity to keep your gear organized.

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High Capacity Configurable Pack: Propper U.C. Pack

If you’re packing for the long term or just need a lot of space in an EDC bag, the Propper U.C. Pack is a great option. It’s ultra-configurable, with MOLLE attachment points all over the exterior of the pack and hook and loop on the interior of the bag. This lets you configure the bag with the organizational accessories of your choice. And you’ll have around 27 liters of capacity in an easily accessible compartment to fit your gear as well.

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Do you prefer tactical bags for your EDC? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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If the GoRuck bags are about the kind of price range you're willing to go for, it's definitely worth checking out the Triple Aught Designs "FAST" packs - both the Litespeed and the larger "EDC" are incredibly well put together, and it's a shame they aren't featured on this site more!
Still can't believe I don't see any love for 3VGear. The Outlaw (bigger) or the Posse are excellent sling bags (I own them) and if you want a 2 strap bag then the Velox II is a must! They have a lifetime warranty and they are cheap too. I also think SOG is onto something with their new packs. As of recent I am looking for a smaller than medium 2 strap and Hazard4's Plan-C might just be what I am looking for; I like size for what I put into my work locker but can handle the toys (weight) that I keep inside. Also for hydration, you have to check out the Bandit from 3VGear. You get so much more than what you pay for and still you pay less than most. Good article...
I recently purchased the Vertx EDC Commuter Sling. Incredibly tough and versatile. Although the bag is geared toward those carrying a concealed weapon, I have found the bag to be perfect for my needs. The pouches allow for a personalized bag tailored specifically to my needs as an IT student. More details here: http://vertx.com/edc-commuter-bag (No affiliation with Vertx, just my opinion).
If you carry a tablet like an iPad, the Hazard 4 Kato has served me well for several years.
The Prometheus Design Werx SHADO pack is my go to bag. It has a little bit for everyone, a dedicated EDC section, tons of loop space, and looks awesome.
My favorite tactical backpack by far is the Cannae Legion Pack, https://cannaeprogear.com/collections/packs-and-bags/products/legion-day-pack. It's the most well-thought out pack I have, and seems to takes the best of the early stage tac packs and improve upon them all around. I use it for all my day-hikes where I'm the pack mule for the family's lunch and water bottles, as well as my carry on backpack for business travel. It's just fantastic. The only minor gripe I have is that the backpack handle is on the zipper side, which means that if you haven't zipped the pack up, you run the risk of opening the whole thing up. I understand why they did this though so that the handle doesn't get in the way of wearing the pack on your back, so it's not a big deal to me.
After much testing, I narrowed my search down to Maxpedition and Hazard 4, both represented in this excellent guide. My needs were: smallish / 'portrait' to fit onto my adventure bike as a tank bag, waterproof, heavy duty, padded for camera(s), add-onnable (MOLLE), map-carry, hydration, EDC. A lot to ask for a bag. Solution is Hazard 4 Kato. I've had it for a few months now. It's got loads of compartments, so your memory needs to be sound. I'm continually refining my stuff as it is filled with differing EDC gear depending on whether I'm off on the bike, in the woods or on the mountain.This forum helped me to decide https://www.edcforums.com/threads/hazard-4-kato-messenger-picture-heavy.91815/
I don't really like the "giant open pocket" style bags. I like using a camera bag for DSLR cameras. It allows me to bag/box like items in small packages and separate them out in a grid style system. My EDC bag right now is a MindShift Backlight 26L in Green. I also like a bag that looks more like a regular backpack and has some color to it.
I've been using a 5.11 Rush 12 since December and I have really enjoyed it! It has been two international trips, trips from coast to coast, and normally goes with me to the classroom Monday through Friday and to the cathedral for services. No complaints.
Just recently got into the EDC thing and have been learning a lot over these past few weeks. I needed a bag that would work for both daily use and for my on duty time as a Firefighter/Paramedic. So far I have been using a 5.11 MOAB 6 Sling bag. I carry it mostly by the handle. So far it has held up very well and has allowed me to adjust what is carried as I gain new knowledge and find things that I either do or don't need.
The camelback mil spec hawg is a good choice also. The bladder is removable and higher quality mil spec than the standard models. It features laser cut molle, a Velcro front swath for patches, a good size and very usable admin pouch, and a top pocket with a key keeper. Constructed from Cordura so it's built to last. It's an impressive bit of kit and I'm not even normally a camelbak fan.
...I hate sling packs. not comfortable and I felt if I had to really be Oscar Mike it's not stable and always swinging around... I can't stand it. Currently use a goruck gr0 but definitely interested in TADfastpack