The Increasing Utility of the EDC Backpack

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Years ago, it was unusual to see men carrying any sort of bag with them when in urban or suburban public places besides the more business-appropriate briefcase of a laptop bag. Now, it is completely ordinary to see men and women alike carry sling bags or backpacks in common public locations. This is a good thing because it has normalized an accessory that the prepared citizen can and should leverage.

While I have written about the utility of a dedicated EDC bag before, the nature of the violent threats that have become more manifest in recent years demands serious consideration of leveraging this option. Two startling trends in criminal behavior have escalated in recent years: mass killer attacks and mob violence. Both of these scenarios are well outside of the “typical” criminal predation, such as armed robbery, that was the focus of self-defense training and mindset in the past. While getting mugged in a parking lot is still a concern, it is hardly the only concern. Enhanced threats call for enhanced preparedness.

The obvious benefit of carrying a sling pack or backpack with you when on foot in public is that you can carry far more gear than what you can conceal simply on-body. Such gear can include weaponry, but there is a variety of other, very useful, equipment that can be kept in even a small pack. With the escalating concern for active killer attacks, terrorism, and mob violence while in public places, having more gear than what can be concealed only on-body makes sense. Consider the following options to add to a carry bag.


While carrying a firearm off-body, in a bag specially made to facilitate quick access, makes sense in certain circumstances, this author encourages carrying guns on body unless simply not possible. A gun is under your control when it is on you; having it in a bag is not necessarily under your control. If you have a gun in the bag, you can never put the bag down, and a quick run-by-and-grab robbery can take the bag with the firearm inside. Still, even with the firearm on your person, the bag can offer significant capability. You can carry reloads for your handgun in the bag, as well as blades and flashlights, if you don’t already carry those things on-body. Even if you do carry such tools on body, having a spare light and knife can always be useful.


The single most important consideration for a carry bag is medical gear. Even if you carry medical gear on your person, you will be limited in how much you can realistically carry. It is easy to carry a complete trauma kit in a bag. A trauma kit to control major hemorrhage, as may be sustained in violence or an accident of some kind, should be in this bag. A tourniquet, if not several, a pressure bandage, packing gauze, and chest seals should be in this kit. Also, think about less dramatic but useful medical supplies that can be kept in the bag. Does anyone in your family need an Epi-Pen? How about certain medications? Stocking the pack with such necessities makes perfect sense.

Safety Gear

Even a small bag can accommodate reloads, a light, a knife, and a full trauma kit. Think also about other items that may be needed in an emergency, whether violence-related or not. Safety glasses and a mask are good options to put in the bag in case you encounter smoke or other pollutants in the air. Medical gloves should be part of your trauma kit as well, but a pair of mechanics gloves, or some heavy work gloves of some kind, may make good sense should you find yourself in need of moving debris or moving something that is hot, in the wake of a car wreck or fire.

Armor for the Pack

Even a fairly small backpack or sling bag can accommodate a panel of soft body armor. Some panels are as lite in weight as only a pound for a 10-inch by 12-inch panel, and they are very thin. Such a panel will only stop handgun rounds, but it is so light in weight and so thin that it makes perfect sense to add one to the pack. A sling bag, in particular, can be a great option for the addition of armor, as it can be quickly brought to the front of your body without even taking the bag off, thus offering a quickly donned body armor capability.

Low Profile

When talking about sling bags or backpacks for carrying in urban and suburban settings or anywhere that would involve carrying them around people, a low-profile bag is in order. Military-looking packs that have Molle, camo patterns, etc., draw attention. Many will disagree with that, but I don’t carry packs that look that way because I have been asked numerous times if I am military when carrying such a bag. A gray or flat-black bag, with no Molle on it, will go entirely unnoticed by the public, yet can do anything the military-style bag can do for such use.

It almost seems absurd that violence in civilian life could escalate to the point that warrants such considerations, but here we are. Carrying an EDC pack not only makes it easy to carry items of daily use but it greatly enhances your ability to have life-saving gear within immediate access. If you have never put a good pack to use for everyday carry, now is the time.

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