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Best EDC Backpack : Every Day Carry Packs Reviewed

Choosing the best tactical backpack for your needs can seem like a daunting task, but with a little bit of knowledge, it is actually pretty easy.
So, what differentiates a tactical pack from a regular backpack?
Let’s take a look, but before we do the best EDC backpacks being reviewed are set out below:



Don’t Forget MOLLE

MOLLE webbing, pronounced Molly, stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. It is an internationally recognized standard in the tactical backpack market.
If a manufacturer includes MOLLE webbing in your EDC pack then any accessories you buy that support the MOLLE standard will transfer from tactical pack A to B to C and so on.
A full description of the MOLLE system is beyond the scope of this review, but for more information, check out this article.

Don’t Go Bursting at the Seams

Another essential factor to consider when looking for a backpack is the zippers. Personally, I learned this the hard way when riding through Texas several years ago.
A friend and I were on a week-long trip from Alabama to New Mexico and back on our bikes, so needless to say, I had quite a bit of gear stuffed into my pack. Back in those days, I aimed more for economy than quality and paid the price for doing so.
At some point during the endless expanse that is Texas, my overstuffed pack burst open and half of my gear, including my gloves and cold weather gear, went flying down the interstate. Of course, I didn’t realize this until night fell in the desert, and I was left trying to stay warm in day gear.
Upon inspection, I realized the zipper itself had failed and cost me a couple of hundred dollars in gear and supplies. Learn from my mistake and make sure the pack you are buying uses quality hardware, not cheap knockoffs.
Specifically, you will want to look for YKK zippers. YKK zippers are durable and self-repairing, so if a few teeth get chewed up in an accident, it can generally be fixed byjust zipping it up a few times. YKK makes half of all zippers world-wide for a reason.

Light Pack, Heavy Fabric

Another vital thing to consider is the fabric used to construct the EDC pack. In most cases, a quality pack manufacturer will include the weight of the material in the product description. If not, don’t immediately discount the pack, but do put it under extra scrutiny.
Generally the heavier the fabric used in the construction of the pack, the better. Manufacturers often use nylon, polyester, and Cordura for backpack construction. These fabrics offer strength and water resistance, but if the material is too light, it is still going to fail.
Look for 500D and better ratings. Not all manufacturers will include this in their product description, so let that be a point for makers who do.

A Little Extra Padding

This one may seem obvious to some, but it is easy to overlook. Make sure the straps and back are padded. You don’t want to be walking miles with a loaded pack and nothing to keep the straps from digging into your shoulders.
You should also aim for wider straps to help disperse the load more. What may start as a minor annoyance can quickly turn painful when you have a loaded pack.
Another feature that is typically not included in “book bag” style backpacks is access for hydration packs. Many tactical backpacks will include routing for hydration pack access. The style used will depend on the pack, but in general, there are two options here: bladder inserts or additional pack.
The better of the two, in my opinion, is the bladder insert option. Packs with this option already have a pouch built in for adding a water bladder and have routing for the tubes. This allows you to add a hydration system without the need for a second pack.

Pockets Inside of Pockets

Perhaps one of the most important things to consider when looking for a backpack is the pockets.
Not only the number of pockets but also the sizes and layout of the pockets. A pack with only one, large pocket is not going to do you much good considering it doesn’t allow for any organization.
Likewise, a pack with dozens of small pockets, but only one large pocket is similarly inconvenient as it offers you only limited storage for larger gear. Too many pockets can also mean spending more time trying to remember where you stashed a particular item, rather than only having a few places to check or remember.
Generally, fewer pockets with a better organizational system is preferable to just having more pockets to the pack.

Best EDC Backpack Reviews


The RUSH12 is the smallest in 5.11’s RUSH series of backpacks. It sits alongside the RUSH24 and RUSH72 with the number being the number of hours 5.11 rated each pack for when packing.
The RUSH12 is one of the more expensive packs on this list, but it is still cheap enough to be considered a high-end value pack.
5.11 makes this pack out of heavy duty 1050D Nylon. This is a good, thick material that is resistant to snags and tears. YKK Zippers are the gold standard around the world. They offer better strength and are self-repairing.

5.11 RUSH12 Tactical Backpack, Small, Style 56892, Black

This is decently large for an EDC, offering 24 liters of storage, but it is also relatively small in size. The pack measures in at 12 inches wide and 18 inches tall. For those with glasses or who always travel with sunglasses, this feature is a boon. The fleece lining will prevent your lenses from getting scratched by the rougher materials used in the main pack.
Too many backpacks have the front attached to the back when you open the main compartment. Not the RUSH12. It can be opened and laid flat, allowing for easier access.
The plastic buckles on this pack tend to be a weak point in the design. There is no getting around using plastic, but thicker material would reduce breakage. The zipper for the main compartment can often catch on the mesh pockets to the side of it.
  • Heavy 1050D nylon construction
  • YKK zippers
  • Large, but not bulky
  • Fleece-lined eye-wear pocket
  • Fully opening front
  • Some would say the buckles are a weak point
  • Mesh near zippers which may get snagged


You may recognize the name SOG. They have built their reputation on their unique, yet functional knife designs. Now they have applied their tactical expertise to designing a backpack for when you need more storage and less flash.
This thing is large by EDC standards. Some may consider this a con, but with the design work done by SOG, this pack can be adjusted to shift the weight off of your back, to your waist, thanks to the waist strap and yoked shoulder straps.
SOG Opord Tactical Day Pack, 39.1-Liter Storage, Black
The polyester construction makes this pack extremely water repellent. There are also two drain grommets in the bottom of the pack to allow water to drain.
The Opord Daypack has several add-on options in addition to the MOLLE system, including D-ring attachments.
The pack is quite economical when compared to others on this list, but it is still well built.
The straps that keep this pack nice and tight are also a slight inconvenience when you need to access the main compartment. You must undo the straps to open the pack.
The zippers are from a cheaper manufacturer and seem to be a weak link in this pack.
Manufacturing defects tend to be more common in this pack than others on this list. These range from zippers without sliders to pockets sewn shut, so do a full inspection on delivery.
  • Large pack
  • Water repellent
  • Extensive expansion attachments
  • Inexpensive
  • Strap placement
  • Weak zippers
  • Quality control




If you have never heard of Mardingtop that is understandable, but you should get to know them. They offer a well built, feature-filled pack that is right in the middle of the price scale for EDC packs, leaning towards economy.
This model pack comes in three different sizes, 25L, 28L, and 35L, so you can choose the size that is right for you.
Mardingtop Tactical Backpack, Black 2.0, 52cm
I cannot overstate the importance of knowing what brand zippers your pack has. Manufacturers can make a pack with the best materials money can buy, but if it has weak zippers, that’s it. For the price of this pack, YKK zippers are a definite positive.
Polyester itself is a water repellent material which makes it an excellent choice for tactical backpacks, but it can be weak if the fabric is too light. 600D polyester offers strength and water resistance.
Almost all of the packs on this list offer MOLLE attachments, but Mardingtop takes it a step further by adding security straps to secure your gear against the pack as well.
Unlike many models, this pack does not have removable hip straps. They are, however, easy to tuck away against the main body of the pack.
The pouch meant for adding a hydration bladder is not insulated. While this may not be a big deal to some people, others will miss the insulation when they want a cold sip of water on a hot day.
  • Different sizes available
  • YKK Zippers
  • 600D Polyester
  • Gear Straps
  • Hip strap is not removable
  • Non-insulated hydration pouch




The last economy pack on this list, this ArcEnCiel pack is a durable and comfortable addition. While it may lack some of the features of other models on this list, don’t discount it just yet.
While all of the packs on this list offer padded backs, only ArcEnCiel provides a fully padded, mesh back. This allows more airflow to keep you cool and dry on hot summer days.
ArcEnCiel Motorcycle Backpack Tactical Military Bag Army Assault Pack Rucksacks for Outdoor Hiking Camping Trekking Hunting - Rain Cover Included (Coyote Brown)
ArcEnCiel constructs their pack out of military grade 1000D Nylon fabric. This is heavy duty nylon that will resist scratches, fading, and tears.
While not a feature of the pack itself, a rain cover is included to keep your pack dry when those sudden summer showers hit.
Anyone who carries their laptop with them can attest that using the main compartment for your laptop is far from ideal. Thankfully ArcEnCiel added a computer sleeve for just that purpose.
Without the included rain cover this pack will not do much to keep water from getting in, so always make sure you have the cover if it looks like rain.
While the body is thick nylon, the stitching leaves something to be desired and is a common point of failure.
One thing to note is that the manufacturer advertises this pack as waterproof, but it requires the cover to achieve this. Since the cover comes with the backpack, it is technically correct, but seems a little misleading.
  • Full padded mesh back
  • 1000D Nylon construction
  • Rain cover included
  • Comes with a computer sleeve
  • Not water resistant
  • Weak stitching




Dragon Egg is a fitting name because this is one tough backpack. While the Dragon Egg is the most expensive pack on our list, it is also the most full-featured and Direct Action makes it with the best materials.
While some packs offer some MOLLE functionality, most are in a limited area. Not the Dragon Egg. The entire back of the pack is set up for MOLLE attachments.
Direct Action Dragon Egg Mk II Tactical Backpack Adaptive Green/Coyote Brown
Sure, 1000D Nylon is good, but it has nothing on 500D Cordura. Cordura is a tough fabric. Manufacturers usually make it out of nylon, but the extremely tight weave makes it much tougher than regular nylon.
Direct Action specifically chose the egg shape because it allows for more storage in a smaller footprint.
Almost all packs you are going to see come with a grab handle, but most are a sewn on strap. The Dragon Egg takes it a step further by replacing the strap with a woven paracord handle. As someone who has used para cord in more than one tight spot I can say, any time you can add paracord, it’s a good idea.
As always, you hope you never have to contact customer server, but when you do it is nice to know you will be taken care of
This is by far the most expensive pack on this list; however, it is still cheaper than many specialty packs on the market today.
  • Full MOLLE system
  • Cordura 500D fabric
  • Egg shaped for storage
  • 550 Para cord handle
  • Excellent customer service
  • Price




Of the five packs listed, there are two that really stand out above the rest. Those are the RUSH12 and the Dragon Egg. Both offer MOLLE webbing, superior construction, YKK zippers, and a 25-liter capacity.
These two packs are very similar in design and size, but in the end, the RUSH12 is the better pack for the money. It offers more MOLLE webbing than the Dragon Egg and is significantly less expensive.
Plus, you have the peace of mind knowing that your pack is from one of the leading names in tactical gear around the world. 5.11 has a reputation to protect.
So next time you are planning a trip out to the sticks, be sure to pick the right EDC pack. The last thing you want is to be miles from your car and have a zipper burst and spill your gear everywhere.

5.11 RUSH12 Tactical Backpack, Small, Style 56892, Black
1,314 Reviews
5.11 RUSH12 Tactical Backpack, Small, Style 56892, Black
  • Military molle backpack features 16 individual compartments, roomy main storage area and hydration pocket. Adjustable height sternum strap, two external compression straps and contoured yoke shoulder strap System
  • Bug out Rucksack is a water-resistant backpack made with durable 1050D nylon (Multicar: 1000D nylon) and self-repairing YKK zippers. This military pack is meant to last.
  • Molle bag features wrap-around molle/5. 11 slick stick web platform, internal multi-slot admin compartment and zippered fleece-lined eyewear pocket.
  • Our Military backpack has hook and loop nametape and flag patches and glove-friendly pull Tabs, perfect for patrol, outdoor hiking, trekking and camping, survival expedition, or Day pack.
  • The Rush12 backpack can be used as a multipurpose pack, bug out bag, range bag, hunting backpack, survival backpack, hiking Rucksack, or everyday outdoor backpack. This assault pack is ready for any rescue or adventure for all of your gear and equipment.

Last update on 2020-01-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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