Let’s face it: The modern man has a lot of everyday carry items, including a laptop, tablet, smartphone, headphones, portable battery charger, Wi-Fi hotspot, keys, water bottle, camera, pocket knife, multi-tool, flashlight, lighter — the list goes on. You definitely don’t have enough hands and pockets to handle all of that, and a good everyday carry backpack is the best solution for toting gear on the go.
A good, properly sized backpack can make the difference between having comfort, great looks, and convenience, or just plain misery. Having a backpack with a couple of huge compartments just isn’t enough these days. You have to have resilient materials, good ventilation, comfy straps, and specialized compartments. The best small backpacks for men don’t have to be diminutive in capability. Just because you’re not lugging half of your house around with you doesn’t mean you don’t require real carrying options.
What is an EDC Backpack and What Makes for a Good One?
It’s not just any backpack with two straps and a couple of zippers. The best EDC bags are sized right for the task. If they’re too small, they won’t fit your stash. Too big, and they err by being cumbersome and tough on your lower back. They should also have straps that toe the line between relatively thin and properly padded. Too thin, and they’re generally not great for long periods of wear. Too thick, and they can make you sweat, as well as wrinkle your clothes.
The right bag also has a lot of pockets and at least a couple of large compartments that secure your goods so they’re both easy to find and secured in place when you’re on the move. Also, be aware that there are EDC backpack options out there with special features like hydration bladders, anti-theft protection, solar charging, USB charging, and headphone jacks.
You should choose your pack based on needs and not just on name brand or style. If its a simple backpack you want, select an EDC bag that’s still practical and useful. If it’s one that needs to be highly specialized, make sure it has great quality.
Key details to look for:
- Good materials such as rugged (and hopefully recycled) nylon, thick leather, and tough cotton canvas
- Excellent components like YKK zippers, paracord zipper pulls, robust webbing/compression straps, and aluminum, brass, or impact-resistant plastic hardware
- Easy access compartments that allow you to reach your gear quickly
- Double or triple stitched seams
- Sternum straps for stability, especially for larger packs
- Weather-resistant exterior
The Best EDC Backpacks For Every Type of Guy
The Commuter: Samsonite Classic Leather Backpack
Finding a backpack that looks good with your suit or sport coat while keeping you from getting sweat-drenched is a tall order, but the very affordable and refined Samsonite Classic meets the requirements in spades. Its uncluttered and streamlined look means you won’t look like a sherpa, and the air mesh back and straps help contact points breathe. It can hold a 15.6-inch laptop in the padded sleeve, and the curved zipper main compartment provides wide-mouth access. The large slip pocket has plenty of dedicated stash points, and the front zip pocket can easily be opened in the tightest of situations.
The Overnighter: Able Carry Max
For those who find themselves working late and needing a carry-all backpack that not only can handle EDC gear but also clothing and toiletries, the Able Carry Max is the one to get. It’s capacious without looking like an expedition pack. Its 30 liter capacity can handle a hefty amount of gear, and everything is easy to reach with large zipper panels and layered compartments. Those zippers also happen to have lockable loops for security. The ventilated closed cell foam padding eases the load, and the air channel mitigates back sweat. The coolest feature might just be the magnetic strap closures that aid with load stability but make ingress and egress a cinch.
The Gear Hog: Tom Bihn Brain Bag
This is the type of bag you can own for decades without having to worry about it giving up on you. Built to last, the Brain Bag offers huge amounts of organized capacity via two large compartments, four external pockets, plenty of compression and lash straps for security and external gear attachment, as well as a top pocket, organizer pockets, and a tough snaphook for your keys. It just keeps swallowing EDC gear without making you look like an urban camel.
The Athlete: Osprey Syncro 20
Although the Syncro 20 is geared toward cyclists, it’s actually an ideal EDC pack for the active man. The AirSpeed panel provides superb ventilation and keeps the pack off your back. The 2.5-liter liquid reservoir means you stay hydrated, and the LidLock helmet carry works equally as well for bikes, boards, and powered mobility scooters. The Syncro 20 also provides two large compartments, a zippered tool pocket, mesh side pockets, and a stashable rain cover for those less than savory outings.
The Minimalist: Arc’teryx Nomin Pack
The high price you pay for the Nomin goes toward huge amounts of capacity and waterproof protection coupled with a beautifully unfussy exterior for those who like to stay low on the aesthetic radar. The uncluttered exterior works together with sealed seams and watertight zippers to keep the elements out. Storage comes by way of a huge front storage compartment with organizer pockets, and there’s rigid laptop, tablet, and document stowage space. Low profile straps and a hidden adjustment system ensures the minimalist look.
The Ex-Military Man: Mystery Ranch Blitz 30
For the man who’s done his duty for our country and then some, adjusting to a conventional civvy backpack isn’t exactly palatable. That’s why the Blitz 30 is perfect with its tough 500D Cordura fabric, tapered carry straps, height adjustable sternum strap, padded floating laptop sleeve, three main easy access pockets, coated YKK zippers, and two water bottle side pockets with drain grommets. It’s ready for action, just like you’ve always been.
The Traditionalist: Filson Rugged Twill Rucksack
For those who want a more old-school look for their EDC bag, Filson does it best. What it lacks in specialized compartments it more than makes up for in tough style. Made with Filson’s famous rugged cotton twill, double needle construction, bar tacking, and thick bridle leather, the Filson Rucksack is made to withstand years of use. There’s a big main compartment that holds a laptop up to 16 inches, three external pockets, and brass zippers and buckles to round out the set.