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6/12/14

Deep Thoughts: EDC Bags

Thanks to all those who have entered the contest this time around. The contest continues through the end of June, so if you haven't entered, there's still plenty of time. For details on how/what to enter, click here.

I wanted to take a few kilobytes to discuss every day carry bags at a conceptual level. We're getting entries that are all over the map in terms of size and type of gear, and that will continue throughout the contest.

At its most basic, an every day carry bag is just a fancy name for the bag you carry with you on a daily basis. Most people bring some variety of bag with them to work/school/their daily routine - a backpack, briefcase, messenger bag or whatever. It's the bag you use to carry for mundane crap like a work computer, lunch--either of which I don't think anyone has posted, BTW--and the like.

That's an every day carry bag, whether it has anything interesting in it or not.

Your needs and preferences will be different from the next person's, which means a different bag and different stuff in it. A cubicle jockey will have different needs from someone in the military or law enforcement or someone who works construction.

In my line of thinking, if you have to carry a bag, you might as well put some useful comfort, convenience and contingency gear in there, right?
 But, that desire to carry some contingency gear also doesn't change the primary purpose of the bag...which is to help me solve the problems and inconveniences I face in my every day life. 

For contingency/survival gear, that means evaluating my risk profile (what am I likely to face?), giving myself some size and weight constraints and working within those.

If you don't give yourself some guardrails, you can easily get to a point where contingency/survival stuff overwhelms the daily need. Then you're carrying around a 35 pound preparedness ball-and-chain that is more a burden than something than helps you in your daily life.

If the primary purpose of the bag is to prepare you for some unforeseen disaster scenario, it's no longer an everyday carry bag.

If the primary purpose is to help you survive a 20 mile hike through the suburbs, it's no longer an EDC bag. It's something else.

It's a balance.

If your EDC bag is versatile enough to equip you for the day-to-day stuff, and get you home if you needed to make a long walk (or keep you sane stuck in an airport, or patch up a serious injury)...then that's a pretty good every day carry bag.

It's not that difficult to do. Pay attention to the weight of everything. Weave as many multifunction items in as you can. Regularly go through and ditch stuff that doesn't get used.

One thing that I do to aid in the versatility: I leave the main compartment of my bag largely empty. That gives me plenty of space to adapt as needed - road trip? Air travel? Camping? Day hike? Gun show? Gym? Shooting range? Overnight backpacking trip?

I've got the 'flex' space to accommodate all of the above and keep the basic load out intact. That's one of the reasons why I steer folks away from shoulder bags or smaller packs -- they tend to not allow for that flex space and can limit your options.  

Anyways, I've spent way too much time staring at the screen on this one...over to the Tribe for commentary!

6 comments :

  1. AnonymousJune 12, 2014

    I couldn't agree more.

    A couple years ago I was working a regular 9-5 Warehouse job as an order packer and was just getting in to prepping. I started with a cheapo bookbag style 2 strap backpack and used it to cart lunch.

    As I would find useful things they would fill the pockets and eventually the bottom of the central space in the bag. Within 6 months or so I was toting 35 pounds of stuff back and forth to work Monday through Friday.

    Then it suddenly dawned on me that I probably didn't need to carry a camp stove and 3 cans of Sterno or a folding shovel and 100 feet of paracord to the job everyday. So I started paring things down by buying another cheapo bookbag and loading out the stuff that was geared more toward a camping senario.

    When I finished I had a kit that fit inside the donut spare in my car with the camping gear and my carry bag was mainly my lunch kit with a thermos and spare water bottle, a 'AA' size Maglight with spare batteries, A compass, a mini Bic with tinder and flint, a surplus first aid kit, water purifing tabs, a mylar blanket and 3 multi-tools with very few redundant functions.

    The car bag has the camp stove with cooking kit and Sterno, a 6 X 8 camo tarp, a hand axe, a machete, a fishing kit, some snare wire, a folding shovel/saw combo, paracord, bath tissue, another larger first aid kit and a navy surplus solar still. Also in the car I keep a set of mechanics tools to repair problems as needed and enough vital fluids to get me going in most situations.

    I learned the lesson that if the car is in the parking lot less than 100 yards away, I'll probably be able to access any gear I have there in most situations.

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  2. AnonymousJune 13, 2014

    Your logic above makes a lot of sense. Everyday carry items should be items that are needed very often, not 'just in case'. And a really useful container is that 'Wallet Survival Kit' you posted in much earlier post. Just adjust the contents for what YOU use and you are well ahead of the game.

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  4. AnonymousJune 13, 2014

    This cubicle jockey could not agree more. Most of the weight of my EDC back is my laptop. I'm hoping to get it posted before time runs out. My EDC bag is not my BoB, it is at home. My EDC bag is not my GHB. My GHB is in the car. I do have some basic "just in case items" in my EDC bag. I will try to find time this weekend to get a EDC submitting together.

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  5. Agree with everything that's been said. And its not just weight or space that's the problem--the more packed your bag gets the harder it becomes to located and retrieve any given item. I know we all like to be prepared but at often the cost of a piece of gear just isn't worth the benefit it might provide some day. A chain saw can be a useful tool, but I'm not going to strap one to my back for the rest of my life just in case it might come in handy. You gotta ask yourself: at what point does something become more of a liability than a benefit?

    And this doesn't just go for EDC bags--people need to think about this for bug out bags, get home bags, wilderness bags etc. I've seen so many BOBs that are so packed to the gills with marginal crap that they're usefulness has been utterly negated and they're just total liabilities. "I know that can of bear-spray is in here somewhere!" You might as well drag around a boat anchor when SHTF. Some of these overloaded BOBs could honestly get people killed some day.

    Skills don't weigh anything at all and will likely be more useful that most taticool gear you could cram into a backpack. Focus on skills before you add another 10 lbs of army surplus purchases and Skymall gadgets to your bag.

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  6. We don't have real cubicles at my workplace, but as another desk-jockey I really appreciate seeing this. It seems like so many EDC bags that I see on blogs, forums, wherever, are heavy on the "OMG WHAT IF I NEEEEEED THINGS" angle and feature more survival-focused items than I use; I feel like my own EDC bag is less 'good' because I'm not prepared enough or something... which is silly, because I don't need a hatchet or wads of quick-clot bandage in my daily activities.

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