At the beach in Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks


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Backpacks are possibly the best invention after sliced bread (or at least, that’s what I think as an avid traveler!).

EDC bags, also known as “everyday carry” packs, are pretty self-explanatory. These bags carry items you’ll need to conquer the day and any hurdles it may throw your way.

Over the years, EDC packs have become popular among travelers. These compact creations help carry essential items, from first-aid kits to water bottles, clothes, and other travel gear.

But choosing the best EDC packs for either travel or work can be daunting, especially when you need help deciding what to look for. And, there are hundreds of packs on the market, so where do you even begin?!

With my extensive travel knowledge (and some bad everyday carry bags along the way), I’ve compiled a guide to the best EDC bags there are.

I’ll cover the pros and cons and key features of each, and also provide you with a handy buyer’s guide to help you make your choice.

Let’s dive in.

Matein Carry-on EDC Backpack
Image by Matein from Facebook

Top Picks For The Best EDC Bags: At A Glance

Here’s a quick overview of the best EDC backpacks you can find.

  1. Best Overall Backpack – Under Armour Hustle 5.0 Backpack
  2. Best Waterproof Backpack – BackSåk Waterproof Floating Backpack
  3. Best Tactical Backpack – Reebow Gear Military Backpack
  4. Best EDC Pack for Hiking – Osprey Daylite Daypack
  5. Best EDC Pack for Camera – Thule Aspect DSLR Camera Bag
  6. Best EDC Pack for Travel – Matein Travel Pack
Best EDC backpack

6 Best Everyday Carry Backpacks: Detailed Information

Everyone needs a good everyday carry bag, whether you’re a student looking for a slick laptop bag to swiftly carry around campus or an avid traveler backpacking through the U.S.

Save yourself some time (and money) by considering these top brands.

1. Under Armour Hustle 5.0 Backpack – Best overall

Under Armour Hustle EDC Backpack

Pros:

  • Highly water-resistant material
  • Breathable air-mesh padded back for ventilation

Cons:

  • Not durable for heavy laptops or books

Key features:

  • Padded laptop sleeve for a 15″ laptop
  • Expandable laundry/shoe bag at the bottom
  • Molle webbing on shoulder straps

If you’re looking for an all-in-one everyday backpack that’s durable and water-repellent, look no further than the Under Armour Hustle 5.0. It’s made of lightweight and breathable material that allows you to be active without breaking a sweat.

Inside, you’ll find a soft-lined laptop sleeve that holds up to 15″ MacBook Pro or a similarly sized laptop. There’s also a water-resistant front zipper pocket for travel documents and small electronic gadgets.

The Under Armour Hustle 5.0 is popular among avid travelers. Biking, hiking, and nature enthusiasts can effortlessly carry their essentials.

The only thing this bag lacks is more stuffing in the shoulder straps. This would assist in supporting heavier loads and releasing tension off the shoulder and upper back.


2. BackSåk Waterproof Floating Backpack – Best waterproof

BackSak Waterproof Floating Backpack Review

Pros:

  • Made with all-weather protection PVC
  • Interior pocket keeps electronics separate from wet items

Cons:

  • No exterior water bottle pockets
  • No internal laptop sleeve

Key features:

  • Sternum straps and back support to lighten the load on your muscles
  • Main compartment is IPX-6 waterproof
  • Protective zipper pockets

Watersports enthusiasts (or those who often find themselves dancing in the rain) will love the BackSåk Waterproof Floating Backpack. Its interior vinyl lining and tough exterior PVC fabric make this bag a strong contender for the best EDC pack on the market.

BackSåk waterproof backpack
Image by Skog Å Kust on Facebook

The BackSåk has plenty of features. Firstly, it’s a roll-top backpack that safely keeps your gear dry and protected while you’re doing outdoor activities. The small front pocket is handy for storing (and protecting) travel documents like passports and bank cards.

It comes in 25L and 35L sizes, so you can choose how much carry space you need for your next adventure.


3. Reebow Gear Military Backpack – Best tactical backpack

Reebow Gear Military EDC Backpack

Pros:

  • Durable materials
  • Water-resistant

Cons:

  • Material sensitivity
  • Delicate zippers when handled rough

Key features:

  • Molle webbing throughout to attach other pouches
  • Heavy-duty, double-stitched zippers
  • Space for hydration bladders

Need something a bit bigger that can take a beating? Get your hands on the Reebow Gear Military Backpack. Possibly the best tactical backpack there is, this EDC pack boasts front-loading compartments with heavy-duty zippers to keep all your gear in place. And, you’ll look pretty badass wearing it too!

The ventilated padded mesh in the back and adjustable shoulder straps are breathable and lightweight, making your adventure super comfortable.

One thing that all military backpacks have in common is the insane amount of pockets and sleeves for all your special equipment, and this one is no different. Stash your laptop, water bottle, Swizz army knife, tactical gear, first aid kit… and you’ll find there’s still space left in this incredibly versatile bag.

Note: This EDC bag is compatible with a hydration bladder, making it suitable for camping or hiking.


4. Osprey Daylite Daypack – Best for hiking

Osprey Daylite EDC Backpack

Pros:

  • Two stretch mesh pockets on the sides provide additional storage
  • Mesh-covered die-cut foam back for ventilation and comfort

Cons:

  • Small storage is only suitable for carrying essentials
  • Delicate chest strap

Key features:

  • Large main compartment with suspended laptop pocket/hydration pack sleeve
  • Can attach to other Osprey bags
  • Dual water bottle pockets
  • Front pocket with key clip

Hiking will never be the same with the Osprey Daylite Daypack. Its compact design, mesh back, and shoulder straps make any excursion effortless.

The EDC bag has two top-loading compartments large enough to fit hiking essentials like a hydration reservoir or electronic gadgets such as a tablet.

But the Osprey Daylite is not just for hiking. The bag’s chest strap makes it suitable for adrenaline-filled adventures like mountain biking or rock climbing. It’s one of the best Osprey backpacks you can find. 

If you enjoy watching your movies on top of a mountain, there is also an internal laptop compartment that fits most 14″ laptops. And you’re probably going to work up a thirst, so it’s a good thing that this backpack features two water bottle pockets on the sides.


5. Thule Aspect DSLR Camera Bag – Best for photographers

Best Camera Backpacks for Travel - Thule Aspect

Pros:

  • Multiple compartments for camera, drone, and tripod
  • Padded storage protecting gear

Cons:

  • Main compartment zipper opens at the top of the bag
  • Divider panels are not well-sized (larger gear may have trouble fitting in)

Key features:

  • Padded pockets to protect camera and gear
  • Large enough to fit a DSLR camera, DJI Mavic Pro drone, and other equipment
  • Back compartment for laptop or iPad
  • Zippered pocket on front and side for smaller items

Every traveler knows that a DSLR camera is essential when visiting picturesque places. Thus an EDC camera bag is non-negotiable. Thule’s Aspect DSLR camera bag is a fantastic option, plus it has a detachable padded hip belt for storing batteries and other smaller camera gadgets.

This bag has various storage compartments; the side panel fits a DSLR camera and DJI Mavic 3 drone, while the back slit fits a 15.6-inch laptop and iPad. The side panel carries a tripod, and you can use the sternum strap to stabilize the load.

Note: If you’re into travel photography, picking the ideal travel case for your camera is essential. So ensure you’ve compared all the options before making your decision.


6. Matein Carry-on Backpack – Best for travel

Matein Carry-on EDC Backpack

Pros:

  • Expandable up to 40 liters
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Flight approved

Cons:

  • No laptop pocket
  • Delicate zippers

Key features:

  • Lockable zippered pockets to keep items safe
  • Hideaway shoulder straps to transform the pack into a duffel bag
  • Air-mesh ventilated back
  • Padded grab handles to easily remove from the overhead compartment

Going away for a few days? You need the Matein carry-on backpack. Its oversized (yet carry-on approved) design fits all your travel essentials, from clothes and toiletries to electronics like a laptop or tablet.

If you need more space, this EDC bag is expandable, giving you an extra 1.5 inches to squeeze in a few more items.

The Matein is such a great find because it’s flight-approved and seamlessly fits the under-seat luggage space. It can also go in the overhead bin if it is collapsed.

If you’ve slightly over-packed (no judgment), you can adjust the sternum strap upward, downward, or to go across your chest, thus relieving the pressure off your shoulders.

Another cool trick is hiding the shoulder straps and carrying the bag with the padded grab handle on the side or at the top.

The main downside is that there is no interior compartment for a laptop. This isn’t a train smash, but most of us do travel with our Macbooks or laptops these days.


What To Look For In Everyday Carry Backpacks: A Buyer’s Guide

Finding the best travel backpack brands that suit your needs is a challenge. And, with so many things to consider, you may end up with an EDC backpack that’s not complimentary to your lifestyle or travel style. So make the best decision by considering the following:

Comfort

This goes without saying, but the first thing you need to consider when looking for an EDC travel backpack is comfort. Without any padding and breathable straps, your bag will quickly become a nightmare to travel with.

Always go for backpacks with a padded back panel and shoulder straps that are fitted with breathable mesh. This will keep you dry throughout the journey and not put too much pressure on your spine and shoulders.

The 6 Best EDC Backpacks For Every Kind Of Traveler 1
Image by Thule from Facebook

Durability

Another top consideration is the strength of the bag’s material. You don’t want to buy a new EDC backpack whenever an adventure calls.

You should note that if you want a durable everyday carry pack that’s waterproof, fabrics like cotton are out of the question, as they’re not naturally water-repellent or resistant.

Get an EDC bag made of nylon or a similar material. These have water-repellent qualities, and they’re stretchable, allowing you to fit in all your travel gear without much trouble.

Another great feature to always look for is the weight of the bag. Lightweight materials like PVC work well for adventurous travelers.

Osprey Daylite EDC Daypack
Image by Osprey Packs Philippines from Facebook

Storage Capacity or Size

Yes, size matters! When buying an EDC backpack, it’s essential to consider the storage space. A small EDC backpack works well for day trips and short hikes, but if you’re going on a multi-day trip, you will need something bigger.

EDC backpack sizes are indicated in liters, which shows how much interior space there is.

One myth many travelers believe is that you need just one bag for all your excursions – wrong! A multi-day trip needs more gear than a short hike at the state park – and you don’t want to lug an oversized bag with you if you don’t have to! You also don’t want to stuff a smaller back to the brim and wreck the zippered pockets trying to close it.

Make sure to use a bag appropriate to the adventure; otherwise, you’ll ruin your EDC pack.

Structure

One element that always seems to slip through the cracks when travelers look for an EDC pack is the bag’s interior structure.

EDC backpacks with laptop sleeves work well for students or young professionals. But not so much for avid backpackers who spend most of their time in remote places with no electrical connections.

The compartments inside your EDC are crucial; they keep your items separate (e.g., dry away from wet; or sharp objects away from scratchable glasses) and determine what travel essentials you can take. So, ensure that the bag’s interior structure meets your travel requirements. 

EDC Tactical Backpack

Best Everyday Carry Backpacks | Wrapped Up

Finding the best everyday carry backpack takes time and requires a fair amount of research. But knowing your needs and matching the product to your desires is always the first step to getting the best EDC bag for you.

Whether you’re hiking, canyoneering, or camping for a few days, there’s an EDC backpack with your name on it.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you find possible options, and you’re on your way to the best adventure yet.

Next Read: Are you a budding travel photographer? Make your life a little easier and read this in-depth guide on the best camera backpacks for travel.

The Best Everyday Carry Backpacks for Every Travelers Needs
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