If you’re in a rush and want to find out what the best EDC backpack is, we recommend The North Face Basin 18 Pack.
You know it, I know it… If there’s one thing that every true camping and everyday carry (EDC) enthusiast needs, it’s the best EDC backpack. Once you find that perfect blend of ruggedness, organization, and sleek design, you’ll have no trouble seamlessly transitioning from the concrete jungle to the wilderness.
But if you’re new to the game, you might be wondering what an EDC backpack is, and more importantly, how you’ll know if you’ve found a good one. Well, that’s why we’re here to share with you our top picks, and features that every good EDC backpack should have.
In this article, we’ll be reviewing the following best EDC backpacks:
- Nomatic Navigator Lite 15L Backpack – Editor’s Choice
- Osprey Daylite Pack – Smallest EDC Backpack
- Fjallraven Ulvo 23 Pack – Best Size to Weight Ratio
- The North Face Basin 18 Pack – Best Overall
- Arc’teryx Mantis 30 Pack – Best for Urban Survival
- Osprey Men’s Talon Pro 30 Pack – Best Backpack with Adjustable Harness
- Gregory Women’s Jade 28 Pack – Best Women’s EDC Backpack
- Patagonia Altvia Pack – 22 L – Best Bang for Your Buck
Best EDC Backpacks – Reviewed
Full disclosure, the Nomatic Navigator Lite is the backpack that I use the most often for EDC purposes. I’m a big fan of the sleek, minimalistic exterior, which effectively hides a whole host of hidden pockets and compartments to meet all of my needs.
It is a 15 liter backpack, which I find is suitable for most EDC purposes. However, if you feel that you need more space, the backpack is expandable, allowing you to add an additional 6 liters if necessary. This has been great for me when I’m traveling, as I have a tendency to come back with more than I left with.
On the inside, you’ll notice a place for your shoes, along with a few mesh pockets to store your lip balm and other trinkets. There are also some “hidden” zippers that open up to a couple of internal compartments, providing a great place to store your valuables and anything else that you don’t want to have easily accessible. This includes a 16 inch laptop, which will sit comfortably against your back once you’ve slipped it into its special enclosure.
The Nomatic Navigator also comes with a mesh water bottle holder, which can fit most bottles with ease, though you will struggle with something the size of a Nalgene. When you’re not using it, the holder zips away into its own pocket when you’re not using it. Overall, the lightweight and comfortable design definitely makes it one of my favorite backpacks, whether I’m using it for EDC, travel, or hiking.
– Very durable
– Sleek and minimalistic
– Great storage ability
– Somewhat asymmetrical
Smallest EDC Backpack
As the smallest and most lightweight option in this review, the Osprey Daylite is perfect for those of you who don’t plan on carrying very much with them, but who still want a reliable, durable, and comfortable pack for their gear.
Osprey is one of the leading backpack manufacturers on the market right now, making products that are durable, comfortable, and well-organized. The Daylite pack is one of their smaller options, coming in at 13 liters, which is perfect for most EDC purposes.
Given the small size, it’s no surprise that it only weighs a touch over one pound. This lightweight design makes it perfect for carrying long distances, and the added padding on the straps and back panel provide all the cushion you need to stay comfortable. You also have an adjustable sternum strap (with whistle) to help you get that perfect fit every time you wear the pack.
On the inside, you can fit up to a 13 inch laptop, which is too small for my personal needs, but will probably be large enough for some of you. There’s also enough space for a sweater, some snacks, a good-sized water bottle, a knife, and most other EDC items that are on the smaller end. It’s definitely not a large pack by any means, but it gets the job done if you only have a few items that you want to carry with you throughout your day.
Durability is pretty good, and especially for the price, you’re not really going to do much better than this. While I do find that the compression straps are completely unnecessary for a pack this size, it’s a minor gripe that doesn’t have too much impact on functionality.
– Good price
– Fairly comfortable
– Adjustable straps
– Very small
Best Size to Weight Ratio
Weighing just a 1.4 pounds, the Fjallraven Ulvo is a lightweight titan that boasts an impressive amount of storage space and comfort suitable for any EDC needs.
At 23 liters, the Fjallraven Ulvo is one of the larger EDC backpacks that we’ll mention in this review. It’s still frameless, and the material itself is fairly light, so the weight hovers at a very reasonable 1.4 pounds. And while it’s certainly a good fit for EDC, the Ulvo is also a great option when you need a solid pack for a day hike or a short trip.
Given the larger size, it’s no surprise that this pack can hold a 15 inch laptop with ease, inside of the specialized sleeve. The main compartment offers a large “catch all” space for you to toss your larger items, while the interior pocket provides more security for your valuable items. There are also a number of penholders for you to carry your regular and/or tactical pens safely and securely.
Unlike most packs, the interior of the Ulvo is white, allowing you to find what you’re looking for without needing to pull everything out and put it back in. The material is durable, though it can be quite stiff, especially in the main compartment. This makes it a little difficult to place and retrieve your gear, which can be a rather unpleasant experience. At the same time, you can count on the durability of the material, as it’s very robust and water resistant.
– Very durable
– Water resistant
– Cushioned laptop sleeve
– Material is almost too stiff in some places
A great mid-sized pack, The North Face Basin has a solid number of storage options for all of your EDC gear, along with a place for trekking poles, ice axes, or anything else you want to hang on the outside.
Did you know that The North Face actually makes backpacks? It was news to me until I stumbled across the Basin, an 18 liters pack that only weighs 1.3 pounds. My personal preference isn’t a very big fan of the color, but putting that aside, this is actually a very solid option for an EDC backpack.
To start, I have to talk about how well the Basin handles comfort. Not only are the straps well-padded, but the back panel really excels when it comes to ventilation as well. If you’re the sort of person who carries your pack around a lot, especially in hot weather, you’ll appreciate the breathability that comes with the Basin. However, none of the padding feels excessive, allowing this pack to maintain a sleek and minimalistic design.
I’ve never been a big fan of webbing on the outside of backpacks, so I’m glad that the Basin doesn’t have any. Instead, they have a couple of loops that were designed for trekking poles, but really, you can clip anything to them as long as you have a carabiner. On the inside, the main compartment is spacious, sporting a mesh pocket to aid in gear organization.
The material itself is pretty durable, and while it has some measure of water resistance, it comes with a built-in rain cover for that extra protection. So, regardless of where you find yourself in a day and what conditions you’re facing, the Basin is a great option for an EDC backpack.
– Nice external attachment points
– Comes with rain cover
– Zippers feel a little cheap
Best for Urban Survival
Sleek and minimalistic, the Arc’teryx Mantis combines the best of functionality and style, creating a backpack that’s perfect for any urban or wilderness adventure.
One of the biggest packs in this review, the Arc’teryx Mantis is perfect for those of you who like to carry around a good deal of gear. It does have an internal frame to provide some stability and support, so you can expect the weight to be higher than many of the packs we’ve mentioned so far. Still, 2.7 pounds isn’t terrible for an EDC pack, and the comfort definitely makes the weight bearable.
The Mantis comes with a top lid (or “brain”) for you to store some of your smaller items that you want to keep accessible. There are also quite a few side zippers and smaller compartments, making this one of the most well-organized EDC backpacks out there. Large water bottles holders can house bottles of varying sizes, and on the inside, you’ll find a sleeve for a hydration reservoir as well. A tiny hole at the top of the bag lets you slip the mouthpiece out of the pack, so you can drink from your water bladder with ease.
However, some of the internal features do feel a little smushed together. The penholder is very close to the hydration reservoir, and they have a tendency to get in each other’s way. But, if you can overlook that feature, you’ll love the four, zippered pockets that help keep some things separated from the primary compartment. Overall, the sheer variety of ways you can use this pack is where I really see it shining, and the durability will ensure you can use it for many years to come.
– Lots of storage options
– Sleek, minimalistic design
– Hydration/Laptop sleeve
– Large, stretchy water bottle holders
– Good durability
– Some of the internal features are oddly placed
Best Backpack with Adjustable Harness
The Osprey Talon Pro has all of the features found in a larger pack compressed down into a 28 liter container, making it well worth the very high price tag.
The Osprey Talon Pro is a lightweight and versatile pack that can go the distance. You’ll probably balk at the price, especially since it’s a relatively small backpack, but just trust me on this one – the price is well-justified.
As a daypack and an EDC backpack, the Talon has very few rivals. Despite its smaller size, it has all of the features that you’d expect to find in a pack twice as large, including a phone pocket on the strap, a couple of hipbelt pockets, clips for your keys, and a place for you to hang your helmet externally. You’ll also find attachment points for some trekking poles or ice axes on the outside, as well, for those times when you want to use the Talon for more than EDC purposes.
The adjustable harness allows you to get the proper fit every time you put it on, and it also gives you the option to share the pack with someone else. Assuming they have a different stature than you, they can easily adjust the harness to fit them and vice versa. And along with the adjustability, the sternum strap and hipbelt let you tailor how the Talon sits on your back, providing the maximum amount of comfort.
There aren’t too many pain points to mention with the Talon, though the most notable would be the lack of instructions. The trekking pole system is a little hard to figure out, especially if you’ve never dealt with one on a different pack before. Still, you should be able to figure it out with time, and YouTube videos are a great resource for this sort of thing.
– Good padding
– Lots of features
– Trekking pole, ice axe, and bike helmet attachment
– No manual for how to use certain features
Best Women’s EDC Backpack
Highly durable with great gear organizers, the Gregory Jade is a powerhouse in both urban and wilderness settings, making it the ideal pack for women who value EDC principles.
A pack specifically designed for women, the Gregory Jade is a 28 liter backpack that works great when you’re hiking, going to work, or traveling. Because it’s such a sizable pack, it’s no surprise that the Jade comes with four exterior pockets, in addition to the main compartment. This makes organizing your gear an incredibly simple task, and prevents you from needing to rifle through a mishmashed pile inside the main compartment.
Extra-large hipbelt pockets give you space to store a snack, a knife, or your phone right at your fingertips. There’s also a key clip and an internal security pocket for your wallet and other belongings that you want to keep as safe as possible. I also like how big the mesh, side pockets are, as it feels rare to find a backpack that can actually hold a Nalgene (or other large water bottles, umbrellas, etc.)
Overall, the Jade was created with comfort in mind, sporting a dynamic suspension that helps the pack twist and flex with your body. The adjustable torso also allows for some flexibility, and the mesh along the back panel creates some great ventilation to help you stay cool. I could say the same for the perforated shoulder harness as well, which means that air flow is going to be the least of your concerns when you’re going about your day.
It is worth noting that, while the material is 400 denier polyester, the Jade is not machine washable. I only bring that up for this model because I’ve had some people ask, but it’s a bad idea to do anything other than spot treat it.
– Great gear organization
– Internal security pocket
– Perhaps a little too large for some people
Best Bang for Your Buck
A solid choice for a decent price, the Patagonia Altvia gives you the best bang for your buck by providing an EDC pack with large water bottle holders, great ventilation, and large compartments.
And finally, we have the Patagonia Altvia pack, which is a great option for those of you who want something more “mid-sized.” As a 22 liter pack, it doesn’t feel too big or too small for EDC purposes, and the frameless design really helps keep the weight down.
Both the shoulder straps and hipbelt have quite a bit of mesh built into them, which helps with breathability. The back panel is also made from mesh, though it’s the suspended construction which really keeps the air moving between your back and the pack. Generally speaking, the Altvia does a great job at preventing massive sweat stains from forming, especially on those hot summer days. It’s a welcome feature whether you’re on your way to work or hiking through the wilderness.
The main compartment is plenty deep, and the front pocket is also surprisingly spacious, easily able to fit a jacket and various other tools. I also appreciate the two, large mesh water bottle pockets, which can easily accommodate larger bottles. One of my pet peeves is when backpacks provide dinky water bottle pockets that can barely fit a Dasani, let alone a Nalgene. And to top it all off, there’s a top pocket that works well for sunglasses, a phone, wallet, and keys, though there is a distinct lack of security on the zippers.
A common complaint that I see is that the shoulder straps and belt are too thin, lacking in padding and comfort. While it’s true that this isn’t a “luxury” backpack, how comfortable you feel wearing it depends on how well you adjust the straps. It’s definitely possible to enjoy wearing the Altvia, once you’ve got the proper tension.
– Deep pockets and compartments
– Great ventilation
– Large water bottle pockets
– Good variety of pockets
– Decent price
– Small amount of padding on straps and belt
Best EDC Backpack – Buyer’s Guide
You might be thinking “Well, a backpack is a backpack,” and to some extent, that’s true. However, the best EDC backpacks will have certain features that “normal” backpacks won’t always have included. Here are just a few:
What is EDC?
Are you always on the go? Do you have a certain amount of gear that you like to have on you at all times, just to be prepared for anything? Then you’re a proponent of EDC, whether you realize it or not.
Short for “Everyday Carry,” EDC refers to the essential items and tools you carry with you every day when you need to tackle life’s challenges. Think of it as your personal arsenal, tailored to suit your unique lifestyle and needs. Your EDC might include items like a wallet, smartphone, keys, multitool, pen, notebook, knife, flashlight… And so the list could keep going on.
However, while most EDC items are usually small enough to fit in your pocket, the sheer number of them can make it hard to carry everything. That’s why you need one of the best EDC backpacks to give yourself the space needed store all these belongings, regardless of whether you’re going to work, traveling, or going on a hike.
When it comes to choosing the best EDC backpack, one crucial factor to consider is weight. After all, you’ll be carrying this pack with you day in and day out, so you’ll want something that won’t prevent you from living life to the fullest.
You’re going to struggle to find an EDC pack that weights less than 2 pounds, but you can get pretty close to that number with a few of the options listed in this review. The Nomatic Navigate Lite, for example, comes in at 2.4 pounds, which is pretty feather-light as far as most backpacks are concerned. Shaving off as many ounces as possible will help you out more than you realize, as even a little bit of weight starts to feel like a mountain after a full day of wearing it.
At the same time, it’s all about finding the perfect balance between weight and strength. If you go too light, you start to cut back on durability, which will prevent you from tackling the rigors of everyday use. Thankfully, manufacturers have made great strides in the materials they use for EDC backpacks, combining the best of both worlds. Look for those made from high-quality, lightweight materials like nylon, ripstop, or even lightweight synthetic fabrics for the optimal marriage of weight reduction and durability.
The best EDC backpacks come with a variety of features that set them apart from the crowd. Here are a few of the more important ones to consider when you’re in the process of choosing your next pack:
A cluttered backpack can quickly become a nightmare. That’s why the best EDC backpacks come with smart organization features (such as multiple compartments, pockets, and dividers) to help you keep your essentials tidy and easily accessible. If you want a backpack for work or travel, look for a dedicated laptop sleeve. Otherwise, you should always keep an eye out for smaller pockets for your phone, pens, and other gadgets, and larger compartments for your gym clothes or a quick grocery run.
Security is always a top priority when you’re carrying your essential items. Especially in certain parts of the world, pickpockets and opportunistic thieves abound, so you need an EDC backpack that’s able to keep unwanted fingers from taking your stuff.
There are a number of features that can help secure your belongings. Look for EDC backpacks with anti-theft features such as lockable zippers or hidden pockets to keep your valuable items safe. The more you can do to pack your expensive gear in a place that’s hard to reach, the more likely it will still be there when you arrive at your destination.
If you love customizing your gear setup, look for EDC backpacks with MOLLE webbing. This system allows you to attach modular accessories like extra pouches, water bottle holders, or tools, tailoring your backpack to your specific needs. While it’s certainly not a requirement for an EDC backpack, it’s a worthy addition for those of you who like to bring gear that won’t easily fit inside the pack itself.
Since your EDC backpack will be exposed to various weather conditions, consider getting one with weather-resistant features. Waterproof zippers and a water-resistant coating help keep your gear dry during unexpected rain showers or snowfall. It would sure put a damper on your day if all your (probably expensive) gear got soaked, wouldn’t it?
You probably want an EDC backpack for the functionality, but let’s be honest… Don’t you want to look cool while being practical? After all, your EDC backpack is an extension of your style, a reflection of your personality, and it should complement your overall look.
When it comes to aesthetics, there’s a plethora of designs and color options to choose from, so you can effortlessly find one that matches your taste. From sleek and minimalist to rugged and tactical, the world of EDC backpacks has it all. Remember that the best EDC backpack is the one that aligns with your unique lifestyle without compromising on some of the finer details, like durability, size, and weight.
Whenever you’re thinking of buying any sort of outdoor gear, size is almost always a topic that bears some weight. If you’re all about keeping things sleek and minimalistic, a compact EDC backpack might be the one for you. These backpacks typically have a capacity of around 15 to 20 liters, which makes them perfect for carrying just the essentials, like your wallet, phone, keys, a notebook, and perhaps a small tablet or laptop. Generally speaking, they’re pretty lightweight, easy to carry around, and great for those who prefer to travel light or navigate crowded urban environments with ease.
On the other hand, if you’re a “be prepared for anything” kind of person, you might want to consider a larger EDC backpack. There are quite a few that can range anywhere from 25 to 35 liters (or more), giving you the space to shove in a change of clothes, a first-aid kit, compact umbrella, and snacks. Though it will be heavier and a little harder to manage, this size is perfect for those who want to be prepared for as many situations as possible.
Somewhere in between, you have the medium-sized EDC backpacks, which land in the 20 to 25-liter range. These are versatile packs that do a good job striking a balance between capacity and portability. They offer a bit more space for those who like to carry a few more items but without becoming overly bulky, giving you the best of both worlds.
When it comes to comfort with a backpack, the first thing you always have to consider is the padding on the shoulder straps and back panel. Thick, plush padding can make a world of difference, especially if you carry your backpack for extended periods with a lot of weight. Along with the padding, you’ll also notice that ergonomic designs help distribute the weight evenly across your shoulders and back, reducing strain and fatigue even more.
Adjustability is another vital aspect of comfort. No two people are the same, and neither are their bodies, so the best EDC backpack will give you the flexibility to comfort it to your frame. Ideally, you’ll have adjustable shoulder straps and a sternum strap to customize the fit according to your body shape and size. This ensures a snug and secure fit, preventing the backpack from bouncing around as you move.
Staying cool and dry is another important facet of comfort, so it’s a good idea to find a highly breathable backpack. These packs often have ventilated back panels, which allow air to circulate and prevent that uncomfortable sweaty feeling during hot and humid days. Say goodbye to those awkward back sweat marks!
Why Trust US?
At Untamed Space, we’re passionate about helping you have the best camping experience possible. Our team of experts have experience camping and backpacking all over the world, allowing them to provide insightful and relevant content to guide you in your outdoor pursuits.
All of our reviews are based on a combination of firsthand experience, extensive research, and an analysis of customer feedback. We are an independent website and do not receive payments or incentives from manufacturers to promote their products, and we continuously update our content to provide new information based on product availability. Wherever you are in your journey, whatever gear you’re searching for, you can be sure to find unbiased and up-to-date reviews for all of your needs.
What Security Features Should an EDC Backpack Have?
When choosing an EDC backpack, it’s good to look for anti-theft designs, such as lockable zippers and hidden compartments to add an extra layer of protection against theft and pickpocketing. RFID-blocking pockets protect your cards and passports from digital theft attempts, and backpacks with slash-resistant materials in critical areas deter potential slash-and-grab thefts.
How Important is it to Have MOLLE?
An EDC backpack with MOLLE webbing (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) significantly enhances versatility and customization. The MOLLE system consists of webbed straps and attachment points on the backpack’s exterior, allowing you to attach additional gear and accessories. That means you can tailor the backpack to your specific needs, such as adding pouches, water bottle holders, or equipment loops.
Is a Ventilated Back Panel Necessary for EDC?
A ventilated back panel significantly contributes to comfort during extended wear of an EDC backpack. It promotes airflow between your back and the backpack, keeping you cool and dry even during hot and humid weather or intense physical activity. The ventilated design also minimizes the chance of developing skin irritation, making the backpack ideal for long commutes, outdoor adventures, or travel.
At the end of the day, it’s all well and good to carry essential items with you as you go to work, hit the gym, or shop at the mall. However, your pant pockets can only hold so much at a time, which is why you’re going to need something more practical.
The best EDC backpack gives you the storage and security you need for all of your gear, in a package that’s comfortable to carry and won’t break the bank. Out of the options listed in this review, we believe The North Face Basin is the best overall, checking the most boxes, and acting as a great companion for the largest number of people.