There’s tons of blogs and forums discussing these bags now and there’s no shortage of bags available ranging from simple canvas bags to the deluxe Maxpedition shoulder packs.
Something that’s caught my attention is the wide variety of impractical items that folks are packing around in these bags. IMO, you should really consider what the bag’s duty is for prior to buying anything.
I started using a soft-sided, shoulder-carried brief case for work several years ago and it eventually turned into a convenient way to store and carry other essentials.
In my application, the shoulder bag would be used to conveniently store and carry everyday necessities AND the items critical to getting me home in case my Jeep had a late-night terminal breakdown or traffic was ceased in an emergency. These days, I rarely travel more than 30 miles from home so the shoulder bag is all I need. When/if I do take a longer trip, the BOB goes along too.
I purposely keep the contents simple so there’s enough room left over to pack items specifically needed for the day’s activities, i.e. a change of clothing or the additional items needed for a family get-together or a day hike.
Here’s a list out:
1) The main bag: It’s a butt-ugly soft sided expandable brief case, heavy canvas and nylon, unpadded. It has 2 large inside sections, a large pocket on the back cover and 2 smaller zippered pouches on the cover flap. When you open the flap there are numerous pouches for smaller objects. It was used when I bought it at Salvation Army for 75 cents.
2) The shoulder strap: The original strap was in good condition but the snap clips on the end were plastic. I switched it out for a padded strap with metal clip hooks.
3) Individual items:
GI issue poncho
Flashlight and spare batteries
Gerber Profile fixed blade
Safety Glasses (spare sunglasses)
Detailed city, county and surrounding county maps
Spare can of tobacco
Spare pair of socks
First Aid kit (minor)
Not Shown: Snack food, work gloves
4) Extra carry pouches:
These are used for hikes when I want to leave the bag in the truck and just carry a few things and double as storage inside the bag to keep smaller items together.
a) Padded camera case for binocular storage.
b) Belt/shoulder pouch for concealed carry. (slot is cut inside for the IWB holster). This pouch also contains a tourniquet and extra gauze.
c) Belt pouch for knife, flashlight and multitool
IMO, you should have at least a scanner radio in your EDC bag. (Check your local laws first). It will help you figure out the best routes home to avoid problem areas during an emergency.
I currently keep a Yeasu VX5R ready to go on in the bag when I know I’ll be gone for a few hours. The VX5R is a ham radio/scanner and shortwave receiver in one small package. It travels in a small padded organizer along with the 12V charger/power cable.
Notes and comments:
a) I normally carry a folding knife on my person, it was left out of the bag for that reason.
b) Be realistic when selecting items to keep in this bag. Question everything…do you really need things like signal mirrors, snares etc? My AO is urban/suburban so it isn’t necessary for me to keep wilderness survival gear in this bag. Also, keep your local laws in mind. Don’t pack any items that may be illegal or suspicious for you to have in your car or on your person.
(Update 8/20/10: We’ve switched to another type of bag. Here’s the review)