submitted by Jonathan Tayag
Bags are a great way to carry your gear or augment your EDC pocket space when you’re on the go. But if you don’t always carry a lot of gear, lugging around a big heavy bag can be cumbersome. With their lightweight materials and convenient collapsible construction, packable bags are your best bet. They’re especially good to have when your carry weight is limited, like when you’re traveling. They’re also great to have on hand as a bag within a bag, both for organization and as a way to deal carrying more stuff than your daily driver bag can handle. But regardless of mission, packable bags are versatile and available in just about every type you might need. In this guide, we’ll walk you through what makes a good packable bag for everyday carry. We’ll also get you acquainted with a few of our favorite picks for you to choose from.
What makes for a good packable bag for everyday carry?
A good packable bag for everyday carry is made of lightweight synthetic or technical fabric. This allows a bag to be thin and collapsible without compromising the strength that you need when you load it up with gear. This also allows them to fold into a small portable footprint for packing or storage. Keep in mind, though, that you should not treat a packable bag like its heavier-duty brethren. For extended hard use and for carrying a significant amount of gear, you might want to stick to more traditional bag materials like canvas, leather, or high-denier nylon.
The Best Packable Bags
- 1 - AmazonBasics Ultralight Portable Packable Day Pack
- 2 - Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack
- 3 - Matador Transit30 Packable Duffel
- 4 - Mystery Ranch In and Out Packable Backpack
- 5 - Victorinox Packable Casual Lightweight Daypack
- 6 - Propper Tactical Packable Backpack
- 7 - Patagonia Black Hole Hip Pack
- 8 - Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa
- 9 - Arxus Crossbody Bag
- 10 - Cobiz Lightweight Packable Hiking Backpack
AmazonBasics Ultralight Portable Packable Day PackPurchaseKey FeaturesEasy-access zippersSide water pocketsAdjustable, breathable strapsSpecificationsMaterialsRipstop nylonCapacity25LWeight5.6 ozReviewsPrice$Amazon’s in-house products do a good job of giving you the essentials without paying high-ticket prices for name-brand gear. Their Ultralight Packable Day Pack features a low-profile design and 25 liters of space that stuffs into its own pocket when you’re not using the bag. It weighs less than half a pound, and it comes with multiple compartments, including an easy access external zipper and two mesh side spaces for water bottles or small pieces of kit.
Osprey Ultralight Stuff PackPurchaseKey FeaturesTop stash pocketSide water pocketsLifetime warrantySpecificationsMaterials40D ripstop nylonCapacity18LWeight4 ozReviewsPrice$Osprey is a trusted manufacturer of outdoors gear and apparel, and they stand by their craftsmanship with a no-nonsense lifetime guarantee. True to its name, their Ultralight Stuff pack gives you a spacious 18 liters of space in one large compartment. It has durable 40D nylon ripstop construction and mesh shoulder straps that ride comfortably against your chest. Its external side pockets can hold water bottles so you can stay hydrated on the move. The top stash pocket allows for easy access to your essential small gear. It’s also incredibly lightweight, tipping the scales at just four ounces.
Matador Transit30 Packable DuffelPurchaseKey FeaturesWaterproof fabric, all seams internally sealedPacks into a compact sizeSide compartment for small itemsSpecificationsMaterials30D CORDURA nylonCapacity30LWeight4.1 ozReviewsPrice$Matador’s mission as a company is to delivery quality outdoors, travel, and adventure gear that’s lightweight and packable. Their Transit30 duffel gives you 30 liters of space when you need it, and it packs down into a size that can fit in the palm of your hand when you don’t. It weighs just 4.1 oz, and it gets its weight savings from its durable yet thin and waterproof 30D Cordura nylon construction. It can act as a lightweight primary bag when you’re trying to pack to a weight limit like when you’re flying, but it also works well as a backup bag for when you come home with more things than you left the house.
Mystery Ranch In and Out Packable BackpackPurchaseKey FeaturesFully featured outdoors bagComfortable fixed harnessHydration bladder compatibleSpecificationsMaterials100D CORDURA mini-rip nylonCapacity~19LWeight1 poundReviewsPrice$$Mystery Ranch is well-known in the outdoors, tactical, and first responder community for putting together ultra-durable backpacks and gear. With their packable In and Out bag, they’ve put their extensive knowledge into a package that stuffs into its own pocket, ready to be stowed away until you need it again. It’s lightweight at just 1 pound, but with its plethora of storage spaces and comfortable carry options, it punches well above its weight class. It features comfortable shoulder straps and an adjustable sternum strap for heavier loads. There’s two external zippered access pockets, one large side pocket for water bottles, and two tool carry loops which will work well if you bring trekking poles along for a hike. For longer excursions, there’s a built in hydration reservoir pocket that’ll accommodate up to 2 liters of water as you embark on your journeys.
Victorinox Packable Casual Lightweight DaypackPurchaseKey FeaturesLined interiorEasy-access main compartmentAdjustable shoulder strapsSpecificationsMaterialsPolyesterCapacity~16LWeight9 ozReviewsPrice$You probably know Victorinox for their line of Swiss Army Knives, but they also manufacture quality travel goods including luggage and everyday carry bags. Their Packable Backpack is made for people who are on the go. It features a spacious 990 cubic inches of storage with a main compartment that opens wide to let you pack your gear and take it out at a moment’s notice. The interior is lined, making it a bit more durable from wear and tear from the contents you might put inside. The bag itself is made of durable polyester that weighs only 0.61 pounds. This lets you bring it along for a quick trip while you leave your heavier bags back at home base.
Propper Tactical Packable BackpackPurchaseKey FeaturesDurable water repellent (DWR) fabricDual water bottle pouchesSpecificationsMaterialsPolyester micro-ripstop fabricCapacity~16LWeight1 lbReviewsPrice$Propper is known for making durable tactical bags, and their packable variant is no exception. This backpack is made of lightweight polyester micro ripstop fabric that compresses down easily. The bag is also coated with a water repellent finish to help keep your gear dry if you suddenly find yourself in wet situations. As a bag that has more of a tactical flair, it’s available in the three traditional military colors of black, olive drab, and coyote tan.
Patagonia Black Hole Hip PackPurchaseKey FeaturesBluesign certified, 100% recycled materialsWater-resistantTakes up little space and weightSpecificationsMaterials70D ripstop nylon body/200D DWR recycled polyester liningCapacity1LWeight3.5 ozReviewsPrice$Patagonia is a perennial favorite in the EDC community when it comes to quality outdoors gear and apparrel, and their Ultralight Black Hole line of bags leverages their expertise to give you exactly what it says on the tin: lots of space for not a lot of weight. And that extends to the smallest bag of the line, their 1-liter hip pack. This is a small and lightweight pack that can be worn around the waist like a fanny pack or crossbody as a sling. It serves as a great way to carry your everyday carry essentials when space in your pockets is limited, and you can pack it all down into its small pocket when you don’t need it right away.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear VersaPurchaseKey FeaturesHigh-tech composite fabricWater-repellent exterior, and zippersRemovable strapSpecificationsMaterialsDCH50 Dyneema composite fabricCapacity2.25LWeight2.91 ozReviewsPrice$$If you’re looking for the lightest possible packable bags that don’t skimp on storage or durability, you’re going to want to consider bags made out of Dyneema composite fabrics. These offer immense strength for weight unmatched by more traditional nylon ripstop like you might find in other bags in this category. Hyperlite Mountain Gear dedicates themselves to making some of the best bags that integrate Dyneema technical fabrics into the mix, and you can start with their 2.91 oz and 2.25 liter capacity Versa to try things out. With its mesh organizer in the main compartment, a zippered external pocket, and a hidden rear pocket where it’s padded against your body, the Hyperlite Versa lets you carry the essentials in a well-organized and easy-to-find manner. Because the bag is made out of inherently water-resistant material along with the water-resistant zippers, there’s no need for extra coatings to achieve a bit of safety for any electronics you might place inside.
Arxus Crossbody BagPurchaseKey Features5-pocket designUsable storage pocket by itselfWaterproofSpecificationsMaterialsRipstop nylon, TPU-coated zippersCapacity5.9LWeight7.04 ozReviewsPrice$The Arxus Crossbody Bag is a popular bag on Amazon with a strong 4.5 star rating and a versatile packable design that makes it suitable for everyday carry. With five different zippered pocket spaces and about 5.9 liters of capacity when fully expanded, there’s plenty of space in the bag for you to stash items both large and small. The rip-stop nylon used in the bag’s construction will hold up to everyday abrasions, and its water-repellent properties along with its use of waterproof TPU zippers make it a solid choice if you find yourself out int he rain. And if you use wired headphones, the strap on the bag is designed to help hold your earbuds when you aren’t using them, preventing you from losing them if they fall to the ground.
Cobiz Lightweight Packable Hiking BackpackPurchaseKey FeaturesExternal loops for gear attachmentCompression strapsSternum and waist strapsSpecificationsMaterialsRipstop nylonCapacity40LWeight0.7 lbReviewsPrice$With its accessible price and a full 40 liters of space, the Cobiz Lightweight Packable Backpack is a solid choice. It enjoys a 4.5 star rating on Amazon, and it’s easy to see why: it’s made out of high-denier, double-line ripstop fabric that’ll avoid tearing even if you run up against sharp brush in the outdoors. And with a full 40 liters of space, you’ll be able to carry all you need on a hike with this bag. Its V-shaped zippered opening allows easy access to the main compartment, and you can also use the top zippered section and the side mesh areas for the items you need to reach on a more regular basis. For nighttime hiking, the bag features useful reflective panels, making it easy for others to see you for safety and identification.
Do you stow a backup bag in your EDC for when you need to carry a little more than you expected? Let us know what you use in the comments below!