Mon, Jan 15 - 7 Minute Read


There are many different styles of bags to choose from when you’re looking to carry your wallet, phone, laptop, keys — and whatever assorted goodies you’ve added to your EDC kit. 

Backpacks can hold a full day’s worth of work and workout gear, while slings allow you to go lightweight for quick trips around the city.

But when we’re looking for a true daily driver — that one bag that’s always loaded and ready to go for a workday — there’s nothing better than a well-made over-the-shoulder bag.

So for today’s guide to the best EDC bags, we put seven different over-the-shoulder bags through their paces to determine exactly what (and what not) to look for in an EDC bag.

Let’s jump right into the bag selections, then end with our observations on how to choose the best EDC bag for you, as well as a handful of frequently asked questions.

NutSac Satchel 13

Our classic over-the-shoulder bag, the Satchel 13 is built to last — and to keep developing a finer patina year after year.

Weighing in at just under two pounds, with a capacity of seven liters, the Satchel 13 is a lightweight and compact way to carry your laptop and EDC essentials day in and day out. It’s made of a water-resistant waxed canvas, and finished with top quality pull-up leather detailing.

Two front pouch pockets are great for holding glasses, chargers, power banks, and the like, and they’re paired with a full-length zippered stash pocket on the back side. A 13-inch interior holds all laptops up to 13 inches — and if you’re looking for even more storage space, there’s always the Satchel 15 as an option, too.

Overall, the Satchel series combines a classic design with top quality materials and construction, and plenty of versatility for different EDC styles. There just aren’t many bags out there like it, and we guarantee that you’ll like it.

  • Dimensions/Capacity: 13x 9x 3.5
  • Materials: Waxed canvas, premium pull-up leather, metal hardware
  • Notable features: Front pouch pockets, back zippered pocket, padded mesh strap
  • Best for: Buy-it-for-life everyday carry
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Price: $179

Tom Bihn Side Kick

A lightweight, compact, and versatile alternative to bulkier over-the-shoulder bags, the Tom Bihn Side Kick offers three liters of storage space and weighs in at just 9.4 ounces.

There’s a zippered pocket with a key strap on the outside of the Side Kick, and the main compartment opens up to reveal seven pockets of various sizes. On the back side, you’ll find a full-width stash pocket, complete with pen loops and rings for attaching other Tom Bihn accessories.

It’s not an absolute stunner in the looks department like some of the other bags in this review. The ordinary and plain aesthetic of the bag might be its most unattractive feature. While this bag’s smaller size doesn’t make it ideal for someone who needs a laptop as part of their everyday carry setup, its full array of pockets and attachment points makes it an excellent choice as a compact organizer bag. And with pricing well under $100, you can’t beat its functionality to cost ratio.

  • Dimensions/Capacity: 9.6x 7.5x 2.8
  • Materials: Ballistic nylon exterior, 200D Halcyon interior
  • Notable features: Compact size, many pockets, versatile uses
  • Best for: Multipurpose EDC for someone who doesnt need to carry a laptop
  • Country of origin: International materials, sewn in USA
  • Price: $78

Filson Rugged Twill Original Briefcase

In stark contrast to the compact bag featured above, the Filson Rugged Twill Original Briefcase is large and in charge. Weighing in at almost three and a half pounds, it has a 13 liter capacity and the ability to hold laptops up to 16 inches.

The Original Briefcase’s classic design makes it a good choice for just about any situation, whether that’s using it as a travel bag, bringing it into the boardroom, or packing away small goods on trips around town. Made from a lightly waxed but highly durable canvas paired with stiff and heavy duty bridle leather, it’s clear that the Briefcase is built to last.

If you’re looking to invest some significant cash into a big bag that will last a lifetime, Filson’s Briefcase is a classic that will continue to impress as the years go by.

  • Dimensions/Capacity: 16x 12.5x 4
  • Materials: Tin cloth, bridle leather, antique brass
  • Notable features: Extra large capacity, heavy duty construction, classic design
  • Best for: Carrying everything, from barnyard to boardroom
  • Country of origin: Imported materials, made in USA
  • Price: $495

Timbuk2 Commute Messenger Bag 2.0

A modern-style messenger bag with a two-buckle closure system, the Timbuk2 Commute Messenger Bag is large enough to hold 15-inch laptops, but not so heavy as to weigh you down on a bike ride. It has a 14 liter capacity, weighs 2.8 pounds, and offers a full range of internal and external pockets for all your EDC essentials and accessories.

Of the bags we tested for this review, the Timbuk2 Commute fits into a strange niche: Its ability to transform from a crossbody bag to a briefcase makes it an excellent cycling bag, but the two-buckle closure system makes it awkward to operate with one hand. So it scores highly in security and stability, but sacrifices a bit of accessibility to do so. This one might take some more testing and familiarizing to really see the full potential of.

  • Dimensions/Capacity: 15x 13.4x 4.3
  • Materials: Nylon exterior, plastic hardware
  • Notable features: Two buckle closure, padded tech compartment, convertible strap
  • Best for: Laptop messenger bag for cyclists and travelers
  • Country of origin: Unlisted
  • Price: $149

Peak Design Everyday Messenger

Designed in collaboration with famed photographer Trey Ratcliff, the Everyday Messenger from Peak Design has a clear purpose: To combine the best attributes of an everyday carry bag and a photography bag in one slick package.

If you’re carrying a camera around for any part of your daily life, the Everyday Messenger is going to be a godsend. It’s equipped with Peak Design’s MagLatch hardware for quick one-handed access, and the main compartment is expandable and filled to the brim with accessory pockets.

The tradeoff for carrying a combination camera/EDC bag, though, is that it’s definitely bulkier than similarly sized over-the-shoulder bags. It’s not the right bag for compact or minimalist everyday carry, but if you’re hauling a lot of tech gear, it doesn’t get much better than this.

  • Dimensions/Capacity: 16x 12x 5
  • Materials: 400D nylon canvas shell, 900D waterproof base, aluminum hardware
  • Notable features: Maglatch closure system, expandable main compartment, quick-adjust shoulder strap
  • Best for: The perfect EDC bag for photographers and heavy tech users
  • Country of origin: Unlisted
  • Price: $149

Tomtoc Urban EX-T20 Shoulder Bag

Tomtoc’s take on an over-the-shoulder bag features a combination you don’t see too often: An extra-tough Cordura construction, a high degree of waterproofing, and an exceptionally affordable price point.

Made for carrying 11-inch tablets, the EX-T20 Shoulder Bag features a wide range of pockets designed specifically for organizing tech. It has a minimalist, modern design sensibility, with the ability to convert from an over-the-shoulder bag to briefcase-style carrying.

We’re especially impressed with how much organization Tomtoc has been able to fit into this bag, given its price point of right around $50. It’s not going to blow you away in terms of quality, but if you’re looking for an affordable tech-centric EDC bag, it’s a great option.

  • Dimensions/Capacity: 12x 9x 2
  • Materials: 1680D Cordura, waterproof YKK zippers
  • Notable features: Modern design, affordable pricing, smart organization pockets
  • Best for: Budget-conscious everyday carry
  • Country of origin: Unlisted
  • Price: $51.99 

Chrome Industries Kadet Max

While we’ve focused so far solely on over-the-shoulder style bags, the Chrome Industries Kadet Max definitely deserves mention as a fascinating blend between a sling and a traditional messenger bag.

Designed with Chrome’s signature aesthetic, the Kadet Max straddles the line between being a full-sized tech bag and a lightweight sling that’s perfect for bouncing around town. It’s surprisingly robust, with a 15 liter capacity all while weighing in at just 1.59 pounds. For a bag of this size and weight, it’s pretty impressive that it can comfortably pack a 15-inch laptop and all of your tech accessories.

We’re not huge fans of the stabilizer strap here, and it’s worth noting that we made a mistake in our video review of this bag. We stated the bag was NOT ambidextrous. It is; but it’s quite a process to change the strap over. Pound-for-pound, Chrome has made a really impressive tech-centric bag for everyday carry.

  • Dimensions/Capacity: 11.25x 16.5x 5.5
  • Materials: 210d recycled nylon X grid laminated sailcloth with black reflective panels
  • Notable features: Patented buckle system, lightweight, large capacity
  • Best for: Lightweight carry for all your tech needs
  • Country of origin: Unlisted
  • Price: $130 

How to Choose an Over-the-Shoulder Bag for Everyday Carry

So that covers the seven over-the-shoulder bags we’ve selected for our review. With their styles and differences in mind, which one stands out most to you? Basically, how do you choose the best everyday carry bag for your needs?

When we’re thinking about picking up an EDC bag that fits perfectly with our style, we pay a lot of attention to these qualities and categories:

  • Capacity and dimensions: Just how much bag do you need for your everyday carry? If you’re packing a laptop regularly, you’ll need a larger bag. But if your gear tops out at a tablet, a smaller and lighter bag is likely to be more convenient.
  • Organization and storage: What will you be carrying with you every day? Having a clear organization system for your full everyday carry kit can turn a bag from good into great, so we recommend choosing one that has dedicated pockets for the gear you carry most often.
  • Waterproofing: How much water resistance do you need? If you live in a rainy climate, you’ll definitely want some water-resistance to protect your laptop and tech accessories.
  • Quality of manufacturing: Where a bag is made, and the exact composition of its materials, will determine a lot for how much use and enjoyment you get out of it. American-made bags may cost more, but in our experience, they’re often a better long-term investment – especially those backed by a lifetime guarantee.

Take all of those into account, compare them to your budget, and you should get a clear picture of which bag is best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Last but not least, we’d like to answer some of the most common questions about EDC bags that we’ve heard people asking online.

What is the best bag for EDC?

This one’s always a tricky question to answer, because there’s no one-size-fits-all bag for every single EDC style. We’re partial to over-the-shoulder, messenger-style bags for our EDC, because we’re often carrying a laptop or tablet. Sling bags are great for lightweight and compact everyday carry, while backpacks are best for people who might need to carry a change of clothes or more elaborate gear setups.

What is the ideal EDC bag size?

The ideal EDC bag size depends on your usual carry needs. If you’re going lightweight and compact, a 5-liter sling will do the trick. Move up to 10-15 liters for a messenger bag, and you’ll be able to easily carry a laptop and tech gear. Past 20 liters, full backpacks will allow for a comprehensive EDC setup.

Are Messenger Bags still in style?

Go for a timeless design like the Nutsac Satchel 13 or Filson’s Briefcase, and your messenger bag will always be in style. It’s more about the design and manufacture of a bag than any current fashion trends.

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