Top Five Pieces of Gear for Shoulder Bags, Backpacks

Everyday carry gear can be categorized a few different ways. I have EDC gear that I carry both on- and off-body. The off-body stuff usually rides along with me in a shoulder bag or backpack, and it includes gear I consider important, but not critical, to have on the body.

These things include a backup bag, backup light, knife sharpener, reload and an individual first aid kit (IFAK). At times, I will also carry a length of paracord, a belly band or other backup holster system, a cleaning kit and maybe even an extra gun. Other items include a small gear bag full of urban essentials (such as a mobile charging unit for my phone), other phone charging or connector cables, small packets of instant coffee and a very small bungee cord.

With the right organizational system and the right bag, all of these fit and travel easily with room left over for a laptop, A/C adaptor, some papers and a book. Sure, it’s a lot of stuff, but that’s how I roll. With that, here are my top five important pieces of gear.

Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:

1. Backup Bag

Price for this concealed carry pouch is $16.99.

A backup bag can be super handy for a lot of things. Because it is just a bag, it fits nicely inside the shoulder bag. This Rothco Concealed Carry Pouch retails for $16.99 and is 9.5 inches long, 6.5 inches wide and 1.5 inches deep. That is large enough to carry just about the largest duty pistol you can find. It looks like a zippered book cover. A hook-and-loop carrier holds whatever gun you’re carrying, and the pouch zips up around it.

Leave it in your bag to carry your handgun super discreetly, or carry just the pouch itself. You can attach it to your belt and carry it OWB if you are hiking or exploring in the backcountry. Around town, any smart person will probably instantly suspect there’s a gun inside. Attach a strap and wear it cross-body to blend in better.

A smaller zippered front pocket can hold an ID, extra ammo or whatever else you need. The backup bag gets the call when I do not want to carry the shoulder bag but still need the ability to carry a gun or other gear.

For more information visit

2. Backup Light


This First Tactical Medium Duty Light sells for $49.99.

I usually carry a small but powerful tactical light on my person, one that can blind an attacker and flood a room with light. In my shoulder bag is a larger, less-powerful backup light that provides a portable, useful, less-than-tactical lighting solution. So, I save the tactical light for the tactical stuff and use the backup light for my more mundane lighting needs.

The light you see here is a First Tactical Medium Duty Light, retailing for $49.99. It measures 6.3 inches long with a body diameter of less than an inch. With the two AA batteries installed, it weighs 5.1 ounces. The knurled aluminum body sports a crenulated strike bezel and a tail switch with a momentary on/off and high/low switch. Light output is 274 lumens on high and 16 lumens on low. With the robust pocket clip, I can keep it handy by attaching it to a document sleeve or another part of my shoulder bag.

For more information visit

3. Knife Sharpener


The DMT Diafold Double Sided Sharpener sells for $46.69.

Because there is a folding knife in my pocket that gets used for myriad cutting tasks, it is super handy to have a sharpener in my shoulder bag so that I can restore the edge on the blade any time I need to.

The DMT Diafold Double Sided Sharpener you see here costs $46.69. It folds up neatly into itself and deploys quickly. Simply unfold it and start with the coarser side, and then move to the finer side. The monocrystalline diamond surface makes fast work of the sharpening process and requires no oil. You can sharpen either dry or with water.

There are other grits available above and below this one if needed, but I keep this the one with me for a quick sharpening. I also keep the serrated knife sharpener with me as many of the blades I carry cannot be sharpened with the flat sharpener. Folded, these are about 5 inches long. They easily store in the vertical storage pockets of my shoulder bag.

For more information visit

4. Reload


Always carry a reload.

Even though I carry a reload on my person, I think it is sensible to carry additional reloads. The .40 Sig Sauer P239 magazines you see here are trim and flat and, similar to the sharpeners, store easily in the vertical pockets of my shoulder bag.

Since my primary reload is in a holster on my person, I don’t bother with a holster for these; they’re just going to have to be a grab-and-go option. And regardless of whether I am carrying an autoloader or a revolver, extra reloads take up hardly any space and easily qualify for gear that is “good to have but possibly never needed.”

Shop for extra mags on GunsAmerica.


This 5.11 Ignitor Med Pouch retails for $37.99.

Individual First Aid Kits (IFAKs) are quickly becoming ubiquitous in everyday-carry gear. I keep this 5.11 Ignitor Med Pouch ($37.99) loaded with basic trauma and first aid gear.

You can use whatever pouch you like as long as it provides some organization and can attach easily to your gear. I like this one because it can go from simply being stuffed into my shoulder bag to stuffed in a corner of my backpack to attached to more tactical-style gear.

The 5.11 SlickStick/MOLLE attachment features help with fastening while the internal pockets store all the stuff. The red tab at the top allows you to grab and rip open the pack in one motion for fast access to the gear inside. Made from P300D Ripstop with an N840D base, the pouch stands up to abuse and inclement weather with no problem. Measuring 7.5 inches high, 3.25 inches long and 2.5 inches wide, the pouch offers 61 cubic inches of storage space.

For more information visit

About the Author: Mark Kakkuri is a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms:

***Purchase Your New Concealed Carry Pistol on GunsAmerica***


About the author: Mark Kakkuri is a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Eric Holder May 11, 2018, 11:20 am

    I only look at things as suggestions. Of course we each evaluate and make a decision if the information applies to our own situations.

  • Ordinary Joe May 11, 2018, 8:21 am

    I have them all, plus a few more.

  • Jerry Jones May 11, 2018, 7:48 am

    S.H…….dom’t concern yourself with his posts……he’s proven himself regularly, to be a pompous know-it-all jackass.

  • Will Drider May 8, 2018, 5:32 pm

    Another useless list to fill space and promote products. Man-purse fluff catch all or survival backup essentials? Why carry a knife sharpener as shown instead of a backup knife of the same size? Don’t prudent people have a flashlight, first aid kit in their vehicles? I guess some people would consider their starbucks mug essential too. Lol

    • S.H. Blannelberry May 9, 2018, 9:10 am

      RE: the backup knife, that’s a fair point.

      The purpose of these articles isn’t to promote products (we don’t have any affiliation with any of those products listed), it is to start discussions on various EDC related topics. What works for Mark may not work for you or vice versa. It’s an opportunity to learn from one another.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend