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Selecting the Perfect Commuter or EDC Work Bag

I’ve been asked many times about my criteria for selecting a great Commuter or EDC Work Bag.  So, a video was long overdue…



Vertx EDC Gamut

Vertx EDC Gamut


A few other points that I didn’t mention in the video:

  • As you can tell, I prefer backpacks.  Why?  My criteria is simple.  If I had to hump it out of the city and walk my way home… or in the instances when I’m not able to catch a cab and have to walk to my destination… then what type of bag would I want to be carrying?  Don’t get me wrong – messengers are great.  I have a few.  But, if you’re carrying a decent load-out, a single strap bag is not going to be something that you will want to schlep for long distances on foot.  Believe me.
  • In addition to a padded bottom, a raised or suspended laptop compartment is ideal.  The laptop sleeve on the Gamut is flush (so the padded bottom is key), but the one on the Camelbak Urban Assault is suspended.  So that is one thing that the CUA has over the Gamut
  • In the interest of time, I also didn’t say specifically why I prefer the Gamut over the Camelbak Urban Assault.  It really comes down to comfort.  The Gamut is the most comfortable mid-sized EDC pack I’ve encountered to-date.  Nothing is worse than enduring the grind of a daily commute with a bag that’s uncomfortable.  The Gamut takes my 15+ lbs of electronics, EDC kit, and clothing without issue.  In fact, the other day I had to take the pack off to double check whether I had remembered to carry my laptop.  That doesn’t happen with most packs.
  • One last point.  A pack has to strike the right balance between being lightweight and durable.  The Gamut isn’t the lightest pack out there, but it isn’t the heaviest either.  And as you can see, it has held up to abuse really well.

Anyway, I hope that helps.  As always, comments and questions are welcome!

12 Responses so far.

  1. Blitzwing says:

    Do you know the size difference between the gamut and gamut + and if there’s any other differences?

    • Blaine B. says:

      Good to hear from you Blitzwing. The Plus is 7 Liters (427 cubic inches) larger. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same pack. Many smaller framed folks find it to be too large. I hear that comment over and over.

      The only functional difference that I know of is the side bottle pockets are also bigger and therefore they will take a Nalegene. It’s also a deeper pack (+2″) and therefore not quite as low profile as the regular Gamut

      Hope that helps.

  2. Thomas Hodges says:

    Mil-Spec Monkey’s Boss Beaver does not have a padded bottom, however, it does have a dedicated, padded, adjustable laptop “cradle” and is made in the U.S. by Tactical Tailor for the Monkey.

  3. Gary says:

    what kind of inflatable pillow is that? I’ve not seen one so small

    • Blaine B. says:

      Gary, it’s the Aeros Pillow Ultralight by Sea to Summit. It weighs just 2.5 ounces and stuffed size is 2.1 x 3.1 inches. I picked the large size. Highly recommended.

  4. Chrisc983 says:

    I’ve had a TB Synapse 25 for the last two years. I’ve tried other bags along the such as the Gamut and NF Surge but they just didn’t work until I found the Evade by Alpha One Niner. https://alphaoneniner.squarespace.com/shop/recon-9-evade-backpack
    You should really check it out. It has a lot of the features you like in the Gamut such as wide and comfortable shoulder straps, padded bottom, great admin pockets, easy quick access pocket for edc items. Plus some better features such as side pockets that can fit a nalgene and padded grab handle. Also comes in many different material and color options.

    Keep up the great reviews and tips!

    • Blaine B. says:

      Great post Chris. I’m aware of Alpha One Niner. They did a Kickstarter Campaign for their Recon One that was well received. Also, they had an affiliation with a certain Everyday Carry forum and made a SERT bag exclusively for the members there. Although there tends be to a lot of “shiny new object syndrome” when products are added to the store on that forum, by all accounts the feedback on the quality of the pack was very positive. I haven’t heard much buzz since then (circa 2014) so the company fell off my radar.

      Good to hear that the Recon 9 is working out for you. I’ll definitely reach out to them to see if there’s interest in doing a review. On paper, the pack does show promise and I always take subscriber recommendations here very seriously because you guys collectively are some of the best gear heads on the planet. 😉

      Anyway, thanks for checking in.

  5. Dallas Gonzales says:

    I recently purchased the gamut and I really love all of the features it has on it. The transporter tail along with all of the organization really make this a great pack. This pack Also the ability to carry a heavy load comfortably which is hard to find on an edc bag. The only thing I really don’t like about it is that huge zipper pull for the concealed carry compartment, water bottle compartment and the length of the bag. The fact that it doesn’t fit under a airplane seat as really proved to be a deal breaker for me because I fly quite often. I’m not sure if it’s my backpack addiction or the few things wrong with this pack but I’m really leaning towards a GR0 to replace it. Thanks for good video.

    • Blaine B. says:

      Dallas- fair point on the length. I enjoy it for daily carry since I have such a long torso but I ran into the same issue you did on flights. It won’t fit under the seat lengthwise. Therefore, I downsize for air travel. The last time I flew, I carried the GR Bullet 15. Another time I carried a Tom Bihn Synapse 25. Honestly, I’m refining that part of my carry. Airline restrictions are forcing a change in my behavior and probably for the best since I generally try to pack as light as possible.

  6. Mark Christenson says:

    Based on your reviews I bought a Gamut back in January and it has been my daily bag for my drive to the office as well as my carry-on for airplane travel. My only complaint is that the nylon grab handle on top ripped out after 4+ months of use, but Vertx sent me a new bag so all is good at present. I am concerned that it could happen again, so I’ve used it less, but it’s a bummer because it works so well. Agree that it doesn’t fit under the seat that well, but I always try to use the overhead to avoid that issue, and I have made it work under the seat in front of me.

  7. JeffV49ers says:

    The Evade mentioned above was also a project from that other forum that all the members designed in committee. Not a bad bag, but not exactly what I want either. I’ve actually moved from a GR1 down to a Bullet 15 to cut down on what I carry, and I love the smaller bag. It’s become my EDC bag for the week, but also rucking some and carrying my daughter’s allergy stuff when we go out, with the GGG SOP occasionally filling that role as well.

Comments and Questions are Welcome!

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