Justin's EDC Bag I: Triple Aught Design FAST Pack EDC

A while back, Rich and I did an episode on our EDC bags. This turned out to be one of our most popular episodes. In the show notes for that show I detailed some of my pack’s contents. Since that episode I’ve improved a few things, and thought I’d give you guys the full tour. This tour will be broken into several parts, and this part will cover the bag itself.

The Raison d'être of my EDC Bag

My EDC bag is truly that - an “every day carry” bag. It’s not loaded with specialty survival supplies or an impressive array of weaponry. In fact, there are very few things in it that most of you would think of as “cool”. However, I actually use or have used almost every item in my EDC bag.

The basic concept of this bag was threefold. To be an EDC bag it had to do the following things:

  • Meet my everyday needs. This includes supporting both my work life and my personal lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be carried absolutely everywhere, but it should be useful - and convenient - enough that I am compelled to take it most places with me. “Meeting everyday needs” includes:

    • Providing the things I need to do my job, i.e. my laptop, charger, etc.

    • Providing creature comforts like water, snacks, inclement weather gear, etc. and,

    • Providing expanded capabilities not provided by my EDC pocket items.

  • Function as a “go bag/bugout bag/survival bag” while remaining function for day-to-day use. I do want my EDC bag to provide me with certain items in the event of an emergency. However, I wield Pareto’s principle like a scalpel here. For a dedicated survival/defense item to make it into my bag it must either,

    • Be extremely small, lightweight, and otherwise unobtrusive so as to remain un-cumbersome when not in use (because such items will likely never be used), OR

    • Be a multi-use item that can serves an everyday purpose, but by careful selection or modification can double in a survival role. This is the ideal use-case,as such items get everyday use but still support me in an emergency. I can think of no better example of this than my water bottles. Rather than the cheaper and more common Nalgene-type plastic bottles, I have opted to use stainless steel water bottles. These can be used to boil water, but still function as normal water bottles, and incur no additional weight or space penalty.

  • Be appropriate or quickly adaptable for air travel. I travel a lot. As a result I wanted my EDC bag to be capable of traveling with me. This allows me an intimacy and comfort with my travel gear that many only envy. I am with my bag day in and day out; I know exactly what is in it and exactly where everything goes. I don’t want to give all this up if I have to fly across the country (or to another country). My EDC bag has to readily support travel.

Triple Aught Design FAST Pack EDC

The place to start with any EDC bag is with the bag itself. After weeks of research I decided to go with Triple Aught Design’s (TAD) FAST Pack EDC. This bag gets extremely high marks from sites like Carryology.com and seems to be one of the more popular bags in the EDC marketplace. The TAD FAST Pack EDC is a 1800 cubic inch (31 liter), front-loading backpack. Pockets are minimal, which suits my Inception packing system. The backside of the flap has two zippered mesh compartments, and an admin pouch is on the top, exterior of the flap. Besides that, it’s mostly just one, big cavern…mostly. There were some specific features that really attracted me to the TAD FAST Pack. Let’s look at the pros of this pack:

  • Laptop Sleeve: Admittedly, this might not be for everyone. In fact, if you don’t carry a laptop, this dedicated sleeve might even be a strike against the TAD FAST Pack, as it might result in wasted space. For me, a separate laptop sleeve was a top criteria. I have to travel with a laptop constantly. I hate having to unpack my bag to remove my laptop at the airport. Being able to remove the computer from it’s own sleeve is a very welcome touch. The fact that the sleeve is weatherproof and protects my computer from the always-drizzly Pacific Northwest weather doesn’t hurt either.

  • Water Bottle Pockets: Finding a laptop bag with dedicated water bottle pouches is more difficult than it should be. I suppose most bags are designed either for outdoors or indoors, with little crossover. Fortunately, the TAD FAST Pack EDC has two water bottle pockets that are big enough for 32-ounce water bottles.

  • Comfort: This one was hard to assess by looking at it online, but by all accounts the TAD FAST Pack is comfortable. I’ve carried this bag, fully loaded, on some very long hikes and have found that I agree with all the other reviewers: this is a comfortable bag!

Unfortunately, nothing is without its downsides. Let’s look at the cons of the TAD FAST Pack:

  • Webbing, webbing everywhere: I absolutely loathe the MOLLE/PALS webbing that is all over the outside of this pack. First it adds unnecessary weight because I (and I suspect most owners of this pack) will never use it. Second, I feel like it makes me stick out like a sore thumb. Why can’t TAD make a “non-tactical” version of the FAST Pack sans webbing? I wouldn’t even care if it were the same price; hell, I might even pay a little more for a “low profile” TAD FAST Pack. And since I mentioned price…

  • Price: No matter how you slice it, this is an expensive backpack. I’m with my old man on this one: if you’re going to use it, spend the money. And I do use this bag. Every single day.

Scroll through the image gallery below to get an idea of feel for the TAD FAST Pack EDC.

Using the TAD FAST Pack EDC

I have been carrying this bag daily for almost exactly a year. In that time I have:

  • Carried the bag to work every day,

  • Traveled internationally by air, using it as a carry-on,

  • Traveled for up to four consecutive days in the continental US using it as my sole piece of luggage, and

  • Hiked 50+ miles (in various-length segments).

Here’s what I’ve learned from all that: this is the perfect bag (for me). The TAD FAST Pack EDC is perfectly sized for my use-case. I have optimized the items inside the pack (I will cover these items in a future post) and have some room to spare. If I wish to take my Kifaru Woobie along with me, I can simply cinch it to the bottom of the FAST Pack. Overall I have been exceptionally pleased with the FAST Pack EDC, with one exception. One of the straps’ connection points is failing. This is visible in the second photo in the gallery above. Though the pack is warrantied, I haven’t sent it back because…well, I don’t want to be without my EDC bag.

The Triple Aught Design FAST Pack EDC is an excellent backpack and the (almost) perfect pack for me. I could do without all the MOLLE/PALS webbing, but other than that I can’t complain. From airport to alpine vista, classroom to campfire, the FASTPack EDC has gotten the job done for me.

Stay tuned as I post follow-ups on the items I carry in my EDC bag!

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Justin Carroll