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So, you want to carry a concealed handgun.
You have your gun.
You’ve taken the concealed carry course and received your license.
But, for whatever reason, you want to carry the gun off your body.
There are legitimate reasons for off-body carry, which I’ll cover later.
Just like carrying your gun in a holster, off-body carry is safest when you have the right equipment.
Sure, you can drop your gun into any ol’ pocket in your ratty ol’ backpack, but…
- Will it be secure?
- Will something catch the trigger? (The same problem as with cheap holsters)
- Can you get to it quickly?
Choose a good concealed carry backpack or concealed carry purse and these fears will wash away.
So, what are your options?
The Best Concealed Carry Backpacks
|Red Rock Outdoor Gear Rover||Sling Pack||9 Liters||4.2||$
|Vertx EDC Commuter Bag||Sling Pack||23 Liters||4.5||$$$$
|5.11 Tactical COVRT18||Everyday Backpack||30 Liters||4.5||$$$$
|5.11 Tactical RUSH12||Assault Pack||24 Liters||4.7||$$$
|Maxpedition Gear Entity 16||Classy Backpack||16 Liters||4.2||$$$
|Maxpedition Falcon III||Hiking Backpack||35 Liters||4.3||$$$$
|5.11 Tactical RUSH Delivery LIMA||Messenger Bag||12 Liters||4.7||$$$
Best Budget Concealed Carry Backpack
Red Rock Outdoor Gear Rover
- Colors: Black, Coyote, Coyote w/ OD Webbing, Dark Earth, Navy, Olive Drab, OD w/ Red Stitching, Tornado, Tornado w/ Black Webbing, Tornado w/ Royal Blue Stitching, Woodland Digital
- Style: Sling Pack
- Volume: 9 Liters
- External Dimensions: 8″ W x 12″ H x 6″ D
- Material: 600D Polyester
Red Rock Outdoor Gear is a budget brand, but their “budget” means “cheap to buy,” not “cheaply made.”
Concealed carry backpacks have to be durable and well-made. So, all of the backpacks on this list cost $100 or more.
Except for the Rover, which is less than a third that price.
The Rover is a small crossbody sling pack with a very modest 9 liter capacity in its four compartments.
You can expand the storage capacity by taking advantage of the MOLLE webbing on the outside.
A single large strap comes off the top of the pack over either of your shoulders and attaches around your waist with adjustable straps.
As for concealed carry, the backside of the bag has a button-closed padded pouch that opens at the top.
It’s lined with soft Velcro so you can stick in a holster. That may not be necessary, depending on the size of your gun.
However, larger guns will poke out the top.
The inside has elastic sections that can hold pens, flashlights, and spare magazines.
A larger, 12-liter version is available for only a few dollars more if you want to carry more gear with you.
If you have a small budget, want to carry a small amount of gear, and want to conceal a small gun, then the Rover sling pack by Red Rock Outdoor Gear is the choice for you.
Vertx EDC Commuter Bag
- Colors: Black, Black with Red Trim, Smoke Gray
- Style: Sling Pack
- Volume: 23 Liters
- External Dimensions: 13″ W x 20″ H x 6″ D
- Material: Nylon
Vertx’s EDC Commuter bag is a uniquely-designed crossbody sling pack that’s perfect for use as an EDC CCW bag or as a Get Home Bag.
It’s a sling bag but, unlike many, has a non-ambidextrous strap. The strap goes over your left shoulder.
Though the design is not ambidextrous it’s still quite usable by left or right-handed people.
There’s no MOLLE on the outside, no “tactical” embellishments, nothing to let others know that this is a concealed carry backpack.
(I lied. There’s MOLLE, but it’s hidden by a flap!)
So, using this bag lets you keep a low profile while sporting the tools you need to win a firearm engagement.
That’s because the bag’s backside has padding, mesh for comfort, and slits for you to slip your hand into to pull out your pistol. From either side.
That internal pocket is Velcro-lined so you can position a holster perfect for your preferred drawing angle.
Also, there’s a pocket designed to carry a ballistic armor panel.
Drawing your gun is even easier than expected because the strap design lets you transition the bag from your back to your front in a moment.
However, that’s also a weakness.
The mesh which lines the entire backside is slippery to facilitate this movement, which can cause the back to slide around.
Also, the various compartments and admin pouches all require unzipping to get at.
Getting at your gun is easy but you have to make several movements to get to your notebook.
The Vertx EDC Commuter bag looks like a sling pack for somebody on their way to work at a casual office but is really an armed and armored professional backpack.
Best EDC Concealed Carry Backpack
5.11 Tactical COVRT18
- Colors: Asphalt/Black, Black, Foliage, Ice, Storm
- Style: Everyday Backpack
- Volume: 30 Liters
- External Dimensions: 19″ W x 12.25″ H x 9″ D
- Material: 500D and 420D Nylon
5.11 Tactical has a bunch of different backpacks available, all designed for similar purposes.
Their COVRT18 is probably your best choice when you want an everyday bag that looks at home on the campus or in the workplace.
Despite these civilized looks, the COVRT18 is ready to spring into action.
As you’d expect, it has a concealed carry compartment that can hold a full-size handgun.
There’s more, though.
The COVRT also has a “Roll-Down Assault Compartment” with MOLLE and attachments to secure a rifle, a flip-down ID panel, and even a quick-access flex cuff channel for restraining a subject or bringing excitement to your bedroom.
The TacTec System-compatible CCW pocket is open at either end and has a Velcro patch.
It’s supposed to integrate with 5.11’s concealed carry system but I’ve had better luck using third-party holsters.
I’ll touch on that later.
The bag itself is well-designed.
There are drainage holes, two external water pockets, a padded 15″ laptop sleeve, and even a fleece-lined sunglass pocket.
You also get a sternum strap and compression straps to hold the gear tight to your body, good for hiking and running.
5.11 Tactical’s COVRT18 pack looks and functions just like a good school backpack while being able to hide a bevy of tactical items. Drawing is a little slow, though.
Best Concealed Carry Assault Pack
5.11 Tactical RUSH12
- Colors: Black, Double Tap, Multicam, Sandstone
- Style: Assault Pack
- Volume: 24 Liters
- External Dimensions: 11″ W x 18″ H x 8.25″ D
- Material: 1050D Nylon
On the other hand, if you don’t mind looking quite tactical as you head about town, the RUSH series is a great choice for you.
The RUSH24 may be better if you need to carry multiple textbooks. If that’s not you
The RUSH12 can hold a “modest” 24 liters in the 16 compartments.
Those compartments include a large main compartment, a smaller front pocket, and a hydration compartment on the backside.
There’s no dedicated concealed carry pocket but the hydration pocket works well enough for that purpose, especially if you sew in some Velcro.
There is a rifle sleeve for when you want to take this CCW backpack hunting.
For city use, the RUSH12 is a classic of college campuses. It can carry all you need unless you need to lug half a dozen textbooks with you at once (some reviewers have carried five!).
The 5.11 Tactical RUSH12 is a great EDC backpack that carries what you need for your day-to-day life along with supplies to get home, and can conceal a pistol.
Best Covert “Gray Man” Backpack
Maxpedition Entity 16
- Colors: Heather Gray
- Style: Sling Pack
- Volume: 16 Liters
- External Dimensions: 10″ W x 17″ H x 8″ D
- Material: 500D Nylon/Polyester Heathered Fabric
You may know of the “gray man” concept.
It’s the idea that you should be as neutral-looking and forgettable as possible so if “stuff” hits the fan then none of it will get on you.
The Maxpedition Entity 16 is perfect for people who want to follow that ideology.
It’s a heather gray sling backpack that’s handsome but forgettable-looking, perfect for office environments.
All of the external pockets smoothly match the bag’s lines and curves. They’re easy to use without bulging out.
There’s one shoulder strap with an ambidextrous design. Two smaller waist straps hold the bag tight when you need it to stay in place.
This sling-style is quick to rotate into position so you can draw your pistol from the large CCW pocket.
That pocket has zippers on either side and is completely lined in Velcro so you can attach a holster, magazine holders, and whatever else you want inside.
There’s also Velcro in the main compartment for adding pouches, if you’d like.
The Maxpedition Entity 16 is a smaller (but not tiny!) sling pack that’s a bit form-over-function. However, this form may be your function, so it’s still a good choice for carrying a pistol as covertly as possible.
Best CCW Hiking Backpack
Maxpedition Falcon III
- Colors: Black, Khaki, Wolf Gray
- Style: Assault Pack
- Volume: 35 Liters
- External Dimensions: 10″ W x 18″ H x 12″ D
- Material: 1050D Nylon
If this is what you want then it’s a good, durable pack, well suited for outdoor use.
It’s good for the city, sure, but folks may spot you as one of those gun-lovin’ types.
Like any good assault pack or 3-day bag, this CCW backpack can carry enough gear to sustain you for multiple days of hiking.
Compression straps help to hold your equipment close to your body, but the lack of a frame and deep design can make this a bit awkward.
It can be used as a bugout bag, a go-bag, a Get Home Bag, or as an EDC bag, depending on what you’re looking for.
The large handgun compartment has ambidextrous access via two zippers.
They’re lockable, too, which can ease your mind if you need to leave your bag for a moment.
The pocket is also large enough for full-sized pistols.
Plus, there’s enough MOLLE to further expand the capacity or add ammo pouches.
The Maxpedition Falcon III is a 3-day pack that’s very versatile and can conceal large handguns. However, wearing it may oust you as the tactical type.
Best CCW Messenger Bag
5.11 Tactical RUSH Delivery LIMA
- Colors: Black, Double Tap, OD Trail, Sandstone
- Style: Messenger Bag
- Volume: 12 Liters
- External Dimensions: 17″ W x 11″ H x 4″ D
- Material: 1050D Nylon
I know, I know, a messenger bag isn’t technically a backpack.
However, many people prefer to use messenger bags as their EDC bags.
In fact, the RUSH Delivery LIMA is my EDC CCW bag of choice!
It has a main compartment, front admin panel, 17″ laptop sleeve, and a CCW pouch as wide as the bag is.
The straps are adjustable on both ends and there’s a waist strap for holding the bag tight when you need it to not flop around.
I have medical supplies throughout the admin pocket (knowing how to stop bleeding is a very important skill, after all) and have the CCW pocket set up for a handgun.
I can conceal a Glock G40 in that thing!
…with a third-party holster, because the TacTec System didn’t work properly for me.
Also, while the bag can carry my 17″ laptop with no problem, it chokes when trying to carry much more than that.
That’s because there are too many pockets inside the main compartment, and they’re not as well designed as they should be.
Instead of expanding outward, loading up the pockets causes the bag to bulge in the middle, both inward and outward.
Plus, the laptop sleeve/pocket is both well-padded and bulks up the main compartment.
In order to fit everything, I have to put my laptop outside the laptop pocket and put bulkier items (such as headphones) into the laptop pouch!
Despite this, the LIMA is a tough sonnuva that’s comfortable to use.
I love my 5.11 Tactical RUSH Delivery LIMA. However, it’s designed to carry lots of small gear instead of moderate amounts of bulky gear, and using pockets robs others of usable volume.
What to Look for in a Concealed Carry Backpack
If you want to carry off-body then you want a durable, smartly designed backpack, sling pack, or messenger bag.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you want a bag that’s designed to store as much crap as possible, but rather, a bag that will give you quick access to your firearm when you need it.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to get both.
Regardless, part of carrying a weapon is doing so as safely and effectively as possible.
This means giving preference to a bag’s CCW ability over other factors, excepting durability.
Concealed Carry Compartment
A concealed carry backpack must either have a dedicated CCW pocket or a pocket that works well as one.
These compartments have to do three things:
- Allow you to easily access your gun
- Hold your pistol stable
- Conceal your pistol
Let’s look at those in detail.
The idea of access is simple.
Can you get to your gun at a moment’s notice?
The main problem with a backpack is that the two shoulder straps can make it slow to get into your pack’s CCW compartment.
This is why crossbody sling bags are so popular for concealed carry backpacks.
You won’t have to slide off a shoulder strap. Just rotate the bag, reach in, and draw out your gun.
The bag will still need some way to keep the entrance closed. This can be a button, zipper, Velcro, or tight slit.
No matter the method, you should be able to have ambidextrous access to your gun, in case one hand is tied up.
You don’t want your gun sliding around inside your bag.
If your gun isn’t stable in the CCW pocket then it may not be where you expect when you need to use it, which can cost you precious seconds.
Even worse, fabric or a projection can catch in the trigger of a loose gun, causing a negligent discharge!
Always use a holster, even when your gun is in a bag.
Most CCW backpacks will include a Velcro patch to which you can attach a Velcro holster.
If not, then use a pocket holster such as a Sticky Holster (which appeared on my list of the best holsters!)
Lastly, your gun needs to be hidden in your bag.
Otherwise, you’re open carrying, not carrying concealed!
Most concealed carry backpacks will put the concealed carry pocket between the bag and you, which helps concealment.
You may need to use a short pistol or a thin pistol for maximum concealment, though, especially if you need to put the bag down someplace where the backside is visible.
Internal holsters which obscure your pistol’s shape can help, too.
Of secondary consideration is how much the bag carries, but it’s still an important consideration.
Just like how the best self-defense gun is the one you’ll carry with you, a bag that won’t carry what you want to carry is worthless.
Everyone has different EDC needs.
For example, I often work on my 17″ laptop when I’m out, so I can’t get away with Red Rock Outdoor Gear’s Rover.
There were years past when I carried only a little bit of stuff with me. That bag would have been the perfect choice then.
Also, remember that a too-large bag can be almost as annoying as a too-small bag.
If it gets in the way all the time, you won’t want to carry it anywhere.
Bag style is half personal preference and half quick-draw consideration.
Many people prefer two shoulder straps for comfort.
That’s well and good because two straps help distribute the bag’s weight, though it’ll slow down your draw.
You’ll have to decide which bag style will work best for you by yourself…
…preferably based on personal experiences!
Don’t cheap out here.
This backpack will carry not only your gear but also your gun.
Do you really want a bag that’ll lose a shoulder strap after a couple of months?
That CCW backpack is a liability, not a good choice.
Now, for a controversial question:
Is off-body carry wise?
Personally, I’m fine with off-body carry, but I don’t do it blindly.
If I’m not 100% sure that I can maintain control over my bag throughout my entire day then I don’t do off-body carry.
Here are some pros and cons to help you decide if off-body carry is for you.
Off-body carry won’t be for everyone.
But if you do, then you want to have the right bag.
When in doubt, a high-quality concealed carry sling pack is a one-size-fits-most choice.
They offer ambidextrous access to your gun more quickly than traditional backpacks allow.
As for me, I’m happy with my 5.11 Tactical RUSH Delivery LIMA…
…even if I wish they had designed some of the pockets to expand outward rather than bulge inward!