Off Body Carry: Pros and Cons of a Concealed Carry Bag

— Fifty Shades of FDECADRE Dispatch

Having a concealed carry firearm on my person is very important to me. I take responsibility for my own protection and that of my family very seriously. I am sure that most people who carry concealed feel the same way.

“Off body carry” (specifically the use of an off-body carry bag) is something I rarely do. When I have done so, I did it in certain situations that dictate or necessitate it.

Pistol drawn from an off body carry bag.

There are definitely some pros and cons to off-body carry. So, let’s go over them based on my personal experiences with various methods of how I did it. I am not a lawyer, and none of this is legal advice, so carry accordingly and within your local laws. 


The biggest pro for off-body carry is that it is a solution that allows you to have your firearm with you when your primary and preferred methods are not feasible.

First, I’ll review some of the situations and circumstances in which I decided to employ off-body carry. In most of these cases, off-body carry was the only option. It was either off-body carry or no carry at all.

Author wearing the Vertx Long Walks 28L bag.
Author wearing the Vertx Long Walks 28L bag.


Weather is a big factor because it controls the type of apparel you wear. An off-body carry is an excellent option for both extremes, hot and cold. In hot weather, you may wear light shorts or even swim trunks. Both of which are not usually stable enough to hold and secure a holstered pistol.

In cold weather, you’ll most likely be in multiple layers and wearing gloves. You could have a holstered pistol inside or outside your waistband, but getting to it through all those layers may take too long to get to when needed. That is not even to mention all of the snag hazards along the way during the draw and presentation.  


Injuries can affect how you carry your firearm. There have been a few instances when the grippy texture of my gun rubbed against my abdomen, leading to open wounds. This happens sometimes, depending on certain pants I wear that position the pistol in a way that jabs it into me, and after a while it becomes a minor injury.

Even though it is minor, it is still painful and needs to heal. It can only heal up from not having any contact with the pistol. That means carrying on my person is out for a moment until it heals up. Off-body carry is the only way to go for me when this happens. 

There are other reasons and situations where one might choose to carry off-body, but those are the most common situations when I employ off-body carry.


Okay, now we will discuss the drawbacks of off body carry. There are plenty of them, compared to carrying on your person. As with anything you choose to carry and the methods you utilize, it is always a good idea to know your setup’s capabilities and limitations.

Speed is the major factor here, and it is the biggest con to off-body carry. With practice, you can draw your EDC pistol from your waistband pretty quickly. The same can be said about drawing from your off-body pack. However, it is much slower since there are more steps required to get to your gun.

Close up of a pistol in an off body carry bag.
With practice, you can draw your EDC pistol from your waistband pretty quickly.

Practice the Draw

Let’s go over the steps while using a backpack. I won’t be going over every type of pack, but each will be slightly different. In all cases, dry practice will greatly benefit in making the draw time as short as possible.

  • First, you will need to position your pack in front of your body. On a backpack, you will need to take one or both straps off of your shoulders and place them in front of you.  
  • Next, you’ll need to unzip the compartment where your pistol is holstered.  
  • Finally, you will draw your pistol out from your pack.  

You can see the amount of time and many variables that can become obstacles while you are going for your pistol. If time and circumstances allow, you will most likely want to keep the backpack on you after drawing the pistol.

More to consider

Another thing to consider is that while you are carrying your firearm in your pack, you are absolutely married to it. It must be in your control at all times. Treat it like your luggage at the airport or public transportation; never leave it unattended.

This should be common sense and knowledge, but I have personally recovered an unattended, loaded firearm from a police officer who left it in the bathroom stall after using the facilities. Thankfully, a responsible citizen notified us of that incident. You can imagine if a person with ill intent got a hold of that pistol.

That is an example of complacency with an IWB body carry, but putting down a pack can be an easy thing to do and get complacent with. You simply can not do it with your off-body carry pack.

With sling packs and fanny packs, you should be able to keep the pack straped to your body and are a bit quicker than a two strapped backpack.

Off Body carry Bag Set up

Setting up an off-body carry setup can vary drastically with different types of packs, accessories, and holsters. I always make sure to carry spare mags and an IFAK or med kit in there since you will have the space for them. 

Let’s review one of my carry methods with the Vertx Long Walks 28L pack. I use the BAP, or Belt Adapter Panel, to attach my Kydex holster to the main compartment of my pack.

Pistol in a holster velcroed to panels inside a Vertx bag.

The BAP has two parts, and it can accommodate many different types of holsters, from belt loops to IWB types.

Once I have it velcroed in the main compartment, I know it will be safe and secure, ready to go when I need it.

Author demonstrating drawing a pistol from an off body carry bag.

For more firepower, the Long Walks Pack was able to hold my 10.5″ AR Pistol equipped with a Gen 3 Law Tactical Folder. In my case, I like to utilize the main compartment for both pistol and rifle or AR Pistol, as it is the biggest and easiest to access compartment.

Rifle inside an off body carry bag.
The Long Walks pack offers plenty of space.

Carry Bag Types

Now, let’s go over products that allow you to carry off body. There are a ton of great companies with excellent products that are designed specifically for this purpose. I’ve used a lot of different products over the years.


These are packs with two shoulder straps.

  • Pro: They can hold a lot more equipment than other methods.
  • Con: Getting to your firearms requires you to take off at least one strap to access it.

Sling bags

Sling bags have a single cross-body body strap.

  • Pro: it can be easily moved from your back to your front to access your firearm quicker than a backpack.
  • Pro: they are usually smaller and, therefore, have less capacity. If loaded down, the single strap might make your shoulder sore after a long time.

Fanny Packs

Fanny packs are back in fashion. They strap around your waistband.

  • Pro: the closest to carrying on your person compared to packs.
  • Con: It can get hot and uncomfortable after being worn for an extended time.
Vertx Long Walks Multipurpose waist pack. (Photo: Vertx)

Off Body Carry Bag Function

So far, I’ve been focused on carrying Every Day Carry or EDC pistols. Off-body carry starts with pistols but doesn’t end with them; that’s just the beginning.

You can carry a folded rifle or sized long gun with a backpack to increase your firepower. This can be done in conjunction with your EDC. This can be for the uniformed patrol officer or plainclothes officer to have a rifle at hand without having it overtly on display in certain situations, like around crowds.

Having a gun in your pack would be great to have on a hike in areas that are far away, in the middle of nowhere.

Your off-body pack requires more attention and situational awareness to ensure no one comes near it so they can unzip any of the compartments. Most off-body carry packs are unlocked, as a lock will make the draw even slower and draw unwanted attention to itself. 

Top of the Vertx Long Walks backpack.

How to maximize off body carry

Finally, I want to go over tactics on the best way to maximize the effectiveness of off-body carry should you choose to use it as a method of carrying your firearm with the pros and cons in consideration.  

Knowing that there are a lot of limitations is the key to effectively getting your firearm out and in the fight. Speed in the draw and finding the right opportunity and position to draw on a threat are critical factors. Creating distance from the threat or getting some concealment can buy you precious time as well as keep you from being spotted by the threat and getting engaged before you are ready.  

I can go into what-ifs and different scenarios, but you get the idea. The bottom line is that if you’re using off-body carry, you are either doing it because it’s almost a last-resort way of carrying or because you want to bring more firepower with you.  

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