August 30, 2018


As a police officer, you spend countless hours in your cruiser patrolling neighborhoods, cities, and rural communities. Spending that much time on duty means you’re likely to encounter a wide variety of situations over your career, so it’s important that you carry a police duty bag with you that has the necessary supplies, tools, equipment and personal items that you may need.

 A good duty bag, stocked with the right gear, can make your job much easier and more comfortable, and may even carry the item that could one day save your life or the life of a fellow officer.


We’ll talk about some of the items you’ll want to carry in your duty bag later on, but let’s first talk a bit about what to look for in the duty bag itself. What makes a good duty bag? What are the characteristics you should look for when shopping for one?


Duty Bags

Let’s start by talking about the materials to look for when selecting a duty bag. You want a bag that’s durable, something that can get thrown around without worrying about damaging it. Look for a bag made of polyester or 100% ballistic nylon so that it won’t rip and can take a lot of wear and tear. These fabrics are also water repellant and abrasion resistant so that when you have to make use of it in the elements, it’s well protected. There are even bag with water-repellant nylon outer shells if you live in an area especially prone to severe weather like rain and snow.


Look for a bag that is on the rigid side. This will help to protect your important gear inside. It’s wise to also think about a bag with extra padding for added protection. And a bag with a nylon lining is much easier to clean out dust, dirt and grit. 


While storing a wide range of equipment and supplies in your bag, it’s wise to choose one with good organization attributes. Most now come with a host of compartments, pockets, pouches and slots to promote organization, and many even have specific compartments for cell phones, binoculars, water bottles and other accessories.



You need to ask yourself, where are you going to store your bag when you aren’t using it? Many opt for the front seat, while others prefer throwing it in the trunk. If you keep it in the front seat with you, it’s much easier to retrieve an item when you need it; but if it the bag is quite large and bulky or you don’t often need to use it, you may prefer throwing it in the trunk so it’s out of the way.


Some bags are now designed to ride in the passenger seat next to you. They come with upper panels that are meant to attach to the headrest so that everything you need is at arm’s reach and the bag can remain safe and secure without tumbling onto the floor of your car.


The other factor to keep in mind is actually carrying the bag when you need to take it from your cruiser to where you need to use it. Depending on how much you keep in your bag, it can definitely become very heavy and possibly burdensome to move around, so looking for a bag with an adjustable shoulder strap which will make it much easier to carry is an excellent idea.


The last thing to consider when choosing a duty bag is size. They come in a variety of sizes, from small and compact to quite large like a suitcase. Think about the items and supplies you’ll want to carry with you and jot them down so you can get an idea of the amount of items, as well as the size of most of the items you’ll have. Then you can decide if a small bag will suffice, or if you need a much larger bag to hold your gear.


We’ll take a look at a couple of bag options below, but first, let’s take a brief look at some of the potential items you’ll want to include in your duty bag.



What to include in your duty bag

The items you carry are really all about personal preference, so it’s a good idea to take some time and think about the situations you encounter on a daily basis, and the tools that may prove beneficial in those situations.


It’s also important to think about “what if” scenarios so that you can properly prepare for them if they should ever arise. It’s better to be over prepared than under prepared when an emergency strikes. Along those lines, geography comes into play as well. The types of duty gear you may need can depend on the geographical environment in which you operate. Do you live in the Northeast where long winters include snow, wind and ice? Or do you work in the Southwest where it’s extremely hot and dry? These questions can help determine the proper gear for you.


Conversely, if you pack your bag with every piece of gear, equipment or tool under the sun, your bag will be so heavy and packed that you won’t be able to lift it or find what you need when you need it. So while you’re thinking of the items you’ll need for various situations, also assess what items you can do without and leave them at home.


When it comes to selecting duty gear, a good mantra is to pick gear that’s rugged and can take wear and tear. You want your equipment to be heavy duty so that it will last and help keep you and others safe when the time comes.



The following list gives you an idea for items you may want to include in your duty bag, but is by no means conclusive.


  • Extra ammunition – talk to ex-cops and they’ll tell you it’s the one piece of gear they recommend the most. You don’t want to ever be without ammunition.
  • Extra radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • An extra pair of glasses if you wear them
  • Extra socks and underwear
  • Eye protection
  • Binoculars
  • Pen, pencil, notebook
  • Hand and foot warmers
  • 4 x 4 bandages
  • Blood-clotting agents
  • Small digital camera for taking pictures of evidence
  • Storm whistle – can be used to call for help in case of emergency or becoming trapped
  • Wire cutters – useful tool to have on hand for a variety of situations
  • Gloves and hat
  • Nitrile exam gloves and hand sanitizer
  • A pain relieve like aspirin, Tylenol, Naproxen, etc.
  • Knife or multi-tool like a Leatherman multi-tool – like having a toolbox in your duty bag
  • MREs or other similar packaged food that can be eaten in an emergency
  • Bottled water


A good, quality duty bag stocked with the right gear to suit your needs is an indispensable piece of equipment to have with you in your day-to-day life as a police officer. Spend the time to contemplate your requirements and make the commitment to an investment in the quality of your daily life and safety. You’ll be glad you did.


5.11 Tactical Patrol Ready Bag

This tactical duty bag has convenient exterior pockets for holding your most essential duty gear, like a flashlight, radio, binoculars and nightstick. It also features a rugged, water-resistant nylon shell so it can withstand being out in the elements without damage to your bag or your gear. With its rugged durability, you’re able to throw this bag in your trunk and you’re good to go.


5.11 Tactical Wingman Patrol Bag

The Wingman Patrol Bag is the ultimate duty bag for organization, with a variety of compartments and pockets for storing all of your duty gear essentials so that they’re easy for you to reach when you need them. It’s also built to easily fit in the front seat of your police cruiser. The adjustable shoulder strap allows you to conveniently carry from your cruiser to the place you need it as well.