Even if you have done your research, purchased all the tools and supplies you need in a bug out situation, if you don’t use the best survival backpacks, then you may not be as prepared as you think. You’ll need a survival backpack that’s large enough to store all your supplies and strong enough to handle life on the road. But the survival backpack should also be comfortable enough to allow you to wear it for several hours at a time. These survival backpacks are available in a wide variety of styles and sizes and many of the top models are designed to handle inclement weather, tough road conditions, and life on the go.
Below, you’ll find the best survival backpacks comparison chart that lists the differences and similarities between each of the models that landed on my top six list, in addition to summaries of the reviews for each of these best-selling survival backpacks.
Best Survival Backpack Comparison Chart
Best Survival Backpack-5.11Tactical RUSH72 Military Backpack
The Rush 72 backpack is my number one choice for many reasons. Not only is this survival backpack built tough, but it easily outdoes the past best-seller, the Rush24 military tactical backpack, another model that was deemed the best on the market. This new and improved bag comes loaded with plenty of storage in the form of separate pockets and compartments. This survival backpack is heavy-duty and designed to store enough supplies to get you through the first three to five days of an emergency situation such as a natural disaster. The backpack itself can handle plenty of use and abuse on the road, yet despite its durability, it will feel surprisingly light on your back. Not only is it made out of 1050D nylon, but it also has PUX2 coating, so you can use this bag in any type of weather condition and your supplies will remain safe and dry. This backpack is definitely a bargain for the price and it’s a model you can depend on when you need it the most.
- Can keep your gear organized
- Heavy duty zippers
- Padded waist belt
- Compression straps
- Does not have an internal frame
This is the best survival backpack for several reasons. It’s heavy duty, loaded with some great features, including multiple zippers and plenty of storage. The innovative strap system does a great job of distributing weight across the upper and lower back, so even when this pack is full, it still feels surprisingly light. If you’re searching for a tactical backpack that’s built tough, and a bag that will allow you to bring along all the supplies you need during an emergency, this is the one. This is the backpack that can get you through any type of survival situation.
Most Durable-AW 55L 600D Tactical Army Rucksacks Molle Backpack
The AW 55L 600D Tactical Army Rucksacks Molle Backpack is one tough bag and a best-selling survival backpack thanks to its variety of storage compartments and it’s better than average durability rating. This is one backpack that will leave you feeling confident that you’re prepared for the end of the world. Its lightweight design and storage options are just a couple of reasons why you’ll want this bag with you in any type of emergency situation. This backpack comes with a ton of free survival gear, eliminating the stress that comes with being new to the world of the survivalist and not knowing what supplies to buy.
So, if you’re clueless about what type of supplies you’ll need to rely on the most when disaster strikes, this survival backpack has got you covered. You may need to add a few items, such as a lighter and personal medication, but overall, this is the best backpack for beginners and one that has every angle covered when it comes to emergency preparedness.
- Adjustable waist belt
- Compression straps
- Can carry all the supplies you need
- Large main compartment
- Sternum strap
- Is not waterproof
For some, the lack of waterproofing may be a total deal breaker. In terms of durability, the backpack is made out of tough oxford fabric, which the manufacturer claims is water-resistant, but you’ll find that the bag cannot provide much protection from the elements. Overall, this is one of the best bags on the market and it comes loaded with some great features, including compression straps, a sternum strap, and offers a large carry capacity, so you can bring along all the supplies you need, however, I would not recommend this model for the rainy season.
Spacious Design-5.11Tactical RUSH24 Military Backpack
This high quality military tactical backpack features all the storage you need, with a large main compartment, MOLLE webbing, stuff-it pockets and dual side pockets, complete with zippers. It also features a 37 liter capacity, so you can bring along all the gear you need. Keep in mind, when you’re dealing with a full backpack you need to take advantage of the adjustable compression shoulder straps and yoke system, both of which can make carrying a heavy load more bearable. You’ll find a total of three mesh compartments, so you can store and organize the supplies that you want to keep the most accessible. This is a great multipurpose survival bag, and one that allows you to remain highly organized.
- Padded shoulder straps
- MOLLE webbing
- Sternum strap
- Compatible with hydration bladder
- Has a support sheet instead of a frame
Need a lot of space but you don’t want a heavy, bulky survival backpack? The Rush24 survival bag can be the perfect solution, allowing you to carry enough supplies for you and your loved ones. It offers a variety of storage compartments and pockets, so you can keep your supplies highly organized based on needs and situation. It’s a great buy for emergency situations, but it’s also a backpack that’s commonly used by military personnel and law enforcement agents. Tough, lightweight, and designed to last, this pack comes loaded with all the right features to meet your needs, for a price that won’t hit your wallet too hard.
Best 3 Day Assault Pack-Gearrific Tactical Backpack
This 3 day assault pack has a high forty-liter capacity, so you’ll have plenty of storage space to store and organize your survival gear, but it also comes with enough gear to easily get you through the first few days of a natural disaster. The backpack is compatible with a hydration bladder system, which will allow you to store more water and have it easily accessible when you’re on the go. Aside from the free extras and the hydration system compatibility, the backpack is also durable and offers the type of comfortable, adjustable fit that will allow you to wear this bag for several hours at a time without the fear of back or shoulder strain.
- MOLLE webbing
- High quality materials
- Hip belt
- Military tactical backpack design
- Thick shoulder straps
- Bag may be too heavy to carry longer distances when fully loaded
If you need a bag you can use to carry plenty of supplies for you and your loved ones, this pack has plenty of storage available.
This is a 3 day assault style survival pack that’s made out of water resistant, high-density fabric. Keep in mind, this model includes a hydration bladder, with a 2.5 liter capacity. When full, the bladder can really add to this model’s weight. The high quality materials and versatility makes this one of the best backpacks on the market, for the survivalist, hiker, or backcountry adventurer.
Best Tactical Pack-5.11 COVRT18 Tactical Covert Military Backpack
Are you looking for one bag that can handle all your supplies? A military or law enforcement quality survival backpack? The Covrt is a pack that comes loaded with special compartments designed to keep your firearms safe and secure. The pack’s low-key look is one of its biggest selling points, aside from its lightweight design and reputation for being one of the toughest packs on the market. The backpack is made out of 1050D nylon, which is tear and rip resistant. This MOLLE military tactical backpack is designed to get you through any type of survival situation. Both the main storage compartment and front compartment are equipped with a dual-zipper design that you can easily pull open or closed, even when you’re wearing thick gloves. You’ll also find an admin organization pocket, which you can use to store all of your important documents, knives, pens, and more.
- Water resistant
- Designed to minimize back pain
- Made out of high quality material
- Can store plenty of survival supplies
- Multiple organization pockets
- Heavy duty zippers
- Dual compression straps
- Tough survival pack
- Sunglasses pocket is not compatible with all types of sunglasses
This survival bag is loaded with pockets and storage options that allow you to neatly organize your gear, keeping the essentials easily accessible. The adjustable dual density straps are made out of closed-cell foam, which is thick and supportive. These straps can help reduce upper backpack strain and discomfort, when used with the contour yoke system. Not only can this backpack handle a lot of gear, but it’s durable, waterproof design will protect all of your gear from the elements. This is one rugged hiking backpack that has what it takes to get you through the backcountry or a natural disaster, so it’s definitely a backpack you can rely on in challenging conditions.
Most Comfortable-Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack
As far as tactical backpacks go, Redwing is a popular brand, one that’s known for their durable survival backpacks and hiking backpack designs, adjustability, and top of the line suspension. This latest bag survival backpack is very adjustable. The design allows the user to customize the suspension, following a few steps to achieve the perfect fit.
The Kelty Redwing 50 backpack is a top-loading model, which can make it difficult to access certain gear quickly. Because of this, you’ll want to pack your gear carefully, placing items you know you’ll need the most often, on top. The design is also very pocket-heavy, so you can organize your gear, placing small items in the front and side pockets.
The stretchy pouch located on the front of the pack is perfect for personal items such as your knife, phone, firestarter, or any other gear that you want faster access to. This survival backpack is also hydration compatible, so you can pack accordingly to accommodate a hydration bladder.
- Internal frame
- Adjustable shoulder straps
- Easy access to supplies
- Plenty of organization options
- Large enough to carry everything you need
- Shoulder straps can be difficult to adjust
One of the best things about this survival pack is its adjustability. You can tweak the backpack’s suspension for the perfect fit. The addition of a sternum strap and load lifter strap will make this backpack more comfortable to carry for longer periods of time. This internal frame backpack is heavy-duty all the way. The multiple straps make hauling even a fully loaded pack more comfortable. This tactical backpack is also very breathable, thanks to the ventilated mesh back panel. If you want the ultimate bug out bag, one that can haul and handle all of your essential supplies, this high volume tactical backpack is a great choice.
Survival Backpacks Buyer’s Guide
Whether you’re someone new to purchasing survival supplies, or someone who is looking to upgrade their existing pack, the one thing survivalists of all skill levels need is a bag that’s built tough and designed to withstand the elements and heavy-duty use.
These survival backpacks are specifically designed for use by police agencies, and the military, for use on missions and survival excursions. Some may be smaller in size for improved mobility or for use as a day pack. Aside from size options and comfort, you’ll also want a pack that’s loaded with compartments and pockets. Most of these survival backpacks come loaded with side pockets, which will make important gear highly accessible. This type of bag will also come with a deep main storage compartment designed to store all of your essential gear.
As I mentioned earlier, the size of the survival backpack is important. The best thing you can do is plan out exactly how much storage you need and choose a bag that’s the appropriate size. Your backpack should be the right size based on your situation. Many people mistakenly believe that bigger is always better. But if you purchase a larger pack all it means is that you’re paying a higher price for features that you may not even want or need. Check out the pack’s dimensions and look at its volume.
The manufacturer should list a pack’s volume either in liters or inches. This measurement will tell you the total space of the backpack, including compartments and pockets. These backpacks may have attachable pockets located on the outside, which may or may not be included in the volume rating. A typical survival backpack can hold around forty-five liters or more. A survival backpack smaller than this, such as a day pack, may not work if you want to store at least three days’ worth of gear.
Straps and Belts
The best survival backpack will come loaded with several different types of straps and belts that you can use to evenly distribute the heavy weight of your pack across your back and shoulders. Without this type of support, you won’t make it very far with a full bag. If you have a sleeping bag with you, then you’ll also want to look for packs with sleeping bag straps, so you can easily attach your bag and go.
If you’re searching for a new survival backpack, you may not even notice whether one has a chest strap or not, but sternum straps are actually pretty important. It’s also the best thing to reduce back strain. The chest strap is designed to help reduce the amount of pressure that a heavy load can place on the shoulders and neck. If the pack you’re interested in doesn’t come with sternum straps, then make sure at the very least it has an attachment for one, so you can purchase a sternum strap separately.
A waist belt can help in the same manner that a chest strap can, especially if it’s padded. These belts are designed to help take some of the pressure off your back and can be a true lifesaver if you’re dealing with a survival backpack that’s loaded to capacity. You may not commonly find a waist belt on survival backpacks, but there are durable models out there that offer this feature and it can be a must-have if you currently suffer from back pain or you want to prevent an injury.
Padded Shoulder Straps
Believe it or not, it can be a real challenge to find a well-designed, heavily-padded shoulder strap setup. The goal is finding a backpack that comes with straps that have sufficient padding that will help to prevent discomfort and reduce back and shoulder pain. The straps should also be very adjustable, so you can achieve the perfect fit.
Durability will be another important factor. Most of these survival backpacks are made out of a water-resistant durable nylon, while others are made out of a cheap polyester and canvas blend. Make sure you pay attention to the type of materials that are used in the backpack to prevent paying a higher price for a backpack that may have been made from cheap materials.
Keep in mind, there’s a big difference between waterproof and water-resistant. Water-resistant means that the backpack can handle mist and light rainfall. Waterproof means that the contents of the survival backpack will remain dry, even in the event of a heavy downpour.
Bags that are categorized as water resistant will have a water repellent coating. The coating will not protect your bag and its contents from getting soaked in a heavy downpour, but the coating will cause water to bead up on the surface and can keep your supplies dry in light showers. Of course, if you want to be prepared for the worst weather, then you should go with a backpack that offers top waterproof protection.
Another option is to purchase a bag that comes with a rain cover, or you can buy a cover separately. A rain cover can be used as a multipurpose tool. Those with survival skills know that the cover can be used to protect supplies, as shelter, and to catch rain. Some people even recommend purchasing a rain cover, even if a bag is labeled as waterproof, since these covers tend to come in handy.
Bladder or Hydration Bladder Compatible
While you can bring along a water bottle or canteen, look for a backpack that either comes with a bladder or has a special compartment for one. Using a bladder provides a more convenient way for you to store your water. You can carry more water in this manner, and it will be readily accessible. It will also allow you to drink without having to remove your pack at all.
Some backpacks will come with a hydration bladder, while others are just designed to accommodate one. Backpacks that already come with a hydration bladder are usually more expensive.
If you want to bring along a lot of supplies then look for a bag that will meet your storage and organization needs, a model that comes loaded with pockets. This type of backpack can never have too many pockets. You’ll want to pay close attention to a pack’s pocket situation in addition to the size. More pockets will help you stay highly organized, which can be essential in any type of emergency situation.
Button, Velcro, and Zipper Closures
Button snaps are the most common closure type that you’ll find on all these types of packs. However, Velcro is a close second and it will allow you to store smaller items, because it works better when it comes to securing the entire pocket flap. Zippers are another option, and a durable zipper is actually very important. The last thing you need is for the backpack’s main zipper to fail on you when you’re trying to quickly access your gear and secure your survival backpack. You may find zippers on some of the compartments and pockets, but a zipper will always be used to seal a pack’s main compartment.
Some survival backpacks will have an internal frame, while others will not. The internal frame will improve stability and your balance; however, it can also add a lot of weight. If you plan on storing items that move around, then a frame will be a good idea. If not, then ditch the frame to keep your backpack weight down. Obviously, an internal frame backpack will have its own pros and cons. Aside from adding weight, the frame can also make it more difficult to run and keep your balance at the same time. A frame backpack not only adds weight, it adds bulk. Of course, if you plan on bringing along a ton of supplies, then choosing a backpack with an internal frame can be the best option.
A Closer Look at Fabric
A survival backpack can have all the right features. It may be waterproof, comfortable, and come loaded with plenty of storage space, but if it gets a hole in it, or the fabric just doesn’t have what it takes to handle a heavy load day in and day out, then all of the other features are basically useless. Pay attention not just to the type of fabric, but its density, and weave quality.
When it comes to buying a new bag, you’ll need to know the fabric weight. The fabric weight can have a major impact on the pack’s durability, weight, and strength. Denier is the measurement used to determine the weight of the fabric and it’s the unit of yarn’s fineness, measured to equal one gram per nine thousand meters. Basically, the higher the denier amount, the greater the material strength, durability, and weight. A survival backpack that has a denier rating of six hundred or more is considered highly durable.
The type of material and weaving that’s used during the manufacturing process will affect the pack’s durability and strength. When it comes to the weave type, most manufacturers will use a type of basic diagonal weave. This type of weave will protect the backpack from wear and tear and rips.
The type of material your survival backpack is made out of will have a major impact on how durable it is, what type of weather conditions it can handle, and how well it can protect all your gear.
This type of material features a basic grid pattern that involves heavy threads that are sewn in close intervals, directly into the fabric. These thicker threads will ensure that all tears are unable to spread.
Cordura and Kodra
Two major manufacturers created these innovative fabrics that are said to be among the strongest types used for survival backpacks. Dupont made the Codura air-treated nylon fabric, while Olon created Kodra, which is similar. The texture of these fabrics is both rough and fuzzy, which makes it incredibly tear-resistant. This type of weave also features thicker fibers which help to increase its resistance to tearing. However, there is a downside. Both types of material will add weight to the survival backpack, and both are not nearly as durable as ripstop.
This material type is usually found on seatbelts in vehicles. This is a much smoother weave and it’s not exactly as strong as you’d expect. It’s also not resistant to tearing.
The odds are, regardless of what pack you choose, you probably won’t be all that comfortable. After all, you’re in the middle of some type of emergency and you’re carrying everything you need for yourself and any less responsible people you’re traveling with or may encounter. While it can be difficult to find a pack that will be comfortable to wear for a period of several hours, it’s possible. Keep your eye out for a few features that will make life on the go more bearable and easier on your back.
External Versus Internal Frames
As I mentioned earlier, an external frame can help, but if you’re trying to keep your pack weight low, then it can also be a hindrance. However, internal frames may be a better option. A framed pack can distribute the load much better, which can help to make your backpack feel much lighter than it actually is. These survival backpacks are also considered more durable since the frame isn’t exposed to the elements.
Most of these survival backpacks will be made out of material that’s waterproof and tough. But the big drawback here is that your back will start sweating like crazy in no time. A good backpack should come with some type of ventilation technology, such as a mesh back panel, in order to promote decent airflow. This will allow your skin to breathe while preventing you from becoming uncomfortable and sweaty.
A breathable design will be even more important if you’re traveling during the summer months.
Does Color Matter?
If you’re shopping for a pack, you’re probably more focused on storage needs and not aesthetics. Most newbies look for one that’s camouflage, but I actually don’t recommend this. The biggest drawback of a camo backpack is that it will immediately signify to others that you’re a hunter or you’re prepared and have some type of outdoors skills. In many types of bug out situations, it can attract unwelcome attention, especially if people assume your backpack is loaded with food, supplies, and even weapons. When you choose a backpack, go with one that’s a solid dark color. Avoid bright colors and eye-catching patterns.
The Best Survival Backpacks Will Have a Low-Key Design
Fortunately, manufacturers have recognized the importance of producing tactical backpacks that are low profile, so you’ll have plenty of muted colors and designs to choose from.
Why is MOLLE Webbing a Big Deal?
If you’re a new survivalist, then you may be learning along the way about important tools and supplies, features, accessories, and materials. When you’re shopping for a survival backpack, you may have come across the term MOLLE webbing pretty often. So, what is MOLLE and why is it so important?
How it Works
MOLLE stands for modular lightweight load-carrying equipment. MOLLE consists of columns or rows of webbing. This type of webbing can be found on a wide range of backpacks and other types of tactical gear.
This system relies on modularity with easy access attachment points that you can use to attach bigger, bulky gear including hatchets, flashlights, shovels, and other types of hiking and survival gear that’s too big for your backpack, or tools that you want to keep highly accessible. MOLLE is designed to keep your gear securely in place on the exterior of a tactical backpack. Backpacks with this type of system offers infinite possibilities in terms of customization options, which is what often makes these the best backpacks on the market.
What is PALS?
If you’re doing your research on MOLLE systems, then you may also come across the term PALS. PALS stands for pouch attachment ladder system. Basically, PALS is the foundation from which MOLLE technology was developed, which is why the term PALS is often used interchangeably with MOLLE. PALS also provides multiple attachment points and rows of columns of webbing, but the webbing system is smaller, so it’s used for smaller supplies and tools such as holsters and knife sheaths.
You need a survival backpack that offers plenty of storage space in the form of main compartments, side pockets, and other types of pockets that allow you to put everything in the proper place. You’ll also need a backpack with MOLLE or PALS webbing systems, if you’re bringing along plenty of gear and you want to keep everything well-organized. If you’re trying to access supplies in an emergency situation, you don’t want to have to dump out your entire backpack just to find something. The best survival backpack will focus on organization.
How Expensive is a Military Survival Backpack?
This can depend. If you’re on a tight budget, then doing your research regarding price is a smart move. However, like most products on the market, quality will cost you more. The best survival backpack can range anywhere from $39 up to $179. Prices are always changing and new backpacks are being released all the time, so you’ll find more options every month. But if you want to purchase the best, make sure you’re willing to fork over the extra cash. In the end, it’ll definitely be worth it.
What Type of Gear Should I Bring?
Obviously, water will be crucial in this type of situation. If your backpack doesn’t have an integrated bladder then look for a water bottle or canteen that has a microfilter. You may also need to bring along a fire starter, lighter, and enough freeze-dried goods to last you three to five days. Other personal items can include two sets of clothes, four pairs of socks, and any medication you take daily.
Stock Up on the Essentials
Ultimately, the items you bring with you should be ones that you can’t live without, such as medication, food, and water. You will also need to decide on what type of personal protection gear to bring whether it’s a gun and ammo, a knife, pepper spray, or all three. Staying safe during a difficult, chaotic time will definitely be a priority. Whatever personal protection items you bring make sure you’re familiar with how to use them.
Organizing a Bug-Out Bag
If you’ve spent months planning and preparing, learned what is the best way to purify water, shopped around for important pieces of gear and even learned how to make fire with nothing, then it’s finally time to prepare your bag and load it with the tools and supplies that can get you through any type of emergency.
Make a List
Obviously, before you pack, making a list will be a smart place to start. What you pack will entirely depend on your location and the types of supplies that will meet your needs. Remember, customizing your survival kit based on your situation will be very important. If you have an urban kit that’s well-stocked, it’s not going to help much if you’re in a rural area. The same goes for your location. A backpack packed for surviving in Alaska probably won’t do much for you in Arizona.
Learn to Prioritize Supplies
Knowing what to pack and deciding what goes and what stays can be very difficult. You’re never going to know exactly when a disaster is going to strike, so you’re pretty much guessing at what type of gear and supplies you’ll need.
In most cases, the supplies you’ll have for your backpack will fall into the following categories:
- First aid
- Fire starting
The types of items you choose for each category will depend on your situation, however, the best tool is always going to be knowledge. The more you know about survival in the event of a natural disaster or emergency, the more useful your backpack will be and the less supplies you’ll need to bring with you.
Categorize Your Gear
When you’re packing your bag, organization will be key. This backpack is meant to keep you safe and help you survive in an emergency. Considering this, you’ll want to prioritize the packing of your bag, keeping heavier items further down in the pack, with lighter items on top. Organize your gear into a few categories:
Any non-urgent items should go into your pack first. These are the items that you don’t need immediate access to. Examples of non-urgent items include hygiene products, bedding, or extra clothing.
The urgent items should be packed second, for faster access. Examples of urgent items include water, food, shelter, fire starting gear.
In terms of emergency items, this can include gear that should be kept within easy reach such as a flashlight, self-protection gear, walkie talkies, ponchos, and radios.
Remember to waterproof your items, even if your backpack is rated as water-resistant or waterproof. You can use Ziploc bags or pro-grade plastic, just make sure your gear is protected inside of your backpack.
Pack 3 Days’ Worth of Supplies
Remember to pack enough food and water to get you through at least three days. A good water purification system, fire starter, and shelter should be your top priorities aside from any self-protection gear that you’re trained to use. Being prepared for any situation may sound impossible, but with the right pack and supplies, you can feel confident that you can handle any emergency or whatever mother nature can throw at you.
I hope my buyer’s guide and in-depth reviews of the best survival backpacks has helped you to narrow down your choices to find a pack that has what it takes to get you through any type of emergency or survivalist situation. Many of these packs are priced affordably and come loaded with all the right features that you will need to rely on in a bug-out situation, including multiple pockets, heavy duty zippers, packs made from high quality materials, and MOLLE systems. With a bag that meets your needs, you can bring along all the essential gear you need to make it safely through a natural disaster, inclement weather, or any other type of emergency situation.