Even if you have done your research, purchased all the tools and supplies you need if a natural disaster strikes, if you don’t have the best survival backpack, then you’re only putting yourself at risk. You’ll need a pack that’s large enough to store all your gear and strong enough to handle life on the road. But the pack should also be comfortable enough to allow you to wear it for several hours at a time. These packs 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 a comparison chart that lists the differences and similarities between each of the five models that landed on my top five list, in addition to summaries of the reviews for each of these best-selling packs.
Survival Backpacks Comparison Chart
|5.11Tactical RUSH72||Nylon||47 liters||$$|
|Uncharted Supply SEVENTY2||Tarpaulin||50 liters||$$$|
|5.11Tactical RUSH24||Nylon||37 liters||$|
|Gearrific Tactical Backpack||Nylon||22-40liters||$|
|5.11 COVRT18||Nylon||30 liters||$|
Best Overall-5.11Tactical RUSH72 Military Backpack
The Rush 72 is my top choice for a number of reasons. Not only is this pack built tough, but it also comes loaded with plenty of storage options in the form of separate pockets and compartments. The pack is heavy-duty and designed to store enough gear to get you through the first three to five days of an emergency situation such as a natural disaster. The bag itself can handle plenty of use and abuse on the road, yet despite its durability, it’s surprisingly light. 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 gear will remain safe and dry. This pack is definitely a bargain for the price and it’s a model you can depend on when you need it the most.
AW 55L 600D Tactical Army Rucksacks Molle Backpack
The AW 55L 600D Tactical Army Rucksacks Molle Backpack is a best-selling survival bag thanks to its variety of storage options and it’s better than average durability rating. This is one bag that will leave you feeling confident that you’re prepared for the end of the world. It’s 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 bag 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 gear to buy. So, if you’re clueless about what type of gear you’ll need to rely on the most when disaster strikes, this pack 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 complete bag for beginners and one that has every angle covered when it comes to emergency preparedness.
Spacious Design-5.11Tactical RUSH24 Military Backpack
Need a lot of space but you don’t want a heavy, bulky pack? The Rush24 can be the perfect solution. It offers a variety of storage compartments and pockets, so you can keep your gear highly organized based on need and situation. It’s a great buy for emergency situations, but it’s also a pack 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, for a price that won’t hit your wallet too hard.
Best Premade Bug-Out Bag-Gearrific Tactical Backpack
This forty-liter pack offers plenty of room for you 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 bag 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 pack is also durable and offers the type of comfortable, adjustable fit that will allow you to wear this pack for several hours at a time without the fear of back or shoulder strain.
Best Tactical Pack-5.11 COVRT18 Tactical Covert Military Backpack
Are you looking for a military or law enforcement quality pack? The Covrt is a pack that comes loaded with special compartments designed to keep your firearms safe and secure. The pack’s low key design is one of its biggest selling points, aside from its lightweight design and reputation for being one of the toughest packs on the market.
These packs 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. Aside from size options and comfort, you’ll also want a pack that’s loaded with compartments and pockets. Most of these packs come loaded with side pockets, which will make important gear highly accessible and deep main storage compartments designed to store all of your essential gear.
As I mentioned earlier, the size of the pack is important. Your pack should be the right size based on your situation and your needs. 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 bag, including compartments and pockets. These packs may have attachable pockets located on the outside, which may or may not be included in the volume rating. A typical survival pack can hold around forty-five liters or more. A pack smaller than this may not work if you want to store at least three days’ worth of gear.
Straps and Belts
If you’re searching for a new pack, you may not even notice whether one has a chest strap or not, but these straps are actually pretty important. The chest strap is designed to help to 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 this type of strap, then make sure at the very least it has an attachment for one, so you can purchase a chest 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 pack that’s loaded to capacity. You may not commonly find a waist belt on a survival pack, 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.
Durability will be another important factor. Most of these packs 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 pack 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 pack can handle mist and light rainfall. Waterproof means that the contents of the pack will remain dry, even in the event of a heavy downpour.
While you can bring along a water bottle or canteen, look for a pack that either comes with a bladder or has a special compartment for one. Using a hydration 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.
This type of pack 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.
Some packs will have an internal frame, while others will not. The 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 pack weight down.
Button, Velcro and Zipper Closures
Button snaps are the most common closure type that you’ll find on these packs. However, Velcro 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 pack’s main zipper to fail on you when you’re trying to quickly access your gear and secure your pack. 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.
A Closer Look at Fabric
A pack 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.
When it comes to buying a new model, 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 pack 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 bag from wear and tear.
Ripstop: 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 a tear is unable to spread.
Corduar and Kodra: Two major manufacturers created these innovative fabrics that are said to be among the strongest type used for survival packs. 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 pack and both are not nearly as durable as ripstop.
Oxford: 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 pack feel much lighter than it actually is. These packs are also considered more durable since the frame isn’t exposed to the elements.
Most of these packs 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 pack 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.
Believe it or not, it can be a real challenge to find a well-designed, well-padded shoulder strap setup. The goal is finding a pack that comes with straps that have sufficient padding that will help to prevent discomfort and reduce arm and shoulder pain.
Does Color Matter?
If you’re shopping for a pack you’re probably looking for one that’s camouflage, but I actually don’t recommend this. The biggest drawback of a camo pack 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 pack is loaded with food, supplies, and even weapons. When you choose a pack, go with one that’s a solid dark color. Avoid bright colors and eye-catching patterns.
What Type of Gear Should I Bring?
Obviously, water will be crucial in this type of situation. If your pack doesn’t have an integrated bladder than 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. 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.
Obviously, before you pack, making a list will be a smart place to start. What you pack will entirely depend on your location and your specific 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 bag packed for surviving in Alaska probably won’t do much for you in Arizona.
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 gear you’ll have for your pack 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 pack will be and the less gear you’ll need to bring with you.
Categorize Your Gear
When you’re packing your bag, organization will be key. This pack 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, 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 pack is rated as water-resistant or waterproof. You can use Ziploc bags or pro-grade plastic, just make sure your gear is protected.
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 will suit your needs in the event of an emergency. 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.