Whether you are a hiker, traveler, hunter, or just want to be prepared for anything, a critical piece of survival gear you need to own is a reliable survival backpack, which is better known to survivalists as the bug out backpack.
It should be able to hold everything you need in the wilderness and sit comfortably on your shoulders while you are on the move. You should keep in mind that the best survival backpack should include a 72-hour emergency kit. So how do you choose the best survival backpack?
Experienced survivalists will tell that looking for a survival backpack is not an easy task. However, once you find it, everything will come into place and your survival plan will start to take shape. There are a number of packs available – civilian and military. With a few pointers in mind, you can make sure that you find the best survival backpack for your needs.
5.11 TACTICAL RUSH 72 BACKPACK
CONDOR 3 DAY ASSAULT PACK
MAXPEDITION CONDOR-II BACKPACK
How to Pick the Best Survival Backpack
Here is a look at the main basic factors to consider when you shop for survival bags:
- Lightweight: Keep in mind that you will be moving a lot when you are in the wilderness, which means that the survival bag should be as lightweight as possible. You should note that the best survival backpacks come with an internal frame, hip belt, and shoulder straps, which is awesome as it provides support and function, transferring the weight to your hips. You should choose survival bags on the basis of their weight and functionality.
- Comfortable: Comfort is important when buying a survival backpack. This means that it should sit comfortably on your shoulders when you fill it up. Check the width of the shoulder straps and make sure that they are adjustable for your body type. Also remember that once your survival pack gets heavy, the shoulder straps will dig into your skin so avoid narrow straps. You should consider purchasing a bug out bag with sternum straps, padded shoulder straps and a strong internal frame to keep it comfortably positioned on your back.
- Padded Straps and Hip Belt: You should make sure that the straps of your backpack are padded. Backpacks with padded shoulder straps are a better choice as they provide comfort while you are carrying the backpack. Padded shoulder straps go a long way in reducing discomfort. You should also try to get a survival backpack that provides hip support. Hip straps or hip belt is crucial as they balance the weight on your thighs which have stronger muscles. The entire weight of your survival backpack can be on your shoulders and cause pain and discomfort.
- Good Design: Before picking a survival backpack, get an idea of how much space you need by putting your emergency gear together. You should also weigh everything – from clothes to canned foods – and calculate the approximate total weight. This way, you will know how much space and weight your backpack should have. Keep in mind that you will also need extra storage space for sleeping bag, water bottle, map, knife, compass, (McDonald’s Big Mac, oh no, never mind, different list!) and so on.
- Color: It is best to choose a backpack that comes in a dull color so you do not attract attention when you are in the wilderness or survival situation. Camouflage is also a marvelous option as it will help make sure that you blend in with your environment.
- Durable: Obviously you need to choose a well-designed, high-quality survival backpack to give you durability. Your backpack should be able to withstand the environment in the wilderness and the elements. Make sure that you get a quality backpack that you can carry in any terrain without fearing that it will fall apart at any time. Your survival backpack should be sturdy and durable.
- Air Flow: Most backpacks are made from strong, water resistant materials like modern nylon. The disadvantage is that your back can start to feel warm, causing you to sweat. You should make sure that your backpack features ventilation technology to allow your skin to breathe and prevent you from getting sweaty and uncomfortable.
- 20 to 50 Liter Size: Picking the right size is terrifically vital when it comes to survival backpacks. Keep in mind that the bigger yours is, the less room there is for you to move freely. You should have room to move no matter what type of survival situation you are in. A 20 to 50-liter backpack size is ideal – you will have the capacity to carry extra food, clothing, water, and other essentials. Make sure that you are careful about this while choosing a survival backpack.
Picking the Right Survival Bag Size
Picking the correct size, i.e., small, medium, large, etc. is one of the keys to finding the right survival backpack for you, and the key measurement is your torso size. Although the torso is not usually measured for choosing a new suit, winter coats or anything else, it is required to make sure that you choose the right backpack for you.
For most survival backpacks available nowadays, there are three points of security – load-lifter straps which go over the shoulders, support strap and sternum strap which go across the chest. All points need to work together to make sure that your gear rides comfortably on your back. You should keep in mind that for men and women, the hips should support 75% to 80% of the weight of the gear.
To measure your torso, place a flexible tape measure at the spot where the top of your shoulders meets your neck – the base of the bottom of your neck. Then, run the tape measure down to the small of your back, making sure that it is between both of your hips. The measurement that you get is your torso length.
- Extra Small: For torsos up to 15 ½ inches, or up to 39 centimeters, an extra small survival backpack is ideal.
- Small: Small survival backpacks are the best size for torsos measuring between 16 and 17 ½ inches, or 40 to 45 centimeters.
- Medium: Medium survival backpacks fit torsos that measure 18 to 19 ½ inches, or 46 to 50 centimeters.
- Large: Large survival backpacks are designed to fit torsos measuring 20 inches and up, or 51 centimeters and above.
As soon as you find out your torso length, you will find that getting the right frame backpack size is not a problem at all. However, you should keep in mind that you can adjust each frame backpack size to fit a smaller or larger torso.
You might find interesting to read our best bug-out bags article.
Top 10 Survival Backpacks
1. Condor 3-Day Assault Pack
This is a durable survival backpack that comes loaded with poignant features. It has a large load cargo capacity compartment with separate side pockets that can easily fit up to 2 3-liter hydration bladders. It has BOliveDraby contour straps with waist belt, sternum strap and D-Ring for attaching equipment. The main compartment has 2 double zipper pulls that give you easy access to gear.
For maximum airflow and extra comfort, the Condor 3 Day Pack comes with individual foam-pad back panels. All compartments feature grommets for drainage. Although its quality has been questioned by a few people, this is a tough pack that can take pretty much whatever you throw at it.
The main compartment is equipped with gear straps and 2 extra mesh side pockets while the second compartment has 2 radio pockets, 3 map/documents pockets, and penholders. With a total of 7 compartments, the Condor 3 Day Pack is a salient choice when you need a quality survival backpack. It may not be Grizzly Bear proof, but it is super strong nonetheless!
Opinion: Out of the several backpacks on the market, we particularly like the Condor 3 Day Pack. It is comfortable and made with high-quality materials. It is big enough to keep your gear for any expedition, whether you are going camping or hunting. Other features that we like are the contour straps and sternum strap, they provide a lot of comfort and a good balance of weight.
The only thing that we would change is the size of the pockets – We think that they are not made to hold specific items. But all in all, we consider that the Condor 3 Day Assault Pack is a terrific buy and we would recommend it to anyone in need of a survival backpack.
- 7 compartments to keep your gear
- BOliveDraby contour straps that provide comfort
- Maximum airflow with foam padded back panel
- Unusable MOLLE webbing for a bag of this size
- Pocket sizes not useful for holding anything
2. 5.1 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack
Made of fleece, the Tactical Rush 72 Backpack is a top-quality survival backpack with a large-sized external shove-it pocket, two exterior gusseted and zippered pockets at the sides and a top exterior crescent-shaped organization pocket. The main body is made from 1050D nylon with PUx2 coating which makes it water resistant.
The chest strap may not be as strong as you would like it to be as it may break if you rest your hands on it and pull down with just a little force. The inside pocket bags and flaps have water-resistant 210D 118 PUx2 coating. This excellent backpack also has a closed-cell foam back padded hydration pocket with 2 back-to-back zippered pull tabs. The generous web platform on 3 sides of the pack has extra attachment points for those small but important items you need to carry.
We think that the Rush 72 Backpacks is a top-notch survival pack that is made with high-quality materials and ensuring durability. We find that it is built like a tank, making it perfect for all types of outdoor and survival situations. We also think that it is outstanding for EDC too. A thing you should be careful about is the chest strap – it might break on you if you tug a little too hard.
Another aspect that can be improved is the ergonomics of the bag – it does not have anything like conforming contours. However, overall, among the various available backpacks on the market we believe this is a good option.
- Excellent weight distribution and comfort
- Dual compression straps to keep gear secure
- Ample pockets for storage
- No ergonomics
- Too many mesh pockets
Check out our suggested tactical sling backpacks article.
3. Maxpedition Condor-II Backpack
The Maxpedition Condor-II is one of the better-quality backpacks on the market. It is made with 1000-denier coated nylon, finished with a triple-coat of polyurethane that makes it water-resistant. A final coat of DuPont Teflon Fabric Protector is added to protect the backpack from the elements when you are in the great outdoors. The best design and materials are used to make the Condor-II.
The handles, straps, and modular attachment points feature military-grade nylon webbing. The buckles and hardware feature genuine Duraflex for extra strength and functionality. If you do not mind a small survival backpack, the Maxpedition Condor-II Backpack could be your top option.
This backpack from Maxpedition is tough as nails and the perfect companion for all types of outdoor activities. We find that the compression straps, sternum strap, waist straps, adjustment features, etc. allow you to adjust the backpack to the most comfortable position for you.
We also think that the strong zippers, the strap retention and the good amount of MOLLE webbing for add-ons make it one of the top packs around whether it is for camping, hiking, hunting, etc. or EDC. In particular, it is great as a hiking backpack. One thing to note is the size, it is a little small but if that is okay with you, this could be a suitable pack for your expeditions.
To finish, we can say that the Condor-II Backpack is tough and comfortable and we highly recommend it to anyone in need of a top-notch backpack.
- Strong – can hold more than 1,950 cubic inches of gear
- High-quality materials for added durability
- Can be used for EDC
- A little small for some users
- Not enough compartments
4. 3V Gear Velox II Large Tactical Assault Backpacks
This is an impressive tactical assault backpack with a large capacity of 1,628 cubic inches of storage space for your gear. Whether you are traveling, hiking, or on a military mission or day trip, or need a bug out bag, the 3V Gear Velox II Large Tactical Assault Backpack is the bag for you. It has a clam-shell wide opening system that allows you to easily pack your gear in various compartments and sub-compartments.
Made with 600-D PVC-backed nylon, this large backpack is rigid, weather resistant, and super-rugged – awesome for heavy-duty use. A few customers found the MOLLE webbing straps on the sides of the bag useless – they are not the right size for most accessories.
We love the 3V Gear Velox II Large Tactical Assault Backpack, we think it is a really good pack if you’re considering buying one. Tough and versatile, we find that it is a fine quality pack that will last you many years. We can also say that this is the perfect backpack for camping, hiking as well as emergency pack for the car – you can use it for anything! The hem sewing on this one is rather flimsy and may give in with time and regular use.
If there was anything that needs to be changed, it would be the quality of the black cord zippers – we think it needs to be improved. This is a small issue but all in all, we have no problem saying that the Velox II is an awesome tactical backpack for any occasion.
- Excellent craftsmanship and quality
- Comfortable for all types of activities
- Plenty of pockets for gear
- Improperly spaced side MOLLE strips
- Does not include a water bladder
5. Reebow Tactical Military Tactical Backpacks
Made of 600×600-density fabric, this military tactical backpack is highly water-resistant, tough, and durable. It has a MOLLE webbing system so you can attach additional tactical pouches or gear. The ventilated mesh-padded back area and shoulder straps provide decent airflow, making it comfortable on the field.
The Reebow Military Tactical Backpack also features side and front load compression system and double-stitched heavy-duty zippers and utility-style cord pulls for added comfort. If you want a durable and versatile backpack, this is the one you should pick.
We think that this is an excellent backpack for the price. It has lots of pockets to utilize – which, we believe, is a must in any survival backpack. It is the perfect size and comes with enough pockets for storing any gear that you need to. One thing to note is that the side MOLLE strips are not properly spaced but that could be a defect in a few units.
We find disappointing that the Reebow Military Backpack does not come with a hydration bladder – it would be a much better survival backpack if it did. No doubt, this is a versatile backpack making it ideal for all types of outdoor activities, that’s why we highly recommend it to anyone who needs a great pack for survival.
- Excellent craftsmanship and quality
- Comfortable for all types of activities
- Plenty of pockets for gear
- Improperly spaced side MOLLE strips
- Does not include hydration bladder
6. Eberlestock X3 Lodrag Pack
When it comes to survival backpacks, the X3 LoDrag backpack is one of the top choices on the market. This awesome backpack even features a tactical weapon-sized scabbard! The LoDrag design gives the pack a unique contour shape that tapers at the top and bottom, providing a comfortable close-to-the-body ride.
X3 LoDrag packs are fully compressible as they come with side-mounted compression straps so that your load is drawn upward, optimally positioning the backpack over your center of gravity. This backpack also boasts a number of MOLLE/PALs compatible webbing so you can attach extra pouches for your gear.
We think that the Eberlestock X3 LoDrag Pack is an awesome product and a salient option to keep in mind, thanks to its great features. We can say that this is a tough and durable pack that comes with plenty of storage space for all kinds of gear. It is also made with high-quality materials, making it a very comfortable backpack to carry around. A flip side of this bag is how large it is and may not be suited for women or men with a smaller frame.
Some aspect that we would like to change in this bag are the water bladder pockets – they are not as flexible as they could be, making them a little difficult to use. Other than this, there are no negatives about this top-notch pack. All in all, we are pleasantly surprised by the X3 LoDrag pack, it is a solid choice if you’re in the market for it.
- Ample space – inside and out
- Contour bag shape provides comfort to the wearer
- Excellent design, build and quality
- A little big for some users
- Faulty water bladder pockets
7. SOG Barrage Tactical Internal Frame Pack
Made of 100% polyester, the Barrage Tactical Pack boasts some excellent features, making it one of the best survival frame backpack choices available today. It is MOLLE-equipped and comes with Velcro patch holders and name-tape. It has both left and right hydration hose ports with a rear-access hydration-compatible pouch and Velcro closures.
With the yoked shoulder strap system, adjustable sternum slide and padded waist belt, you can be sure that you are always comfortable. A number of users grumble about the absence of a hydration bladder. If you are looking for a survival backpack with quality, comfort, and durability, the SOG Barrage Tactical Pack is perfect.
The SOG Barrage Tactical Pack comes with many great features, but the one we like the most is its removable aluminum internal frame, a great option to have if you want to reduce the weight of your pack. We also like that it has a lot of room for all the survival gear you will need in the great outdoors.
Another feature that makes this pack a sagacious choice are the numerous pockets which are extremely handy for additional gear, but for some, this can be an inconvenience since that having many does not mean they are useful – in most cases, they are the wrong size for extra items.
If we could change one thing about the Barrage Tactical Pack, it would be that it is not made for rough use. If it was, it would be the ultimate survival backpack. But all in all, we can finally say that this backpack comes with good features overall and it is a definite must-have for anyone looking for an appropriate pack.
- Large, durable, and comfortable to carry
- Strong internal frame
- Lots of pockets for all types of additional items and gear
- Not for rough use
- Does not come with a hydration bladder
8. Sandpiper of California Bugout Backpack
Made of 600-Denier poly/canvas, this is an awesome-looking and well-built bug out bag. The bag has an expandable main compartment and plenty of sub-compartments and pockets for extra gear and accessories. It is a rugged, abrasion-resistant exterior, making it ideal for all types of outdoor activities.
The padded waistband adds extra comfort while you are on the go. Keep in mind that extra padding on straps and bands means weight – this could be a little heavy for those who are used to carrying lightweight bags. This is a versatile product from a trusted name and comes at a great price. It is spacious and tough, making it one of the top choices for a survival backpack.
We can say that the Sandpiper of California Bugout Backpack is a well-designed and well-made bag. The waist strap is excellent, taking pressure off your shoulders and allowing you to carry a full pack without any problem. But you may find, that the MOLLE straps are quite unnecessary. With sterling material and zipper quality, we think that this is an awesome heavy-duty backpack for all types of expeditions – traveling, hiking, hunting, or on a tactical mission.
If there was one thing we would like to change, it would be the weight – it is a little too heavy. Apart from this, we have no major complaints and we believe that it is an excellent purchase if you need one. The Sandpiper of California Bugout Backpack is a serious survival backpack that gets the thumbs-up from everyone including McKnight from Black Hawk Down!
- Versatile with plenty of gear space
- High quality and durable
- Abrasion-resistant and water-resistant material makes it tough
- Too heavy for some
- Unnecessary MOLLE straps
9. Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack
The Kelty Redwing 50 is one of the best packs you will find today. With a Hybrid-loading, U-zipper design that works as a top loader as well as panel loader, you get easy access to items in your gear anytime. It also features a LightBeam single aluminum stay and Dynamic AirFlow back panel that keeps your load stable and ensures your comfort.
The Redwing 50 comes with a zippered stash pocket, zippered side pockets and large front pocket so you have plenty of room for anything you need to carry. With this backpack, you get air-mesh shoulder straps, dual-density foam waist belt, Dynamic AirFlow back panel and a lumbar pad to keep you cool and comfortable wherever you are.
We think that the Redwing 50 is a well-designed pack. Its no-hassle compression straps and excellent accessibility to the gear you carry is what makes it a popular choice among travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. We can say that it is a durable and very comfortable backpack, making it a versatile pack for all types of situations – whether you are traveling or bugging out.
If there was anything that we would like to change, it would be size and weight. We find that it is a bit heavy and large, especially to use as a daypack. Otherwise, we believe that the Redwing 50 is the perfect survival backpack for anyone in need of one.
- LightBeam tech keeps load stable
- Dynamic AirFlow ensures comfort
- Excellent design, build and quality
- A little too heavy for some users
- A tad large for some as a daypack
10. BLACKHAWK! Titan Hydration Pack
Made of heavy-duty 1000-Denier nylon, the Titan Hydration Pack is an amazing survival backpack. It has reinforced stitching that makes it highly durable. The Titan Hydration is also a large, functional backpack that features 2 of BLACKHAWK!’s best-selling pouches to hold various items.
Apart from this, this awesome pack also comes with a Drink System with protection from Microban antimicrobial treatment and a Bite Me bite valve as well as a patent-pending quick disconnect system. While one of its drawbacks is its weight, when it comes to finding the best survival backpacks, the BLACKHAWK! Titan Hydration Pack is definitely one of the top picks out there.
We think that the BLACKHAWK! Titan Hydration Pack is an awesome product. We believe that the pack has an impressive design as well as excellent build quality. It has plenty of room for most items you will need to carry and lots of pockets and pouches for any extra gear you need to have. Another great feature is the waist strap and shoulder straps, they are comfortable and easy to adjust to your liking.
If there was anything to change, it would be the bottom pouch – it is a little too small to hold other items. However, this is the only small complaint we have. Otherwise, the Titan Hydration Pack is a smart investment, worth every dollar you spend.
- Awesome features
- Excellent build and quality
- Plenty of storage room and constructed to take on all types of outdoor situations
- Bottom pouch a little too small
- A little heavy for some users
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most durable backpack brand?
Reebow Tactical Military Tactical Backpack is one of the more durable hiking backpack. The backpack is made of of 600×600-density fabric. This military survival backpack has a strong internal frame, massive storage and load compression system. It comes with strong, double-stitched zippers and front load compression system. This is one of the reasons why the bag can work as a 3-day assault backpack, hunting or hiking backpack, and range bag.
How much is a good backpack?
The price of a pack depends majorly on the fabric, size and brand. You should expect to pay anywhere from $90 – $500 for a good backpack. It is better to go with medium-sized store brands rather than the big ones like Gregory, North Face, or Osprey. Store brands tend to be cheaper and you could find some of the best survival backpacks for $199.
Is one 50L backpack big enough?
Packs in the range of 45 – 50L storage are usually enough for the average backpacker on a majority of travels. Rather than concentrating on pack size and storage you should figure out how much weight you can hold on your shoulders comfortably for an extended period of time. This can be done by dividing your body weight by 4. This is the maximum bag weight you should aim for.
What do I need in my survival backpack?
Your survival pack should contain necessary items to help you survive a wide range of situations and disasters. Basic survival packs should contain multi-tool, pliers, pocket knife, flashlights, sleeping bag, emergency candles, water purification tablets, water bottle, matches, magnifying glass, tinder, Firestarter, first aid kit, pots, space blanket, and emergency food rations. You can always add or remove items from your survival kit based on your unique needs.
Finding the right survival backpack may not be the easiest task. However, the best survival backpacks listed above will help you choose one that best fits your purpose. The factors mentioned in this guide will help you make an informed decision and pick the best survival backpack suited to your needs.