Survival backpacks, bug out bags, 72 hours bags, get home bags – call them what you will. Even FEMA recommends that everyone in your house have one in case of a sudden emergency or disaster.
If you don’t have one, putting together a survival backpack, a.k.a. bug out bag, should be on your priority list of things to do for your preparations.
If you are building your first bug out bag or upgrading your current 72 hours kit, the logical first place to start is with the backpack itself. I looked at the latest options that are on the market and came up with this list of the best survival backpacks.
If in a hurry, here are our top picks at a glance:
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Before we look at survival backpacks, I want to give you my thoughts on what should be the critical consideration in selecting a backpack in which to pack your survival supplies.
The backpack should be large enough and have enough space to fit all the gear and essential supplies that you will need for 3 days of self-sufficiency.
The backpack should be constructed of a durable material that will hold up to extreme conditions and use. The construction should match the material.
You may be wearing this backpack for extended periods over rough ground. It needs to fit correctly and have the best harness and support system you can find. Key features include a comfortable hip belt, compression straps, and shoulder straps.
The design of the backpack must provide ergonomic and efficient use. Pocket locations should allow easy access. Interior spaces must keep the contents protected and prevent shifting.
Best Survival Backpacks: Our Top 6 Picks
1. Best Survival Backpack (Overall) – Condor 3-Day Assault Pack Review
Condor Outdoor is an often-overlooked brand by many people. Years ago, when I owned my retail store, I discovered Condor Outdoor. At the time, they were relatively new in the marketplace, and they were suffering growing pains, which usually showed up in quality control issues. Condor Outdoor has matured and the quality of its products reflects that.
The Condor 3-day Assault Pack has long been one of my favorite frameless backpacks for almost any application. It is my pick for my grab-and-go bag as well as the bags I have built for my family.
Looking at the features that Condor has built into this bag makes it easy to understand why, when I could use any other packs on the market, I continue to choose the Condor 3-day Assault Pack as my go-to choice for building survival backpack kits.
- 50 Liter capacity in the main compartment area of the backpack offers enough room to pack everything needed for a complete 72-hour kit, even bulky items.
- An additional seven pockets increase the storage space and put essential gear in easily accessible locations on the backpack.
- Separate Hydration pocket allows you to install your hydration bladder or hydration reservoir and arrange the tube conveniently.
- The harness makes the Condor 3-day Assault Pack easy to carry. The heavily padded shoulder straps, a sternum straps, and an excellent waist belt make adjusting the pack’s weight distribution convenient.
- The addition of the foam on the back of this pack allows good ventilation.
- The pack is covered in MOLLE attachment points (Molle webbing), allowing you to add external ounces to your heart’s content.
The Condor 3-Day Assault Pack is by no means the end-all of survival backpacks.
It does, however, provide you with an excellent backpack at a reasonable price. The combination of features, quality, and price make this my pick as the Best Overall Survival Backpack.
Condor 3-Day Assault Pack Pros and Cons
- Best value
- Good harness allows proper weight distribution
- Generous size and external pockets provides adequate space for the necessary gear
- Durable and well-built
- Not fully waterproof (water resistant)
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2. Best Budget Survival Backpack – Orca Tactical Backpack 40L Review
Orca Tactical was born in the USA from frustration with the lack of quality gear at a reasonable price.
Today Orca Tactical supplies some of the highest quality gear on the market for the money. Orca Tactical Gear was not around when my store was active. I will assure you that had they been available, I would have had their products on my shelves.
The Orca Tactical Backpack ranks with the Condor 3-Day Assault Pack with one exception. At 40L of space, it is slightly smaller than the Condor backpack.
The smaller size makes it a bit harder to get everything you need for a complete 72-hour kit into the bag without covering every square inch of the MOLLE attachment points with external pouches.
Other than the size, the Orca Tactical Backpack has the features for which we look when choosing a survival backpack.
- Well-designed interior with compartmented areas, mesh pockets, and an elastic band to hold items like clothing in place
- 600D polyester material that is water-resistant and scratch-proof
- Double-stitched stress points
- YKK zippers
- Comfortable harness with padded shoulder straps, sternum strap, and waist belt
- MOLLE attachment points on the exterior of the bag allow customizing the loadout
- Hydration system compatible for a hydration bladder
The price of this backpack is the key factor. You won’t find a survival backpack of this quality at this price anywhere else. If you are building a get home bag or a car survival bag, the Orca Tactical Backpack should be on your list of places to start.
Orca Tactical Backpack Pros and Cons
- Tough, durable fabric and construction
- Well-designed internally and externally
- Right size for a get home bags, survival packs, or car kits
- Best price for the features and quality
- A bit small for a 72-hour bag
- The waist belt seems too narrow and has no padding
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3. Best Urban Stealth Survival Backpack – Elite Survival Systems Covert Operations Backpack Review
Many of us work in large office situations, sometimes located in densely populated downtown areas. I always worry about how to deal with a sudden emergency that requires you to evacuate quickly.
If the trains, subways, or other public transportation were no longer available, you could face the possibility of having to navigate the chaos of a disaster on foot with whatever you are carrying.
Keeping a military-style tactical backpack in your office might cause some rumblings from your boss or other employees. Transporting a tactical backpack over a commute can also cause some problems.
The answer is to camouflage your get home bag as just another commuter backpack.
The Elite Survival Systems Stealth Covert Backpack is perfect in this role. It looks like any other oversized backpack used by people in all walks of life every day to carry books, laptops, and other gear back and forth to work and school.
Sitting in the corner of your office, the Elite Survival Systems Covert Operations Backpack won’t cause raised eyebrows or questions.
Feature-wise, this backpack goes above and beyond what you would typically expect from a survival backpack.
- Lightweight nylon sports styling makes the backpack inconspicuous.
- Designed as a concealed carry backpack, you get the option to carry your concealed weapon safely and securely
- Velcro lined main compartment for secure customization
- Padded sides and bottom
- Mesh pocket for easy access to small items
- The front compartment serves as an admin pouch with places for paperwork, ID, keys, etc.
- Well-designed harness and sternum strap are easily adjustable and comfortable
- Molded carry handle on the top for quick movement
- Removable fully adjustable hip belt
- Vented back
- Exterior compression straps
- Dual bottle pockets on the exterior of the backpack a water bottle
Elite Survival Systems has created a backpack design that allows even the busiest executive to keep a low profile yet remain ready at a moment’s notice to evacuate.
If you want to keep a get home bag in your office without getting uncomfortable questions from your co-workers, the Elite Survival Systems Covert Operations Backpack is the answer.
Elite Survival Systems Covert Operations Backpack Pros and Cons
- Comfortable enough to carry for long distances and times
- The covert style blends in with other backpacks without causing alarm
- Sturdy lightweight construction for durability
- Concealed carry design offers flexibility
- A bit smaller than other survival backpacks
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4. Best Interior Framed Survival Backpack – Mardingtop MOLLE Internal Frame Backpack Review
If you anticipate doing a serious bug out, your loadout will be considerably more substantial and more complex than a regular 72 hours kit.
You are probably expecting to be on foot eventually. Preparing for this kind of scenario poses different challenges. For one, you are going to need a bigger backpack that is comfortable and easy to carry for long periods.
Heavier loads demand some sort of frame to support the extra weight and bulk in your backpack. Not many tactical style 3-day packs offer an internal frame structure.
The Mardingtop 65L internal frame backpack system makes this possible in an economical package. The versatility of this pack is astonishing in some respects.
The well thought out modular design includes features usually only found on much more expensive backpacks. Below are some of those convenient features.
- Plentiful MOLLE attachment points increase the overall carrying capacity when additional pouches are applied.
- This backpack includes a separate rain cover, providing weather protection and water resistance.
- The heavily padded harness with a sternum strap and padded waist belt distributes the load properly.
- Top lid includes a pocket with easy access for small items that are often needed.
- A zipper on the bottom of the main compartment makes retrieving items from the bottom of your load easy.
- The backpack comes with two sizeable detachable side pockets. With the side pockets removed, the total capacity of the backpack is 55L, a perfect 3-day pack. With the two side pockets attached, the capacity grows to 65L, enough for extended excursions.
- 600D polyester material
- Weighs 5.18 lbs.
Planning for an extended bug-out demands that you consider almost any eventuality and situation. That means carrying gear and equipment that is not a normal 72 hours survival bag component.
A quality backpack with an internal frame is almost a must if you anticipate carrying these kinds of loads for extended periods and over long distances. The Mardingtop 65L MOLLE Internal Frame Backpack fits the bill and makes our list as the Best Interior Framed Survival Backpack.
Mardingtop 65L MOLLE Internal Frame Backpack Pros and Cons
- MOLLE compatibility not usually found on this style of backpack
- Great price for the size and features
- Design and construction are above average
- Comfortable even when fully loaded
- Heavier than most survival backpacks
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5. Best Ultimate Survival Backpack – Eberlestock X31 LoDrag II Pack Review
Planning for extremes demands that the top priority on your list of features is the quality and durability of your gear.
In the worst of conditions, you want the best of gear. The last thing you need to have is gear failure at a bad time during an already serious situation.
Eberlestock gear is renowned worldwide as having the best gear available for rugged outdoor use. The LoDrag II backpack from Eberlestock is no exception.
This backpack is engineered from the bottom to the top to provide worry-free service.
The one feature that stands-out on the Eberlestock LoDrag II backpack is the integrated full-length rifle scabbard. During long, low-threat treks, having the means to transport a rifle easily and safely is essential.
Eberlestock has anticipated this need with its design, and the features don’t stop there.
- 30L main compartment
- Minimalist design for efficient functioning
- Contour shape tapers at both the top and bottom for ergonomic function
- Side-mounted compression straps to keep the bag tight and compact
- Designed to keep the load above the wearer’s center of gravity
- Two exterior pockets
- MOLLE attachment points
- Hydration sleeve
- Includes two document or laptop sleeves
- Mesh pocket for small items
- Fold-away shelf to divide the main interior space
- Includes a polycarbonate frame
Our choice as the ultimate survival backpack easily goes to the Eberlestock LoDrag II backpack system. The quality of Eberlestock products and the ingenious, full-size rifle scabbard combine to make this a unique backpack platform.
Eberlestock LoDrag II Pros and Cons
- Well-designed interior and exterior spaces
- Comfortable harness system keeps the backpack close to the wearer no matter how large the load
- Highest quality materials and craftsmanship
- The integrated rifle scabbard is unique and versatile
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6. Best Pre-filled Survival Backpack – Sustain Supply Co Premium Family Emergency Survival Bag Review
I am not a big fan of buying a pre-packaged survival kit.
I don’t like someone else making decisions about gear and equipment on which I may stake my life. Notwithstanding these reservations, I also understand that not everyone is inclined to go through the trouble to select the gear and plan a survival backpack.
If you can’t take the time to plan and configure a personalized survival backpack, you should look for the best possible pre-configured survival backpack.
In our opinion, the Sustain Supply Co backpack is the most complete and has the best selection of components of any survival backpack kit we have found.
The list of the included equipment and gear is far too extensive to list. However, some items need mentioning to give you an idea of what I believe are standout features.
- The hand-operated reverse osmosis water filter, filter straw, and water bottle mean you will never be without clean water.
- You will have no problems with food preparation with the cooking and kitchen kit.
- The snaplight and lantern will not leave you in the dark.
- First aid kit and an expansive array of other equipment are standard with this survival backpack kit.
Of course, there is plenty of room left in the backpack for your gear. Add those things that you need or feel are important.
This product is an excellent way to start an essential survival backpack and get you ready for any emergency with little fuss.
Sustain Supply Co Backpack Pros and Cons
- An impressive list of components included with this kit
- Packed in a top of the line backpack
- Shelter components are a welcome addition
- No included meals
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Why do I Push for 72-hour Kits So Hard?
When I was a teenager, many years ago, my hometown was struck by an F5 tornado that killed more than 20 people and left our medium-sized town devastated. Many parts of the city were without any utilities for several weeks, and the cleanup took more than a year.
I had the privilege, or the unfortunate experience, to have been at the very center of the disaster.
My grandmother was the senior PBX operator for the city. This was back when telephones still had wires, and wire plugging operators handled large phone systems. The dark ages, I guess.
The severity of the weather that day had prompted the city to open its emergency operations center, and my grandmother reported to work.
My family got the opportunity to ride out the severe weather in the basement of the EOC. That was where we were when the tornado slammed into the city.
I witnessed the immediate aftermath of the disaster. I saw the dead and injured.
I was part of the emergency response, hand-delivering written messages among the various city departments when the entire communications system crashed. It was a life-changing experience.
I built my first survival bag the next week using my Boy Scout rucksack and whatever supplies and equipment I could scrounge. There were no guidelines or instructions.
I used what I knew from my outdoor experiences and from the training I got through the Red Cross and other agencies. The tornado occurred in the early 1970s. I had to have been one of the first preppers.
Since that time, I have never been without a survival kit of some sort. They have changed many times over the years, and I continue to refine my bags regularly.
My grown children follow my example and carry survival kits in their cars and have them in their homes. It is an ingrained part of our lives.
What should be in a survival pack?
The items that go into a pack like this is truly a personal choice. Having said that, there are some basic items every pack should include, such as:
- A first aid kit
- A shelter or the means to create a shelter
- A sleeping bag provides comfort and a cold weather sleeping bag might be essential in regions where the temperature drops
- Methods to collect, filter, purify, and transport water
- Food and methods for collecting food
- Communications tools as well as navigation tools
- Backup power sources and light sources
How big should a survival pack be?
It needs to be big enough to carry the items you consider essential gear. Most people tend to choose a pack that is in the size range of 40-60L.
How heavy should a survival pack be?
The weight of a pack is determined by the person carrying it. As long as a person is in good physical shape and experienced, a pack can weigh as much as they want.
However, for most people, the general rule of thumb is that the weight of a pack should not exceed twenty-five percent of the weight of the person carrying it (this is for adults) For kids it shouldn’t exceed ten percent.
For example, a two-hundred-pound adult’s pack will be around 50 lbs.
A one-hundred-pound kid’s pack will be around ten pounds.
Where should the heaviest items go in a pack?
The heaviest items in a pack should be placed in the center and along the back of the pack. This will aid in stability and comfort.
What is a survival backpack called?
As mentioned throughout the above article, a “survival backpack” has been called many names. Some include: Bug Out Bag, 72-hr bag, GOOD bag (Get Out Of Dodge), Go bag, Grab Bag, and many others.
More Hands-On Reviews of Backpacks
Our team of experts have reviewed a number of backpacks hands-on. Check out which ones we have reviewed below:
The important thing I want you to take away from this article is the understanding that preparing yourself is the most important thing.
Having one or several bug-out bags, 72-hours bags, get-home bags – or whatever you want to call them – is, for me, one of the essential i in your preparations.
I hope that this article has given you the information and understanding to make that first purchase of the best survival backpack on which to build your kit.