It’s impossible to know what the future holds — which is why it’s critical to prepare for it. Indeed, every prepper and survival enthusiast has one thing in common: a well-stocked bug-out bag. More than a backpack, these bags are designed to let you survive even the most extreme situations. Sure, the ultimate goal is to never have to use the contents, but from power outages to pandemics to natural disasters to insurrections, there is no shortage of opportunities for life to get FUBAR. Since all these situations are different, you don’t know if you’ll need to hunker down to hit the road running. So, you need a companion that’s portable, can store everything you need to stay alive, and won’t call attention to your position.
Instead of taking your chances with a run-of-the-mill backpack, we’ve tracked down the best bug-out bags on the market. Equipped with one of these bags (and all the survival gear you’ll put in it), you can handle any emergency with ease.
When trouble strikes, it hits fast. That’s why the 24BattlePack Tactical Backpack is such a desirable bag to keep full of survival gear. Made by a company owned by combat veterans, this bag is designed to meet the tactical standards of military personnel. Its waterproof lining protects all the contents and works in conjunction with the ventilation of the mesh to keep your supplies in good shape. The straps and back are padded to limit strain when carrying it over long distances (and since it can hold 40 liters, the contents can get pretty heavy). Made to accommodate survival needs, it comes with a built-in holster, hanging clips, and a setup for a hydration pack. The bag lets you separate all of your gear, keeping it organized and spreading the weight out evenly to make it easier to travel. Compact and durable, this bug-out bag is a solid choice overall.
Most apocalypse movies would have you think that it’s all about the rugged aspects of survival, but in the modern world, money matters too. For those focused on streamlining expenses, the affordability of the G4Free Tactical Shoulder Backpack is really beneficial. Despite its pricing, it is durable enough to handle an emergency and can support an impressive 35 liters. It features a relatively angular structure with large pockets and well-constructed zippers. With five separate compartments, you can easily organize all your gear. The durable polyester prevents damage to the backpack while the MOLLE system lets you optimize your storage for the on-the-go. Built to lend a tactical advantage, this bag can get you through the first 72 hours of an emergency without breaking the bank.
Built to meet the tactical demands of a true emergency, the DigBug Military Tactical Backpack is designed to let you stay agile without having to leave supplies behind. This assault pack-style bag is able to hold 40 liters of contents on the interior. Paired with the MOLLE system and straps on the outside of the bag, you can add even more gear without making it difficult to carry. The bag is made out of durable Oxford material, fortified with a polyurethane interior that provides a level of water resistance. The mesh works to breathe properly, limiting issues with condensation. All parts are reinforced to prevent rips, which in conjunction with the sturdy zippers keeps the backpack working when you need it most. With a y-shaped strap on the back, you can easily tow along a sleeping bag. It works as a day bag, three-day assault pack, or hiking gear, making it one of the most versatile bug-out bags on the market.
Looking at tactical gear is like choosing who you want in the foxhole with you — finding what’s most reliable in a pinch. When looking through this lens, the LHI Military Tactical BugOut Bag stands out from the crowd. For starters, the tan color camouflages well into any setting while the multiple straps and MOLLE lining help you stay equipped for anything. The entire bag is constructed out of rugged, high-density Oxford fabric that’s lined with polyester. Together, they work to prevent rips and tears due to stress on the system. Entirely waterproof thanks to the PVC lining, this bag can store anything inside without it getting damaged. It even has a laptop compartment and a y-strap for your sleeping gear. Equipped with comfortable straps that are easy to adjust, this bag is built to stay by your side through thick and thin.
If you live somewhere with a high population density, you need to look for different features in a bug-out bag. Surviving 72 hours in the wilderness is a whole lot different than getting through three days in a city facing an emergency. The GZ Xinxing Military Backpack is built to help you survive the latter situation through its durable design and modern accommodations. For starters, it is able to accommodate up to 43 liters of contents, making it one of the larger bags on the market. It comes complete with survival accessories including a water pouch, rain cover, and hydration tube clip. With a waterproof design, this bag incorporates two large and two small compartments, letting you keep your gear separate. Able to accommodate laptops and other high-tech devices, this bug-out backpack can get you through a survival situation in the city.
Why should you trust us
Working as a dedicated product reviewer for five years, I’ve written about a variety of tactical items, automotive supplies, and survival gear. Using my academic background in the sciences and three year’s experience as a news correspondent, I curate objective, reliable reviews that readers trust. My work is featured on Narcity Media, The Drive, and Car Bibles, where I provide consumers with actionable advice on topics they care about. Some recent reviews I’ve completed for Task & Purpose involve two-way radios, hiking watches, and headlamps.
The most common types of bug-out backpacks
There are many different choices when it comes to picking out a tactical bug-out backpack. Depending on whether you need something for rural or urban environments, and based on the type of emergency, you’ll need a different type of bag. To up your odds of making it through an emergency unscathed, picking the right bag is essential.
72-hour assault bag
This is one of the most popular types of bug-out backpacks since getting through the first three days of an emergency is the most critical part. The key to this type of bag is storage capacity. For the bag to be able to support gear for a full three days, it needs to be able to hold at least 40 litres of supplies.
These bags also need to be able to support sleeping gear by featuring a y-shaped strap on the back. Additionally, this type of bag incorporates room for a hydration pack and often features a holster built-into the bag. Molle mesh is found on just about all of these bags since it enhances storage features. Because these bags require you to plan ahead for a specific type of emergency, it is best when you know what enemy you are likely to face.
A go-bag is the iconic type of bug-out bag. You keep it by the door so you can grab it and run. As a result, this type of bag needs to be compact, rugged, and waterproof. It should incorporate multiple compartments so you can separate your supplies. In the spirit of bugging-out, this type of bag needs to be able to accommodate a lot of weight.
Most of these bags are made out of Oxford cloth, a high-density material that isn’t prone to rips or tears. With reinforced seams and a lining to keep the contents free of water damage, this type of bag usually has padded straps so that you can stay on the move without getting sore.
A survival bag is one of the more versatile types of bug-out bags, meant to accommodate all the essential supplies for staying alive. These are easy to plan ahead with since, as long as you’ve got water, fire, shelter, weapons, and food, you can get through most scenarios. The survival bag will have a medium to large capacity and must be waterproof to qualify.
Typically, these bags will have several smaller pockets in addition to the interior compartments. Most incorporate a molle system to make it easier to access your gear. You can spot a survival bag by its hydration system, with the majority including a straw set up so you can drink while on the move.
What to look for when buying bug-out backpacks
Choosing a bug-out backpack is an essential part of any emergency planning. The first step is to think about what you are going to pack. From there, you can more easily find a bag that can support that much. The two specs you are looking for are the size of the interior (measured in liters) and the weight threshold.
Once you know the bag can hold what you’re bringing, it’s time to look at how you can store them. Check out the MOLLE system design and make sure it will let you balance gear properly. Look for the internal compartments to see if they can support technology, accommodate a hydration bladder, and safely let you tow weaponry.
Finally, you’ll want to think about whether it is waterproof and ventilated. A water-resistant bag might keep your things dry in light rain, but it usually isn’t enough. So long as it keeps your gear dry and has adjustable straps to support you on the go, it is a worthy bug-out bag.
Why do you need a bug-out backpack?
No matter who you are or where you live, disaster can strike. An emergency is no time to gather supplies and put them together — it’s time to bug-out. Planning ahead is the cardinal rule of emergency readiness, making a bug-out bag an essential piece of gear to have.
A good bug-out bag lets you store supplies in a compact place, letting you separate your emergency gear from day-to-day tools. While they are versatile enough to function as an everyday backpack for camping or hiking, it’s better to keep the bug-out bag separate. They are big enough to support a hydration pack, weapons, emergency blankets, fire-starters, and other important supplies.
These bags are made to last, with reinforced seams, extensive storage options, and an adjustable structure that spreads the weight out properly. Designed to support you while on the move, having a bug-out bag gives you peace of mind that only comes when you are ready for anything.
- Lets you evacuate quickly in the event of an emergency.
- Protects all of your survival equipment during a disaster.
- Keeps all of your essential supplies in one single location.
- Able to store everything you need to survive for 72 hours.
- Versatile enough to work in any type of emergency.
Pricing ranges for bug-out backpacks
- Under $40: You can get some really high-quality bug-out backpacks in this price range. There might be fewer bells and whistles, but many are large and sturdy enough to get the job done on a budget.
- Over $40: Most bug-out bags are in this category, though less than three figures. These come equipped with extras like hydration packs and holsters, so if you’re serious about emergency-prep, models in this range are usually the way to go.
How we chose our top picks
By researching the materials and designs used for bug-out bags, we gained a thorough understanding of what to look for in an emergency pack. Using reputable resources to determine the optimal supplies for a bug-out bag, we were able to track down bags with ideal designs. We looked through the different types and features and short-listed the top candidates. From there, we assessed the individual features of each bug-out bag and curated a list that includes models for every budget and potential survival situation. The result is a set of bug-out bags that offer the tactical advantages you need to get through any type of emergency.
Task & Purpose and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.