Survival Guide: Top 5 Bug Out Bags
Looking for the best bug out bag but unsure where to start your search? We’ve created a foolproof guide to the top 5 bug out bags.
In a world where danger can strike at any moment, it’s essential to be prepared at all times. While bunkers can be time-consuming and expensive, a bug out bag is more practical and will allow you to be ready for anything. Not only are they necessary for unexpected warfare, but they also come in handy for natural disasters. If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, or even tornados, a bug out bag may be the quickest option to grab when your time is limited.
If you’re serious about preparing yourself for anything, it’s important to learn the essentials of a good bug out bag and why it’s so important to have one. Also if your wondering what essentials to pack in your bug out bag, check out our article Essential Bug Out Items.
What is a Bug Out Bag?
A bug out bag is a portable bag- usually designed as a backpack that can be carried easily on your back- that contains everything necessary to survive 72 hours. The hours may vary depending on the tools you choose, but it comes down to the fact that a human cannot live without water for longer than 72 hours, and it’s crucial to have enough supplies for at least three days.
These bags should be assembled and readily available before an event occurs. This is why one of your first- and arguably the most important- purchases when building your own bag should be to decide which backpack is right for you. You want to ensure you find one that is not only durable and comfortable enough to wear for days at a time, but also one that features enough compartments to organize your tools for easy access.
Top 5 Bug Out Bags
To help you decide which backpack is right for you, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 bug out bags. These bags were ranked based on durability, comfort, organization, overall quality and price. Each one differs in features, so it’s important to weigh all differences when deciding which one is right for you.
1. 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack
This backpack is a classic, all-purpose workhorse bag designed to be reliable enough for any disaster, extended excursions or tactical deployments. It features 30 individual components to organize all of your gear and easily access it when needed. It also features padded, adjustable straps to cushion the tension to your shoulders and a 60-oz. hydration pocket so you can store plenty of water. Along with its essential survival features, it even comes with a wrap-around MOLLE and SlickStick-compatible web platform which allows you to add additional bags or accessories.
The 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack is made with 1050D Nylon - the same material military jackets were made out of in WWII- making it one of the most durable bug out bags on the market. It comes in multiple different colors so you can choose the look you want. See here
Compatible with 5.11® Tier System
Dual-zippered front and main compartments with molded grip pulls
Multiple integrated organization pockets
Built from high strength, water-repellant 1050D nylon (MultiCam®: 1000D nylon)
Admin organization pocket to store maps, pens, and documents
Fleece-lined sunglass pocket
Internal hydration compartment with hangers and toggles
Cinching waist strap and dual compression straps
Adjustable dual density closed-cell foam shoulder straps
Contour yoke system with grab and go handle
Rugged, self-healing YKK® zipper hardware
Integrated drainage grommet
2. Condor 3 Day Assault Pack
This backpack features an abundance of cargo space and optimal organizational compartments. It is made of water-resistant nylon making it extremely durable and perfect for any and all occasions. It also includes straps that hold your tools in place inside the 40L main compartment to ensure everything stays in place. Designed with wide, padded straps this bag can easily be worn for days at a time.
Other features this bag includes that make it one of the top bug out bags are the two water bottle holders on either side, a double zipper on the top for easy access and durability, and plenty of MOLLE webbing. See here
Adjustable body contour shoulder straps with padding
Removable padded waist belt
Padded back panel for ventilation
Heavy-duty drag handle
Grommets for drainage
3. J79 Skycrane II Backpack
This backpack is loved by many because while it features a large center compartment and plenty of space for tools, it can also be reduced down to a fanny pack if needed. It has a variety of gear components and is designed for flexibility and ease of operation. Lumbar support straps distribute weight evenly so you can wear it for long durations of time without discomfort.
The J79 Skycrane II is also an excellent bag because it is fully adjustable and has a robust internal aluminum/plastic frame system. There is also a variety of additional components that can be added to the pack so you can personalize it to your liking. See here
Seven point hydration storage
Horizontal and vertical compression straps
Fully adjustable, high-ventilation internal/external frame system
Top and side grab handles
Deeply padded back panel
Pullout rain cover
4. Triple Aught Design FAST Pack EDC
Designed with a rugged look and modular adaptability, this backpack is excellent for numerous occasions, including a bug out bag. One reason this bag stands out is due to the fact that it is made with a high-pressure nitrogen gas solution process. Its padded straps and back panel are made of Polyester and nylon mesh to decrease wear and tear to your clothes and allow breathability.
This bag also includes an attachment system along the handle which provides an easy way to attach heavy-duty items such as rope.
1000 and 500 Denier Invista™ Cordura® Fabric
Evazote® Closed Cell Cross-Linked Ethylene Copolymer Foam
Velcro® Front Panel for Morale Patches or Unit Identification
Elastic Retainer Straps
Top Front Zippered Admin Pocket with Accessory Slots
Two Internal Zippered Mesh Pockets
Two External Zippered Side Pockets with Hidden Flashlight Caves
5. VULTURE-II 3-DAY BACKPACK
This backpack is a great choice for larger individuals and is durable enough to hold a plethora of heavy tools and supplies. It features plenty of back cushion for support and concealable chest & waist straps. Its design is much simpler than most other heavy-duty backpacks, which may allow you to use it for other endeavors- like wooded hikes and short travel- but some may also see this as a con if they’re looking for a design that is not so plain.
One of the most significant downfalls of this backpack is that it only features three large organizational compartments instead of a greater number of small ones. This may cause a lack of proper organization and could make accessing an item a bit time-consuming. Although, it does come with a sizable water compartment near the top of the bag. See here
1000-Denier water and abrasion resistant light-weight ballistic nylon fabric
Triple polyurethane coated for water resistance
High tensile strength nylon webbing
#AS-100 high-grade closed-cell foam padding material for superior shock protection
Internal seams taped and finished
Paracord zipper pulls
Why You Should Have a Bug Out Bag
You don’t need to be a Survivalist to know that if you needed to escape in an instant, it would be difficult to gather everything you needed in a second's notice. That’s why having a bag ready to go is crucial when preparing a disaster plan. Whether you have a family, a partner or even if you live alone, you need to have the tools necessary to survive at least three days in case of an emergency.
If you do have a family, it’s even more crucial to have a survival kit ready to go. You may even want to think about keeping a couple of bags handy so that your supplies can stretch further.
The Essentials of a Great Bug Out Bag
While every bug out bag may differ slightly in the tools and supplies included, there are a handful of essentials that every great bag includes. Below are the most important supplies you should include in your bag, but there are plenty of other essentials to pack apart from these.
First and foremost, the most crucial supplies you need to have in a bug out bag are ones that will provide you with clean drinking water. Remember, a human can only live 72 hours without water. So, while it might be smart to pack water- preferably in a bladder to take up minimal space- it’s even smarter to pack supplies that can filter the water you come across outside. This is especially true if you’re packing one bag for your entire family. There are numerous different portable filters you can choose from- from straws to small hand-held filters- but always keep in mind the space you have in your bag. You want to be able to fit as many tools necessary in your bag, so the smaller you can get the more room you have for everything else.
While food is extremely important to pack, a human can live much longer without it than water. This is why you shouldn’t waste too much space on it. Choose a handful of nonperishable items- think easy-to-open tuna cans, dried fruit, and beans- to stock up on. Food that is high in fat, protein, and sugar will provide the most amount of energy and therefore last the longest.
We’ve all imagined it: explosions going off and debris flying through the air. If you want to be prepared for it all, then it’s best to think about the worst-case scenario. Oxygen can so easily be contaminated and you need to have supplies that can filter the air. Although the first image that might come to mind is a bulky gas mask, there are other options you should consider. It’s not realistic to purchase a mask that heavy and big as it will take up too much room in your bag. A simple cotton mask is a good option as it will be able to filter the air while not taking up much space. Of course, it won’t protect against all contaminants but it’s still an essential supply to have.
You never know where you might need to hide out when disaster strikes, so you must have shelter for you and your loved ones. Since traditional tents tend to be heavy, large and not well insulated, you’ll want to choose a survivalist tent. These types of tents tend to be more light-weight and are designed to keep heat from escaping. Keep in mind if you’re prepping for your entire family that survivalist tents tend to be designed smaller so that they can be traveled with easily. This is why they tend to only fit a few people inside of them. You’ll need to find the right balance of weight and size needed.
If the worst-case scenario does happen and you’re hiding out in the woods for days at a time, almost anything could happen. You need to have a first aid kit with you to prevent infections from cuts and wounds. Finding a small kit is fairly easy as most common groceries will carry them, but make sure the kit you choose includes these essentials: antibacterial wipes, painkillers, gauze pads, medical gloves, sunscreen, bandages, a tourniquet, and antibiotic ointment. All of these elements may end up being a lifesaver, so don’t forget to pack a first aid kit in your bug out bag.
We’ve put together a guide to finding the perfect backpack to start your bug out bag. When it comes to such an essential component, you want to make sure you’re looking for all the right things. From organization to overall quality, the right bag could be the difference between surviving or not. Before beginning your search, think about these few factors that make a great bug out bag backpack.
How to Choose the Right Size
When thinking about the size of your bug out bag, you’ll want to first think about everything you want to put in it. It’s best to make a list of the things you’re planning on including so you can get an idea of how much space you’ll need. Then, when you begin searching for bags you can estimate the storage space you’ll need. In addition to thinking about the inside measurements, you’ll want to also consider how the bag will fit on you. Take into consideration your height and weight. You don’t want to purchase a bag that is going to be too big on you as it might slow you down in an emergency. Alternatively, you also don’t want to choose a bag too small as you would be wasting additional tools you could have afforded to carry. The right size backpack should align with your torso size. A smaller bag is suitable for torsos around 16-17 inches, a medium- the most common size- is suitable for torsos around 18-19 inches, and a larger bag is only suitable for torsos 20 inches and up.
Knowing Quality When You See It
The material the backpack is made out of will tell you a lot about the quality of the bag itself. You want one that can withstand any type of environment- from wooded areas where it might catch on branches to environments where it may come in contact with fire- so you can rely on it for anything. The 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack is a great example of quality material as it’s made out of 1050D Nylon- an extremely durable material. If you don’t consider quality when searching for the right bag, you may end up with a cheaply made bag that won’t last.
Why Comfortability is Important
Comfortability is also a key component to any great bag. Look for bags with padded straps that are wide enough to distribute weight evenly and won’t dig into your shoulders. You may also benefit from straps that clasp around your waist if you’re bag is on the heavier side. This will allow you the ability to comfortably wear your bug out bag for days at a time without hurting your back.
How to Organize Your Bag Correctly
One of the most overlooked aspects of choosing the perfect bug out bag is organization. Have you ever dug through a backpack for minutes upon minutes to find the one thing you’re looking for? We’ve all been there, and sure, it was annoying, but when you’re talking about being in survival mode, a few minutes could mean the world- literally. In high-stress situations will little to no time, you need to be able to access your supplies in an instant. Bags that feature multiple compartments are the best for organization. Some even feature compartments tailored to a specific supply- like a bladder holder. These are key components in any great bag that you should think about when deciding which bag is right for you.