Introduction to Bag Selection
This section of our bug out bag guide focuses on choosing the right bug out bag backpack. This is one of the most important stacks of bug out bag preparation and here are a lot of factors to consider if you’re serious about building a bug out bag. There are also several different types of bags to choose from.
When building a bug out bag, selecting the right survival bag to hold your supplies and essential survival gear is the most important step. Most online bug out bag lists don’t address the fundamental, most important thing about bugging in: the bag itself! We’ve dedicated this entire page to the bag selection process because it’s so important. We’ve outlined most of the key considerations here.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Bag
- Your Needs
- Bag Weight, Size, and Storage Space
- Bag Type and Design
- Compartments and Capacity
- Gear Accessibility
- Bag Features
- Expandability, Add-Ons, and the Ability to Customize
- Material Quality and Durability
- Color, Style, and Appearance: Blending In
- Comfort & Fit
- Other Factors
This guide extensively covers all the important elements to consider when choosing a bag for your bug out bag build.
The most important part of compiling a go kit is 72-hour kit bag selection. It is the actual bag you choose. The bag or backpack you use for your bug out bag is important: it contains the critical survival supplies that you will be carrying. It should be comfortable, durable, large enough for you needs, light-weight, and well-fitting.
Factors to consider when selecting your bug out bag backpack include: bag fit, bag size and storage capacity, bag design, bag color and ability to blend in, among others. But which factors are most important? As we’ll discuss below, it depends on your goals, needs, and commitment to this project. However, the fit of your survival bag is universally important; other factors, such as bag size, design, gear accessibility, and other factors may vary by your location, preferences, budget, and needs.
Using The Bag Selection Guide
Within our bug out bag guide we’ve conducted extensive research. Here, we’ve focused on ensuring this bag selection guide is easy to read, easy to navigate, and comprehensive in identifying all relevant factors when choosing the best actual bag for you. As we mentioned above, the importance of these bag selection metrics varies from person-to-person. The purpose of this guide is to help each reader determine which factors they care about in the bag selection process, and then to consider the most critical factors.
We encourage you to read the section below on customizing your bag based on your needs below. This section focuses on your personal short term/evacuation needs and discusses how to consider which factors you should use when browsing or evaluating bug out bags and backpacks. Once you understand this process, use the table of contents below to jump to the bag selection factors relvant and important to you.
Product Comparison and Research Resources
We’ve compiled a short list of the best bags and backpacks for go kits and bugging out. It’s a great place to start. (Another option is to buy a pre-made bug out bag). If you’re ready to compare possible bags, another great starting point for choosing a day bag, tactical backpack, or hiking pack is our ultimate bug out bag comparison tool.
- Introduction to Bag Selection
- Things to Consider When Choosing a Bag
- Using The Bag Selection Guide
- Product Comparison and Research Resources
- Customizing the Bag Selection Process: Your Needs
- Primary Bag Specifications
- Extended Utility
- External Considerations
- Other Factors
- Things to Avoid
Customizing the Bag Selection Process: Your Needs
The best bug out bag should be tailed to your personal needs. Beyond that, consider your goals in disaster prepping and your personal preferences. Consider your location and how that might possibly impact the pack that’s right for you. When choosing your bag, keep in mind that you may have to carry it for many miles as automotive transportation may not be possible in a disaster.
In another article, we discuss how critical a manageable bag weight is for travel by foot during an emergency. You may need to travel 10 or 15 miles. This makes your bag weight critical. If you haven’t read our bag weight article, we recommend doing so.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What will I be carrying?
- Where will I be carrying it?
- Will I need to organize my bag?
- Will I need to expand my bag?
- Will my bag experience harsh conditions?
- Will I need to blend in?
- How much am I willing to spend?
Generally speaking, bag type, capacity, compartments, expandability, and durability are the most important factors. This is solely our opinion for building a solid kit with no limits. Other factors may be more important to you.
The important thing is to choose your bug out bag and its contents based on your needs. Try to tailor the bag to your personal situation, needs, experience, and preferences.
In considering your survival needs, consider these factors:
- What survival gear do you know how to use?
- What are your current survival skills?
- What are the weather conditions in your region?
- What obstacles are you likely to face?
- What is the population density of your region?
Identifying What You Will Carry
Consider what supplies you intend to carry and whether you ever intend to expand your survival bag. Will you be using it for any other functions, or is it solely set aside for bugging out?
There are dozens of different bag styles and sizes. In choosing your bag, the most important aspects are total bag weight and ensuring enough space to carry everything in your bug out bag list. We recommend identifying your bug out bag contents and the approximate weight you’ll be carrying. This is important – if your bag’s total weight is heavy, you may need to choose a bag with extra padding, straps, or an internal frame.
Primary Bag Specifications
The Type of Bag
What type of bag will you use?
There are options in selecting the type of bag you will use. Do you want a simple day bag, a basic backpack, a hiking pack, or a tactical backpack? Do you want something unconventional for a bug out bag, like a Swiss backpack or shoulder messenger bag? What about a duffle bag, tactical duffle bag, or hiking backpack? While we recommend a modern backpack with a frame or a tactical backpack, some peepers opt for less tradition go kit designs.
Aside from the style of bag mentioned above, backpacks generally fall into a few categories: frameless, internal frame, external frame, and bodyback.
Each bag type has different benefits and downsides. Which one you choose depends on how you will use it, the factors most important to you, and your personal preference.
Bag Size, Weight, Storage Space
Your bag should be lightweight, but also dynamic enough that you can pack, carry, and access everything you need.
Since the survival bag’s space is one of the top three factors, we’ll address it here. You should look at the volume and dimensions of the bag when viewing pack product specifications.
Most packs have compartments on the outside (and sometimes on the inside) with pockets, additional straps, or loops to hang exterior items on. This helps with organization and attaching external items that might not fit in the bag. Is light lightweght?
Design, Compartments, and Capacity
Good bugout bags have zippers, pounches, pockets, and hidden storage compartments. You want a bag that has these additional storage areas to make it easier to find essential supplies when you need them. Your bug out bag contents should be stored by time (food, clothing, tools, etc) with each one ideally in a separate pocket compartment. This is why duffel bags generally make poor bug-out bags (though they’re better than nothing). This is why a bag with extra compartments, straps, and loops is beneficial – you’ll be organized and able to access items fast.
If you’re look for a larger bag with these extra components, here are some important storage comparements to look for:
- Compression straps
- Top lid
- Hydration tube
- MOLLE System
- Hip belt pockets
- Water bottle pocket
- Dedicated Sleeping bag compartment
Lightweight and Comfortable Bag weight is the most important thing to consider. The bug out bag contents will wieght a lot, so minimine the bag’s weight and opt for a comfortable bag. Color, though less important, is stil la factor. Avoid bright colors as these can make ou stand out in a situation you need to blend in. In an urban environment you want a normal looking bag to pend in.
- water pak/water pladder
- rain hood
- millie compatability
- water resistence
- internal or external frame
- tear resistence
Material Quality and Durability
Expandability, Add-Ons, & Ability to Customize
MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) system are a good option at an affordable price. MOLLE bags are made with laser-cut cloth, which keeps the bag strong and durrable. These ags are designed so you can hang gear on the outside of your bag, sometimes with attachable/detable pockets.
Comfortability and Bag Fit
Durable Well Designed Tactical vest, duffel bag,
Ideally, your bag will be customized to your individual body dimensions and body tip. The right size, shape, and body-fit of your bug out bag will make it easier/more comfortable to care and prevent fatigue.
The best size bug out bag is based on the size of your torse (measurement from your neck to your hipbone). Depending on the bag manufacturer, you may be able to find a suitable bag for men, women, or children. If you look based on gender, it’ll be easier to find one that fits your body’s torso. You want the bag to fift comforrtable on your hips.
Bag Fit/Sizing: Hip and Torso Measurements
Your bug-out backpack should also be one that fits you. If you’re bugging out, you’re going to be running, hiking, climbing, hiding, and possibly multi-tasking. In this sort of scenario, it’s important that you have a bag that doesn’t impend your ability to complete these actions with peak efficiency. The length of your torso is the most important physical factor on determining whether your survival bag fits your comfortably.
It is recommended that you measure your torso so you may determine the proper dimensions of your best-fit bag. When measuring, measure from your hip to the base of your neck (between your head and shoulders).
How the bag fits and shits on your hips is also important in derminine a comfortable and accessible 72-hour bag. Hip measurements can be tricky, but you should measure from hipbone-to-hipbone around your entire body. More advanced tactical bags and backpacking daybeds (which are recommended for a bug out bag) have traps to secure your upper chest and your waist. The position of the torso and hip straps are important, because it will effect not only your bags comfort, but how quickly and firmly you can walk. You want a bug out bag that fits.
Try Out How It Fits
Once you’ve received your bag, it’s critical that you try it out. Firstly, make sure it fits. Put it on and test out the cheats and belt straps. Make sure it fits at a firm but comfortable tension, and also that the position of these straps on your torso are not too high or too low. If it doesn’t fit, return it while you can.
If it seems to fit, further testing is still required.
At this point, you’ll want to build your bug out bag – include all of your bug out bag contents if you have them available. A less accurate, but still acceptable, method of testing to to full your new survival bag with household contents or weights that simulate the expected weight of your bug out bag once you’ve purchased all of your critical components. You can use our calculator to determine the expected weight of your bug out bag based on the items you intend to include.
Once you do this, try it again. Test the strap position. Test the bags overall comfort. Walk. Bend over. Climp stairs or a hill if you can. Ensure that the bag does not significantly impact your mobility.
After you’ve completed your bug-out bag with your complete survival gear, test it out for real. Ideally, when you test your bug-out bags fit and weight, you should be traveling the distance (and ideally the same evacuation path) as the route from your home or work to your bug out location. Go on a 2-3 mile hike, or a camping or backpacking trip. Be sure to wear your bag as you would in a bug out bag situation. Cover as much variable terrain as you can. If after a real trip outdoors you have not encountered any significant problems with your body’s mobility or exhausting from the bag’s weight, you’re good to go.
Note: Your bag is going to be somewhat heavy no matter what. The purpose of this exercise is to test weather you’d be able to bring your bag with you in an emergency scenario.
Color, Style, and Ability to Blend In
Generally speaking, military bags or backpacks (the type they sell at military surplus stores) are some of the best survival backpacks because they have high volume and additional comparments. However, some survivalists prefer to disguise their bug-out bag, suggesting that a large camo/military bag very obviously looks like a bug-out bag, and would thus be a target in a disaster scenario. Avoid Drawing Attention Those who suggest disgusing your bug out bag are, to a degree, correct. It’s important to keep a low profile during any disater. You want to blend in.
There are several other factors you may want to consider when selecting your bug-out backpack. As we mentioned, some factors are more important to others depending on your needs. Learn about the variables in choosing a survival bag for a more comprehensive guide.
Brand choice is listed last because it is not particularly important if you’ve taken care to select bag candidates based on the criteria in this guide.
That said, certain brands have reputations for being light-weight, modular, durable, high-quality, or simply good choices for outdoor use.
We recommend the following brands who have a reputation for durability, quality, and heavy outdoor use.
Price is a factor for almost everyone. Keeping the price in mind when you shop for the right purchase, but balance the price against your three most important features/functions.
Bag Mobility & Storage
Some individuals may use their bag for behind having it in case they need to bug out. If you plan on using your bag for hiking, camping, or other survival activities, the mobility factor of your bag is something you may want to consider.
Consider how easy it is to move, how heavy it is, the Bags comfort and fit, along with your body’s mobility.
Lastly, consider where you will keep your bag long-term before you need to bug Out. If you want to hide it discreetly, having a smaller, compact bag may be the way to go.
Things to Avoid