The Best Bug Out Bag Backpack for Survival and Prepping

This is an updated review guide on the best bug out bag backpack. Our first review was five years ago and we will continue to update as new products are released.

A good bug out bag backpack will hold your gear and get you to where you need to go when things go south. The best bug out bag backpack will get you there easier, smarter, and for less money.

There are plenty of backpack types and brands to consider for bugging out, and that’s where we come in. We’ve researched and reviewed the top bags and put them through the paces. The results are in: the overall best, a tactical option, and a budget option. If you need a backpack to keep up with you when you need it most, one of our suggestions is up to the task.


Contents (Jump to a Section)


Teton Scout 55 Backpack

The Best Bug Out Bag Backpack

Teton Scout 55

Large capacity, Comfortable, and Lightweight

This proven backpack is perfect for bugging out with plenty of room for gear while still being comfortable long distances.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Backpacking is a sport that is basically people bugging out over long distances for fun. The few differences are that maybe you aren’t avoiding other people and you may have a few more resources along the way, but these bags are designed for long-distance travel. They keep the bags light with heavy-duty but lightweight fabric. They keep them pretty clean of straps and decorations to keep the weight down as well. Backpacking backpacks are optimal for mid to long-range bug out travel.

This pack is 3400 cubic inches and weighs only 4.5 pounds. Add to that that it is one of the cheapest bags we are suggesting and full of five-star reviews, and you have a bug out bag winner. If your BOL is a good distance from your home, the Teton Scout 55 makes a solid BOB choice.


5.11 Tactical Rush 72 2.0 Backpack

Tactical Bug Out Bag Backpack

5.11 Rush 72 2.0

Expandable, Customizable, and Durable

The second iteration of the Rush 72 builds on the strengths of the previous best tactical backpack.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Tactical packs are badass, functional, versatile bags. They look great and will get you both compliments and second glances. The problem is that those second glances can keep you from blending in. Tactical bug out bags tend to be a little heavy over long distances, but are still very functional and versatile. They almost always have MOLLE and ALICE attachment points which provide the ability to make your kit modular and based on individual threats. These backpacks are best for low to mid-range bug out travel without the need to blend in using the grey man concept. Your size choice should correspond to how much gear you plan to have and the distance you plan to travel.

Your SHTF situation would not be this bag’s first rodeo. It is a solid choice and has received great reviews and recommendations from law enforcement and military members alike. These bags have a reputation for being as tough as a nickel steak and can take some abuse, and we can confirm that the 5.11 Rush 72 2.0 is your solid tactical backpack option.


Venture Pal 40L Backpack

Budget Bug Out Bag Backpack

Venture Pal 40L

Functional, Inexpensive, and Lightweight

This massive backpack for the price is still durable enough to keep up in dire situations.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Venture Pal may not be a flashy brand to impress your prepping group, but this bag has somehow managed to balance price, comfort, and weight. Getting a 40-liter bag at this price is tough to beat, especially since it didn’t disappoint in our tests.

If you are outfitting the whole family, or are on a strict budget the Venture Pal 40L is a no-brainer for your bug out bag backpack choice.


Everything We Recommend

Teton Scout 55 Frame Backpack

Teton Scout 55

This proven backpack is perfect for bugging out with plenty of room for gear while still being comfortable long distances.

Where to Buy

$90* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

5.11 Tactical Rush 2.0 Backpack

5.11 Rush 72 2.0

The second iteration of the Rush 72 builds on the strengths of the previous best tactical backpack.

Where to Buy

$148* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

Venture Pal 40L Backpack

Venture Pal 40L

This massive backpack for the price is still durable enough to keep up in dire situations.

Where to Buy

$24* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing


The Bags We Compared

Our research narrowed the field down to the several backpack brands and types that we tested: 3V, 5.11, Kelty, Vertx, Venture Pal, High Sierra, Blackhawk, Maxpedition, and more.

You can see our full list of review criteria below in the what to look for section, with an explanation for each.

We did not consider smaller bags or non-backpack bug out packs, even though those can be viable. We have a whole other review for grey man backpacks if you are interested in the grey man concept that typically works well for Get Home Bags and EDC.

We’re always looking for new and better equipment, so if you have a backpack that you swear by let us know down in the comments. We review most of our tested gear annually, so we can always get it in the next roundup round and see if it makes the cut and we can see if it will beat out our top picks.


What to Look For

The best bug out bag backpacks have several important features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Functionality
  3. Durability
  4. Size & Weight
  5. Versatility

When you get the right blend of these, you can find a truly reliable backpack that will let you carry all of your essential gear. Below, we break down what each of these features means for a dependable pack that you can trust with your life:

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like a backpack shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. Don’t go overspending or overdoing it. Budget according to your risk and your needs rather than just spending lavishly.

On the flip side, you don’t want to go too cheap or just plain get the wrong thing. There are plenty of cheap backpacks out there, or backpacks made for a different purpose that won’t work as well.

You never want to spend too much money on one resource, especially something like a backpack. It’s better to diversify your tools and preparedness gear to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios. There is a sweet spot where you get high value out of the best features with not-to-high of a price, which is where our top pick sits.

Functionality

Functionally, any bag that will fit your gear could technically be a bug out bag. But considerations should go far beyond that. You want it to hold your gear well, in an organized manner, and for it all to be comfortable on your back- which is scientifically verified to be the best place to carry it (in most situations).

Of course, there are other options: roller bags (think of the airport), Pelican cases, and even the old bandana-tied-to-a-stick are all options for your bug out bag. Many of the bags/cases/boxes without shoulder straps are being used by plans that rule out bugging out by foot. Prepping for these situations can be tough when considering congested highways, EMP effects, and scarce power resources. But some have it figured out to the best of their ability and will not need to hoof it across the countryside to their bug out locations. Some preppers with extensive planning will use caches along the bug out route to minimize the gear and supplies they have to carry with them. If you find your bug out plans becoming long and convoluted, remember that keeping a plan simple is sometimes the best course.

Durability

Lockstitches, box stitches, heavier weight textiles, metal zippers: all of these significantly improve durability (at a cost). For survival purposes, we believe these are all worth it. You don’t want straps breaking on you when you are navigating the tough times survival situations present you with.

Take care of your backpack as well so it lasts as long as intended. Don’t expose it unnecessarily, store unsheathed knives in it, etc. Just keep it clean and use common sense.

Size & Weight

The capacity of your bag can range quite a bit (we go over why further below). This also increases the size and weight of the bag. When you are traveling any distance, you will quickly notice that ounces matter.

Lightweight but strong textiles and straps are key for bug out bags, especially those designed to be used indefinitely.

Versatility

Versatility is where the tactical backpacks really shine. You can add more storage, and compartmentalized kits using MOLLE, ALICE, hook and loop, or tied attachments. They stem off of military applications, so they are designed to be versatile for a wide range of equipment and environments.

Higher capacity in a bag can give you more versatility as well, just in that you can carry more gear if weight will allow it.


How to Use a BOB Backpack

There are about as many bug out bag opinions out there as there are preppers. The first argument is whether or not you need one. Preppers that live off grid and have an abundance of SHTF resources are not going to grab a bag and leave their homestead unless there is an imminent threat. Urban preppers are going to get out the city faster than green grass through a goose. Either way, when it comes down to it, having a bug out bag increases your survivability regardless of your situation.

Here you can see how the backpack capacity compares to the average male’s profile:

Backpack Sizes

Finding the ‘sweet spot’ between capacity and portability is the key to getting the right bag. This usually depends on what you are using the bag for. Your own size and capability can influence how large of a pack you can handle as well.

Some examples of kits matched up with appropriate sizes include:

  • EDC (Everyday Carry) – 10L – 30L
  • BOB (Bug Out Bag) – 30L – 60L
  • INCH (I’m Never Coming Home) Bag – 40L – 75L +
  • GHB (Get Home Bag) – 20L – 30L
  • SCARE (Social Chaos and Response Emergency) Bag – 10L – 20L

You may notice that many of these kits’ ranges overlap with the 30L capacity, which is one reason why this size is so popular. You may be restricted on size, but you will be comfortable without overloading yourself with unnecessary weight.

It is also important to note that how you pack can make a big difference. Load your backpack to be balanced and consider the accessibility of the tools you may need immediately. We go into detail on how to pack a backpack: How to Pack a Bug Out Bag – Packing Matters.


Who Needs a BOB Backpack?

Bug out bags are a prepping and survival staple, but they may be unknown to people unfamiliar with preparedness. It’s unfortunate because evacuating and ‘bugging out’ should be an option on everyone’s preparedness plan.

Bug out bag backpacks are designed to be filled with survival gear, so of course, we have that guide handy :

Bug out bag backpacks are also solid options for these kits as well:

Having a backpack on hand, and getting the right gear inside of it can go a long way for preparedness.

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. You can support us through our independently chosen links, which can earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best bug out bag backpack is useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical military and prepping experience:

Harman, E., Hoon, K., Frykman, P., & Pandorf, C. (2000). The Effects of backpack weight on the biomechanics of load carriage. ARMY RESEARCH INST OF ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE. (Source)

Devroey, C., & Jonkers, I. (2007). Evaluation of the effect of backpack load and position during standing and walking using biomechanical, physiological and subjective measures. Ergonomics. Volume 50. Issue 5. Pages 728 – 742. (Source)

Labosier, C. (2019). Bug out bags and first aid kits: Undergraduate college students’ awareness, perceptions, preparedness, and behavior around severe weather. Emerging Voices in Natural Hazards Research. Pages 1 – 25. (Source)


The Final Word

A bug out bag backpack and the various drawbacks of using different types may not be a big deal if you are new to prepping. Simple things such as developing a basic disaster plan, learning your local threats, and finding other preppers in your area may be a better use of your time. For those that have the basics buttoned up, it is important to stay on top of your kits and to learn what resources are available.

These bags will all do the job but come with varying price tags, comfort levels, capacity, and durability. The tactical bags win the durability contest with the backpacking bags coming in a close second. Backpacking bags can be tuned to fit like a glove, and are available in very high capacities. The Venture Pal or that backpack you already own in your closet are cheap and can still get the job done in most circumstances.

All of that said, when we are asked which bag we recommend, we respond with the 5.11 Rush 72 2.0 for tactical applications (sometimes in other sizes) and the Teton Scout for everything else.

If you are looking for more info on Bug Out Bags check these out:

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.


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The Best Bug Out Bag Backpack

Rusty Collins

I am an engineer by day, but a prepper 24/7. I am an Air Force veteran that developed emergency and disaster plans as an emergency manager and responded to many attacks and accidents as a HAZMAT technician. I have been exposed to deadly chemical agents, responded to biological incidents, and dealt with natural disasters worldwide. Check out my full story here: Rusty's Story

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