Survival Backpacks: Learn How to Pick the One That’s Right for You

Survival Backpacks

A lot of the most important survival kits are best held in a backpack. Bug out bags and get home bags, in particular, are reliant on a quality backpack that’s going to hold everything that you need to carry both securely and comfortably.

The best survival backpack is going to be sturdy, fit comfortably on your back, not draw attention to you when you’re wearing it and securely carry everything that you need for that particular survival situation. A quality survival backpack is very important for bug out bags and get home bags.

Choosing the best survival backpack for your particular needs is extremely important. Let’s take a look at the things you should be looking for when you’re buying a backpack.

What You Need in a Survival Backpack

Survival backpacks often make up the backbone of a survival kit. This is especially true with you’re talking about bug out bags and get home bags. You can have all of the best gear in the world in your bug out bag, but if the backpack itself is uncomfortable, keeps breaking, weighs too much or doesn’t fit everything in it, that bug out bag isn’t all that great.

You need to start with a quality backpack or you may end up making a bad situation a whole lot worse.

What to look for in a survival backpack

There are a lot of things to think about when you’re choosing a survival backpack. I like to look at the weight, frame style, design, materials, size, comfort, and price.

Weight

Keeping your backpack light keeps the weight of your overall load down. When you can, it’s better to go for a lightweight backpack.

Keep in mind that you need to balance the need for lightweight with the need for durability. Light packs are often not as durable as their heavier counterparts.

Material

The material that your backpack is made of has a lot to do with the weight of the backpack. It also determines things like how durable the backpack is and how well it will protect the items inside from rain, snow, and sand.

If you choose a material that isn’t all that water-resistant, you can buy a generic rain cover like this one to put on the outside of your backpack. Rain covers also allow you to have a cover that’s darker and can blend into the woods or desert if you have a pack that wouldn’t blend in well in those environments.

Canvas and cloth backpacks may be at home in an urban get home bag since they’re pretty popular among office workers and people just going back and forth from work to home.

Nylon backpacks are probably the most common material used for backpacks in everything from offices to hiking to hunting. It’s a durable material that can be pretty thin and still be strong.

More exotic materials are available out there, mostly in hiking packs. You can go with these, but they’re usually more expensive than backpacks made with other materials.

Frame Style

One of the things that I see people ignore the most is the benefits that a good frame provides when you’re carrying a heavy load. A frame isn’t necessary, but it can make a big difference in some situations. If you’re looking for a backpack to carry around every day to go back and forth to work, then you don’t want a frame, but when you’re carrying 35 lbs or more of gear a frame really helps.

Frameless packs are good for day to day backpacks and survival backpacks that are going to be used in an urban environment. They have the benefit of being a little lighter than packs with frames and they sit closer to the body. They’re also the most common type of backpack so they draw less attention in areas where there are a lot of people.

Internal frames let the backpack sit closer to your body than external frame packs. They help transport the weight of the gear inside off of the shoulders and to the hips. They’re also more a little more stable since they sit closer to your body.

External frames are the best type of pack for heavy or uneven loads. They also give you a variety of attachment options for other gear that you don’t usually get with internal frame packs. They also have the best ventilation since the frame holds the pack and your gear off of your back.

Design

A majority of the usefulness of a survival backpack comes from the design of the pack. Differences in how you can access gear, the types and number of pockets, and how well the interior can be organized all fall under design.

For an urban survival kit, I like to go with a design and style that would be common to see in a city. If your backpack looks like it would be at home in the gym or the office then it could be a good option for those that live in the city.

With rural survival kits, I often go with a design that’s camouflaged or would look at home in the woods. Being able to blend in with whatever rural environment you’re in should be pretty high on your list in that case. You don’t need to choose camouflage since it can still draw attention if you’re just walking down a country road and someone drives by, but you should choose a color that will help you blend into your surroundings.

One of the things I really like to have in a backpack is a spot for a hydration bladder. Even if they don’t come with one, a lot of packs meant for hiking will at least have a pocket in the back that lets you put one inside and route the hose to the outside of the pack.

Size

You may be tempted to buy the biggest backpack that you can get when you’re looking for a survival backpack. Don’t fall into that trap!

The bigger a pack is, the more crap you’ll tend to shove in it. This makes it weigh more and more as you find “just one more thing” to put in there and you end up carrying a lot of nice to have items when you should really only be carrying need to have items.

I like to aim for a backpack that’s between 45 and 55 liters of internal volume. You can get something larger than that, but anything much larger than 55 liters usually ends up full of stuff you don’t need.

You can get several days worth of gear in a 45-liter pack without much trouble.

If you’re planning to use a survival backpack in the winter, you may want to choose a pack that’s a little bigger. Warm clothing is bulkier and you’ll probably need some kind of sleeping bag to keep you warm at night.

Comfort

When you’re buying a backpack, how comfortable it is should be near the top of your list of reasons for buying it. A backpack that rubs your shoulders raw, grinds on your lower back, and shifts back and forth as you walk with it is going to make walking with it for several days a literal pain.

I like a backpack that has good ventilation between my back and the pack itself. This keeps me dry as I’m walking with a load for extended periods.

Some people like a pack that’s really well cushioned. Lots of cushioning isn’t really important to me as long as the pack sits well on my back. If you’re going with a frameless design then more padding may make sense for you.

If you’re buying in person then you can try it on and see how it fits. The comfort level is going to change as you add weight to it, but at least you can feel it and make an educated decision about how comfortable it will be.

Buying online makes it more difficult to see what’s going to be comfortable. Luckily, you can read the reviews from other buys and most online retailers will let you return items with no questions asked.

Price

In the end, it doesn’t make sense to go through the task of choosing a survival backpack only to find out that you can’t afford it.

With that being said, you often get what you pay for these days, and backpacks are no exception. Be aware of backpacks that look very similar to one another but have a cost that’s drastically different from one another. This usually means that the cheaper one is stitched as well, uses cheaper zippers and fasteners, and may use a thinner material that isn’t as strong as the more expensive one.

I’m not saying to blindly choose a more expensive backpack or not to choose a cheaper backpack. Just be aware that there are often pretty big quality differences between cheap and expensive packs. If a cheaper backpack will do what you need it to do then buy it!

Conclusion

When you’re choosing a survival backpack make sure that you’re looking at them with the intended purpose in mind.

If you’re in a rural area, you have a lot more options available to you than people in the suburbs or city. Regardless of where you live, buy something that blends in with your environment. In the city, you should blend in out in the open. If you’re in a rural area, make sure it won’t stick out in the woods, in a field, or in the desert.

In the end, if you keep your pack light, durable, and comfortable and you should be good to go!