Best Survival / Bug Out Backpacks [2020] Waterproof, Hydration System & more. is reader-supported. As an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.Learn more

Quick Answer: Best Survival / Bug Out Backpacks

When you are out and about in the rainforests of Amazon or exploring the Great Canyon, you cannot be prepared enough for whatever circumstance nature might put you in.

Therefore, one should always be well prepared and pack enough gear to be able to brace nature’s full force and survive in the wilderness without any hassle.

To do this, it is necessary to know what equipment one might need to pack with them and the appropriate backpack to help them do the same.

The best survival backpack can last a person for up to 72 hours and this means comprehensive planning and organization.

To aid in this, one needs to research the different kinds of backpacks available and what is the optimal way of packing the same.

This article discusses the benefits of a survival backpack, a buying guide, what needs to be kept in a survival backpack, features of a waterproof survival backpack and how to pick the right size for the specific purpose.

Benefits of a Bug Out / Survival Backpack

1. Benefits of a Bug Out Survival Backpack

Survival backpacks / Bug Out are generally used by people that are at a risk of facing life-threatening situations.

One could stay prepared for these situations by keeping aside a set of “go-to” gear in a bag. The benefits that come along are listed below.

Food and water supplies stocked for long put off

Even if one is stranded at a place for long, they can have access to food and water stacked in a single backpack. They will not have to carry around different bags for food and water.

Change of clothes in one place

Along with food and water, one could store a pair or two of clothing for a changeover, into their backpack. One shall not find the need to be stuck in the same soiled cloth for very long.

Easy to carry around

The backpack can be effortlessly worn on one’s shoulders. It has different straps and adjustments that could ease carrying around the load.

Space to accommodate more items

Backpacks are spacious in a manner such that one could take the help of various compartments and attachments to add more items while on the go.

Items can be neatly organized

A backpack comes with different compartments and pockets of varying sizes. This design is solely to ensure that there is no clutter in a survival backpack. One can easily reach out to the things they need, on time.

Safe from getting wet

Many of the survival backpacks are waterproof. They protect the important items in the bag from getting wet in any given situation.

Enables one to help another

Carrying a survival backpack around ensures one’s hands are free to help another fellow being in trouble.

Top Survival / Bug Out Backpacks in Market Today

Here are details of the top Survival backpacks in the market today with key specifications. Use this to select the best one suited for your requirements.

Model Volume Storage for Material Waterproof Hydration Sys. MOLLE Price

5.11 RUSH72

5.11Tactical RUSH72 Military Backpack, Molle Bag Rucksack Pack, 55 Liter Large, Style 58602

Best Overall

55 liters 3 Days 1050D nylon Water resistant Yes Yes Check Price

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack (Black, 3038-Cubic Inch)
50 liters 3 Days 1000 Denier Water resistant Yes Yes Check Price

5.11 RUSH12

5.11 Tactical TAC Essential Backpack, 25 Liters, 1050D Nylon, Style 56643, Pacific Navy
24 liters 1 Day 1050D nylon Water resistant Yes Yes Check Price

SOG Ninja Tactical Day Pack

SOG Specialty Knives & Tools SOG Ninja Tactical Daypack Backpack, Black, One Size


liters 1 Day Polyester Water repellent Yes Yes Check Price

CVLIFE Outdoor

CVLIFE Military Tactical Backpack Survival Army Rucksack Assault Pack Molle Bag
50 liters 3 Days 600D Nylon Water resistant No Yes Check Price

Maxpedition Vulture-II

Maxpedition Vulture-II Backpack (Foliage Green)
34 liters 2 Days 1000D nylon Water resistant Yes Yes Check Price

J Red Rock Outdoor Gear

Red Rock Outdoor Gear - Large Assault Pack, Olive Drab
34 liters 2 Days 600D Polyester Water repellent Yes Yes Check Price

Direct Action Dragon Egg

Direct Action Dragon Egg Mk II Tactical Backpack Coyote Brown 25 Liter Capacity
25+ liters 1-2 Days Cordura 500D Water resistant Yes Yes Check Price

3V Gear Paratus

3V Gear Paratus 3-Day Operator's Tactical Backpack
40 liters 3 Days 600D Polyester Water repellent Yes Yes Check Price

CVLIFE Outdoor Tactical Backpack

CVLIFE Outdoor Tactical Backpack Military Rucksacks for Camping Hiking Medium Packs 40L(Black)
30+ liters 2 Days 600D Nylon Water resistant No Yes Check Price

A Detailed Buying Guide for Bug Out / Survival Backpacks

2. A Detailed Buying Guide for Bug Out Survival Backpacks

Picking a survival backpack needs to be done sincerely and smartly.

Sincerely because one needs to check for all the necessary features in the backpack.

It ultimately is going to be “the backpack” that assists us in an hour of need.

On the other hand, this selection needs to be performed smartly in order to ensure that one does not end up with a backpack with redundant features.

The following shall serve as a buying guide for selecting the apt survival backpack –

Right Size

Firstly, one must look for the right size of the backpack.

This can be estimated based on the duration of the trip that has been planned, especially if one is looking for a backpack for outdoor adventures.

For those that have a different purpose of using the survival backpack, like preparing for natural disasters in the urban areas etc. could select the size based on the number of items they plan to fit in it.

Backpacks with a storage capacity of about 45-50 liters are ideal for all purposes. This serves as the average and most commonly used size of survival backpacks.

Waterproof / water resistant

Once the size of the backpack is established, one should look for backpacks that are waterproof or at least is water-resistance.

A water-resistant backpack can help keep all of one’s valuables safe.

It is one of the most important features of a backpack is expected to possess.

Durable Material

The material of the backpack needs to be strong.

Backpacks made with materials that have a higher denier rating are considered to be strong. Rugged materials like

Ripstop nylon and Cordura are a good choice for survival backpacks.

A softer material would only give way too soon. If one is looking at other alternate materials, a helpful tip is to look for materials with higher tenacity and denier rating in general.

The durability of the material and backpack design in general needs to be checked.

Designs that look appealing but have the tendency to fall apart soon are not a good choice for survival backpacks.

It always helps to ensure that all parts of the backpack are made of a high-quality material or at least the kind that can stay on for a while.

Select the Right Frame

Backpacks fall into one of the three frame categories, them being frameless, internal frame and external frame.

The amount of load that the backpack is expected to hold can be helpful to establish the frame type required.

A frame gives stability to the backpack and helps to hold the items in a well-balanced form. Hence, frameless backpacks can be used if the volume to be supported is less.

The internal frame can be the general backpack type for an average sized survival backpack. Those that plan to go on multi-day hikes could choose a good lightweight backpack with an external frame.

Get the Fit Right

The fit of the backpack needs to be perfect and according to one’s body.

The backpack should always sit snugly on one’s back and the major weight needs to be supported by the hips with the help of hip straps.

One must refer to the backpack sizing guide to know which size is appropriate for them.


Straps and adjustments should be present at appropriate places.

Chest straps help to stabilize the backpack and hip belts help in dissipating the load. Shoulder straps need to be padded and should have a provision for adjustments.

There are other straps that can also be present to help carry the load, especially in the bigger backpack models.

Additionally, the backpack may contain compartments and attachments at different places, to effortlessly hold all the necessary items that constitute one’s survival backpack.

One must only make sure that the backpack does not look too messy and confusing with too many attachments on the exterior.

What to Keep in a Survival Backpack

3. What to Keep in a Survival Backpack

The items that feature in one’s survival backpack are defined mainly by the type of situation that one is expected to survive through.

It could be a natural disaster or a fire in the building in an urban backdrop or a challenging adventure in the wilderness.

Hence, below mentioned is a list of items that are commonly needed in an emergency situation. One could build further on this list in order to make a personalized survival backpack for themselves.

  • Matchbox and suitable Inflammable Oil
  • GPS (though android phone or special device)
  • Map of area
  • Compass
  • First Aid Kit
  • Water bottles/ bladders
  • Torchlight or Head Lamp
  • Whistle
  • Signal Mirror
  • Blankets or Sleeping Bag
  • Knife
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Emergency Currency
  • Plastic Zip-Locks
  • Compact Sewing Kit
  • Long Lasting Food (like Snacks and Bars)
  • Change of Clothes (optional)
  • Cords and D-rings
  • Multi-Tool
  • Caps (Optional Sunglasses)
  • Gloves
  • Adapters and Power Banks (for electronic devices)
  • Rain Covers (for Backpack and oneself)

Why Choose Waterproof Bug Out / Survival Backpack

4. Why Choose Waterproof Bug Out Survival Backpack

Survival backpacks should essentially be waterproof.

It ensures that there is one less thing to bother about, when in a crisis situation. A completely waterproof backpack can only be so with the help of two scenarios being taken care of by the manufacturer.

These are discussed below.

Waterproof backpack material

The material of the backpack is made waterproof by coating it with PVC or PU. This enhances the ability of the material to withstand water.

The coating helps to achieve this by covering all the minute pores present in the material.

Waterproof zippers and well- enclosed pockets

Waterproof zippers work in a fashion similar to the PVC or PU coating.

The blades in the chain of the zipper interlock in a tight fashion that does not allow any water to seep through.

It would be an additional benefit if the external pockets present on the backpack too are made of zippers or at least, a flap cover, in case there is a Velcro closing mechanism.

This would additionally go to ensure that there is no water seeping into the survival backpack.

On the other hand, if the backpack is not water-resistant, one could take the help of waterproof bags or backpack covers to keep their backpack safe.

These rain covers can be bought separately along with the backpack.

Picking the Right Size of Survival Backpack

5. Picking the Right Size of Survival Backpack

Unlike ill-fitting clothes where the most damage is done is a shabby look, an ill-fitting backpack can wreak havoc for the body.

A serious backpacker will be carrying almost 2/3rd their body weight and it is absolutely essential that this weight is distributed uniformly.

Two important decision-making criteria that can be used to establish the right size of the survival backpack are torso length and backpack volume.

These are discussed below –

Torso Length

Torso length is a parameter that plays a pivotal role in establishing the size of the backpack one’s body can handle, without much strain.

This parameter has almost nothing to do with the height of an individual. A comparatively shorter person can very well have a torso length measured to be greater than their taller counterpart.

In order to calculate the torso length of an individual, we need to establish definitions of two terms, top, and bottom.

Top: When we bend our head downwards, there is a bony prominence that inches out right below the neck. This is the C7 on your vertebra or the 7th cervical on your vertebra. This point shall be considered as the top for torso length measurement.

Bottom: When we hold our hip, we essentially cup a bony prominence called the iliac crest. This must be held with both hands having their thumbs directed towards each other. An imaginary line that joins both thumbs is said to form the bottom of the torso.

Now we define the torso length as the length measured from the top to the bottom. Chances of toppling or hurting one’s back get higher if the following backpack size specifications are not met.

  • Small- These are for travelers with torso length up to 18 inches.
  • Regular- These fit those travelers whose torso measures up to about 20 inches.
  • Large- These bags are made for travelers who have a torso length greater than 20 inches.

Backpack Volume

Bug Out backpack volume can be decided based on the duration that one is expected to be out.

30-35 liters- If it’s a small survival backpack.

Travels that include trips to cold places need backpacks with higher volumes, about 40 liters. As the duration increases, very obviously the volume of backpacks increases.

A wildlife survival kit to cover a trip duration of 4-5 days will require a backpack that has a maximum of 70 liters.

Review of Top Survival Backpacks

Here are brief reviews of some of the best survival / Bug Out backpacks along with key specs.

5.11 Tactical Rush bag Review

5.11Tactical RUSH72 Military Backpack, Molle Bag Rucksack Pack, 55 Liter Large, Style 58602

5.11 is a California-based brand that manufactures clothing like uniforms along with tactical equipment for law enforcement, military, and safety personnel. It was established in 2003 by Dan Costa.

Some key features of this product are listed below.

  • High-performance multi-purpose bag.
  • Has 16 compartments of different sizes.
  • Uses self-repairable YKK zippers.
  • Highly durable backpack material.
  • Water-resistant.
  • Made from 1050D nylon fabric.
  • Molle integrated to customize storage.
  • Contains internal organizing admin panel
  • 60 oz hydration pocket.
  • Adjustable straps.

Pros and cons as per the users of the product –

  • Good value for money
  • High-quality fabric
  • Many compartments
  • Strong zippers
  • No serious issues!

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Condon 3-Day Assault Pack Review

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack (Black, 3038-Cubic Inch)

Condor is a reputable brand in the outdoor gear world.

The company has a line of affordable, function-focused gear, including tactical belts, pouches, etc. that will make you the most efficient as you can be .

The Condon 3-day assault pack offers excellent durability in a minimalist 50-liter design.

It is constructed with tough, all-weather material that will get you covered in the most demanding situations.

The pack has a host of storage options. These include a large main compartment, mesh side pockets, among others, which allow for easy accessibility and organization.

It features body contour shoulder straps as well as sternum and chest straps for additional comfort and support.

The heavy-duty handle allows you to tote your gear easily, while the padded back panel ensures that it sits comfortably on your body as you move from cities to jungles.

  • Sturdy construction
  • Has plenty of space
  • Lightweight
  • Various color options
  • Adjustable straps
  • Could use more padding
  • Zippers

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

5.11 Rush 12 Military Assault Tactical Backpack

5.11 Tactical TAC Essential Backpack, 25 Liters, 1050D Nylon, Style 56643, Pacific Navy

Based in Irvine, California, 5.11 Tactical is a gear brand that was set up by Royal Robbins in 2013.

The company designs and manufactures uniforms and tactical tools that are designed to prepare military and law enforcement personnel for the unexpected.

Get ready for any rescue mission or adventure toting your gear in this purpose-built backpack from 5.11 Tactical.

It is made of 1050-denier nylon material that is not only durable but also water-resistant. This pack has plenty of easy-access storage options for your everyday essentials.

It features a total of 16 compartments, and several zippered pockets, including a hydration pocket that eliminates the need for a water bottle.

With adjustable chest straps, compression straps for keeping the loads compact and wide shoulder straps that contour to your body, this backpack is built with the wearer’s comfort and convenience in mind.

It can serve as hiking rucksack, survival backpack, day pack, etc.

  • It is versatile
  • Waterproof, sturdy material
  • It has a lot of space
  • Comfortable straps
  • Lightweight
  • No hip belt
  • It is not laptop-friendly

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

SOG Ninja 24.2 L Tactical Day Pack

SOG Specialty Knives & Tools SOG Ninja Tactical Daypack Backpack, Black, One Size

SOG is on a mission to provide top-quality, functional gear for adventure lovers who live on the edge.

The company got its name from the US special operations unit, MACV-SOG, that fought in the Vietnam War .

This backpack offers all the exciting features one would expect from a professional-grade tactical pack. It is constructed with sturdy, water-repellent polyester material.

This 24.2-liter pack has enough room for all your essentials. There’s a spacious main compartment, lockable pockets, as well as a soft-line section for gadgets and electronics.

Other storage features include a hydration bladder pocket and a Molle webbing for attaching tools and accessories.

Its shoulder straps are padded and adjustable, while the foam backing comes in a breathable design, all to ensure that it feels great on the body while on the go.

It also has adjustable sternum and compression straps that help optimize fit, support and comfort. This multipurpose backpack is good for camping, hiking, hunting, among other outdoor activities.

  • It can hold a lot of stuff
  • Looks great
  • Multiple pockets
  • Comfortable to carry
  • Durable and water-resistant
  • A little bit small (not for heavy packers)

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

CVLIFE 60L Military Tactical Backpack

CVLIFE Military Tactical Backpack Survival Army Rucksack Assault Pack Molle Bag

CVLIFE is an outdoor and camping gear brand that is based in the United States.

The company has an extensive line of products, such as backpacks, flashlights, headlamps, etc. that are used and trusted by thousands of people all around the world .

This well-thought-out design from CVLIFE features a large main bag and three detachable pouches.

Constructed with 600D nylon material, this backpack is waterproof and sturdy enough to stand the test of time.

There is a roomy main compartment where you can shove in your essentials as well as removable pouches (at the front and two sides) that you can use as a first aid bag.

Features like adjustable shoulder straps and chest belt ensure that the pack fits well and stays comfortable on your body.

And the Molle system of the bag allows you to attach extra gear. It can be used for hunting, hiking, camping, etc.

  • Good quality construction
  • Very spacious
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Comfortable to carry
  • Water-resistant
  • The straps could use more padding
  • Noisy zippers

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Maxpedition Vulture-II 3-Day Pack

Maxpedition Vulture-II Backpack (Foliage Green)

Established in 2003 in California, Maxpedition took the design ethos of US military-grade gear to a whole level and popularized its functionality to people all around the globe.

The company designs and creates backpacks and bags with superior durability and ergonomic.

This backpack is an ideal choice for large individuals looking for a comfortable bag that can hold a lot of stuff. It is made of 1000D lightweight ballistic nylon material that is water-and-abrasion resistant.

With a storage capacity of 34 liters, the pack is spacious enough to contain all your daily essentials.

It has a large main compartment, a hydration pocket as well as a front slip pocket for smaller items.

The pack comes with wide adjustable shoulder straps for a customized fit and concealable hip and chest straps which help take off the pressure on your shoulders.

Another thing to love about this backpack is the PALS webbing that allows you to attach extra survival gear.

It is suitable for outdoor activities like hiking, camping and many more.

  • Durable
  • It is water-resistant
  • Has plenty of rooms
  • Comfortable straps
  • Has a compartment for a water bladder
  • Shoulder straps could be more padded
  • It’s a bit pricey

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Red Rock Outdoor Gear Assault Pack

Red Rock Outdoor Gear - Large Assault Pack, Olive Drab

Red rock outdoor gear was set up in Texas in 1999.

The American company produces a wide range of top-grade, affordable gear, including sling pack, backpacks, ghillie suits, etc. for outdoor enthusiasts.

Here is an expandable backpack with astounding storage capacity. It is made of rugged PVC-lined 600D polyester material known for its durability.

This 35-liter pack can hold pretty much everything you throw in it. It has four compartments, three of which have internal dividers and zippered pockets, allowing you to easily organize your gear.

To ensure comfortable carriage, it comes with adjustable shoulder straps and a mesh back panel with the right amount of padding.

Other exciting features include adjustable sternum and waist straps that allow for even weight distribution and Molle webbing for attaching additional gear.

  • Has a large storage capacity
  • Comfortable straps
  • Good quality fabric
  • Multiple compartments and pockets
  • Some stitching issues

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack

Direct Action Dragon Egg Mk II Tactical Backpack Coyote Brown 25 Liter Capacity

Direct Action combines great design and deep understanding of specific end user’s needs to create top-grade functional gear that will get you covered in demanding situations.

Need a backpack that packs bigger than it looks? Then you may want to consider Dragon egg tactical backpack from Direct Action.

It is constructed with sturdy 100 % 500-denier Cordura material and equipped with YKK zippers.

This lightweight pack features a front pocket with internal organizer for pens, GPS, etc. It also has a cushioned sleeve that can accommodate up to a 15-inch laptop, not to mention side pockets for small items.

The patented combat vent system helps prevent heat build-up and excessive sweating. And the daisy chain webbing can serve as attachment points for extra gear.

Its wide, padded shoulder straps ensure that it stays comfortable on your body, even when carrying it for a long time.

  • Sturdily built
  • Lightweight
  • Compact design
  • Comes with water bottle pockets
  • It has plenty of rooms
  • Not for heavy packers
  • Limited color options

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

3V Gear Paratus 3-Day Tactical Backpack

3V Gear Paratus 3-Day Operator's Tactical Backpack

3v Gear is a leading manufacturer of the top quality bags, backpacks (tactical and Molle).

The company sells directly to customers and offers a lifetime warranty, enabling people to purchase their products with confidence.

The 3V Gear Paratus pack is one of the best tactical backpacks around. It made of 600D PVC-lined polyester fabric and held with double stitched seams to make it water-resistant and super-durable.

The pack has a host of storage options.

These include two large compartments with interior pockets and organizer, two detachable molle pockets and a padded sleeve that can accommodate up to a 17-inch tablet or laptop.

Its padded shoulder straps contour to the body and come with D-rings for attaching equipment. The bag has a padded back panel and is equipped with chest and waist straps for comfort and fit.

It is Molle compatible and has multiple carry options (via the handle, waist or shoulder straps).

  • Solid construction
  • Has a lot of rooms
  • Padded, comfortable straps
  • Compatible with a water bladder
  • Not waterproof

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

CVLIFE 60L Military Tactical Backpack

CVLIFE Outdoor Tactical Backpack Military Rucksacks for Camping Hiking Medium Packs 40L(Black)

This is another great design from CVLIFE. It is also constructed with rugged, water-resistant 600D fabric.

This backpack has a lot of high-end features that would rile up any adventure lover.

Though the 40-Litre bag may not be the most spacious on the market, it still has enough room for all your essentials.

There are two main compartments and several zippered pockets which make for easy organization.

The pack comes with padded adjustable straps to ensure a comfortable, customized fit.

The right amount of padding on the back panel makes the bag comfortable to carry, even for a long haul. It is can also be used as a range bag, tactical gear holder, hiking backpack, etc.

  • It is durable
  • Versatile
  • It is spacious
  • Adjustable straps
  • Good quality material
  • The straps could be more padded

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon


There are many Survival / Bug Out backpacks on the market today. It is important to go for one of the right size, material, and features. Thanks to  MOLLE – MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, lots of additional space can be created in existing backpacks too.

Here is a recap of our top survival backpack picks, use the links to check out pricing, reviews and detailed features on Amazon –

What is your favorite survival backpack? Share your reviews!

Last update on 2022-10-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

ReviewsWorthy Team

Our team consists of enthusiastic and passionate people from different fields and experience. Some are geeks and spend most of their time among gadgets while others love nature and are always on the move! We spend 10s of hours researching and writing on each topic. The articles are then quality checked by our editors. View our "About us" section for more details about process and team.

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