We’d all like to think that our homes – and, by proxy, the greater world around us – are safe and will stay that way forever. And while that may very well ring true right now, there’s always the possibility that some kind of earth-shattering disaster could befall us. Whether it’s an earthquake, fires, flooding, terrorism, war, or the complete collapse of western civilization as we know it, it’s always going to be better to be prepared than not. And one of the best ways to prepare is by putting together a bug-out bag.
Sure, you could load your closets with every manner of emergency supplies – but that won’t do you much good if you have to, for whatever reason, vacate the premises. In the case that you do, you’ll want to have gear, food, medical supplies, etc. all handy. And the best place to put those things is inside of a sturdy, capacious, expandable backpack – better known as a bug-out bag. That way, you can carry around all the stuff you need to survive with you at all times. If you think you’re ready to start prepping for any and all contingencies, these 10 packs are the best bug-out bags to get you started.
Condor 3 Day Assault Pack
This tactical backpack, while low in price, is plenty beefy to store enough food, water, and supplies for – you guessed it – around 3 days (or more, depending upon how spartan you are). It also includes a separate compartment that can fit up to two 3-liter hydration bladders at a time. Which is great because, in the case of an emergency, clean water is the most important thing you can have. And while the Condor 3 Day Assault Pack has a total of 7 compartments – with the option for more compartmentalized storage within – it’s also equipped with a MOLLE external grid onto which you can attach even more storage, survival tools, and more.
Capacity: 50 Liters
Weight: 5 Pounds
Highlights: 2 x 3L Hydration Pack Storage, Exterior MOLLE Grid
VooDoo Tactical Mojo
If you are looking for sheer capacity and compartmental storage, then the Mojo Tactical is probably the bug-out pack for you. Across one large main compartment and eleven exterior pouches, this bag has roughly 173 liters of potential storage space. And it’s even expandable outside of that thanks to its PALS webbing around the exterior. But, perhaps the biggest highlight of this bag is that, while it can certainly be carried like a normal duffel bag, it also has removable backpack straps, for when you need to make the long haul.
Capacity: ~173 Liters
Weight: 2.5 Pounds
Highlights: 11+ Exterior Pouches, PALS Webbing, Removable Backpack Straps
5.11 Tactical Rush 72
Designed specifically as a bug-out bag to get you through at least the first 72 hours of a survival situation (hence the name), this 55 liter pack features dual zippered front and main compartments with extra storage pouches within – including space for a hydration pack – which give it plenty of organizational options for all your bug-out gear. It’s also expandable thanks to the inclusion of an exterior webbing grid, has a pressure-relieving shoulder strap design, a height-adjustable sternum strap, and is even built with a fleece-lined pouch for your sunglasses or delicate high-tech EDC gear.
Capacity: 55 Liters
Weight: 2 Pounds
Highlights: Internal Frame Support, Adjustable Height Sternum Strap, Pressure Relieving Shoulder Yoke, Self-Healing YKK Zippers
Maxpedition Vulture II
Although this bag looks a little less tactical than some of its counterparts on this list, that doesn’t mean it is any less equipped to handle those tough circumstances for which you might need it. Its tough 1000D nylon exterior features a bonus in the form of a rubberized base – helping protect it from the elements when you need to set it down for a spell – and it’s equipped with handy MOLLE grids (for expandable carry) on its back, sides, and straps. And while you could certainly use it as a bug-out bag, it also works just as well as a short-form hiking backpack or even something you might take on travel.
Capacity: 34 Liters
Weight: 3 Pounds
Highlights: Sternum Strap and Integrated Belt, Rubberized Base, MOLLE Grid System
T.H.E. Pack, Tactical
Built from super durable 1000D Cordura nylon fabric, there’s very little that this bug-out bag can’t survive – which is handy if you’re loading it up with all of your survival gear. Even better, this made in the USA bag comes with sturdy YKK zippers, a removable 2″ waist belt, and dual compression straps (for comfort even with a heavy loadout) with built-in load loops. But, the absolute best thing about this bag is that the brand is so confident in its sturdiness and construction, they guarantee it 100% for life. And that’s more than can be said for a lot of other competitors.
Capacity: 42 Liters
Highlights: Removable 2″ Waist Belt, Made in the USA, Dual Compression Straps With Integrated Load Loops, 100% Lifetime Guarantee
Colfax SDP_01 Standard Issue Daypack
While this bag’s 21 liter capacity might not make it seem like an ideal bug-out bag competitor, its unbelievably sturdy construction and expandability certainly earn it a spot on our list. For starters, it is built from X51 1000D Cordura nylon with a tear-resistant X-ply layer, which is then backed by a laminated PET waterproof membrane. It also features mil-spec webbing, hardware, buckles, and moisture-wicking airmesh. It’s expandable, thanks to a MOLLE-style webbing system. And it has both a hydration sleeve and a laptop pouch. Bravo, Colfax.
Capacity: 21 Liters
Weight: 3 Pounds
Highlights: Made in the USA, Advanced Modular Cargo System, Water Resistant, Tear Resistant, Hydration Sleeve
Kifaru EMR II
One of the best things about this bug-out backpack is that, if you end up emptying some of its incredibly large capacity (up to 137 liters total), you can actually compress it down to a much smaller and more manageable bag. In fact, this bag compacts down all the way into a 39.6 liter format. And, if you need to fill it back up again, it expands just as easily. On top of that, the EMR II is built from 500D DWR coated Cordura nylon, comes with two exterior wing pockets, and has a full-length front zipper for easy access to its interior contents.
Capacity: 137 Liters
Weight: 3.3 Pounds
Highlights: Interior and Exterior PALS Matrix, Compression and Expansion Options, Full-Length Center Zipper, Compatible With Kifaru Duplex Frames
Triple Aught Design FAST Pack EDC
Designed to be the world’s most rugged and adaptable everyday backpack – which we certainly believe expands into bug-out territory – Triple Aught Design’s FAST Pack EDC is the best bag on this list for quick and on-the-spot situational adjusting. It features a number of integrated storage solutions – including exterior webbing for carry expansion and a number of both internal and external pockets – and also has a full-zip clamshell-opening main pouch for easy access to whatever gear you keep inside it. It also has a secondary weather-resistant secure rolltop compartment that’s perfect for sensitive documents and/or electronics.
Capacity: 32.77 Liters
Weight: 4.5 Pounds
Highlights: Hypalon Reinforcements, Moisture Management Mesh, HDPE Frame Sheet, Made in the USA
Eberlestock Skycrane II
While this modular load-bearing bag was primarily built around the possibility for military use and is compatible with the brand’s weapon-carrying system, it’s equally as capable for emergency survival situations. For starters, it is made from 500, 1000, and 420 denier ripstop nylon, is expandable from 73 liters up to 120, has an internal FlexChassis to support whatever load you put in it, and comes with seven point hydration storage. Furthermore, it’s even equipped with a removable “Little Brother” 3-day pack in case you need to leave the bulk behind at any moment.
Capacity: 120 Liters
Weight: 4 Pounds
Highlights: Removable Hydration Carrier Pack, Weapon Carrying-Friendly Design, Four-Way Compression Strap System, Removable 3-Day Pack Attachment
Mystery Ranch 6500
While it is, by far, the heaviest bag on our list, this offering from Mystery Ranch is also – arguably – the most capable. Much of that weight, for example, comes from the interior frame that helps this bag support far more than similar frameless backpacks could. In fact, the brand claims that you can carry 70 pounds worth of gear in comfort, but the bag will actually stabilize loads over 100 pounds. Furthermore, if you want to pare it down a bit, it comes with a removable daypack attachment for shorter outings, wherever you might be. And, best of all, this bag was made right here in the USA.
Capacity: 106 Liters
Weight: 10 Pounds
Highlights: NICE Support Frame, Speedzip Sleeping Bag Compartment, Body Armor Compatible, Removable Daypack Lid, Made in the USA
The Bug Out Bag Checklist
Finding the right bag is only half the battle. Now you need to actually get the survival gear. We’ve got you covered with our complete bug out bag checklist.