Best Bug Out Backpack

best bug out backpack list of backpacks

Bug out time! This is what I recommend for the best bug out backpack. You will need a good bug out bag in case an emergency situation comes up. Best to be prepared!

Hopefully, it never will as it means something generally bad has happened and you need to get going quickly, but it’s always good to be prepared.

If you’re wondering what my credibility is with backpacks I can tell you that I have been backpacking around the world since 1997 and have tried a lot of backpacks out in that time.


Why You Need a Bug Out Backpack

Maybe you live in an earthquake-prone area like California? Or in a bush wild fire prone area? Flood risk area? Hurricane risk, like in Florida if you’re in the US?

Maybe you need a bug out backpack as an emergency bag in your car in case it breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Or maybe you just like to be prepared for the worst no matter where you live.

When living in parts of the world where I thought I may need to just grab a bag quickly in case of an emergency and get out of home fast I have always kept a bug out backpack filled with emergency gear for that occasion.

For example, when I lived in Japan for several months I had my bug out bag ready as it’s a highly earthquake-prone country. There are other examples, but this post is about what bug out backpack to choose so I’ll stop rambling now and get to the point.

What makes for the best bug out backpack?

The best bug out bag will be military-grade as they are very durable and suited to the task and also will be a backpack as they are far more practical in a survival situation than any other type of bug out bag.

You’re going to want to have a smaller backpack as it’s something to just keep the main survival essentials in and to sit quietly stored somewhere out of the way.

There are a few backpack brands that make excellent day packs for military or bushcraft use and those are the ones I am recommending here.

The size of the backpack also depends on where you live and what climate circumstances you may be under.

Generally speaking, you will want what you could call a 72-hour backpack, as that is generally how long you will want some survival gear for. But a smaller bug out bag for 24-48 hour use can also sometimes be better than a bigger bulkier bag.

If you live in a colder environment you will want a bigger backpack for the colder weather gear. If you live in a hot environment a smaller backpack will do the job.

If you are living in a city then a small bug out backpack tucked away somewhere will do the job as you won’t be deep in a wilderness area needing more survival gear.

I have tried most of these backpacks and have had 2 of them for a long time now. Number one is my all-time favourite.

Bug Out Backpack Budget

I’ll get straight to the point of price: Don’t get a cheap backpack as your bug out backpack!

It would be better to get a used good quality backpack (check Craigslist, eBay etc) than to get a new sub-par pack.

For me, it’s an investment in a backpack that will last a long time so if you can afford it spend around $120-250 on a good bug out backpack that will last you and give you peace of mind.

The MOLLE System

First of all, a quick introduction to the Molle system as many of these bug out backpacks use it.

What is MOLLE and how does it work?

MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment and is used primarily in the military forces of NATO. Being military-grade makes them some of the best survival backpacks you can get.

Basically, there are strong nylon straps on the outside of the backpack that allows for attaching external pouches and other items. This allows you had to upgrade the space of the backpack if more is required and make things handier to organize.

Molle really is the way to go as it’s so practical as the backpacks are very durable and you can add to the size of the pack which means you can have a pack that will last for a very long time and be adaptable for different situations.


I’ll start with the brand Karrimor SF as they have a great reputation in military circles and come in at a great price point without compromising on quality. They make for a good tactical bug out bag and are what I use.

To give you an idea of the credibility of Karrimor, Ray Mears, who is one of the number one bushcraft and survival experts in the UK and the world, has been them for a long, long time.

Side note: If you haven’t watched any of Ray Mears survival shows I highly recommend you do! He also has a lot of good books on the subjects of bushcraft and survival.

Quick disclaimer: I’ve added links to Amazon and other sites where you can check prices for these backpacks. I get a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through them and the money helps me keep working on articles for Backpackingman.


Karrimor SF Predator 30 (Tactical Bug Out Bag)

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The SF Predator is a smaller backpack and more streamlined without the side pockets, although it has the MOLLE system if you want to add extra pouches to the pack.

For me, the Predator 30 makes the perfect tactical bug out bag and if I was going to get a backpack specifically for a bug out bag then this is the one I would get.

It’s incredible value for money, has the Molle option to expand the load-carrying capacity, and being a Karrimor pack will be very durable and up to the task of a survival backpack.

  • Volume: 30 litres
  • Weight: 2.7 lbs (1.2 kg)

Check prices for the Karrimor SF Predator 30.

Karrimor Sabre 35

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The Karrimor Sabre 35 is a great bug out backpack and I have used it for other things such as bushcraft, hiking, and travel.

I have had and used this since 2010 and it’s still in good condition. However, if I was to buy again new I would just get the Predator 30 as the MOLLE on it makes it much more practical these days.

But if you can find a Sabre 35 they are cheap and good!

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With the Sabre 35 at a remote hangout in the Atacama Desert in Chile in 2011.

The 35 litres capacity is just the right size for all the essential bug out gear you will need unless you’re in a cold place and need the cold weather gear.

  • Volume: 35 litres
  • Weight: 3.2 lbs (1.4 kg)

Karrimor SF Sabre 45

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This is the bug out backpack I would get if living in colder environments as it’s a bigger size allowing for colder (bulkier) cold-weather gear to fit inside.

For example, if you live in cold places in the US or Canada and there’s the potential for disasters in your area, especially in winter, then this is the bag for you.

It doesn’t use the MOLLE system but is big enough in size that you wouldn’t need to add any additional attachments. Especially if kept just as a bug out backpack.

  • Volume: 45 litres
  • Weight: 4 lbs (1.8 kg)

Highly recommended!

Check prices for the Karrimor SF Sabre 45.

Savotta Jääkäri M 30

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Another great backpack brand is Savotta. They tend to come in a bit pricier but are very good quality. Saying that however, all the brands here are field-proven for their durability and quality over many years.

Savotta is a Finnish backpack and outdoor gear manufacturer that supplies the Finnish military so you know you’re getting a good bug out backpack. It’s also, again, one of Ray Mears favourite backpack manufacturers.

The Savotta Jääkäri M 30 is on the smaller side of things so is a great option if living in an area where you don’t need to worry too much about a warm sleeping bag etc and can save some space that way.

It uses the MOLLE system and there are plenty of pouch upgrades available to purchase separately.

  • Volume: 30 litres
  • Weight: 3.7 lbs (1.7 kg)

Savotta backpacks can be a little harder to find outside of Europe so you may have to order from a store in Europe if you live in the US or Canada. Search Google (or whatever) first and maybe you will get lucky and find a store that sells it where you are or can order from it.

Check prices for Savotta Jääkäri M 30.

5.11 Tactical RUSH24

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5.11 Tactical are well known in military circles and make good gear at a decent price point as well.

My friend loves this backpack and although I don’t own it myself I have used his one on occasion, primarily out of curiosity.

I liked it although, to be honest, I’m not a big fan of zippers on backpacks. I prefer a roll-top closure. However, if you prefer zips then this could be the bug out backpack for you.

Having said that the backpack was comfortable and felt durable.

It has the MOLLE system.

  • Volume: 37 litres
  • Weight: 3.7 lbs (1.7 kg)

If you’re in the US, Canada, or Europe, these packs are easy to find.

Check prices for the 5.11 Tactical RUSH24.

Osprey Mutant 38

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The Osprey Mutant 38 is actually designed as a climbing backpack. So why would I recommend it as a bug out bag?

Simple. It is designed for mountaineering which means it is durable but also lightweight and doesn’t bother with all the added extra stuff your average hiking backpack might have.

In that sense, it makes for a great bug out backpack!

I used this as my bug out bag while living in Amsterdam before taking it out to Iceland and Alaska for hiking purposes.

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With the Mutant 38 in Iceland.

Sadly it got stolen at a guest house in Alaska and I haven’t got another one as I have other backpacks I’m using.

Although it doesn’t have the Molle system it has plenty of space inside for your survival gear and you won’t need to add any extra space.

  • Volume: 38 litres
  • Weight: 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg)

Check prices for Osprey Mutant 38.

Drakon Waterproof Go-Bag

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Disclaimer: This is one out of the best bug out backpacks that I have not tried, but it gets great reviews in survivalists circles and after researching into it I had to include it on this list.

Why?

For one thing, it’s a waterproof bug out bag! This would make it a great option if your survival worries are from a high flood risk area or storm area (hurricanes) where it will get very wet and you want a backpack that will keep all your gear dry.

Its 40 litres capacity is a compromise on the smaller backpacks offered and the price point a little higher, but if you want a waterproof backpack this will be the one to go for.

  • Volume: 40 litres
  • Weight: 4.5 lbs (2 kilos)

Check prices for the Drakon Waterproof Go-Bag.


The Best Bug Out Backpack

To sum up:

If you live in a place where you will need cold-weather gear, get the Karrimor Sabre 45.

Need a great overall bug out bag for possible 48 hours of survival, get the Predator 30, Savotta Jääkäri M 30, or 5.11 Tactical RUSH24.

Need a bug out bag for possible 72 hours of survival, then get the Karrimor Sabre 45 or Osprey Mutant 38. The 5.11 Tactical RUSH24 can be pushed for this as well, possibly.

In a flood-prone region and that’s the main worry, then get the Drakon Waterproof Go-Bag.

There should be a good bug out bag – backpack here that will suit your needs. Or at least give you a pointer in the right direction.

For me? The trusty Sabre 35 is still going strong as my bug out bag! Other backpacks I use are for bushcraft or for backpacking.

If I was you though and had to choose between the Sabre 35, Predator 30, or Savotta Jääkäri M 30, I would get the Predator 30.

The Predator 30 can’t be beaten when it comes to the price point. After all, at the end of the day, you want a bug out bag that will do the job of sitting away in the corner but be up for the task at hand if an emergency came along.

But the Predator 30 may be a bit small for some if you need that extra space so think carefully of where you are and the survival purposes you need it for.

At the end of the day, yes you could just use any bag but it’s best to have a good quality durable backpack like the ones mentioned here, and it makes a good investment as it will last a long time.

As you have some interest in survival then check out some of these best movies on survival.

What are you’re thoughts on the best bug out backpack?

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