Have you ever owned a backpack that you wish would break so you could ditch it and buy a better one? Perhaps you realize it’s not up to par for your wild outdoor adventures nor a serious bugout endeavor when SHTF.
I get you. And that’s not the kind of backpacks we’ll talk about today.
If you’re the type of prepper, hiker, backpacker, or whoever that’s on the quest for the backpack you can rely on in both war and peace, then you’re in the right place.
Read on to discover the best backpacks for outdoor trips and bugging out and what makes them so.
Say goodbye to backpacks that suck and say hello to backpacks that rock!
First off, notice that I use the word “backpack”. And it’s for a reason ⸺ backpacks have two shoulder straps.
Why is this important?
Balanced weight distribution, for one. Better comfort, another. But most of all, a backpack can accommodate all your backpacking and survival loadout given you choose the right size (we’ll elaborate on this feature later).
Hence, handheld and single-strap bags like slings, messengers, and satchels are out of the criteria.
We’ll focus on function over fashion. So, skip the designer bags section and “tactical” knock-offs planet, and go straight to the Spartan’s and Amazona’s realm.
And while you’re there, here are the top features to consider:
Whether you’re hiking miles away from civilization, or bugging out deep in the mountains, your backpack and everything in it is your lifeline.
That said, backpack durability is a priority. It should be able to withstand the elements, abrasion with rocks and trees, impacts, and even outlast the apocalypse.
The backpack’s capacity is measured in liters. For a multi-day outdoor trip or bugout ordeal, 40-65 liters is the sweet spot.
Go way over that and you risk overloading your backpack and potentially hurting yourself. Go below and you’ll have to cherry-pick every content which limits your options and capabilities.
Now, here’s the exception. Ultimately, it depends on the weather, your physiology, and your survival skills.
For instance, in wintertime, you may need around 80L as you’ll be carrying more and thicker insulation, sleep system, and shelter.
On the other hand, if you’ve mastered bushcraft (or you’re Wim Hof), then a smaller backpack will suffice ⸺ the more you know, the less you need.
What good is a backpack if it’s constantly digging into your bones?
Focus on two things ⸺ ergonomics and airflow.
Your outdoors and bugout backpack must have padded shoulder straps and a back system that snugly embraces your body.
And for utmost stability, a sternum strap keeps shoulder straps in place while the hip belt distributes the weight onto your hips (where most of the load weight should be).
Then there’s airflow. This is vital in the back system to help dissipate the heat away from your back and prevent that sweaty sticky feeling in hot weather.
While subjective, there are universally beneficial backpack features. That includes water-resistant material; external lash points for quick access tools; and compression straps to keep items from shifting and throwing you off balance.
Fair warning. Having bazillions of compartments is a double-edged sword ⸺ better organization yet heavier pack due to more material.
Same goes with a backpack that screams military ⸺ you’re either feared or you become the prime target for standing out.
Get this… complexity is the enemy of execution.
At the end of the day, all you really need is a no-nonsense idiot-proof backpack. Good luck with cryptic locks and fidgety buckles before solving a maze of internal chambers and dividers to get what you need in an emergency.
Keep it simple. Let’s leave rocket science backpacks to the astronauts, shall we?
In the spirit of transparency, we’ll go over both the pros and cons so you can scrutinize the tradeoffs and make the final call.
Ready? Let’s see what my long and scientific quest has found (in no particular order).
There you have the best backpacks for your outdoor trip and, God forbids, bugout ordeal.
Note that while there are more great backpacks I hate to not mention, these are the best available at the time of writing. And before they also join the long “out of stock” list, check them out and make the swift right call.
You know, having a fully loaded backpack (with QUALITY survival tools under $20 in it) ready to conquer the outdoors and disasters feels reassuring.
And when things go south and you don’t like where you are, grab your backpack and move… you’re not a tree, are you?