Best Bug Out Bags
There are many reasons where you may need to bug out and leave in a hurry. The main difference between evacuating and bugging out is that, usually, bugging out is understood as a one-way trip.
Large-scale natural disasters like forest fires and hurricanes are clearly on the rise. Other long-term disasters such as economic destabilization or war can rapidly make any populated area more dangerous than the wilderness.
A plan for bugging out is crucial to beating the traffic and avoiding being underprepared or left without your equipment. And your bug out bag may be your only lifeline as you flee.
Table of Contents
- How to Choose the Best Bug Out Bag for Your Needs
- Types of Bags for Bugging Out
- Our Top 4 Best Bug Out Bags Recommendations
- Now It’s Time to Fill Your New Bug Out Bag with Gear!
How to Choose the Best Bug Out Bag for Your Needs
A bug out bag is a quintessential piece of emergency preparation gear. What you put inside will depend entirely on your family’s plans, climate, skills, and many other factors. But, the bag that carries all that gear could see a lot of heavy use.
If your bug out bag rips, breaks, or gives you a stress injury from poor design… you may not make it to where you’re headed. So, let’s look at some important factors in choosing a bug out bag before going through some of our top picks.
Your Bug Out Plan(s)
Many preppers keep a bug out bag at home, another in their car, and possibly a backup at work. Depending on where you are when disaster strikes, you may need wildly different gear. In some cases, you’ll only need enough supplies to get you back home. In other cases, it will be safer and quicker to bug out to a secondary location from wherever you are. Your bug out bag should reflect your needs and environment. Your best bug out bag could be your best bug out bags as you may need more than one depending on the situations you are prepping for.
Capacity seems straightforward. Big bug out bags can hold more stuff. But, individual pocket sizes and the capacity of the main internal compartment (usually expressed in Liters for volume), is the key to carrying the right gear. Many packs also feature external straps or loops for attaching even more supplies. If you already have gear, before choosing a bug out bag, make sure to measure it. In general, the sweet spot for the best bug out bags is around 55 L, between 50 L and 65 L,
The thicker and more durable a fabric is, the heavier a bag will be. Add in more pouches, pockets, and features, and you could end up lugging a lot of weight that isn’t your invaluable gear inside the bug out bag. Ultralight backpackers and hikers will tell you that gear weight is everything, but when bugging out, your best bug out bag should be one that strikes a balance.
Quality is expensive, and peace of mind can cost even more. Understanding the quality in relation to the cost is an important part of not being ripped off. Some, but not most, preparation-themed brands take advantage of your fears, just like any other threat. Finding reputable sources of equipment will let you rest easy and avoid unnecessary expenses that would limit what you can put inside your new best bug out bag.
Depending on your bug out plans, this bag may be on your back for a long, long time. To ensure you do not experience chafing or repetitive stress injuries, make sure your bug out bag has a comfortable and stable fit. Comfort features such as padding or lumbar support could be the difference between a swift arrival at your escape location or painful delays.
While a bug out bag has one clear purpose, having adjustable features for different uses can let the bag double as a daypack once you are out of harm’s way. Versatile bug out bags can also be used in a wide variety of climates and scenarios. Waterproofing, heat vents, and multiple carry options can allow your bag to excel in a wide range of conditions.
Quick note: you should not use your bug out bag for other activities like hiking or the daily commute. Your best bug out bag should be a dedicated bug out bag. It will always be packed and ready for you to get out of Dodge at a moment’s notice. Even taking out a piece of simple gear like a flashlight could leave you without light when it matters.
Possibly the most critical aspect of your best bug out bag is its durability. If you are bugging out, odds are you will not be able to stop off at a sporting goods store or overnight a new pack. If your bug out bag fails, your plan may fail. Even though a bug out bag should remain in your closet, trunk, or office until it is needed, the disasters you are running from could make it a harrowing journey.
Types of Bags for Bugging Out
Interwoven with all the other specifications of a bag is a core question: what type of bag is it? The intended purpose of your gear can make a huge impact on the available features and the longevity of the product. Because backpacks are the most common form a personal bag takes, let’s start by looking at two of the most popular types of backpacks when searching for the best bug out bag.
That One in the Back of the Closet?
A standard school or office backpack is a nice thought since most people have one already and may even have a spare from their school days. However, while these can hold plenty of heavy textbooks, the performance features of a pack meant to be used outdoors make a world of difference during the actual usage of a bug out bag.
Casual backpacks are often made of canvas or polyester that is not meant to hold up under extreme circumstances or resist common problems like rain or sweat. A spare pack can be a great gear organizer, but for a dedicated bug out bag, you should invest in a true solution when you are able.
When many people, especially those outside the world of emergency preparation, think of a bug out bag it immediately conjures up the image of a huge, camouflage tactical pack loaded up with MREs and hand grenades. Well, authentic professional tactical gear or military surplus options often have many features and the quality you are seeking.
But if you dress like Schwarzenegger in Commando, a large portion of people will immediately peg you as someone to target for theft, to beg assistance from, or to fear and actively defend themselves against. In a situation where you need to bug out, all of these could make your personal situation more dangerous. You will have to decide whether they fit your plan.
Outdoor Gear Backpacks
Then comes hiking gear and other “outdoorsy” options. They can be a great choice for your best bug out bag. Often made to a similar, or better, standard of quality than tactical gear, equipment for hiking and backpacking is designed to make your survival in a tough situation as easy and comfortable as possible.
The outdoor gear industry is one of the quickest to innovate and update offerings with new materials or techniques that can greatly reduce weight or increase the lifespan of the product. Many more people have hiking gear than tactical equipment, meaning you are less likely to draw unwanted attention to yourself.
Our Top 4 Best Bug Out Bags Recommendations
Gear is a deeply personal choice, but many people do not have the expertise or time to review all the options in a steadily growing market. We have put together some of our favorite packs for bugging out, with something for everyone. Consider these when you are shopping for your best bug out bags.
- 5.11 Tactical RUSH72 Military Backpack
Best Bug out Bag - Tactical
Also the most customizable option on this list, the 5.11 Tactical RUSH72 Bug Out Backpack is an incredible piece of gear. The RUSH72 is a favorite of the preparation community, and for good reason. The 55 L capacity is meant to carry enough supplies for 72 hours, the durability and smart design means you should last much longer than those 3 days.
5.11 Tactical has added tons of functional, intuitive features to the RUSH72, in order to make any situation a little easier on the user. Compression straps, grab handles, and multiple latch points will make packing tight and handling the pack simple and straightforward.
If you’re worried about being slowed down by all the large gear, the pros at 5.11 have you covered. The RUSH72 can be removed in an instant using its quick-release buckles.
The MOLLE webbing lets you add gear clips, pouches for first aid or light sources, or holsters… whatever your situation might require. There are also side pockets with smaller compartments for organizing loose, small tools. 5.11 Tactical even added a fleece-lined zipper pocket on the top for your sunglasses for other fragile, scratchable gadgets.
The 1050D nylon material is water-resistant and heavy-duty. You will be able to throw this bug out bag on your back, toss it around, or drag it up an incline if needed. The amount of punishment the RUSH72 can shrug off makes it a fantastic choice for many outdoor activities, but something this reliable is perfect for an emergency situation, definitely a contender for your best bug bag.
2. Osprey Mutant 52 Mountaineering Backpack
Best Bug Out Bag - Outdoor Gear Pack for Bugging Out
If you want something that won’t make you look like a one-man army, but can still handle a demanding bug out plan, look no further. The Mutant 52 from Osprey is a mountaineering pack designed for the roughest wilderness and extreme activity levels. Osprey is one of the most trusted outdoor gear companies, and they regularly make improvements on their own success. It is no surprise that an Osprey pack is our Best Outdoor Gear Pack for Bugging Out.
The Mutant 52 is almost unnatural in what it will let you accomplish while carrying 52 L of gear on your back. That’s probably where they got the name. This winner also has a smaller version, the Mutant 38, which is just as solid of a choice. If you have backup supplies in safe, easy-to-reach places, you might only need the 38-liter capacity.
This pack has some features that may need some creativity to fit with your gear, like the ice ax attachment points. However, the extra packing ability it does flaunt is more than enough to get the job done. A daisy chain down the font and gear loops on the hip belt give you easy access to things you may need quickly.
Built for mountaineering, the Mutant 52 can handle bugging out through rough terrain extremely well, with highly praised comfort and fit. And the 210-denier high tenacity nylon will last through a rough journey while still being lightweight.
3. Kelty Redwing 50 Tactical
Best Bug Out Bag for Long Journeys
Kelty has a long history of producing affordable yet choice outdoor gear. Well, with the new tactical version of their well-established Redwing line, they have done it again. This 50 L hiking backpack was designed for long-distance comfort and the enhanced 500-denier Kodra nylon can survive whatever disaster you are bugging out to avoid.
The ergonomic features of this hiking-pack-turned-tactical-gear set it apart as a more comfortable option for a rugged backpack with plenty of space. The Redwing is pretty straightforward; most of the storage is in the main compartment and there is no MOLLE webbing.
The limited features might be a downside to some people, but the average person does not know how to optimize their MOLLE attachments or lash on extra gear. Honestly, a simple, high-quality pack that is comfortable would be an ideal choice for many situations. A beginner, who wants to become prepared but might not want to ruck tons of gear or deal with military equipment, would find a comfortable, affordable solution in the Redwing 50.
Someone without children could easily scale down to the 44-liter version of this to reduce their pack weight. It is equally durable and just as comfortable. If you have a long trek on foot ahead of you to your safe place, a Redwing Tactical can let you get there in good shape.
4. The North Face Base Camp Duffel
Best Bug Out Bag for a Mounted Getaway
Not everyone will be bugging out on foot; that is just not feasible for many plans. In such situations, your best bug out bag should be one that you can grab quickly and toss into a car, or lash onto a motorcycle, ATV, or saddle is a valuable asset for a long-distance escape plan. The Base Camp series by North Face is an unexpected champion for durable bug out bags that can handle a stunning amount of punishment and heavy use.
Well-known as the ultimate duffel bag for travel or daily use, the Base Camp straps actually double as backpack straps. This feature adds a lot of versatility to an all-around great bag. All the grab handles make handling this bag alongside other people or strapping it to a vehicle or pack animal comfortable — even if you choose one of the larger models. North Face makes the Base Camp in 31 L, 50 L, 71 L, 95 L, 132 L, and a whopping 150 Liter sizes, letting you choose the perfect fit for your gear.
The 1000-denier material is absurdly strong and the outer laminate layer will not even notice water bouncing off of it. Covered in daisy chains and lash points, you can easily add more gear to the outside or connect the bag to anything you need it stuck to. A roof rack, a kayak, or a camel, the Base Camp bag will feel right at home. And that is what makes it the best bag for bugging out with a ride.
Now It’s Time to Fill Your Best Bug Out Bag with Gear!
Once you have chosen your best bug out bag, you can do a trial load or start gathering the right tools and supplies for when you need to bug out. Make sure to test the load and carry, to make sure you can handle the weight and size of the bag you end up with. Check out our other gear guides for some excellent options.