There are many lists for what to pack in a Bug Out Bag but as far as the bag itself, how do you determine what is the best Bug Out Backpack for you? It is an important element to consider and getting the right one for you is a primary step in your journey towards disaster preparedness. Should you choose a backpack, duffel bag, or backpacking style bag? What qualities should be considered when picking one? Are any features especially useful?
The types of bags typically employed as Bug Out Bags are:
- Backpack – A Bug Out Backpack can be anything from a schoolbook bag to a tactical assault type bag. This category has the widest options and is the most frequently used as it has a good balance of size and variety. This is optimal for 1-2 people or if you are bugging out with a party of adults whom can each carry their own survival supplies.
- Duffel Bag – These generally are a greater volume than a backpack but lack the ease of carrying. This is a good option if you are planning on bugging out in a vehicle and have a destination in mind such as a second home or designated camp. You would not want to have to carry this type of bag for an extended period over uneven ground.
- Hiking Pack – This combines the best characteristics of a backpack and duffel bag being that it will have a large volume and ergonomic carrying options. You will be able to carry much more survival gear in one of these than in a backpack which is important if you are evacuating with a family.
No matter what type of bag you decide on the most important factors to consider are:
1. Comfort and Fit – You may be humping your Bug Out Bag for days on end. You need something that you can wear comfortably and that will limit your movement by causing you discomfort. Pay attention to the following features when looking at a candidate bag:
- Does the bag have hip straps and hip padding – This is the single most important thing when looking at a bag for comfort and fit, which is something that is not understood by someone who has not humped a heavy bag over long distances. Hip support straps snug the pack tightly to your hips allowing the weight to be hauled by the strong muscles in your thighs and hips rather than balancing the load on your shoulders. This improves balance by lowering the center of gravity and saves your back and shoulders from bearing the weight. It is a great deal easier to carry a heavy load in this way,
- Width of straps – Are the straps made of narrow webbing that is going to dig into your shoulders and hips or is it wide with a lot of padding to cushion the attachment to your body? I reiterate: you have the potential to carry everything you need to survive over long distances, if you are hobbled by discomfort you will not be able to travel as fast or far.
- Does it have a sternum clip – This allows you to secure the shoulder straps to a comfortable position and uses the bony part of your chest as a counterbalance to the backward leaning force of the bag.
- Does the bag allow for airflow on my back or does it sit flush – Walking all day with a sweaty back can lead to discomfort and chafing. Most quality bags come with channels or webbing in the part of the pack that faces your back. These allow for air flow to minimize this.
- Are there any hard elements within the bag that may rub or poke into you – Some bags have rigid frames or hard plastic bits to help them retain their shape or to allow you to strap things to them. They do not need to be avoided as a whole but they are a factor to consider when choosing one. I once ignored this when choosing a hiking pack that had a metal frame right at the height of the back of my head. This caused me to have to lean slightly forward or bang my head… for miles. Please do not make the same mistake.
- Is the bag designed for a particular gender – Many bags come in male and female options. These have the straps cut and shaped in particular ways that make them better fitting for their designated gender’s body types.
- Are the straps and clips adjustable – Most better packs include many customization options so that you can get your pack sitting juuuuust right. This leads to greater comfort and economy of movement when carrying the bag which translates to you being able to move as far and fast as possible. In a bug out situation this equals greater probability of survival.
- Volume and Mass – How much space do you want in your Bug Out Backpack? This is determined by:
- How many people are you carrying survival supplies for? Will you be bugging out by yourself or with a family in tow?
- Do you plan on packing your Bug Out Bag with everything and the kitchen sink or bare essentials?
- The more you pack, the larger volume bag you will need and the more weight you will have to carry on your back. It is one of the most important trade offs you will have to consider. MK sales bag uk