Choosing the right bug out bag backpack just might be the single most important decision to ensure your family’s survival. Yes, the stuff inside the pack is important, but you have to able to carry all that survival gear safely and comfortably. Supplies that have to be left behind because your bag fails, or becomes unbearable to carry, do you and your family no good at all.
What is a Bug Out Bag Backpack?
A bug out bag is an insurance policy in case your family is required to leave the safety of your home in an emergency situation. The bag needs to contain supplies and gear to help your family get to a safer, alternative location. Most bags should have at least a 3 day supply of food and water for every member of your family, plus other needed survival gear and supplies. (A post to come on what you need in your bug out bag will come a later date.) Most of these bags are backpack style for ease of carrying.
Can we use a school backpack?
The answer is no, not as your primary bag at any rate. These types of backpacks are readily available at just about any department store and are very inexpensive to buy. Unfortunately, this is one of those areas where price and quality sometimes go hand in hand. They tend to be shoddily made, meant to last about nine months for a school year. Not meant for the rugged outdoors, or the abuse a survival bag will take.
That being said, these bags might do well for secondary family bags. Any able body in your household over the age of eleven should be carrying a bag, though their bag will be much lighter as they should only be expected to carry their own food, water, and clothing. Gear one up and have the person try it on for size before deciding. Even so, check out the quality of the zipper and fabric before going this route,
External Frame Bug Out Bag Backpacks
An external frame backpack has a lot of good things going for it when it come to use as a bug out bag.
- These bags are made to carry heavy loads, so the weight of your supplies shouldn’t stress the bag.
- The outside frame does a great job at keeping the weight distributed, allowing your hips to take some of the burden from your aching shoulders.
- Another thing the outside frame does well is allow air flow between the bag and your body. If you will be traveling in hot, dry weather, this could mean a lot in the way of comfort.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to this type of bag: the weight of the bag can tend to shift on you and feel a bit top-heavy.
Internal Frame Backpacks
These bags still have frames, but they are on the inside rather than outside. This creates a more body-hugging design so that the load can be carried more comfortably, but doesn’t allow for the air flow between you and the bag. These bags are great for stability on uneven ground as the form-fitting design means less load shifting.
So Which is Better: Internal or External Frames?
Actually, neither is a clear winner. Both styles do very well as a bug out bag backpack. It really comes down to personal choice. Which brings us to a very important point: Don’t buy your backpack online!
There are a lot of really great survival tools and gear that you can safely buy online–your backpack isn’t one of them. You need to try them on, see how they fit, and actually put weight in them and see how that feels before you buy it. You can only do that in a store. A good outdoorsman-type store clerk can help you try on different bags until you find the absolute right one for you.
Other Things to Look for in a Bug Out Bag Backpack
- Adequate shoulder padding. Trust us.
- Compartments. You really don’t want just a big gaping hole to put stuff in. You are going to need to know where everything is, and be able to get to some of your most important gear very quickly.
- A hip strap. This will help take some of the load from your shoulders. Distributed weight is weight much easier to bear.
- Water resistance. Your pack is going to need to be ready for any type of weather and able to keep your supplies dry and usable.
- Durability. Really check out those zippers and seams. If it looks shabby, pass. Quality and durability are essential here.
Word of Warning
Don’t go too pretentious with your bug out bag backpack. You really don’t want to advertise to other people in crisis that you have had the fore-thought to prepare for this. If you want to share (and you have enough to do so) that should be your decision, not the decision of a mob.