This article aims to inform readers the importance of a bug out bag and help them decide which one’s the best for them.
|Table of Contents|
|What is a Bug Out Bag?||Why would you want a Bug Out Bag?|
|What to look for in a Bug Out Bag||BEST 6 Bug Out Bags|
|Mike’s Top Choice|
What is a Bug Out Bag?
That may take from a few days to months.
What would you bring with you? Would that help you survive for at least 72 hours?
This is when you need a prepared pack with all the essentials for survival.
Get the best bug out bag that you can find even as early as now because you never know when you’d need it.
Bug out bags are called such because it’s what you need to grab immediately when you “bug out.” Also lovingly called BOB or sometimes go bags, they are basically a portable kit that contains the things that you would need to survive for at least 72 hours. Why 72 hours? It’s from the fact that humans can’t survive without water after three days. So if you must keep supplies in one bag, make sure that they can last you for three days.
The bug out bag kit principally includes water, food, clothing, some sort of shelter and first aid kit. You can add more or take away some, depending on your geographical location and situation. For example, you wouldn’t carry wool jacket if you are in a location where you need to stay hydrated more than stay warm. You would also want to include your prescription medicines, not just over-the-counter aspirins.
You may have heard of a get home bag as well.
It is not exactly the same as a bug out backpack , but it’s also not such a big deal to confuse the two as they both have survival kits.
Also, nowadays, BOBs are used as GHBs. So if you encounter bug out bags for sale but then you realize that they actually appear to be more of get home bags, don’t sweat too much about it.
Get home bags (GHB) are what you use when you only plan to stay away from your home for a short period of time, shorter than 72 hours.
Perhaps there’s blackout in your town so you need to leave your home for a day until the power comes back. In that case you need a GHB rather than a BOB because you don’t need to “bug out” but you need to get home. GHBs are inconspicuous and can let you walk around the city without looking like you are planning something nefarious. BOBs, on the other hand, look like you are planning to evacuate your home. What you include in the kit also determines what kind of bag it is.
You may need a get home bag if you live in an urban area or are traveling to one. But again, don’t be surprised if some people call it an urban bug out bag instead. Although the two have differences, you may find that manufacturers, sellers and even preppers use them interchangeably.
There is also what we call a tactical bag. This is usually used in military operations. It has pockets for weapons and other military equipment. Tactical bags are not meant to carry survival kits that you would normally find in a bug out backpack, but they are so sturdy that they are made to last for years even with frequent use.
Tactical bags must be mobile, that’s why they use the MOLLE system, or the Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment. You may also find bug out bags for sale that use MOLLE because it allows easy access for attaching gears and gives better mobility.
Why would you want a Bug Out Bag?
But the question is do you really need go bags?
After all, a zombie apocalypse, no matter how many films zombies get to star in, is unlikely to happen, or at least not yet. But how about natural disasters that currently trouble the world, like earthquakes and hurricanes? Or what if there’s civil unrest and your residential neighborhood is affected?
There are a lot of other instances that you would need a bug out backpack, not just in extreme cases. Maybe you are just the adventurer type and you just want to spend a few nights camping out in the woods.
What to look for in a Bug Out Bag
And if you are getting one, choose the ultimate bug out bag based on several factors: its capacity, accessibility, fit, quality and extra features. It should also be worth mentioning where it’s made so you have an idea of the quality that you can expect from the bug out backpack.
Probably the most important thing you should consider when looking for the best bug out bag is its capacity.
You need one that has a lot of space because you are going to put a lot of essential things in there. It should be big enough to hold your kit and the kit of whoever else is joining you. When packing for two, get a bug out backpack that can easily carry survival kits for two persons. If you can’t fit even the essentials inside, then it’s not the bag that you need.
There’s a reason why go bags are different from just ordinary backpacks.
The latter may have one or two pockets inside, but the former has a lot of pockets, compartments, sections and options to attach satellite bags. You should be able put your stuff in the bag in an orderly manner, with each essential having inserted in their own compartments. This is so you can easily take them out when you need it. Imagine if your bug out bag backpack has no compartments
so you just dump everything inside it. It would take you a while to fish out what you need when you need it.
You are bugging out and you need to stay away for at least days. You will be walking and carrying the bag for a long time. It’s going to take a toll on your back so it should be comfortable and easy to carry in the first place. Because if it isn’t comfortable on your back from the start, then you’re not going to last even just one day.
The best bug out bag is comfortable even though you find it heavy.
Look for how the shoulder straps are made.
Do they have padding and are they wide enough so they would not pinch on your skin? Does you bag have a sternum strap so you can secure the shoulder straps in a comfortable position? How about a mesh back panel to promote air circulation? Does it also have a hip belt so the bag snugly hugs your hips, allowing the weight of the bag to be distributed to your hips and thighs instead of your shoulders and back?
If you are having a relatively large pack, then choose one that has an internal frame. The frame gives the pack shape, making sure that the weight of the bag is balanced from top to bottom and that the bag sits evenly. It allows the weight to be taken off your shoulder as well. About 75 percent of the weight of the pack should rest on your hips, not on your shoulders.
Is the bag too big for you? Perhaps it’s not just the right size for you, and this will make it uncomfortable to carry. To choose a bug out backpack that is the right size for your body, measure your torso, not your height. You would need the pack to be proportionate to your torso’s size so it wouldn’t dangle on your legs, hindering you from walking naturally.
Remember that you are expected to wear the pack for a long time while walking. No matter how comfortable it appeared to be when you first fit it, it wouldn’t be as much after some time. The ultimate bug out bag is also the most comfortable.
Even though go bags are not the same in quality as tactical bags, they should still be able to endure the whole experience of bugging out. You don’t want a pack that tears easily by a twig. You would be lugging the pack in extreme situations so it should also be heavy duty and durable enough to last through everything.
And even though it is not necessary that your pack should be waterproof, it should at least be water-resistant. Light rain should soak all your stuff inside the bag.
You might hear preferences when it comes to the zipper brand as well. Many prefer YKK zipper brand used in their bug out bag kit. YKK, as they can attest, is just the best quality brand for zippers, particularly for BOBs.
This is where all the MOLLE, hydration compartments and others come in. They are great additions but not necessary when it all comes down to it. Go bags will still function without a separate compartment for your water bottles or your hydration bladder, but it will make things easier.
It’s not really a must that your bag uses MOLLE system; it’s not a tactical bag after all. However, MOLLE gives options for attaching gears and satellite bags. You never know if you need to attach stuff to your urban bag out bag. So if you are to choose between one with MOLLE and one without, it would not hurt to pick the one with the extra.
BEST 6 Bug Out Bags
Mike’s Gear Reviews has reviewed six bug out bags for sale online to find out which one is the best. Most of them are BOBs that are also tactical bags. The specs and prices listed below are taken from Amazon unless specified otherwise. Here are the choices:
The cheapest one on this list, the Eyourlife Tactical Sling Bag Military Rover isn’t from a well-known brand in the world of bug out bags. It’s a little serviceable China-made pack that is plugged as a tactical bag that can double as a BOB.
This is the upgraded version.
According to its specs, the bag has been improved so some of the old reviews on Amazon may not apply anymore. Nevertheless, here are the pros and cons as well as the specs of this bag:
|Inexpensive||Too small for a bug out bag|
|Has hydration compartment||Can’t hold a lot of weight|
|Has lots of storage spaces||Straps are connected by rings|
|Has 1-year warranty|
Main Compartment: 17.7”x9.4”x4.7”
- Secondary Compartment: 15.7”x7.8”x2.75”
- Upper Front Pocket: 4.7”x2.3”
- Lower Front Pocket: 9.8”x7”x2.3”
- Capacity: 20L
- Professional Design: It has a roomy main storage area, dual front pockets. MOLLE style accessory loops on front. Padded and breathable mesh back panel and shoulder straps offer cushioning comfort, while also promoting air circulation along your back and shoulders.
- Made of 600D Oxford Cloth: Made of durable 600D nylon oxford cloth with a water-repellant coating. The Military Tactical Backpack has durable construction with heavy-duty water-resistant nylon pack cloth construction and heavy-duty oversized zippers for extra durability.
- MOLLE System: MOLLE external expansion system (plenty of mount points on outside backpack for add-on pouches) designed to be used in combination with other equipment, you can load pockets, water bottle bag, accessory kits and other.
- 100% Authenticity Guarantee: We offer a 60-day unconditional return policy plus a 1-year warranty.
It’s generous to call this an urban bug out bag probably because it isn’t. It’s a tactical bag that, according to reviews, can’t hold a lot of weight. This is perhaps best for day hikers because of its small size.
It can hit a 15” laptop but no bigger than that.
At $18, it’s not a bad BOB but it’s also far from the best bug out bag out there. The price includes a one-year warranty, so if you encounter problem with it, you can have it replaced within that period.
And according to some users, the quality isn’t anything spectacular. It can apparently fall apart after a few uses. One of the biggest problems they have with this is the straps. Instead of sewn to the bag, they are connected by rings. If you carry any substantial weight in the bag, the straps will slide off from the ring and you will have to adjust them again.
If you can get past that, then you’d find this bag functional. It may not be what you need for bugging out, but it can be an everyday backpack.
Reebow Gear is a brand that specializes in tactical sports equipment and gears. That’s why it’s not surprising that it came up with a tactical bag that can also be used as a bug out backpack. This pack comes with a Velcro-detachable US flag. You can just remove it if you’re not American or just don’t feel like displaying it.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of the Reebow Gear bag:
|Good quality||No bands to lock straps|
|Comfortable to carry|
The specs are as follows:
- Military Tactical backpack size approx.: 13”x20”x11” / 33×50.5x28cm (WxHxD)
- Capacity: 40L
- Made of high density fabric, durable and water-resistant
- The MOLLE tactical backpack has MOLLE system, MOLLE webbing throughout for attaching additional tactical pouches or gear as 3-day assault pack bug out bag
- Assault pack backpack with double-stitched, heavy-duty zippers and utility-style cord pulls, side and front load compression system, ventilated mesh padded back area and shoulder strap, breathable and comfortable
- Military backpack has hydration compatible that works great for a hydration bladder (backpack didn’t include hydration bladder) as hydration backpack or outdoor camping hiking backpack.
- This tactical assault pack backpack can be used as 3-day assault pack, but out bag backpack, range bag, hunting backpack, survival backpack, army backpack, trekking backpack or day pack for daily use.
At $40, this is a reasonably priced bag that offers a lot of room and features. It’s a decent size bag that can carry your survival kit but not much more. For a 40L pack, this is reasonable.
This China-made BOB’s quality is outstanding. However, there are some reviewers who claim the contrary, saying that it’s sturdy at first but it will fall apart slowly. Another user complaint is about the MOLLE webbings. Some of them were not in equal size, with their loops too small to fit anything properly.
The fit is adequate, making it comfortable to carry. There are multiple pockets and zippers so you can load your stuff in an organized manner. It’s not waterproof so don’t immerse this in water. But it is water-resistant so it’s expected to have protection from water at least.
There are no bands to lock the straps so the chest and belt can come loose. The construction of the bag is allegedly inconsistent because some reviewers report on having shoulder straps attached unevenly.
It is also on the heavy side. Its shipping weight, according to Amazon, is 2.8 pounds. That doesn’t include the survival supplies and other things that you would put inside it yet.
The multiple straps may be a problem as well. They are just too many of them hanging everywhere, according to reviews. If you don’t like complicated knots, the zippers might be a concern for you. The zippers require paracord to zip up and down. But other than that, they seem pretty heavy duty.
As a BOB, this is a good one. It has what you need and expect when you want to get the best bug out bag without much complications.
The most expensive item on this list has a good reason for that. The Emergency Zone 840-2 Urban Survival Bug Out Bag Emergency Disaster Kit has all that you need in times of crisis.
This urban bug out bag contains the things that you would need to survive emergency situations, including water and food. This listing is for the 2-person kit, which includes 1 BOB and survival kit for two persons. There’s also the 4-person kit that includes 2 BOBs and survival kit fit for four persons.
This seems like the ultimate bug out bag, but it’s just a few issues short of perfect. Here are the pros and cons of this pack:
|Includes complete emergency kit|
These are the specs of the bag and the kit included:
- Discrete design
- Weighs less than 15 pounds (2-person)
- Emergency disaster kit includes:
- First Aid: 118 pieces first aid kit, 2x N95 masks
- Weather Protection: 2x reflective sleeping bag, 2x emergency poncho, 1x tube tent, 2x hand warmers
- Food and Water: 2x 2600 kcal food bars, 12x 4.2 ounce water pouch (both US Coast Guard-approved for 5-year shelf life and made in the USA)
- Water Purification: 1x folding 1 liter water container, 5x water purification powder, 1x water purification instruction sheet
- Hygiene and Sanitation: 2x toothbrushes, 1x toothpaste, 1x comb, 1x razor, 1x shampoo, 1x soap bar, 2x feminine pad, 1x washcloth, 1x toilet paper roll, 1x sewing kit
- Miscellaneous Tools: 2x glow sticks, 1x 5-in-1 survival whistle, 1x 5 millimeter x 50 feet rope, 1x duct tape, 1x pair of work gloves, 1x multi-tool knife, 1x playing cards, 1x GI can opener,
- Emergency Preparedness Guidebook: 1x 48-page emergency guidebook, 1x pencil, 1x weatherproof zip bag
- Light and Communication: 1x dynamo radio/flashlight
If you’re the type who doesn’t want to be bothered assembling their own bug out bag backpack, then this is for you. It has got everything and more; you just have to buy and store it somewhere in a safe place until you need it (or until the food and water expire in five years). Get this and forget this until it’s time. It will cost you a lot more that way, though.
But if you want to save money, go buy a decently priced bag and assemble your own bug out bag kit. It will take more time but less money. The items that you find here can be bought individually, and all of them will add up to a lot less than $140 even including a decently priced bag. The items are of cheap quality but they will do fine in case of emergency. So if you want better quality items, buy them individually. You can even personalized the items according to what you need.
There are also items included that you probably won’t need. They are just good to have as extra, like playing cards and sewing kit.
However, it’s still not bad. The bag itself is passable in quality, according to reviewers. And like all the other entries on this list, it is water-resistant. But what you are really buying here is the convenience.
Here are just a couple of things about it. There are users who complained of receiving BOBs that are in less than discreet colors. The description claims it’s a “nondescript black” bag, but it fails to include that it has white trimmings, making the back less than discreet. It’s only a problem if you want to be inconspicuous or if your situation calls you to be one.
Overall, this isn’t the best bug out bag but it’s not bad at all either.
Orca Tactical is another brand that makes tactical gears. The Salish 40L MOLLE 3-Day Army Military Survival Bug Out Bag is its largest offering from its tactical style assault backpack line. It can be a tactical bag or a bug out backpack, depending on what you use it for. If you want, you can use it as your school backpack.
The bag, made from 600D polyester material, boasts of water-resistant and scratch-proof coating, making it able to withstand harsh environments. It also uses YKK dual zippers, which is, as mentioned above, arguably the best in the industry.
Here are the pros and cons of the Orca Tactical Salish 40L bag:
|Water-resistant||Straps fall off|
|Scratch-proof||MOLLE strap size not standard|
|Large storage compartment|
|Has hydration bladder compartment|
The following are the specs, as per Amazon:
- Dimensions: 13”x20”x3”
- 40L capacity
- Two large padded compartments to hold bulkier items. Two front compartments to hold smaller accessories. Main compartment features a mesh pocket and zippered pocket for storage and an elastic band to secure clothing.
- Tactical assault backpack is made from 600D polyester material. A special coating makes the pack both water-resistant and scratch-proof. Tactical assault backpack is double-stitched at all stress points. Equipped with high quality YKK zippers with nylon pulls that are rust-resistant and tough.
- MOLLE backpack has equipped, functional side MOLLE. Fit any MOLLE accessory with 2 straps on the pack’s side. Bug out bag compression straps include an elastic band to keep straps organized and not dangling all over the place. Waist strap ends are folded and sewn over to keep from sliding through the buckles.
- Assault pack has double-stitched, padded shoulder straps and back area with mesh backing for comfort, ventilation, and strength during carry. Easy adjustable waist straps with double sewn ends to keep the waist strap from sliding loose through the buckles.
- Bug out bag contains a back compartment. Store up to a 1.5L water bladder, laptop, or use for concealed carry.
This seems to tick all boxes when it comes to being the best bug out bag. It is spacious, has lots of compartments, and is durable and comfortable. It also has MOLLE webbings and a hydration bladder compartment. On paper, this looks like the perfect BOB.
And on many instances, it is. For $40, it is a quality bag that is comfortable to carry. Most of its reviews say it is a truly durable bag that has large storage compartment, double zippers, quality fabric and a few more features that could be included in a much more expensive BOB.
However, not everyone is happy about it. Some claimed that it started falling apart after a few uses. One of the most common criticisms is the MOLLE straps. Apparently, they are not standard sizes, too narrow to attach items properly. The straps keep falling off as well. You would need to rethread the waist and chest straps several times during a short hike.
Explorer Tactical Gun Concealment Backpack with MOLLE Webbing Hydration Ready
This Tactical Gun Concealment Backpack is first and foremost a tactical backpack. It can be used as an urban bug out bag because of its large main compartment, though, and many users feel that it can really double as an adventure pack. It has a hydration compartment that can fit a 3-liter water bladder, as well as rooms for hand guns. It is just full of pockets and straps, which are very useful when you have a lot of things to put in. And so depending on how you see it, you can use it as a dependable BOB or a tactical bag when you go hunting.
Here are the pros and cons of the Explorer Tactical Gun Concealment Backpack:
|Large main compartment||Uncomfortable|
|Lots of pockets|
These are the specifications as per Amazon:
- Material: 600D x 600D polyester
- 6 zipper pockets in front, 4 side pockets, two top handles
- Two back enlarged iPhone and sunglass pockets
- Full Velcro covers the top front pocket
- Hydration ready, 1 laptop long pocket, 1 iPad easy access pocket, MOLLE strap front
- Tactical backpack with multi pockets, gun compartment
The Explorer Tactical Gun Concealment Backpack is the second highest priced entry on our list. As a gun concealment pack, it really does have pouches to hide your gun. If you want to use it as BOB, the extra compartments can be used for other survival tools instead.
What make this a good bug out bag kit are its multiple pockets. You can insert different supplies in each one and still have the main compartment free. And speaking of the compartment, it is a large one that can fit a 15” laptop or two.
It’s water-resistant, and some say even waterproof. However, according to some reviewers, the lining inside that makes it water-resistant falls apart easily. And with the lining, there’s no protection from water anymore.
The lack of internal frame also contributes to this made in China bag being uncomfortable to carry around. Without frame, it has no structure and the weight of the bag and its content will fall on your shoulders and back. This will cause you fatigue faster.
It has MOLLE webbings all over so it has a lot of expansion potentials. It has a hydration pack compartment as well.
The Explorer Tactical Gun Concealment Backpack is a little pricier than the others on this list, save for one other entry. Nevertheless, user satisfaction appears to be high.
The CVLIFE Outdoor Tactical Backpack is another tactical bag that can double as a BOB because of how it is structured. It has a lot of room and can hold a lot of weight, exactly what you need in a bug out backpack.
It could even be a contender of the best bug out bag among our entries, if not for quite a few negative reviews it has received.
Here are the pros and cons of using this bag:
|Lots of storage room||Stitching comes undone|
The following are the specs as they are detailed on Amazon:
- Main Compartment: 18.5”H x 12.6”W x 5.1”D
- Secondary Compartment: 16.5”H x 10.6”W x 3.5”D
- Upper Front Pocket: 4”H x 8.7”W x 2.5”D
- Lower Front Pocket: 10”H x 8.7”W x 2.5”D
- Material: 600D high quality nylon material
- 1.5-inch waist belt and 1-inch sternum strap
- Padded back of the backpack provides a comfortable feel
- The inside pouches are made with waterproof material, wearable and durable
- Equipped with durable zipper closure, all pounces are easy to open and close
- Padded and adjustable shoulder straps relieve pressure on shoulders while carrying heavy loads
It says there on its name that this made in China BOB is waterproof. However, waterproof is a grand claim. According to the users, it could pass for water-resistant but not waterproof. It could have some protection against water, but there’s just one problem: the zippers won’t hold against water. Water can seep through them. So even if the material is waterproof, the zippers make this claim futile.
It doesn’t have internal frame but it has light padding so it still stays upright. It’s decent quality, although not military-grade as tactical bags are supposed to be. There are several reports of subpar quality, including the stitching and the straps coming undone. The zippers are allegedly the first to go. A few also complained of receiving the product covered in white fungus and with moldy odor.
It may look big on the pictures, but it’s only 30L capacity and it’s actually smaller. The main compartment is 18.5” high, which could fit relatively large laptops. It’s roomy and it has a lot storage rooms, but when it comes down to size, it’s not as big as the photos on the Amazon page would lead you to believe.
Mike’s Top Choice
Rounding up the bug out bags for sale on this list, Mike’s Gear Reviews believe that the Orca Tactical Salish 40L MOLLE 3-Day Army Military Survival Backpack Bug Out Bag is the best one there is. It ticks all the boxes that you need for a dependable BOB. It is reasonable in price at just $40 and is made from quality materials, making it not only water-resistant, but also scratch-proof.
It offers a lot of spaces and quite a few compartments so your survival kit items remain organized inside. If the sizes of the MOLLE webbings don’t bother you, you would not go wrong with this. The brand is also a plus because you know it specializes in making such bags in reasonable prices.
The CVLIFE Outdoor Tactical bag, meanwhile, is your cheaper alternative. If not on sale, it’s more expensive than the Orca Tactical. However, it seems that the sale will stay for a while. It has several faults, but it’s a good deal at $27. It is roomy, although not that big, and it’s comfortable to carry. That’s what you would want if you are going to evacuate on an emergency.
The best bug out bag is the one where you, the user, find comfortable to carry. It should be durable to endure your adventures and large enough to contain all you need to survive. Remember that in case you need to bug out immediately, your BOB will be your companion for maybe at least three years. Get comfortable with it.