If you’re in a hurry and are here to find out what the best survival backpack is then we recommend the CVLIFE Built-up Military Tactical Backpack as the best one.
When you decide to prepare for an emergency or are preparing for an outdoor getaway trip, you’ll find it’s quite a challenge to sort through all the contenders for the best survival backpack. With so many options, how can you choose the pack that will best meet your needs? You can start by asking the right questions.
Here are the best survival backpacks we will be reviewing:
- 5.11 Tactical RUSH24 Military Backpack
- Emergency Zone Deluxe 2 Person Urban Survival Kit
- REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack
- G4Free Outdoor Tactical Backpack
- CVLIFE Built-up Military Tactical Backpack
A Guide to Choosing the Right Survival Backpack
Here are some of the most important questions to ask yourself before choosing your backpack.
What Is the Benefit of using a Survival Backpack?
A survival backpack will generally be a pack that is able to easily accommodate everything you’ll need for a short period of time when you will be away from normal modes of supply. Your pack should be comfortable for your size and durable for the climate and terrain you will be covering.
Most survival packs have a large, sometimes divided, storage compartment, along with lots of other pockets and storage inside and out to help make organization easier. The pack will keep important gear readily accessible in mesh pockets or by attached adjustable cords.
How Can You Choose the Best Survival Backpack?
Wearing a backpack all day every day takes some getting used to. It is safe to say that you won’t be particularly comfortable at first. The amount of backpacking experience you’ve had in the past will help you know the style that fits you best and how much padding you’ll need. Look for a well-padded pack with a sturdy hip belt to support the weight and keep the pack stable.
Other important factors to consider include:
- Weight–The pack itself should not weigh more than 6 or seven pounds if a longer expedition is anticipated.
- Capacity–Determined in part by the length of your trip, whether just a day hike or a week or more. Many survival packs are weekend packs.
- Weatherproofing–Supplies protection from the moisture of any kind, from mist to snow.
- Frame–Survival packs intended for more than a few days should have a support frame of some kind. Internal frames are the most popular and reliable. Small or pre-packed survival packs will not usually have any frame, but should at least be padded.
- Ventilation–Look for the use of new ventilation technology to help you stay cool while carrying a heavy pack for an extended period of time.
What Specific Features Should You Look for?
Backpacks are generally divided into three categories of capacity. First, lightweight or weekend packs carry 35-50 liters (and weigh as little as 2.5 lb.) and are ideal for short, single-day hiking or rock climbing trips. Weekend packs often are not able to carry some larger items such as full-sized tents and sleeping bags.
Next, are multi-day, 50-60 liter packs. These packs are popular for weekend trips. They can easily carry all the supplies needed for 2-3 days. They could be used for longer trips with proper planning.
For longer trips, an extended, or 70+ liter pack is needed. These packs can carry all your gear, food, first-aid supplies, and any extra clothing for cold weather conditions. When considering the capacity of a survival pack, consider how far you will need to go to reach safety and to purchase supplies for your pack accordingly. Due to size, the packs featured in this article are mainly recommended for shorter trips.
A frame may not be necessary for a lightweight pack, but is essential for larger packs. Packs may have either an external or internal frame. Internal frames are the most popular on the market today. These frames give stability to the load and help transfer weight to the hips and legs, rather than the shoulders and back.
Most packs are designed to be packed from the top and closed with a draw-string, then covered with a flap. Other options include panel zipper access, which helps if you need something on the bottom of a compartment. Side pockets are also important for easy access to things such as a compass, sunglasses, mase, or camera.
The reservoir consists of an internal water bladder with tubing and a mouthpiece for taking a drink as needed. A hydration system is a great convenience when hiking in summer or for extended periods of time, so it’s recommended that the pack you choose is able to accommodate, or already comes with one.
The waist/hip size is determined by measuring just above your hips where the hip strap will rest. Compression straps on the pack should easily adjust to your size. If you are not a regular backpacker, a lightweight pack would be the best place to start. These generally come in a one-size-fits-all compact size.
If you may meet rainy conditions during your trip, a rain cover is important to keep your pack and contents dry. Some packs come with a cover and some don’t, so it’s important to consider how waterproof your pack will be without buying an extra cover.
Safety comes first. It is wise not to carry a pack that may be mistaken for a hunter’s prey, or that may be so bright it attracts unwanted attention. Dark blue, green, gray, or black may be good choices.
Top Survival Pack Reviews
Here are five of the top-rated short-term survival packs available:
This top-rated, 1050D nylon tactical pack features dual zipping side pockets along with a large main storage area. It also includes a hydration-compatible pocket, draw-cord stuff-it pocket, zippered fleece-lined eyewear pocket, and zippered side water bottle pocket.
It has a wrap-around MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) web platform and a hook and loop area along with three mesh compartments and two compression straps. This means you can attach all kinds of things to the pack for easy access. The pack also has a nice handle on the top for easy lifting.
The pack has a water-repellent coating. It has a 37-liter capacity for hunting, hiking, recreation or as a grab-and-go bug out bag. The Rush24 is designed for high performance, for day or weekend activities. You can pack an amazing amount of stuff in this pack and still carry it comfortably on any outing.
- Lots of organized storage
- Water repellant
- Comfortable padding
- A bit larger than average day packs
- No lap top storage, though you could use the water hydration area for this
Some may view this little pack as the ultimate emergency get-up-and-go bag. This FEMA compliant, multi-purpose 72-hour survival kit contains everything you and your family may need to deal with a life-threatening event such as a hurricane, earthquake, flood, fire, blizzard, or any other necessary evacuation. First aid, hygiene supplies, and emergency food rations are some of the included items.
Everything is packed in a nondescript, heavy-duty, discreet black pack designed to draw minimum attention. The pack has been made as lightweight as possible and leaves enough space for personal items such as medications, clothing, maps, and other important documents, and cash. There is also an emergency guidebook to provide tips about what to do when facing various types of emergencies.
The food rations are US made and have a 5-year shelf life, are calorie-dense, and designed to be non-thirst inducing. The pack contains a water purification system, a hand-powered flashlight/radio, and emergency tools and camping supplies. Each pack is designed to supply two people for three days.
- Ideal to keep at home, in the car, or at work
- Discreet design/color attracts little attention
- Ready to go with just a few personal items added
- May blend in too well and be difficult to find mixed with other bags
This 40-liter military tactical backpack features high density, durable, water-resistant fabric. It includes a MOLLE system throughout for attaching pouches or extra gear. There is also side and front load compression, heavy-duty zippers, and utility-style cord pulls.
Ventilated mesh padded back area and shoulder straps make the pack breathable and comfortable. The pack is hydration compatible for hiking or outdoor camping. The pack can be used as a 3-day assault pack or range bag.
- Large 40 liter capacity
- Advanced ventilation, padding for comfort
- Discreet design/color
- Some complaints about durability of straps, buckles and zippers
This lightweight, small capacity (7 liters) sling pack may be ideal for a child. It features many internal pockets, three external compartments, one main and one front zippered pocket, and a padded back pocket. The pack is compact and easy to organize.
The convenient G4Free can be carried in front or back. It can be used as a first aid kit or diaper bag or as a tactical versipack. The small pack is popular for its versatility as an indoor or outdoor grab and go bag. The pack is made from lightweight, durable 600D polyester. The handle is heavily padded for comfort and can be switched from left to right according to personal preference.
- Compact size
- Easy to attach extra gear
- Highly organized compartments
- Small size limits contents
- Single strap can become uncomfortable on longer hikes
This military-style backpack features one large, main compartment, a front detachable bag that can be used as a separate fanny pack, and two side detachable accessory pouches. The total capacity of the pack is 50-60 liters. The detachable bags could be used for various tactical purposes such as first aid or small accessories such as eyewear, flashlight, and compass. It also includes a hydration compartment.
The CVLIFE also features a MOLLE system for attaching outdoor gear for hiking, hunting, or camping. It has dual-density ventilated mesh shoulder straps and an adjustable waist strap. Compartments are secured with heavy-duty zippers and dual compression straps, and rain diverting flaps protect the contents from moisture. The pack would work well for a 72-hour emergency kit or hunting, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
- Durable 600D nylon material
- Chest and hip belt for greater stability and ease of movement
- Detachable pouches make it easy to customize and use however you need
- If you like the patriotic style of the REEBOW, this pack has designs like that too
- Large main compartment can be hard to organize
If you’re looking for a grab-and-go emergency bag to keep ready in the closet or in your car, the Emergency Zone Deluxe 2 Person Urban Survival Kit may be the best choice for you. However, with no hip strap and minimal padding on the straps, this could become uncomfortable very quickly. There are also limits on how many extras can be attached to the bag. But for a family, one person could carry this bag and others may carry additional gear.
A better individual choice may be the CVLIFE Built-up Tactical Backpack as an all-around winning pack for any occasion. If you’ve ever hiked for longer than a day, you’ll quickly learn the value of a padded hip strap. This bag has enough pockets to organize without hiding things from yourself. You can customize as you like and attach extra gear if needed. The pack can also accommodate a hydration system.
For comfort and durability, choose a pack that will keep delivering quality service and comfort for as long as you may need it.