Best Survival Backpacks To Carry You To Safety

By Jason K. | Last Updated: April 25, 2023

If You’re On The Hunt For A Survival Backpack, I Got Your Back

Survival BackpackBut first, what exactly IS a survival backpack?

Well…it’s a backpack tough enough for survival – it’s as simple as that.

And a backpack is just a durable container for your gear; you take it everywhere.

Because in an emergency, there’s nothing better than having the right tool for the job.

And nothing worse than having to make do with the wrong tool…

Why? Because your odds of success are significantly better with the proper gear.

Sure, expert survivalists can often make do with what nature provides. Bushcraft can come in handy.

But carrying survival tools like a tactical knife, paracord, a Ferro rod, and a compass are difficult items to “craft” under duress.

So what’s the best way to ensure you always have the right survival tools nearby?

There’s only one way I know of – carrying a survival backpack.

My survival backpack allows me to carry all my emergency gear and tools just about everywhere I go.

But the choice matters – A LOT.

With so much riding on your pack, it would be an epic shame to grab an old cheap back-to-school bookbag you had lying around in the back of a closet.

Sorry Jan Sport, your bags are wimpy…

If the pack you choose isn’t up to the challenge of constant use and abuse, you could be risking it all! 

And the process of selecting a quality backpack is not as easy as it seems.

You need a tough, durable survival backpack (a.k.a. a tactical backpack).

One made to withstand the rigors of difficult terrain and dangerous conditions.

So, it needs to be insanely reliable, extremely comfortable, and easy to use, or it will slow you down.

So today, we’re going to cover the following topics:


Best Survival Backpacks On Sale

Best Survival Backpack Features

How Size Properly Size It

The Survival Gear Worth Packing

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Best Survival Backpacks For Sale Today

Here are a few of the ones available on the market today:

1. The Bag I Own
EVATAC Combat Backpack

This tactical EDC backpack is as tough as they come at a fantastic price point.

It has heavy-duty zippers, padded shoulder straps, a chest strap, and enough compartments to keep all your survival gear properly organized.

This bag includes a 40L storage capacity. Making it the perfect EDC bag for those who have a lot of gear haul around.

It’s made from thick, durable 600D Polyester.

It comes with heavy-duty clips. Because your EDC bag is only as good as its clips.

It has padded shoulder straps and a padded back panel for maximum comfort. Because a comfortable bag is essential, especially for daily use.

It has a quick lock chest strap securing the bag even while on the run or scrambling. This helps to prevent bag bouncing while on the move!

All compartments are waterproof. This is a must-have feature for high-quality tactical EDC bags.

It includes a total of 10 separate carry compartments. This allows for maximum organization!

Heck, it even has a dedicated padded laptop compartment. This helps protect your fragile items from bumps and knocks.

Similar bags with all these features sell for over $159 (some as much as $229 in many outdoor specialty stores).

But you can get The Combat Bag From EVATAC at a fraction of those insane prices. Click here to see if this fantastic deal is still available.

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↓ Bug Out Bag Review – The Combat Bag by EVATAC ↓

EVERLIT 42L Tactical Survival Backpack

The EVERLIT pack takes all the guesswork off your hands.

Instead of getting the bag, and then the gear.

Just get it all in one simple purchase.

The bag and the gear were hand-picked by veterans and field tested by survivalists.

This Camping Emergency Kit has more than 23 unique accessories, survival tools, gadgets, camping gear, and first aid supplies.

All packed into a 900D fabric 42L tactical backpack.

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↓ EVERLIT Tactical Backpack Survival Kit ↓

5.11 RUSH24 Tactical Backpack

The Rush72 is a large tactical pack with insanely high reviews.

It comes in a variety of different colors and includes:

  • dual-zippered compartments with YKK zippers
  • an organization pouch for pens, maps, or documents
  • hydration pack compatible
  • an extensive MOLLE system

It's an excellent tactical backpack, but you must pay a bit more for it...

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↓ 511 Rush 24 Back Pack Review ↓

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack

The Condor 3-Day pack is a bit more complex and priced accordingly.

It’s a solid, well-built pack with a large main compartment.

That single large compartment can be a little floppy and shapeless if it's not full.

But you can manage that with the compression straps.

The internal straps help keep gear in place while on the move.

The MOLLE webbing allows you to add anything you want to the exterior panels.

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↓ Condor 3-Day Assault Pack Backpack – Review ↓

Reebow Gear Military Tactical Assault Pack Backpack

Reebow Gear wants to bring fans of military gear the best equipment possible.

All their gear is a standard of high-performance military and tactical gear.

This camouflaged pack comes in black camo or woodland camo colors.

It's a 34-liter pack made of high-density, water-resistant nylon fabric.

It includes:

  • side and front-load compression system
  • a Molle system, ventilated mesh shoulder strap padding
  • a compartment for a hydration pack

You can get this tactical pack at a budget-friendly price point.

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↓ Reebow Tactical Backpack Review ↓

Best Survival Backpack Features

Trust me; it’s an overwhelming experience scrolling through hundreds and hundreds of packs. There IS such a thing as TOO many choices – it’s called Analysis Paralysis

And what’s worse is most survival backpacks look the same.

So how can you tell if one is quality or not? Seriously – they all look so cool!

Sure, there’s an occasional attempt at a unique feature here and there. But for the most part, they’re carbon copies.

And when someone comes out with a new “unique feature,” how can you be sure it’s not all just a bunch of hype? How can you tell if it’s worth the extra money?

The bottom line is:

Sorting through all the survival packs on the market is a daunting task.

You need a way to filter down your options – FAST.

That’s why I recommend starting with key features.

So, let’s go through these features to help make your decision easier.

Size Does Matter? Yes (avoid going too big)

The most crucial aspect of picking the best survival bag is the size.

I’m not talking about how it fits (we’ll get to that later) but rather how much stuff it can hold.


“The difference between “want” and “need” is how far your willing to haul it on your back” – “Just In Case” Jack

Packs are usually measured in volume, with cubic inches or liters.

This number allows us to compare survival packs and determine how much gear they should hold.

However, they measure this by filling every pocket of the pack with small plastic beads. Stuffing every nook and every cranny with small plastic beads.

They do this until the whole thing looks like an overstuffed beanbag.

Then they dump all the beads out into a container. They can then measure the total volume of the pack. All without having to measure the internal spaces of each pocket individually.

Of course, your gear doesn’t pack as tightly as those little beads.

So you’ve left with empty spaces around oddly shaped items here and there.

However, it’s worth the time to reduce empty space as much as possible. To keep your overall load compact and efficient.

And while your first impulse is to get the biggest pack you can find, that’s a terrible idea!

Even if a giant pack allows you to add every tool known to man, YOU HAVE TO CARRY IT.

Unless you can afford to hire a golf caddy to haul all your survival gear around. Otherwise, YOU’RE the mule.

How far can you walk with a 100 lbs pack on your shoulders?

Instead, what if you cut down your gear to the bare essentials? How much space will that take?

I’ve found that the 30-40 liter range is about the perfect survival backpack for me. No, that’s not massive, but it’s light and comfortable!

So I’m very deliberate about what goes into my survival pack. I don’t take everything but what I do take goes with me nearly EVERYWHERE.

You see, the problem with heavy packs is they suck to haul around.

So naturally, after about 2 weeks of wearing it daily, you decided to take a day off. You’re only going to leave it at home “just this once”…

Then you realize how nice the break is and take another day off. Then one day, you realize you haven’t taken your pack for 6 months!

But, with my lighter survival backpack, I can hike all day through rugged terrain and still have plenty left in the tank. I can also squeeze through small passages without on branches and rocks.

That kind of maneuverability is important. Especially if you’re trying to save time and save energy – or when you’re in fight or flight mode.

So do yourself (and your back) a favor – keep it reasonable, nibble, and light.

Comfort Startings and Ends With Padding

When I hear the word “comfort,” I cringe. I can’t help it. Being a self-reliant and resilient human is the exact opposite of “extreme comfort.”

Being resilient is all about intentional challenge and purpose.

But today, I’m not talking about obscene societal comforts and luxuries – such as day spas, conditioned air, and motorized sofas (a.k.a, cars).

When it comes to wearing a backpack, comfort should rank high on the priority list.

Why? Because if it fits properly and comfortably, it will reduce discomfort and distraction. That way, you’ll be more focused on the task at hand.

Pack comfort helps to increase endurance and speed by avoiding frequent overload and adjustment stops. So in this instance, comfort is a REAL tactical advantage.

Get a pack with well-built and generously padded shoulder straps. Your shoulders are the main point of contact between your body and the pack, so they’re pretty freakin’ important.

If you ignored my advice about size and weight – and your backpack weighs over 40 lbs – make sure you get a pack with hip straps as well.

That way, most of the weight of your pack should ride on the hip belt.

These hip straps transfer the load directly to your legs instead of your shoulders.

But that’s only for heavier packs.

For lighter survival backpacks, which I recommend for daily use, a good set of padded shoulder straps is more than enough.

Just make sure the shoulder straps have good risers.

Risers, you ask?

That’s just cool-kid lingo used by pack manufacturers.

Risers are the adjustment straps above your shoulder. They help to keep the pack snug and close to your back for better balance.

An adjustable sternum strap across your chest is also a nice comfort bonus.

This prevents the shoulder straps from sliding out and pulling back on your arms.

For women, contoured shoulder straps can be a lot more comfortable.

Women often need a bit more space around their chest area – so keep an eye out for women’s specific packs.

They’re harder to find, but sometimes you can swap the straps from another pack.

Closeup view of closed zippers on a bag.

Throw It Down A Cliff, And It Survives Cuz It’s Tough As Hell

All design features are pointless if the pack falls apart at the seams.

You want:

  • High-strength webbing straps
  • Heavy-duty zippers
  • Abrasion-resistant materials
  • Double stitching in key locations

YKK “self-healing” zippers are an industry-leading standard. I’ve never had one blowout on me, even on packs I’ve had for over 30 years.

↓ YKK AquaGuard Water Repellent Zipper Demo ↓

Cordura and ripstop nylon are great choices as well.

While I love lightweight silicone-coated nylon, this isn’t the proper application.

It has lower resistance to abrasion, punctures, and tears – not good enough for survival.

Waterproof survival backpacks are nice, but I’ve never seen a pack that didn’t leak.

I’d rather save the money on “waterproof” and invest it elsewhere in my kit.

A durable survival pack with a heavy-duty trash bag as a waterproof liner is a far more cost-effective option.

You can also swap in a new trash bag liner if yours ever leaks.


Quick Retrieval Systems (a.k.a small exterior pockets)

There might be more unique pack pocket layouts than there are manhole covers in New York.

Recently, it’s been like an arms race between manufacturers. It seems like the one who can add more special pockets than anyone else wins.

Sure, I appreciate additional organization – but to a point. It’s getting out of hand.

Remember, each additional pocket requires more material and more zippers. This adds up to more weight. Unnecessary pack weight is bad – ask your back – it agrees!

So instead of a pack with 30 different pockets, look for one with:

  • 1-2 main compartments for clothes, freeze-dried food, and camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, etc.)
  • a few medium pockets for things you “might” need during the day while hiking
  • a couple of small pockets for those easy-to-lose items

I’m a fan of a few strategically placed small pockets. Either directly on the hip belt, on the shoulder straps, or near the top of the pack.

These provide a place to stash small items while on the move.

Yet keep you from taking the pack off to get to them.

A lighter, a knife, some sunscreen, snacks, a compass, and a topo map live in the small exterior pockets.

If you carry a gun, stash a few rounds of extra ammo in an exterior pocket for quick, easy access.

You can’t afford to root around the bottom of your pack to reload mid-combat!

MOLLE and other exterior mounting systems have a place here as well. They provide easy attachment points for all kinds of items.

They allow you to expand your carry capacity and customize your pack.

↓ Everything You Need To Know About MOLLE ↓

However, keep in mind – exterior items are easy for others to see. So you might want to keep your loaded pistol in a concealed pouch.

Also, exterior items tend to catch on branches and other obstacles and are easy to lose if knocked loose.

Thirst-Quenching On The Go? – Yes, Please

Sawyer Mini Inline Water Filter 1

Hydration System

A hydration system can be a huge timesaver while on the move. Most can carry 2-4L of water in a flexible plastic bladder.

You drink from the bladder via a hose, eliminating the need to carry a separate water bottle.

Place the bladder in the pack’s center, right against your back. This provides the best load distribution and balance.

Of course, be sure to keep any sharp objects away from the bladder. If you pop a hole in it, you may not know about it until it’s too late.

Like when you eventually feel the water dripping out the bottom of your pack and soaking everything inside.

One cautionary note – water bladders are plastic, so you can’t boil water in one.

So you might want to stash a small single-walled stainless steel water bottle if you’re forced to boil water to purify it.

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tactical pack on a table with assault rifle

How To Size A Survival Backpack

Like clothing, packs come in many sizes to fit many different body types – from Xsmall to XXlarge.

Picking the correct size is crucial to ensuring the pack fits properly and is comfortable with a load.

Pack sizes are determined by torso length.

A measurement of the distance from the base of your neck to the small of your back.

Have someone use a flexible measuring tape. Start at the large vertebra at the base of your neck to the top of your hips.

When you’re looking at packs, check the sizing and find the one that best fits your torso length.

Most packs come with adjustability built-in.

Usually, by changing the hip belt and shoulder straps, mount points to fine-tune the fit.

Gear You Should Add To Your Backpack

OK, here’s the deal. We’ve covered the gear to put into different bags several times before – actually, a lot of times before.

So instead of rehashing the same lists again, I’ll refer you to a few of those high-quality articles:

So as you can see, we’ve covered this topic a lot, and I’m not keen on regurgitating the same info again here.

So if you want advice on what to add to your survival backpack, choose a few of the ones above, and you’ll be good to go!

Final Thoughts

Choosing a survival backpack (a.k.a. SHTF backpack) is no easy task.

This investment will contain most of your critical survival gear, so don’t skimp. Get the most durable and comfortable pack you can afford.

Then you’ll find you’re much more prepared to face the challenges of an emergency situation.

Jason K.

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