With hundreds of brands and models out there, it’s hard to know what to choose if you want the best survival backpack. Are you going to be in the back country for a long weekend or hopping on and off flights for six months or taking it on an extended excursion away from civilization? Whatever your reasons for getting a survival backpack, there are a few options worth considering before you buy.
Check out this list of some of the best survival backpacks on the market today, plus a handy buyer’s guide to take you through the steps of making the right decision when it comes to buying your own survival backpack.
When you’re buying a survival backpack, you’ll want to consider a few important criteria. Hopefully these points will help you make the right decision.
When it comes to the quality of survival backpacks, there are two main considerations. The first is what the main material of the backpack is – what is the fabric or material that the backpack is actually made of. Most of the backpacks on this list are made of pretty high quality materials, and many of them are water resistant and very durable. If you anticipate having to deal with wet conditions, it makes sense to select a survival backpack that is water resistant.
The other element of a high quality survival backpack is the quality of the details and the construction. This is what separates the very best options from the rest. All three of our top choices aren’t just made of high quality material, they’re constructed to a high standard and are built to last. The easiest points of failure for the best survival backpacks are things like the zippers, straps, and seams. Our top 3 choices all perform very well on those metrics, with some of the picks lower down on this list don’t fare quite as well.
First and foremost, what size survival backpack should you get? To figure this out, grab a tape measure and measure from the base of your neck to the small of your back. Most survival backpacks come in the following sizes: Small (16”), Medium (16” to 19.5”) and Large (20” and up). You’ll be able to find some models in XS and XL, as well as some with different sizes for men and women.
You’ll want your survival backpack to have a capacity somewhere between 15 and 40 liters. Anything under 15 and you’ll run out of room with just your tent and sleeping bag. Most survival backpacks are designed for essentials, and you shouldn’t have to go over 30. If you’re going out for a week or more, you’re going to need 40 liters plus.
Obviously, the counterpart of capacity for the best survival backpacks is weight. Other features like additional padding also tend to lead to more weight. You want a balance between capacity, comfort, and the weight of your survival backpack – after all, the heavier your survival backpack, the more difficult it becomes to carry the same amount of survival gear and supplies around. Depending on what kind of scenarios, terrains, and lengths you anticipate your excursions will lead to, you’ll want to figure out how to prioritize weight vs. comfort vs. capacity in your backpack. The best survival backpack is different for everyone, and although we recommend one of our top three choices, the perfect choice for you might be lower down on the list.
When you’re humping a 30lb pack up a mountain and the path is sketchy and there’s the danger of a bad fall with one misplaced step, you don’t want to be struggling under an uncomfortable pack. You want your shoulders, back, neck and hips to remain as comfortable as possible under the weight of a full survival backpack.
Padded shoulder straps are a must. Your shoulders will take most of the weight of a survival backpack and you want nice, thick, comfy padding around the shoulders. A padded hip belt isn’t 100% necessary, but feels good and helps distribute the weight. A chest strap helps keep the arm straps in place.
You also want to consider your pack’s ventilation. When it’s a hundred degrees out and there’s no shade, you’re going to want a pack with ventilation between your back and the pack. Look for survival backpacks with cut outs or, even better, mesh back panels which keep the pack off your back.
On the other hand, extra padding can help if your excursions happen more frequently in cold weather. Padding on a backpack is mainly for comfort, but it also acts as additional insulation in freezing conditions, so you should plan for the type of weather you’ll likely face when picking a survival backpack.
MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. It’s the standardized system that the US and UK military use to make sure equipment can be attached to load-bearing items like tactical vests, bulletproof armor, and survival backpacks. It’s counterpart is PALS, which stands for Pouch Attachment Ladder System. PALS are the actually feature you find on the best survival backpacks – it describes a series of horizontal rows of 1 inch (2.5cm) webbing, which is spaced out with 1 inch apart, and attached to the survival backpack (or other load-bearing items) at 1.5 in (3.8 cm) intervals.
This grid of stitched-on heavy duty nylon straps allows for the attachment of all equipment that uses the MOLLE system. This would include virtually all military equipment of the right size (learn more about military survival gear), plus plenty of civilian equipment. the MOLLE system has become very popular in outdoor and survival products as it provides a useful standardization for companies, and allows survival backpacks to become much more versatile as additional equipment and items can be attached easily with no hassle.
Another thing to consider for those long, hot, dusty hikes is getting a pack with a hydration bladder. A hydration bladder allows you to keep hydrated without stopping every twenty minutes to take off your pack to access a water bottle.
Choose Best Survival Backpack!
So there we go. You should now have all the information you need to find the perfect survival backpack for you. Remember to stay safe and have fun out there.