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Published Oct. 3, 2021

A natural or manmade disaster happens and you have to evacuate immediately. Do you have everything you need to survive readily available? That’s where a bug out bag comes into play. It’s a bag that contains life-sustaining necessities — like survival food — you can grab and take with you. These bags can range from large multi-day packs to small bags. With such a wide variety of bags available, the choices can be overwhelming. I’m a backpack enthusiast with a large collection of packs I use for hunting, fishing, hiking, and everyday carry. I also have a few bags packed and ready to go for emergencies. Using my experience testing a wide variety of packs I’ve assembled a list of the best bug out bags. Here are my top picks. 

Best Bug Out Bag: Eberlestock Switchblade

Key Features

  • Capacity: 1500 cubic inches
  • Concealed carry pouch
  • Weight: 3 pounds 10 ounces
  • Interior pockets for organizing small items

Why it Made the Cut

The Eberlestock is a premium pack with the features you want in a small bug out bag, but it doesn’t have the conspicuous tactical look associated with bug out bags. 

Pros and Cons
Pros

  • Easy to organize
  • Doesn’t look tactical

Cons

  • Can’t support a lot of weight
  • Price

Product Overview

Blending into a crowd and not raising eyebrows can be beneficial during a bug out situation. That’s not a feature most bug out bags have, but it’s what the Switchblade excels at. Inside this seemingly normal backpack are well thought out pockets for organizing small items for easy access. It also has plenty of space for everything you need to survive one or two nights while bugging out. The zippers are one of my favorite features because they are ergonomic and allow fast access to different parts of the bag. 

If you’re looking for a small pack that can support one person for one or two days, then this is the best bug out bag for the job. It offers just enough space, comes in a variety of colors, and has extra features any prepper will appreciate. 

Best Emergency Backpack: Kelty Coyote 85

Key Features

  • Pack volume: 85 liters; 5,187 cubic inches
  • Weight: 4 pounds 14 ounces
  • Torso Fit Range: 15.5 to 21 inches
  • Ventilated back panel
  • Easy torso adjustment

Why it Made the Cut

The Kelty Coyote 85 offers plenty of space for multi-day bug outs or to support multiple people from one pack. It carries loads from 30 to 50 pounds comfortably, and will fit a wide range of people. 

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Carries enough supplies for multiple days
  • Comfortable
  • Easy adjustment

Cons

  • Does not fit all people

Product Overview

If you need to carry a lot of supplies, you’ll need a larger bag than a standard day pack. The Kelty Coyote 85 offers a good blend of space and value. The 5,000 cubic inches of volume will allow you to carry enough supplies for several days, and it carries those supplies comfortably thanks to the internal frame and padded hip belt. In use, you’ll appreciate the exterior pockets that allow you to easily access important items like maps, water filters, and flashlights. 

Before buying this pack or any multi-day pack, check your torso length against the manufacturer’s specified range. If your torso length falls outside the range, the pack will not properly distribute the weight. A proper fit puts most of the pack weight to rest on your hips not on your shoulders. Tall users, like myself at 6’6”, will find this pack doesn’t carry a heavy load well, although it fits most people well. 

Overall, this is the best emergency backpack for carrying around 50 pounds of supplies and bugging out on foot. It’s priced well and has all the features you need for a large bug out bag. 

Best Bug Out Bag with Rifle Holder: Eberlestock LoDrag II

Key Features:

  • Pack Volume: 1800 ci
  • Rifle scabbard 
  • Hydration bladder sleeve 
  • Made of 420 denier nylon
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds 


Why it made the cut

Eberlestock is a brand synonymous with packs equipped with built-in rifle scabbards. If you’re looking for a bug out bag that will allow you to carry the essentials and a rifle, look no further. 

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Securely holds a rifle 
  • Durable

Cons

  • Limited on space

Product Overview
This is the best bug out bag with a rifle holder and with 1800 cubic inches of space the Eberlestock LoDrag II gives you day pack capacity with the unique capability of securely and comfortably carrying a rifle. The rifle scabbard sits close to your back for the best weight distribution and the padded scabbard protects your rifle and optic. The scabbard holds rifles up to 60 inches, so you can carry all but the longest rifles. The bag features a shelf that allows the interior to be either one large space or two separate compartments. The 420 denier ripstop nylon makes the bag extremely durable. The pack carries weight comfortably thanks to the polycarbonate Gossamer frame. This is the ideal bag for one or two days worth of supplies and the added capability a rifle gives you in a survival situation.

Best Bug Out Bag for the Money: QT&QY 45L Military Tactical Backpack

Key Features

  • Separate compartments
  • Exterior MOLLE webbing
  • Pack Volume: 45 liters
  • Material: 900D polyester

Why it Made the Cut

This inexpensive pack has just the right amount of space and compartments to carry what you need and keep items organized. 

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Price
  • Ripstop material
  • Plenty of pockets

Cons

  • Cannot carry heavy loads comfortably

Product Overview

A bug out bag isn’t a bag you can use for everyday carry, hiking, or hunting because it needs to be always packed and ready to go. That means you can have a pretty expensive bag that you never use. So, it makes sense to spend a little less on a bug out bag than your packs you use hard in everyday life. QT&QY Tactical Backpack fills the budget bug out bag niche perfectly. It’s affordable, functional, and just the right size at 45 liters to store the essentials you’ll need. This bag doesn’t carry a heavy load comfortably so if you’ve weighed it down, you’ll feel it in your shoulders after the first mile. That’s why I especially like this bag for anyone bugging out with a vehicle or bike. If that fits into your bug out plan, then this is the best bug out bag for the money.

Final Thoughts

When a disaster forces you to leave your home, packing a bag is the last thing you want to do. A rushed packing job might result in forgetting an essential like a water filter or medication. A bug out bag solves this problem by being always packed and ready to go. When choosing from this list of best bug out bags, consider what you’ll carry and how you plan to bug out. Those factors will steer you to the best bug out bag for you.

Evaluating Bug Out Bags

Finding the best bug out bag is much like evaluating the best backpacks, but with a consideration for the features needed for a bug out scenario. Here are the factors I took into account: 

  • Look (Does it look inconspicuous?)
  • Size (What is the pack volume?)
  • Comfort (Will it comfortably carry all the necessary supplies?)
  • Features (Does it have pockets for organizing supplies or other helpful features?)

How each of these factors was weighted depended on the category the pack fit in. For example, it’s not necessary to have an inconspicuous pack when you are carrying a rifle. Or, if you’re bugging out in a vehicle a comfortable pack isn’t as important. As you make your bug out bag selection take those considerations into account as well as your budget.

How to Choose a Bug Out Bag

The main consideration for choosing a bug out bag is what you intend to carry in your bag. It’s helpful to put together your pack list and bug out plan first. Then, you’ll have a clear idea for the size and type of bag you need. Here are some additional things to consider when making your choice: 

  • If you’re evacuating on foot, there’s only so much you can carry. But, if you’re bugging out in a vehicle, you can take more supplies and a much larger bag. 
  • If you’re in an environment where keeping a low profile is beneficial, a tactical looking bag might attract unwanted attention.
  • If your bug out plan involves a long trek on foot, then you’ll need a proper fitting backpack with a frame and hip belt.

FAQs

Answering some basic questions around choosing a new bug out bag.

Q: What is the best color for a bug out bag?

Standard colors like black, blue, red, and green are all excellent colors for a bug out bag. Camo is a color that could draw unwanted attention in populated areas. 

Q: Is it smart to have a bug out bag?

Being prepared is always a good idea. If you live in an area prone to wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, or other natural disasters, it’s an especially good idea to have a bug out bag prepared.

Q: What is the best size for a bug out bag?

The size of your bug out bag will depend on how many people you need to support with the bag, and how far you expect to travel. For most people, a day pack with enough supplies for one or two days is all that’s needed, but some people might need a larger multi-day pack. 

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Outdoor Life editors don’t just enjoy hunting and fishing as hobbies—the pursuit of these passions make us who we are. Our writers are diehard outdoorsmen and women, too. For more than a century, OL has been evaluating the latest and greatest outdoor gear and providing our readers with no-B.S. reviews. We test products in the field under real-world conditions. We write about the pros and cons of every product we review so that you know exactly what you’re getting if you decide to purchase the gear we cover. Only the best hunting, fishing, backpacking, camping, and survival gear will make the cut in our reviews and roundups. If we’re covering it, you know it’s legit.

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