Top qualities to look for in a bug out bag

Most of us should have a general idea of what a bug out bag is. It’s the bag of survival items that you take with you when you need to evacuate from your home to keep you alive for a minimum of three days or seventy-two hours.

Most of the information on bug out bags out on the internet has to do with the specific survival items that need to go into your bag. However, there is far less information on the bag itself and the qualities you need to look for in one.



Here are the top five qualities to look for in a bug out bag:



The first quality to look for in a bug out bag is, well, the quality itself! Don’t go cheap and buy a poorly made bug out bag. Sure, you may save some cash right now, but once that bag falls apart after only moderate use, you’ll only have to buy another bag in the future.


Super Cool Bug-Out – Author: Jim Hammer – CC BY 2.0
Super Cool Bug-Out – Author: Jim Hammer – CC BY 2.0

Therefore, invest your money in the highest quality bag you can afford. Conduct plenty of research on different makes and models of bags online to find one from a reputable brand. If possible, inspect the bug out bag yourself in your local sporting goods store.

The bag should be well made, have adjustable and padded straps, have zippers that are easy to use, have tight stitches and seams, and be waterproof to name a few things.


AWOL kit – Author: Jessica C – CC BY 2.0
AWOL kit – Author: Jessica C – CC BY 2.0

Next, look at the size of the backpack. As a general rule of thumb, your backpack should have a size of sixty to ninety liters. This is more than enough space to carry all of the survival gear you need, while also not being too heavy that the bag will weigh you down significantly and impede your ability to travel on foot.

Variety Of Compartments

New bag – Author: Bill Bradford – CC BY 2.0
New bag – Author: Bill Bradford – CC BY 2.0

After you’ve found a few backpacks with a sixty to ninety-liter capacity, check to see how that capacity is divided. Let’s say that you’ve selected two different backpacks that each have a volume of sixty liters. However, one of the backpacks only has one large compartment while the second has multiple smaller compartments. There’s little doubt that the second backpack would be able to carry more gear, not to mention that it would be far more organized as well.

Your backpack should have a variety of large and small compartments not only so it’s better organized but so you can store small and large items as well. Look for a pack with a main compartment that’s fairly large as well as multiple smaller sized compartments for carrying smaller items.

External Frame

When choosing a backpack in general you will always have to choose between in an internal and external frame. An internal frame means that the frame (usually an aluminum frame) is located inside of the backpack, while with an external frame it’s on the outside.



Internally framed packs tend to be lighter, but they are also less strong than externally framed packs. As a whole, external framed backpacks are superior because they can hold more gear, are generally better made, and because you can attach gear to the outside of them (such as a sleeping bag or coat).

In addition, an external framed pack puts space in between your back and the backpack, which will help to reduce sweating.

Neutral Color

The Go Bag – Author: mr.smashy – CC BY 2.0
The Go Bag – Author: mr.smashy – CC BY 2.0

Finally, the color of your backpack matters more than you may think it does. Avoid bright colors at all costs such as pink, yellow, orange, red, light blue, or light green. But you’ll also want to avoid tactical colors such as black or camouflage. The reason why you want to avoid these colors is because they will make you stand out, which is something you must avoid in a disaster scenario.

Instead, go with neutral colors that will more easily enable you to blend in, such as dark blue, brown, or gray.


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nick-oetken is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival