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Best Survival Backpack

Last Updated: January 21, 2020
Terry Daine
Product Review by Terry Daine

You may have all the right tools for survival, but they’re useless without something to properly carry them in. A durable, comfortable backpack with enough space for you is crucial when you want to be prepared to survive.

But how do you find the best survival backpack? With so many brands and styles to choose from, it can seem an overwhelming choice to make.

An expert survivalist, however, recognizes how important this choice is, and a good quality backpack can make or break your survival success.

We’ve reviewed five carefully selected survival backpacks to help you with your decision, ranging from budget options to more high-priced backpacks.

Our Reviews
1

MEWAY 42L Military Tactical Backpack

With a storage capacity of 42L, this military-style backpack can hold enough equipment for you to survive up to 3 days of intense conditions. Along with its high-density and durable fabric, the backpack is also water-resistant, so it can handle even the roughest terrain and weather.

As a budget-friendly option, you won’t have to break the bank with this backpack, while still getting the technical features you’d expect from a military tactical backpack. It has a full MOLLE webbing system to attach your extra items to, in addition to mesh padding on the back for ventilation.

However, you may want to be wary of purchasing more budget-friendly backpacks. Some customers have reported that the zippers are prone to falling apart, and the seams can tear. It is a personal preference whether you would take a chance on this backpack, and if a budget-friendly choice would be suitable for your survival needs.

Pros

  • Water-resistant
  • MOLLE webbing system for extra attachments
  • Built from a high-density fabric
  • Storage capacity of 42L

Cons

  • Budget-friendly design means it may be more likely to suffer wear and tear
2

REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack

The budget-friendly REEBOW GEAR Tactical Backpack contains many useful features, despite its lower price tag.

Firstly, it is made from 600×600 density fabric, and is water-resistant, making it a great choice when it comes to durability. It is double stitched and comes with heavy-duty zippers, and utility-style cord pulls, which makes it long-lasting and gives you added comfort.

The back of the backpack is well-ventilated and padded, along with the shoulder straps, meaning you’ll save energy instead of overheating during a survival situation. It is an overall reliable choice when it comes to comfort, and the MOLLE webbing throughout the backpack makes it an easy-to-use option too. You can attach any extra tactical pouches or useful gear to the outside of the pack.

It has a storage capacity of 2441 cubic inches and plenty of pockets for extra space. It is therefore worth considering for any kind of survival expedition, as the size can be utilized to suit your needs.

An issue that may be important to you, particularly if you are looking at over 24 hours’ worth of use, is that there is no hydration bladder included. You will, therefore, need to pack plenty of water and be able to take it out of the pack yourself. Convenience is critical when it comes to prolonged durations of survival, so consider whether this would be a contentious issue for you.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Water-resistant
  • Well-ventilated and padded
  • Spacious

Cons

  • No hydration bladder included
3

Maxpedition Condor-II Backpack

Constructed with 1000 denier coated nylon, and complete with a triple coat of polyurethane for water-resistance, you can be assured that the Maxpedition Condor-II Backpack can withstand the harshest conditions.

In addition to its sturdy design, this survival backpack also includes military-grade nylon webbing on its handles, straps and attachment points, meaning you can attach your gear easily to the external parts of the pack.

While the backpack handles adverse weather and rough terrain, it’s also a comfortable choice to carry. The contoured shoulder straps are foam-padded, and the sternum suspension belt is ideal for weight distribution.

Despite its medium-size, the Maxpedition backpack can hold over 1350 cubic inches of gear, along with a 3-liter hydration reservoir, so you won’t feel like your equipment is too crammed in.

However, there is a lack of compartments here if you are looking for a convenient, easy to use backpack. Few compartments may be due to the overall size of the pack, which could be too small if you are looking to survive for long periods. It’s worth considering how much gear is essential to you and how long you are expecting to be in the outdoors, as this pack is on the smaller side.

Pros

  • Durable material means it can handle severe conditions
  • Water-resistant
  • Spacious storage considering its medium size

Cons

  • Not enough compartments if using for a long period
  • Medium size restricts the amount of equipment you can take
4

CONDOR 3 Day Assault Pack

The Condor 3 Day Assault Pack is designed to last, as implied by the name, for a 72-hour exploration. It holds up to 50 liters, so you should be able to comfortably fit most, if not all, of your gear inside.

Presumably, if you are looking at 3 Day backpacks in particular, you are going to want something that will last that length of time. This backpack comes with seven storage compartments, meaning there’s plenty of space to pack your gear comfortably and without having to force anything inside. The main compartment also contains straps within it, to secure your gear, with two pockets inside to store extra items.

The Condor also has plenty of side pockets for ease of use, with double-zippers on them to give you added security.

The large size also makes it an ideal choice for any survival situation, whether you are trapped in the wilderness or have to pack up and leave your town with a minute’s notice.
You can expect high levels of comfort with this backpack, as it comes with contour shoulder straps, a sternum strap, and a waist belt. This means the weight can be distributed evenly across your body, and you will feel supported.

The backpack has clearly been built with convenience in mind, as it has grab handles on the top and sides of the pack, meaning you can carry it like a duffel bag if you are in a hurry. You can attach plenty of gear externally to the pack as well, with latching points, webbing, and D-rings around the outside and on the shoulder straps.

Padded on the hip belt and back, you also don’t have to worry too much about getting backache with this option.

One issue that some customers have reported is the strength of the material, and have claimed that it tears easily after a longer period. The zippers also seem prone to breaking, so this is worth considering if you are wanting the highest-quality backpack that can withstand even the roughest of terrain.

Pros

  • Black color is discreet
  • Available in 3 colors compatible with nature
  • Trusted company
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Not the strongest or highest quality material
5

PANS Military Expandable Travel Backpack

If you are looking for a larger survival pack, this PANS expandable backpack gives you an adjustable amount of space. The storage capacity can be compressed down to 39 liters, or expanded to as large as 64 liters, making it a versatile backpack for a variety of survival scenarios.

As expected with most high-quality backpacks, it features the MOLLE webbing system, for easy external attachment. It also includes a mesh pocket on the outside, suitable for a water bottle or small item. The top of the pack also features a heavy-duty handle, should you prefer to carry the backpack off your shoulders.

It is made even more durable by its water-resistant design, and you can carry the bag comfortably using the adjustable sternum strap. Weight can be distributed easily by the added feature of a removable belt.

Although this PANS backpack boasts many useful features, some customers claim that it is not the most lightweight design, and this is possibly due to its expandable capacity. You should particularly be aware of this if you’re looking to head out for more than one day.

Pros

  • Expandable storage capacity makes it adaptable for different survival situations
  • MOLLE webbing system for extra attachments
  • Water-resistant

Cons

  • Not the most lightweight backpack

Storage Capacity

While a comfortable storage amount for you will differ depending on your size, the optimal capacity is said to be between 20 to 50 liters.

The key to determining what is the best size for you is to measure your torso, as this will be the clearest indicator of what size pack your body can handle.

As tempting as it is to choose the largest backpack to accommodate all of your gear, if the capacity is more than 50 liters, you may feel restricted if you reach the maximum limit.

Remember, you still need to be able to carry the backpack, or else it defeats the purpose, and your surviving will suffer.

Finding the right volume for your backpack depends on several factors, and getting the size just right will also be useful if you need to venture into smaller spaces during the survival situation.

You’ll want to preserve your energy as much as possible, so an increased storage capacity may actually be counter-productive to your survival if you can’t carry the backpack on your shoulders for an extended length of time.

Comfort

Being prepared for a real survival situation means anticipating being away for days, even months on end.

This means you will need to be as comfortable as possible, to not only save your energy, but also to keep you safe and prevent injury.

One way to increase your level of comfort is to use a backpack that has padded straps. This is recommended, as it prevents the pack from digging into your shoulders and back.

In terms of straps, consider a backpack with adjustable shoulder straps (sometimes referred to as ‘risers’). These can be altered to suit your comfort, and also help you to balance.

Another useful feature to look for is an adjustable sternum strap, which will stop the shoulder straps from sliding and hurting your arms.

For women or anyone with a larger chest, there are backpacks that specifically have contoured shoulder straps, which you may find more comfortable.

For extra comfort, your backpack should ideally sit high on your shoulders to distribute the weight as best as possible. This will help your balance as well and prevent you from falling over if your pack is particularly heavy.

Weight distribution can also improve by choosing a backpack with an internal frame. This will support you by transferring the weight to your hips.

If you are stuck in the outdoors, a lightweight backpack will be the best option. You’ll be able to trek through the wilderness with far more ease than if a heavy pack was weighing you down.

Bear this in mind when considering the size and style of your backpack, as you need to think about long-term comfort.

You should also consider the importance of airflow, as a well-ventilated backpack will help to regulate your temperature, as well as minimizing sweat and discomfort.

This will then increase the length of time that you can carry your pack.

Adaptability

You can’t always know when you will face a survival situation, and therefore your backpack needs to be able to adapt to any scenario. A useful feature to look for is a backpack that allows you to attach various items to it.

Being able to attach items to the exterior of the pack, such as an axe or water bottle, will also be more convenient for you.

This will allow you to quickly pack more specific items that you may not already have in your survival kit, that are suited to certain situations.

A backpack with a built-in MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) attachment system allows you to attach items to the outside of your pack.

It would be worth looking into this feature for added convenience and versatility.

Many survival backpacks are inspired by military operation bags, as these are built to handle intense challenges.

A high-quality backpack like this will give you a better chance at dealing with more difficult survival scenarios, rather than a standard hiking backpack, which may not be as versatile.

A good indicator of an adaptable survival backpack is the amount of compartments it has.

While you don’t want an unnecessary number of compartments, to the point where it weighs your pack down, you will need a decent amount to fit in all your gear.

Everyone’s ideal number of compartments will be different, but many survival experts recommend between 1-2 large compartments, for your clothes and camping equipment.

You should also have several medium-sized compartments for additional items that may be useful along the way, but aren’t as crucial as clothes and shelter.

Around two small pockets, ideally placed around your hips or shoulders for easy access, are useful for easy to lose gear, such as your compass.

Pockets like this save you from having to take the whole pack off to reach these things.

Durability

In addition to withstanding a variety of survival situations, your backpack should also be able to last against even the harshest conditions.

It needs to be made from sturdy materials, as well as being water-resistant, to increase your chances of survival.

It is difficult to find a completely waterproof survival backpack, however most high-quality ones are water-resistant, and may even include a waterproof rain fly.

You can use this to cover the backpack during wet weather and protect your gear.

The highest-quality backpacks are usually made from a sturdy material such as nylon, but you should also take a look at the denier rating of the material when choosing a backpack.

The denier rating refers to how long-lasting the backpack will be over an extended period of time.

For example, a backpack that measures at 1000D will be more resistant to wear and tear than one measuring at 500D.

Recap

While all of these backpacks offer great features for tactical survival, my choice for the best survival backpack is the REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack.

What makes this survival backpack stand out the most is the number of high-quality features it has, combined with its budget-friendly price.

You can feel confident that you’re getting a high-quality product despite the price, and the amount of technical features it hosts makes it suitable for all kinds of survival scenarios.

I believe it is the best survival backpack for the money, but clearly there are plenty of excellent options available to you.

Despite being an overwhelming and important decision, hopefully our reviews have given you an insight into the best backpack for survival.

Whether you are looking for a tactical survival backpack, or specifically wanting a small survival backpack, the right choice can make all the difference to your survival, so make your decision wisely.

Good luck and happy survival prepping!

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