Before we start debating exactly which bag is better for outdoor survival (especially if you are on the run), let’s start by talking about “bug out bags.”  Imagine that you’re sitting in the middle of traffic, trying to get out of the city. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, people start running!  Not just meandering… but really booking, just like the opening scenes of World War Z. What would you do? What do you have that can be used to survive? This is where the rubber meets the road!

First, you should know what a bug out bag is. It’s a bag that you have pre-stocked with items deemed necessary for survival and are able to grab and run (or “bug-out” as the military describes it) with little or no notice at all. Many people seem to think that any bag can be a bug out bag. And, to a certain degree, this is true  A small plastic bag from a gas station can be a bug out bag, but what will that really accomplish?

Number One: A bug out bag should be a number of things; large enough to hold items to be used for survival, black/brown/camouflage in color, well made with the ability to be thrown around without breaking, while light enough not to hamper your movements.

Number Two: It’s vitally important the bag you choose is able to hold water in some way; either in the form of water bottle pockets or with CamelBak-like reservoirs built into them.

Number Three (but no less important): The bag MUST NOT attract attention! Noisy zippers, shiny badges or any material making the “I am walking around in snow pants” noise is an invitation to disaster.  This bag is meant to keep you safe and out of a bad situation; it is not a fashion statement.

These are just my opinions, and others might have their own. But in my experience these are the traits that I look for in a bag. That being said, a number of bags I’ve had during various deployments have served me extremely well. Specifically, I can recommend the Overhaul backpack from North Face and the BFM bag from CamelBak. The Overhaul is a simple, everyday pack for running around outside. I’ve had this bag for more than seven years and haven’t had a single issue with it. Remember, these bags are not for hauling your entire life, just basic survival essentials.

I picked up the BFM two years ago. And if I had to choose any bag for survival; it wins, hands down. This is the largest bag CamelBak makes, but it is actually VERY easy to carry and not unwieldy at all. The bag itself has two very large side pockets for water bottles, maps, knives… you name it. The main pocket is as deep as it is wide. You can fit two changes of clothes, a pair of shoes, a hat, and two MREs with ease. The secondary pocket holds matches, knives, ammunition, flint, fishing gear, etc. This pocket is also MOLLE equipped. So you can fit a medical pack on the outside without taking up space.

Perhaps the biggest advantage is the water reservoir; a 100oz water bladder built directly into the back of the bag which can be removed with ease. This has helped me many times while wandering around in different countries, as well as in the wilderness during hunting season.

Those are the bags that I have found useful in the field and everyday life, and would recommend to anyone in the market for a new bug out bag or just starting one for the first time. But by no means is this all-inclusive, and anyone can alter this list to fit their own needs. However, it is important you find something comfortable that can be easily carried for hours on end.

So good luck selecting a bag and getting all of the items you need. Please be on the alert for future videos and articles on this topic and others! And as always, remember; what you don’t know CAN EAT YOU!


  1. I have 2 Scout rucksacks I was fortunate enough to get at from a Goodwill store. What’s your opinion on these. We have camelBaks that can be worn under the rucksacks, as well as a wine skin that we drape over the upperbar.

    • Heather,

      Thanks for the comment! The scouts are not bad bags and for what I imagine you paid for them it’s a great deal. The biggest thing about the actual camelbak bags are the ability to have the reservoir IN the bag itself. It saves space and comfort. However, the scouts are good overall bags and you can modify them to hold a water bladder if need be.

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