A BOB, a bug out bag, a survival go bag, a battle box or INCH bag (I’m Never Coming Home) are among the many names these “survival” kits go by.
Global warming. Grid crushing super storms. Civil unrest. Zombie apocalypse.
The new season of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
There are a multitude of reasons to believe that civilization as we know it is about to do its best impression of the Hindenburg. When society crumbles, you’re going to want to bug out of town.
You can’t escape without supplies.
Hitting the Wal-Mart with all the other looters is a rookie mistake. Your chances of survival will not increase with carrying a portable Wal-Mart on your back. Your kid’s Hello Kitty school backpack isn’t going to cut it.
You’re going to need a sturdy, reliable, no excuses bug out bag that will help you survive for at least 72 hours.
It never hurts to be prepared for any situation, going on a trip or just going outside to take the trash out! Well, maybe not that overly prepared but you get the idea of how important it is to have some sort of kit to be able to survive for at least 2-4 days when going on a trip.
Any survivalist will also tell you that having a survival kit, preparedness kit or being called a bob around in your home, car or even garage is a good idea. In reality, a good bug out bag can be any type of backpack that will house everything you need. Filling it is another story!
So below in the comparison guide, I compiled a list of brands and various styles for you to choose from. Even a couple that are already packed!
Included in the matrix are 6 columns:
– Backpack brand and name/model – (click to view more details or to purchase)
– Price – These are approximate prices on Amazon.com. These change frequently based on availability, special promotions, and more. But generally speaking: $ = under $90, $$ = $90 to $200, $$$ = $200 to $500, $$$$ = $500+
– Rating – The average user rating on Amazon.com. This can be very helpful in deciding if people are satisfied with their purchase.
*Click on any of the columns to sort the data for the best bug out bag to help make your decision easier.
Some great BOB resources:
The webmaster over at Survival Cache has begun a process of creating and packing his own “BOB”. Check out his write up at starting my bug out bag.
Here is a fella, George Terro over on YouTube that gives a break down of what he keeps in his bag and even which pack he is using!
Pack used in the video: Alpha OPS Internal Frame Pack
You could also:
Here is a short list to work from:
6 Granola Bars, 2.5 oz
16 Beef Jerky, 1 oz
32 oz Pure Water in Plastic Bottle
Nylon Rain Poncho
Small Box of Birthday Candles
2 Butane Lighters
Stainless Steel 16 oz Cup
Stainless Steel Spoon
Mini Mag Flashlight
2 Extra Batteries
Maps of Local / Region
Nylon Parachute Cord
(duct tape wrapped around one end for handle)
Small Fishing Kit
35 mm. Film Bottle (Kit Container)
30 ft. 20 lb. Fishing Line
Long-shank Fishing Hooks
Scented Rubber Worm
10 Split Sinkers
Needles and Thread
2 Disposable Razors
$20.00 Cash and Small Change
4 Assorted Plastic Bags
Compact AM-FM Radio
Spare 9 Volt Battery (for radio)
Small .22 Rifle and Pistol
100 Rounds Of .22 Ammo
Below Are My Top 5 Best Bug Out Bags:
#1. Condor Compact Assault Pack
The first bag I tested was the Condor Compact Assault Pack. No one can say Condor does not employ truth in advertising.
This bag is compact. See more specs here <<
It is also cheap at about fifty bucks, but it does not feel cheap. The reinforced stitching on the straps and compartments is sturdy. This bag will take a beating, but will it carry my gear?
The hydration pocket easily swallows my 3 liter Camelbak. The smaller front top pocket seems tailor made for smaller crucial items, like a medical bag, compass and flashlight. The Condor Compact has a nice middle pocket between the main compartment and the two front compartments that provides extra protection for more fragile items.
I hide my extra ammo, firestarter kit, emergency cash, food, and a change of clothes in there. Now things get a little tight. In the main compartment I shove my camp axe, poncho, cold weather gear, water filtration system, and tent. There is no room for a sleeping bag. The Condor Compact does sport lower compression straps for sleeping gear, but the clearance is tight.
I shove my bag between the straps like Cinderella’s fat sister trying to cram her piggies into the glass slipper, with about as much success.
That being said, the bag offers expandability with lots of Molle webbing. A couple of side pockets for fishing and trapping gear and a bottom compartment for a sleeping bag would make this good pack great. One other downside is the lack of a waist strap. I’m weak sauce; for multi-day trips I enjoy distributing the weight from my shoulders to my lower body. This bag works great for day hiking or even a multi-day trip in warm weather, but without adding compartments it won’t serve you as well as other packs in a bug out scenario.
#2. Condor Molle 3 Day Assault Pack
I believe Condor agrees with me since they also market the Condor Molle 3 Day Assault Pack. At first glance the weak sauce in me cheered for the contoured back padding, the padded shoulder straps, and the padded waist support. Morale is critical in a survival scenario.
It’s the little things like contoured back padding that gives us the will to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
This bag absolutely swallowed my gear like it was a contender on the professional hot dog eating circuit.
Everything fit. Cold weather gear. Maps. Ammo. Pistol. Axe. Tent. Ponchos. Sleeping bag. Medical kit. Mess kit. Food. Water filtration.
Everything. See more images here <<
Not only did it all fit, but it was well organized too. The 3 Day Assault Pack has seven main compartments with lots of mesh dividers that keep your smaller items right where you need them. If you need more storage, the Molle 3 Day Assault Pack has you covered with exterior webbing for modular expansion.
I also like the water drainage holes at the bottom of the compartments. When the grid goes down the weather will probably be awful; which it was when I tested this bag.
When I hit the trail with this pack the sun was shining. That, of course, did not last long. Fifteen minutes in the universe decided I needed a shower. Rain gushed from the pack’s water drainage holes, keeping the bag from getting too heavy.
Even through the slippery footing the bag remained balanced. The adjustable chest, shoulder, and waist straps kept the pack snug against me. Internal straps kept my axe and shovel in place so they didn’t poke me as I scrambled across rocks.
Slipping face first into the mud was not the pack’s fault. Drenched, I decided that now would be a good time for a dry shirt and perhaps a rain jacket.
Then at the worst moment I discovered the bag’s flaw: The zipper. The flap jammed into the zipper. When I tried to yank it the plastic pull snapped off. After a lot of shivering and hearing my wife’s voice in my head for not wearing a rain jacket, I was able to open the pack and get to the plastic bag protected dry shirt. I would replace the standard zipper pulls with some para-cord to fix that problem.
Zipper fiasco aside, this is a great pack for a multi day survival scenario. It’s comfortable and fits all the gear you are able to carry.
#3. Maxpedition Condor II
I have heard a lot of hype about this bag but never had the pleasure to use it. My first impression is that this is a sturdy pack. All the straps and pouches have reinforced stitching. The internal seams are taped for greater durability.
While researching this product I found 3 different listings on Amazon and all with different prices and you wouldn’t believe just HOW different… See the 3 different styles here <<
Maxpedition even replaced the plastic zipper pulls with para-cord. I could throw this bag into a crowd of unruly cub scouts and feel confident that the Condor II would survive. The pack easily passed the first test of storing my bug out gear.
The separate compartments divvied up my equipment so that locating specific items was quick and painless.
Molle webbing lines the exterior so you can add even more pouches. I could conceivably live for a week out of this bag. The Condor II stows a lot of gear, but is it comfy enough for weak sauce to ruck it for a few days?
This bag is heavy duty.
The fabric feels a bit stiff. It took a lot of trial and error to adjust the straps to fit my back. In all fairness this was probably due to the last user being built like The Rock, while I am made of more svelte stuff. Once I conquered the straps the Condor II felt comfortable with its padded shoulder straps and sternum strap. Unfortunately, the waist strap is not padded.
Even more unfortunately, the rain had not stopped yet. Bad for me. Good for testing out the Condor II’s water resistant Teflon coating. Ignoring my family’s incredulous looks I stomped back out into the mud.
As my drill sergeant was fond of saying, “If it’s rainin’, we’re trainin’.”
Despite my best efforts the pack still felt a bit awkward on my back. I doubted my maneuverability. Instead of gentle flat trail, I detoured to a steep hill that, for some reason lost to history, has a series of wooden barricades to climb.
After checking to make sure no one could see me if I fell flat on my butt, I grabbed the first barricade, hoisted myself up, hooked my foot over the top, and cleared the obstacle.
The pack remained stable. Hopping over the second barricade, I felt like a member of Seal Team Six…until I whacked my knee against a plank of wood. That can’t be blamed on the bag.
What truly impressed me about the Condor II was that after hiking almost an hour in a steady heavy rain, my clothes in the main compartment were still dry.
#4. Sandpiper Of California Bugout Bag
It is difficult for any bag to top the Condor Molle 3 Day Assault Pack or the Maxpedition Condor II, so that might be why the Sandpiper of California Bugout Bag underwhelmed me.
The material felt flimsy and cheap. Even though the bag was about six months old I was surprised to see that one of the shoulder strap buckles had broken and the fabric of the outer compartments was frayed. The design of the pack even suggests that it is not meant for a bug out scenario. The shoulder straps can un-clip so that you can wear the pack messenger bag style. These clips are not sturdy enough to trust in a survival situation.
I don’t have the best luck.
If something can go wrong, it will. That’s why my gear has to be simple and have the least amount of moving parts possible. Thin clips are just the thing that will break for me when I need them the most.
The pack is massive. Click HERE to see how massive this pack is.
All my gear easily fit inside. In fact, I even managed to stow my wife and son’s equipment, which would be handy if I ever had to carry everything. After cramming fifty pounds into the compartments I lifted the bag. The SOC had the space but not the strength. The fabric tore from the strain.
That was not a good sign. The weakness surprised me. When I was in Iraq members of my platoon swore by these packs. I was jealous. The SOC packs used in Iraq were far superior to my general issue pack. Checking Sandpiper’s website I learned that there are two versions of this bag. The one whimpering in my garage was the 600 Denier poly/canvas blend.
The one that earns the five star customer reviews is made out of more durable 100 Denier Cordura. Those carrying the Cordura model will have a much different experience.
#5. 5.11 TACTICAL RUSH 72 BACKPACK
As the name suggests, 5.11 built this bag to endure three days of hiking.
The compartments are spacious, but not large enough to carry my winter time bug out gear. A small tent, lightweight sleeping bag, and cold weather gear overwhelmed the pack. There are no compression straps on the bottom to affix a tent or sleeping bag.
Instead, 5.11 sewed four canvas anchors to the bottom corners of the pack where I could use cords to connect a sleeping system.
Since I’m reviewing the pack as is, I stripped my bug out shelter equipment to the bare essentials: poncho, cold weather gear, and a thin sleeping bag.
Molle webbing lines the front and the sides for extra storage pouches. What the pack lacks in space it compensates with organization. The clamshell design allows the bag to open all the way up so that packing is extremely easy.
It also allows you to see everything in your main compartment at a glance. See HERE <<<<
I’m the kind of person if I didn’t see my axe when I peeked into the bag, I will obsess over the fear that it didn’t actually make it into the bag until I had to stop hiking and rummage through the pack to find the axe. All of the main compartments contain mesh pockets to keep smaller items.
The bag will last you 72 hours, if you are traveling light and have the fortune of bugging out in pleasant weather.
At this point in the testing I had hiked a few hours, my shoulders were a bit sore, and I was hoping that the Rush 72 would feel like a Tempur-pedic My Sleep Number bed. So, that’s a bit unrealistic, but the bag was comfy. The shoulder straps are thick and padded. The sternum strap can adjust vertically to accommodate different body sizes.
The waist strap wasn’t padded, but it did fit snug to my body.
5.11 was kind enough to provide raised back padding with channels for air flow to cool you down. While “as is”, off the shelf, I would not want this bag for a prolonged survival experience in adverse weather, the bag is built sturdy and comfortable enough for lots of hiking.
My Final Conclusions:
With the exception of the Sandpiper, you can’t go wrong with any of these bags. For the price/performance ratio I preferred the Maxpedition Condor II and the Condor Molle 3 Day Assault Pack for an unpredictable bug out scenario, but the others can be modified to fit your needs.
No matter which bag you choose, pack it up with gear, hit the trail, and test it out.
Hopefully, you will never need a bug out bag, but as the TV commercials keep telling me: Honey Boo Boo is coming. You need to be prepared in case she knocks on your door.