Choosing Your Bug-Out Backpack

When was the last time you saw a kid waiting for a school bus who was NOT wearing or holding a backpack?

I can’t recall the last time I witnessed that. Backpacks have become standard operating procedure for just about every student. From kindergarten all the way through college.

Which is kind of unusual if you think about it. When many of us were school kids, nobody carried a backpack. If you had books, you carried them in your hands. If you had a lunch box or lunch bag, you carried it in your hands.

Now, every kid wears a backpack. Of course, how else would they hold their cellphone if their hands were busy carrying books and lunches?

Backpack essentials

Perhaps few of us had backpacks when we were in school. But now we should definitely have one or two of them.

A bug-out situation will make a backpack mandatory. The key is to own a backpack that can carry as many of our essentials as possible without weighing us down too much.

It needs to have wide, padded shoulder straps so as not to dig into your shoulders. And it should include a reinforced bottom.

Your backpack should also be weatherproof because it’s inevitable that it will get wet at some point.

Questions to answer

But this still leaves us with a choice. Should you have a military or tactical backpack? Or is a hiking or hunting backpack sufficient?

Before we decide, we should ask ourselves a few questions. Such as, will I use this backpack on a regular basis, or at least occasionally? Or will I only use it in case of an emergency?

What is the maximum amount of stuff – and its weight – I’ll be including in this bag? And how important is it to keep items properly organized within the bag?

Let’s take a look at a few backpack-style features so we can make an informed decision.

Hiking bags – pros and cons

Outdoor hiking bags are designed to be lightweight. They should be comfortable to carry and the construction should be at least slightly better than the average school backpack.

One style is called ultralights. They are very popular among hikers, who walk long distances with them.

They are not as durable as heavier backpacks. And they usually do not have as many pouches and zippers (if any). There is a limit to how many things you can lash onto it, assuming it includes that capability.

But ultralights don’t weigh you down. And airflow allows the skin on your back to “breathe.”

Hiking packs and hunting bags

There are three different styles of traditional hiking packs. They are frameless, internal-frame and external-frame.

The complaint with frameless hiking packs is that they don’t transfer weight from shoulders to hips very well. But they are light.

Internal-frame hiking packs have aluminum rods or plastic frame sheets. Weight transfer is better, especially when going uphill or downhill.

External-frame hiking packs transfer weight well and are good for long-distance hiking. But few of them are made anymore.

Hunting backpacks are similar to traditional hiking backpacks, but they are usually camouflage. A bigger difference is that many have suspension systems to help haul meat after a hunt.

Military/tactical bags

If you are planning to carry MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) in your backpack, you’re going to want a military/tactical style bag.

The type of equipment I’m referring to includes tactical gear, knives and other weapons. These bags are very durable, and they can last a long time.

They are designed to withstand rough weather conditions. And due to their many different compartments, it is easier to organize your items.

The webbing on these bags allows you to attach and detach a number of items. Including pouches, slings, and gear such as knife sheaths, magazine pouches and radio pouches.

A military/tactical bag might sound preferable to you as a bug-out backpack. Just remember that it will be significantly heavier than other bags. People with back issues should consider that before making a purchase decision.

Choose it and use it

Once you determine which is the right type of backpack for you, load it up with your essentials and take a hike for an hour or two.

You’ll have a much better idea of whether you can comfortably squeeze in additional items, or if you need to remove a few.

Whichever backpack choice you make, you’ll know you’re ready to bug out quickly if you have to in an emergency.

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