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Best Survival Backpack [Top 10 Prepper Picks]

A survival backpack is designed to keep you alive when you have no shelter to rely on. They are a survivalist essential tool and choosing the right one matters.

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There are myriads of different backpacks out there, and it can be overwhelming knowing which one to choose in any given scenario.

If you’ve ever set out on a long hike with a flimsy, thin-strapped day pack; you probably wished that you’d invested in a dedicated hiking backpack instead.

Survival backpacks are no different – they are any survivalists essential tool and choosing the right one matters. A lot.

What is a survival backpack?

A survival backpack has been properly designed to keep you alive when you have no fixed shelter to rely on.

Preppers often wonder whether you can rely solely on survival skills like bushcraft: using only what the earth provides to survive.

While there are some survival skills which are absolutely essential to learn and will indeed help to keep you alive, having a few extra items and a good place to store them will help you even further.

In a hurry? If you just want to get to our conclusions, here are our top picks and recommendations!

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Essential features of a survival backpack

You might think that you can get away with a simple backpacking bag in a survival scenario.

Whilst there are some backpacks that would be up to the challenge, survival backpacks are loaded with features that that will not only make life easier, but may even save it one day!

Survival backpacks have to be:

  • Durable. This is key. Heavy duty zippers, reinforced stitching, waterproof cover, tough and abrasion-resistant material and load-bearing webbing. You do not want to find yourself in a survival scenario worrying about your pack falling apart!
  • Comfortable. Even though you’re possibly in an end-of-days scenario; comfort is still key. You will likely be carrying this pack for hours every day through all sorts of weather and terrain, and you do not want to add bruised hips and aching shoulders to your list of concerns.
  • Spacious. Whether opting for a 40L or 70L+ backpack, the way in which space is distributed is key. Secret pockets, extra compartments, compression straps, carabiner loops and clips – all of these are functions which you may find useful when you need to access gear quickly or keep something hidden.
A fully loaded survival backpack

How to choose a survival backpack

In this review we will cover a range of survival backpacks which will appeal differently, depending on your needs. Here are some key considerations when choosing between survival packs.

Size of the backpack

You may be tempted to think that a bigger backpack is better; however this is not always the case.

If you buy a pack that is too big for your needs, then you will likely just fill it with non-essential items which may burden you as time goes on.

The best way to choose the right size is to gather all of your essential survival items first and then test a range of backpacks to see which is the perfect fit.

Are you surviving alone or with your family? Do you have young children who cannot carry all of their own gear?

These are important considerations to be weighed in while choosing the right pack, as you need to make sure that you can transport all the gear that you and your loved ones will need.

MOLLE Webbing

MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, and is a style of backpack popular with both US and British Armed Forces.

Each pack has external webbing, upon which you can easily attach and detach different pockets, accessories and other modules depending on your needs.

MOLLE isn’t essential, it is merely down to personal preference.

Carabiner strapped to a molle webbing on a backpack
Molle webbing can give you extra carry options when setting up your survival bag.

Hydration Bladder

Many packs will come with a dedicated hydration bladder compartment.

This mitigates the need for cumbersome, bulky water bottles as your water source sits neatly against your back and is accessible via a tube while you walk.

Compartments

Survival backpacks generally either contain one or two main storage compartments, or many specially-designed compartments to help you stay organized.

There is no “better” option; again, it is simply a matter of personal preference and something to be considered when choosing a pack.

Internal vs External frame

Larger backpacks will either feature an internal or external frame, typically made of aluminum or lightweight alloys.

Whilst internal frames may look neater and be more streamlined, external frames are a great place to clip extra supplies onto and can often be removed for transporting other goods.

Survival or Stealth?

Backpacks generally fall into two categories: hiking/backpacking and military/hunting.

While the latter may seem a better choice when talking about survival, looking super-prepared and donned in military gear might be the best way to paint a big, fat target on your head!

If you are concerned about other people stealing your gear or assaulting you – higher risk for those who live in a city – then you may want to opt for a less-obvious hiking style backpack which looks much more innocent.

If you want to learn more about being stealthy in any survival scenario, check out our guide of how to be a gray man.

Best Survival Backpacks 2021

Without further ado, here is our list of top 10 survival backpacks, covering a range of sizes and features to suit differing needs.

Mardingtop Internal Frame Backpack

The Mardington Internal Frame backpack is one of the most popular and most solid choices for a survival backpack.

It comes at a sizable 65L capacity, with two large side pockets perfect for holding 1000ml drinking containers or other essentials.

The design is very well thought-out, packing in an integrated rain cover, padded S-shape shoulder straps and even has some MOLLE webbing on the front of the pack, for those who want to make use of it.

The torso length can be adjusted, to suit a range of peoples’ sizes – which could be good for those traveling in a group who want to take turns carrying the heavy pack.

You can access the bottom compartment easily from the pack exterior, and there are a good number of compartments and straps located throughout the pack for your ease.

The Mardingtop Internal Frame Backpack comes in a range of colors: black, navy blue, army green and khaki, to help the user travel truly incognito.

It is made from high-grade and durable 600D polyester, with heavy duty YKK zippers which won’t let you down.

All in all, this is a top survivalist’s choice.

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5.11 Rush24 Military Tactical Backpack

The 5.11 Rush24 backpack has been designed with survival in mind.

At first glance, the 37L may seem too small for anyone wanting to survive for a long time away from civilization. But its sophisticated MOLLE design allows you to transport as much or as little gear as you want to.

The 5.11 Rush24 Military Tactical Backpack has 29 compartments allowing you to keep your belongings super-organized, and utilizes durable YKK zippers, 1050D polyester with a PUx2 coating for extra water repellency.

It comes with an integrated hydration bladder and drain holes located on the bottom, and the padded shoulder straps sit snugly on your torso for maximum comfort.

In short: this backpack has been made by survivalists, for survivalists, and is consistently one of the top-rated tactical backpacks on the market.

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Check out the video review below for the 5.11 Rush24 done by Pack Hacker Quick Hits.

If you love this style but want something a little bigger, then check out the 55L version. It has all of the same sophisticated features and design flair from 5.11: 5.11 Rush72 Military Tactical Backpack

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Drakon Outdoors Waterproof Dry Bag Survival Backpack

Despite its seemingly small 40L capacity, the Drakon Outdoors Waterproof Survival Backpack is hugely capable survival pack.

If you live in a rainy climate, or will be boating, kayaking or hiking through wetcountry – then this is a sure contender.

The backpack is made from 500D PVC polyester, the welded seams are completely watertight, and the roll-top stops the elements from leaking in whilst you’re on the go.

This Drakon Survival Backpack has been tested in all manner of conditions, and is impervious to water, sand, dirt and mud.

The front and sides of the backpack include MOLLE webbing, and it comes with 6 external pouches for you to assemble how you see fit.

Despite its sturdy construction, this pack is surprisingly lightweight and comes with reinforced shoulder straps: both of which help to keep you comfortable when on the move.

All in all, this is an excellent contender for top survival pack and provides total peace of mind where foul weather is concerned.

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Huntvp Military Tactical Backpack

Huntvp are a trusted name in the specialized survival world. This 60L backpack is designed with a tapered fit – keeping the bottom wider than the top to provide the most comfort when the pack is fully-loaded.

It is made from water-resistant 900D Oxford fabric, has self-healing zippers and waterproof nylon stitching at the seams.

The backpack has MOLLE webbing on the front and sides for any add-ons you might wish you travel with, and has a good number of well-placed compartments on the waist-belt, straps and exterior of the pack to help you stay organized.

The Huntvp Military Tactical Backpack's S-shape shoulder straps and aluminum alloy bars help to spread the weight evenly on your back and shoulders, and the ventilating mesh helps to keep you cool.

This allows you to stay comfortable over long distances with heavy loads (if you’re fit enough, of course!). All in all, this is a very well-thought out backpack made by a trusted manufacturer.

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Eberlestock X3 LoDrag Pack

This backpack is one of the more unusual-looking survival packs on the market – but for good reason! As the “LoDrag” name may suggest, this backpack has been designed with speed and stealth in mind.

Both the top and the bottom of the backpack are tapered to keep the load close to the body, and Eberlestock even recommend calling them before you purchase a backpack to get all of your measurements, as they are quite a specific fit.

The exterior holds MOLLE-compatible webbing and offers 32L of internal pack space.

The most noticeable element of this Eberlestock X3 LoDrag Pack backpack is the dedicated weapons scabbard which runs close to your back.

Thoughtfully reinforced at the points where other packs wear out – this is certainly one of the top backpacks on the market for those traveling with a weapon.

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Check out this video review of the Eberlestock X3 LoDrag Pack made by TheOutdoorGearReview.

Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack

The Kelty Redwing 50 is an ideal backpack for blending in with the crowd.

It was originally designed as a travel and hiking backpack, but thanks to its superior design and features it has become popular among survivalists too.

It has a full-access U zipper, enabling the pack to be used as a panel or top-loader, depending on your preference.

The suspension system has been designed for all-day carrying comfort, and the curved design helps to keep the weight distribution even and close to your back.

The Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack is a highly-organized pack, with zippered side and stash pockets, top pockets and dedicated water bottle pockets.

The main advantage of this pack is the lack of obvious survival tools. No MOLLE, no camo, no military-style add-ons: a huge advantage for keeping you and your loved ones under the radar in a survival scenario.

This pack is definitely one to consider, especially those who live in an urban area where other people could be a real danger.

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Check out this video review of the Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack made by gideonstactical.

DIGBUG Military Tactical Backpack

This is the best backpack for those on a budget or looking for a back-up! The DIGBUG Tactical Backpack is extraordinarily capable despite its low price point.

With 40L of storage, heavy duty zippers and 600D water resistant fabric, it makes an excellent bug-out or survival pack.

It has several external compartments and is covered with MOLLE compatible webbing, with several   perpendicular compression straps to keep your gear secure.

The DIGBUG Military Tactical Backpack even has a dedicated hydration compartment so there is no need to attach a bulky water bottle to the exterior.

It may look a little cheaper than the 5.11 and other “top brand” items, but again this may end up working in your favor in a survival scenario.

This would be an excellent pack to give to a secondary family member, or keep as a back-up pack in the truck in case you cannot return home.

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

ALPS OutdoorZ Commander + Pack Bag

Built for heavy loads and harsh terrain – the ALPS OutdoorZ Commander + Pack Bag is a versatile powerhouse of a backpack. Originally made for hunters, it has become a popular survival backpack due to its detachable external frame and clever features.

The main pack can be removed, leaving just the external frame and supportive freighter shelf. This is ideal for transporting meat or a recent kill back to your camp.

It comes with a dedicated drop-down rifle holster and spotting scope pocket, meaning you can transport all the gear you’d need to be totally self sufficient.

The ALPS OutdoorZ Commander itself is made from durable rip-stop nylon and has padded shoulder and waist straps, large external pockets and plenty of loops for lashing extra gear onto.

The frame can be adjusted for different torso lengths from 17” to 23”, meaning that this load can be shared between family members or others in your survival group.

All in all this is an ideal survival backpack, particularly suited for those with experience in hunting.

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Elite Survival Systems ELS7725-B Stealth

This option from Elite Survival Systems is another great choice for those with a need for stealth and secrecy.

At first glance, this backpack looks no different to one that your Average Joe might wear on an average day. The insides, however, tell a different story.

The two main compartments come with full U-zippers allowing full access into each compartment, and they are lined with MOLLE compatible webbing and Velcro loops for discreetly carrying firearms and other survival gear.

There is also some MOLLE webbing on the pack exterior for extra pouches, and internal mesh pockets for documents and other personal items.

The Elite Survival Stealth backpack's S-shape shoulder straps are padded and molded to provide maximum comfort, and the extra sternum strap helps to keep the weight off your shoulders.

The waist belt is also padded, and there are several mesh cushions which lie against your back to increase comfort and ventilation.

All-in-all, this is a top contender for a stealthy, well-equipped backpack.

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack

The Explorer 4000 is a robust internal frame backpack offering all of the top qualities of a survival backpack. It is not as specialized as some of the others on our list, making it incredibly user-friendly and stealthier than some of the more obvious survival backpacks.

The aluminum frame is rigid but lightweight, offering exceptional support and load distribution without weighing you down. All of the straps are padded and fully adjustable, adding to this backpack’s versatility and comfort.

The TETON Sports Explorer offers a huge 65L of storage, and can be accessed from the top-down or via the dedicated sleeping bag compartment at the bottom.

The three external side pockets are hugely spacious – perfect for those grab-and-go pieces of gear – with two additional mesh pockets for water bottles or nutrition bars.

This backpack could easily pass as an innocent hiking pack, but comes in four stealthy colors allowing you to remain discreet and hidden.

They also make the same style pack in different sizes, if 65L is too large.

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Check out this video review of the TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack made by TheOutdoorGearReview.

For even more specialized survival backpacks recommendations we have two more dedicated guides: the best bug out bag backpack as well as the best get home bag backpack.

Final advice on choosing a survival backpack

There are a plethora of choices when it comes to survival backpacks, and each is built with a different aspect of survival in mind.

Novice survivalists will likely feel more comfortable with a traditional backpack, whereas the more seasoned preppers might be more at home with a military or hunting-style pack with more niche and specialized features.

The best way to determine which size you need is to compile all of your essential survival gear, and see which pack size can hold it all!

If you will be with your family, determine the best way to distribute the weight so that no one person is doing all of the hard work – and maybe opt for the adjustable backpacks which can be worn comfortably by different people.

Lastly, test your pack out BEFORE you need to in a real-world survival situation!

Head to the back-country with your backpack and gear and spend a few days hiking, cooking and camping.

This will quickly highlight any problems with your backpack and enable you to sort this out before it is too late.

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

This website started as a way to keep me going forward on the path to being better prepared.

Now, I’m turning it into a complete blueprint for anyone else looking to do the same!
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