To “me” a Bug out bag is a “small” daypack for a 72 hour encounter and can be done very cheaply by going to wal-mart and getting a six dollar outdoors product daypack(actually a nice compact bag, I got a few), throw in some bandaids, asprin, flashlight, a few bottles of water, a few mountain house meals, some power candy bars, lighter, a few coghlans solid fuel tabs, small container to boil water, instant coffee or a few tea bags, whistle, poncho and space blanket. There, your done.. survival is really quite basic and simple as long as you keep calm and remember a few simple rules. Now what if you need more than 72 hours?
Survive out Bag!
In that case, you better get a bigger bag! This Bag in all honesty may never be used. Just sits around collecting dust, Till that day it’s needed unless you take up camping and hiking. By all means please do. Why pretend to invest in one, if you never make it due to cost? These items on the cheap even add up! Go cheap to start. First you need something to carry 30 to 40 pounds, Depending how healthy you are and how well you pack the load. get nothing smaller! This is not your 72 hour Bug-out-Bag mentioned above with just a space blanket and needed items to last a couple of days, which I am sure we all have stuck in our trunk or under our seats.. This is your goto bag for when the time comes to go and maybe not come back. Obviously, you will be carrying the items mentioned under the sections water, food, shelter, intel, medical and weapons, plus some extras. This could double as your weekend or longer camping bag if you do and “should” go camping. This is a survival pack for ONE. You will need to make as many up as your family requires and teach them to use it.
A used Alice pack with external frame can be had now for 25-$35.00 usa. Great bags , but the external frames are usually steel and add some weight. ULA and GoLite make some very nice bags and light in weight for 4000 cu in size. These are costly for that weight loss. You can find some great clearance sales and get them near the price of their cheaper priced counter parts. it all depends what you want to invest, just make sure you grab a 4000+ in size.
Let’s start with a cheap priced common backpack with 4000 cu in (65 liters) room. TETON Sports Explorer 4000 makes the perfect one for around 50 bucks and five pounds in weight! They can be had with a Bright Blue insert, for stealth camping I would go with the darker grey to avoid standing out.Now you can get an ultralite backpack in the 2 to 3 pound range, but you will be paying a premium for this extravagant little item.
The Explorer 4000 weighs in at 5 pounds and is packed with features normally found only on more expensive backpacks. A full length adjustable torso allows this pack to be adjusted for those 5’1″ all the way up to 6’4″. The padded back and airflow system provides padding in the perfect spots while allowing substantial airflow to prevent your back from getting too hot. Its contoured shoulder, lumbar, and hip pads help ensure a comfortable trip. The Explorer4000 also features a padded water bladder pocket for your favorite water bladder up to 3 liters in size and is hydration system ready .
I purchased the Nalgene Get-A-Grip CXC Bladder in 3 liters and have nothing but praise for it as far as quality goes. Handle for carry and refill. Tube has quick disconnect and the mouth piece has an on and off setting. Water flows nicely and the bladder is thick. Fits and hooks up nicely to this pack while still allowing for your clothing (in a waterproof bag), sleeping bag compressed, hammock compressed, pad and rainfly, food(in a bear bag) etc. to reside in the big compartment. I actually load in about that order to get to the food and rainfly first.
Side zippered pockets, mesh pockets, and a top zippered pocket provide plenty of room for smaller accessories. I keep my crank radio and poncho in one of these compartments for quick access and my fire starting kit on another side. There’s even two spots for walking sticks, which actually are a very nice added item getting your balance going up and down those hills and crossing small streams, not forgeting their use as standing poles for your extra large rainfly, turning it into a nice campsite cover. A top-loading main compartment and a sleeping bag compartment complete the pack, although what they consider the sleepingbag compartment is to small for a real sleeping bag of 3+ seasons and I use it to store my cooking supplies.. Includes a bright yellow attached rain fly in it’s own pocket, which I do not use and replaced with a dark camo oversize poncho. Seams have good thread and appear to be able to last the long haul.
Now, if you have the ‘extra” money you can save a bit of weight and go for a ultralight bag. Still in the 4000 cu. in. range, Golite makes the Pinnacle. The teton weighs in at around 5 pounds . The GoLite Pinnacle Backpack starts at 2 pounds and holds 4392 cu. in. (72 liters). Now before you get to excited, there is a “cost” for that weight loss.
Although it works for most, the harness is a bit light on features and there is no internal brace. You use the foam pad insert or your sleeping bag pad for back support and limited ventilation. With that said, an internal framed pack amounts to no more than a piece or two of flat aluminum placed within a bladder pocket and sewn to the backing. In reality, if you really wanted a more rigged internal frame pack, you could gorilla tape or sew in a piece or two to the pad provided and have one. There are not alot of external pockets and no extra loops for hanging things from. The bag itself is just fine and about bulletproof in construction. Compresses down nicely when needed. it cost on average 2 to 3 times that of the teton, so figure a 50.00 per pound difference. You can find these on sale “sometimes” at 50 to 70% off, as I did.
The Pinnacle is an all season lightweight wonder. With a larger volume than their Jam pack it can carry bulky winter gear such as a down jacket and a winter sleeping bag easily. The proprietary Compacktor feature allows you to collapse the pack efficiently into a smaller capacity. Side compression straps with quick release buckles convert into a front attachment system for gear such as a snowboard, snowshoes, or a sleeping pad. The pack has an internal hydration sleeve with right or left hose ports for that nalgene bladder also. And a sternum strap with a whistle just in case.
As you can see, it’s all a matter of choice and money available. 3 pounds does make a difference if your traveling 2000+ miles, 15 miles a day on average. But if your on a weekender or staying close to your bug-out area, the difference might go to the options instead of the weight and at a much cheaper price.
Personally, I have both versions, for different reasons and would be hard pressed on deciding which I will grab if the SHTF. No matter what bag you choose, take a little sewing kit long with you. Take an extra belt buckle or two found at walmart sporting goods. all these bags can and will fail at some point. be ready for it.
You also have an option of getting a Molle vest to allow for weapon magazines etc and attach a medium size Alice pack to the webbing. There are many showing up on the market these days and some can be had pretty cheaply. Vests run around 40.00-150.00 and added backpack for essentials, magazine pouches, water pouches medical pouches, these all add up..but you can buy them over time.