Here’s a summary of the Best Bug Out Bags
- The One With Everything: Oakley Men’s Kitchen Sink
- A Tactical Bargain: REEBOW GEAR 3 Day Assault Pack
- Expandable Wonder: ArmyCam USA Tactical Hiking Bug Out Bag
- One And Done: Emergency Zone 4 Person Urban Survival 72-Hour Bug Out/Go Bag
- Fashionable Fleeing: Sandpiper of California Bug Out Bag
Right now, the world is in a bit of a spin. All thanks to a major, historical pandemic. But no matter what era you’re in, there’s always some sort of disaster around the corner. Whether natural or man-made, your peaceful daily life can quickly be turned on its head by any number of unforeseen events.
As the name suggests, a bug out bag lets you “bug out” at short notice. This bit of slang simply means to escape at the first sign of trouble. If you had to wake up in the middle of the night and had no time to grab anything before making your escape, a bug out bag is a specially-designed backpack that holds all the equipment and resources that you could neat when the time comes to make your escape.
What to Look for in Bug Out Bags
- Ergonomics are probably the most important thing to look for in a bug out bag. You have to carry it for up to three days, potentially over long distances. So it’s no good if it hurts your back or chafes in all the wrong places.
- Weatherproofing can be an important consideration, depending on what sort of bug out route you expect to take. If you think you might have to wade through a few rivers, it makes sense to have a waterproof bag.
- Compartmentalization can be crucial for a bug out bag. Why? Because if there are dedicated compartments for specific items, then it makes it fast and easy to find them. If you have to spend minutes looking for a critical piece of equipment, that can mean the difference between life and death. Get a bag that makes it easy to stay organized.
- Space is perhaps an obvious one. Still, you need enough room in the bag to store everything you need for the duration of your trip. The rule of thumb is three days, but of course, different people need different amounts of gear to live that long.
- Included Gear can be a boon if you don’t know what to pack or are trying to save money. In general, it’s better to stock your bag with the gear you’ve picked out individually. However, any equipment is better than an empty bag.
- Subtlety is something left to your judgment, but in many cases, it’s better not to look like you are bugging out. This means overtly tactical or “military-style” bags might attract attention.
- Technology Features are also something worth considering. These can include integrated solar panels, an external USB pass-through for a power bank, or a dedicated padded laptop compartment. Having a working phone or GPS unit can be crucial.
5 Best Bug Out Bags
With the most important aspects of a bug out bag taken care of, these are the five bug out bags that we think represent the best options in some way. None of these bags are going to be the best for everyone, and we haven’t included high-end products with crazy prices either.
After all, if you throw enough money at something, you can have a bag with no compromises. Then again, if money is no object, we wouldn’t have to search for the best deals!
1. The One With Everything: Oakley Men’s Kitchen Sink
The Oakley Men’s Kitchen Sink backpack is not sold explicitly as a bug out bag, but the features that make it special also make it a good choice for one. First of all, it’s not a military-style bag. So if you don’t want to advertise that you’re bugging out, this is one option.
It is the most expensive bag on this list, and that’s because this is a premium bit of luggage, not just in construction, but in style. It’s absolutely huge, with a laptop compartment designed to fit a big 17″ computer.
It is also a fantastic choice in terms of comfort, with a molded back panel and adjustable straps over the shoulders and waist, ensuring that you are carrying the load with ease. It has a hardened compartment for an electronic device like a media player, a dedicated spot for an extra pair of shoes, and many small compartments to help you organize your stuff.
As a 34 liter pack, it’s a fair size as well, but the main visible issue is the lack of explicit weatherproofing. So think of this more as an urban bug out bag. Otherwise, it’s an excellent all-round choice.
- Good quality hardware
- Can fit a 17″ laptop
- Many comfort features
- Dedicated shoe department
- An expensive choice
- Many people might need a larger bag or something expandable
2. A Tactical Bargain: REEBOW GEAR 3 Day Assault Pack
The first thing most people will notice about the Reebow is its price. It’s dirt-cheap, and if you need to provide bags for a family, you can pick up four or five of these for the price of a single Oakley Kitchen Sink.
The good news is that they don’t look cheap. It’s an attractive design with a cool tactical aesthetic. The bag is water-resistant and uses Molle webbing to allow easy stowing of items you need to get to quickly.
The total capacity is 40 liters, which should be enough for most people. There are double stitching and chunky zippers you should be able to operate while wearing gloves. It also has a spot for a hydration pack, though you’ll have to buy that separately.
Overall this is everything you need in a basic bug out bag at a very low price. While some parts of the hardware, such as the buckles, are made from cheaper plastic materials, we couldn’t find significant customer reviews that indicate durability problems. So it really does seem like the best choice at this price point.
- Very affordable
- Looks good
- 40 liters is a useful capacity
- Cheap materials in places
3. Expandable Wonder: ArmyCam USA Tactical Hiking Bug Out Bag
The ArmyCam comes in at a similar price to the Reebow but has an entirely different approach to its design. First of all, this doesn’t look like a tactical military-style backpack. In either color option on offer, this could pass as any day-to-day backpack. It looks good in black or tan, but the tan version sure looks more expensive and fancy.
The big party trick that sets the ArmyCam apart from the competition is its expandable nature. At its lowest capacity, this is a 40-liter bag, which is already pretty large. However, using the expansion function, that goes all the way to a gargantuan 64 liters!
This works thanks to an accordion zipper system, which lets the bag gain 5 inches of space. The waistband is also removable if you want to use the bag with less weight or in situations where you don’t need to hike.
- Very expandable and versatile
- Much more subtle bag
- Water resistance
- At this price, we always expect some material quality cuts
4. One And Done: Emergency Zone 4 Person Urban Survival 72-Hour Bug Out/Go Bag
The other bags in this list all require that you fill them with your own supplies. This is usually a good thing since you can curate the quality and quantity of the equipment you add. However, not everyone knows what to put in their bug out bags, which is why this 4-person pre-pack is so attractive. You get two bags filled with enough equipment for four people. We think the basic idea here is that two adults will do the carrying in a family of four.
The list of included equipment is staggering and far too long to include here, but it has notable items such as foldable water containers, dynamo radio flashlights, food bars, and a variety of tools.
The bags look pretty basic, but they have compartments for everything. They are discreet and don’t look particularly expensive. While we have our doubts that everything in this kit, such as the tools, will be top quality, there’s no denying that this is a one-click solution.
There’s even an emergency guidebook included with information on subjects like CPR and general survival. Both bags don’t have identical load-outs, with some equipment being shared and other types only contained in one bag or another.
- Incredibly value for money
- One purchase and you have everything you need
- Not much detail on bags themselves
- Quality of individual items is unknown
5. Fashionable Fleeing: Sandpiper of California Bug Out Bag
Most of these bug out bags are pretty utilitarian, and even the fancy-pants Oakley bag isn’t all that fashionable. We think the Sandpiper bug out bag breaks with that utilitarian aesthetic here. While triple the price of the more affordable bags here, you can see the money has been well-spent with just one look. The Sandpiper is handsome, to say the least, and would look perfectly at home sitting on the table of even the fanciest coffee shop.
However, this is a bug out bag, and so has the sorts of features you’ll expect in bags designed to let you bug out. It has all the compartments you need and very cool features such as being able to hide away straps. It offers three inches of expansion if you need it and excellent material quality everywhere.
Despite being only half the price of the Oakley, subjectively, this feels like the more premium product. So if you want to bug out in style, this is the one we would go for.
- Super stylish
- Great quality materials
- Smart design
- Lots of space
- A little pricey
- Might look tempting to thieves
Better to Have It And Never Need It
When you buy a bug out bag and fill it with the equipment you need to survive a sudden escape, it’s with the hope that you’ll never have to make use of it. It’s like an insurance policy you pay begrudgingly. It helps you with the peace of mind that should the worst happen, you have some sort of plan prepared.
We think that all of the bags featured here are priced reasonably considering what they are. They offer something at multiple budget levels.
If you’ve got a good suggestion in addition to this list, feel free to share it in the comments below. I’d also be interested in knowing what you think the ideal set of equipment is to pack in a bug out bag.
If you’re looking for more info, especially what to do after bugging out, check out our article on what it means to live off-grid.