What is the best survival backpack available today?
It's essential to know the answer because whether you’re climbing one of the world’s highest peaks or trudging through arctic snow, a good backpack is essential, particularly when you’re using it to carry essential items that are necessary for survival.
Survival - that’s a pretty broad term right? But for the sake of this article, we’ll be describing 3 of the best survival backpacks as bags that can hold at least 3 days worth of essential survival items.
You may never need half of these items, and, if you don’t, surely that’s a good thing, right?
But every explorer should be equipped with the right gear should they find themselves in a difficult situation, be it because of a spontaneous natural disaster, extreme weather, or perhaps just a general lack of planning.
A survival backpack should contain everything you need to survive for at least a few days.
Therefore, it needs to be durable, weather-resistant, and big enough to carry all of your essentials such as food and water supplies, blankets, a first aid kit, and an emergency radio.
To help you out, we’ve scoured the internet for the best survival backpacks on the market, and have even put together a handy buyer’s guide so you know exactly what to look out for when you're narrowing down your choice.
Here's 3 of our best survival backpack picks...
OUR TOP PICK
The Explorer4000 backpack is one of the most highly-rated on Amazon and is suitable for men, women, and youths.
It’s made of highly durable 600D ripstop and 600D Oxford Canvas.
With a 65L capacity, it will hold enough gear for 3-5 days of backpacking and has a range of extra features such as a sleeping bag compartment, compression straps, and exterior pockets which allow you to strategically pack and organize your load.
This backpack also takes comfort seriously and features multi-position torso adjustments to fit a range of body sizes, as well as a durable open-cell foam lumbar pad and molded channels to provide maximum airflow and balance.
The Explorer 4000 is adjustable at the torso, waist, chest, and shoulders for superior fit and comfort and will mold to the contours of your body.
The pass-through side pockets of this backpack make storing your tent or trekking poles super easy.
A sewn-in rainfly can be tucked away when not needed and keeps your gear dry in sudden downpours, while the hydration pocket can store a 3L hydration pack for quenching your thirst whilst you're on the move.
- Great value for money
- One of the most highly-rated survival backpacks on Amazon
- Highly durable 600D ripstop and 600D Oxford Canvas.
- Adjustable at the torso, waist, chest, and shoulders
- Open-cell foam lumbar pad for comfort and molded channels for airflow
- Sleeping bag compartment and compression straps
- Pass-through side pockets
- Hydration pack pocket
- Sewn-in rainfly
- Some women found this less suited to female body shapes
Not only is this Mountaintop bag great value for money, but it’s also unisex, and has a huge 75L capacity with an expandable top which provides an extra 5L of storage.
It’s perfect for days of hiking, camping, and traveling and can endure a range of conditions thanks to its highly durable 600D polyester fabric which also has a water-resistant coating for light showers.
This backpack is great for carrying external luggage thanks to the useful side and front compression straps, allowing you to easily transport additional items such as a tent or mattress without worrying about taking up too much of your internal capacity.
Mountaintop has also designed this backpack with comfort in mind, and the breathable mesh panels and padded shoulder straps provide cushioning and comfort whilst also promoting circulation on the back and shoulders.
The added chest and waist belts allow you to evenly distribute the weight of your load, while the Super carry-CR adjustable weight distribution system features 8 sizes, so you can adjust the bag to fit your height.
If you think this bag can’t get any better, it can. There are a few qualities of this bag that make it perfect for survival gear: the main pocket can be divided into 2 compartments, so you can conveniently store clean clothes and food in the upper section and dirty clothes or shoes in the bottom compartment.
This backpack also has a built-in survival whistle as well as a hydration pocket that stores a 3L hydration pack with a hose channel on the side.
- Huge capacity with expandable top
- Highly durable polyester fabric with water resistance
- External luggage straps
- Mesh panels and padded straps for comfort and breathability
- Chest and waist belts and adjustable weight distribution system
- Dividable main pocket and multiple smaller pockets
- Hydration pouch and hose channel storage
- Multiple smaller pockets
- The water-resistant coating will endure light showers but not heavy ones
Osprey is known for making highly durable and sophisticated backpacks and the Atmos AG™ 65 is one of the top contenders on the market.
The best feature of this bag is its AntiGravity™ suspension which distributes the weight of your load across your back and wraps seamlessly around your body, so it feels like you’re carrying far less than you actually are.
It also features an ExoForm™/BioStretch™ harness with a load lifter 'bar' for added comfort when carrying your load long distances.
The structure of the bag fits the contours of your body for ultimate comfort and unrestricted movement.
This bag has a 65L capacity and the adjustable stretch mesh panel provides additional external storage so you can maximize your load and organizational options.
Dual zippered front panel pockets are perfect for smaller items and essentials that you need easy access to.
You can also be prepared for anything the elements throw at you thanks to the Integrated and detachable rain cover, FlapJacket top cover for use without the lid, and Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment.
While the Osprey quality standard does come with a higher price point, in our opinion, this bag is worth it for its unique AntiGravity™ suspension which provides superior fit and comfort so you can carry all of your survival essentials with minimal effort.
- Excellent quality and durability from Osprey
- AntiGravity™ suspension
- ExoForm™/BioStretch™ harness with load lifter 'bar'
- The backpack fits the contours of your body
- External storage options and zippered panel pockets
- Integrated rain cover
- Trekking pole attachment
- FlapJacket top cover to lighten your load
- Comes with a hefty price tag
Whether you’re on a military expedition or you're simply hiking for pleasure, this tactical backpack is highly durable, made from 600D, water-resistant polyester with an added rain cover for heavier showers.
It has a 65L capacity and two large detachable side pockets for additional storage, plus the adjustable top lid also allows you to increase capacity by 10L, so you’ll easily be able to store enough gear for several days.
This Mardingtop backpack features molle webbing for hanging tools, trekking poles, sleeping bags, and accessories to save you using up your internal space.
The side pockets can hold 1000ml water bottles, while the top lid is convenient for storing maps and your compass.
The compression straps allow you to secure items to the bag externally and keep items in place, whilst the zipper access at the bottom of the bag allows you to easily access the main compartment when you need to, without emptying all of your gear.
This bag also features an 8-stage height adjuster on the back, so you can tailor the bag to your height and size, while the sternum strap and hip belt enable you to distribute your load more effectively whilst providing maximum comfort.
Mesh padding on the back of the bag also provides extra cushioning and lumbar support while promoting circulation.
- Expandable top compartment for additional 10L
- Molle webbing and compression straps for external storage
- 600D, water-resistant polyester
- Rain cover included
- Detachable side pockets which hold 1000ml water bottles
- 8-stage height adjuster
- Sternum and hip belts for a secure fit
- Mesh padding for breathability and comfort
- Heavier design than most others on the market
This waterproof backpack from Nevo Rhino is prepared for whatever is thrown it's way, and with a 75L capacity, you’ll have no trouble fitting in all of your survival essentials and more.
Made from durable, lightweight nylon, this bag is well-built with strong stitches in all the places that endure maximum strain, like the shoulder straps and carrying handles.
The high-load adjustable waist belt allows you to endure heavy weight more comfortably and the extra padded dual wishbone waistband with adjustments offers a more tailored and ergonomic fit.
Padded, breathable shoulder straps allow your skin to breathe whilst you’re on the move, so you won’t break out in a sweat due to the strain.
There are a few other features that make this bag stand out, such as the reflective strips, sunglasses loop, and convenient hat bag.
There’s also a dedicated compartment for your sleeping bag and a waist pack for storing your valuables.
The wide range of compartments and zippers allow you to find a place for all of your survival gear, while the 5L extension collar allows you to maximize and expand the bag’s capacity.
We should also mention the fact that despite its size, this bag weighs just 5.35lbs when empty.
- Massive 80L capacity with extension collar
- Made from durable, lightweight nylon
- Strong stitching, particularly at stress points
- Adjustable waist belt with additional waist pack for easy access to valuables
- Padded, ergonomic shoulder straps with breathable fabric
- Reflective strips, sunglasses loop, and rain cover
- Sleeping bag storage
- Multiple zipper compartments
- Lightweight despite capacity
- Some buyers had issues getting in touch with Nevo Rhino
Best Survival Backpack Buyer’s Guide
We’ve shown you what’s on offer, but you may still be feeling a little overwhelmed by the choice.
If you’ve got questions running through your brain such as, what capacity should I buy? Is water-resistant the same as waterproof?
And how important are compression straps, sleeping compartments, and water pouches, fear not.
We’re on hand to help you separate the wheat from the chaff and take you through all of the key features to look out for.
Considering the amount of gear you need to store in your survival backpack - food, water, extra layers, a tent, and so on - you’re going to need a pretty large capacity.
You’ll want a bag that stores at least 50L in our opinion, and having the option to attach additional items to the exterior of the bag, or to expand the top, are always good features to look out for.
Any survival bag that tears easily isn’t going to hold up very well if you find yourself in a bit of a predicament.
You need a bag that has strong, reinforced stitching which can bear the weight of your load, as well as a fabric that is tough, durable, and tear-resistant.
Nylon is great for durability, and polyester can also be a good choice.
Versatility is key in a survival backpack. The more pockets, the better, as it’s essential your load is well-organized so you know exactly where each item is stored in the case of an emergency.
It’s a good idea to go for a bag that has multiple compartments for your sleeping bag, clothes, and food, as well as a zippable bottom so you can easily access the main compartment.
You also want plenty of smaller compartments for storing items such as maps, a compass, emergency radio, flashlight, and any valuables.
An expandable top is great for extending your load capacity, while compression straps allow you to attach additional items to the exterior of the bag, such as mattresses or sleeping mats, and hiking or tent poles.
It’s also a good idea to look out for a backpack that has a side compartment for water bottles or a pocket for a 3L camelbak or hydration pack and hose - to ensure you always have easy access to water.
Look out for a backpack which is made of water-resistant fabric, this means it will be able to endure light showers without the contents of your bag getting wet.
Water-resistant material isn't the same as waterproof coating - as it won't hold up as well in heavy downpours so a waterproof rain fly is essential for this reason.
This brings us to comfort. None of the above matters if your bag is uncomfortable and you can barely walk with it on your back.
Most hiking backpacks take comfort very seriously, but it’s a good idea to look for a backpack with ergonomic, padded shoulder straps and waist and sternum belts for distributing the load.
You also want to ensure the back of the bag is made of a breathable, moisture-wicking material - usually mesh - to promote airflow and comfort.
Look out for bags that have adjustable features so you can tailor the backpack to the contours of your body, and look out for backpacks that are male or female-specific, as these will differ in their design.
Extra features such as loops or molle webbing are great for hanging additional items from, while built-in waist bags on the belt and detachable pockets can also come in very handy for ensuring you have easy access to all of your essentials.
It’s generally a good idea to steer clear of the super cheap options, as these are bound to be poorly-made with weak stitching and low-quality fabric.
On the other hand, you may not want to purchase a backpack that’s going to break the bank, especially if you’re not going to be using it very often.
In this case, it’s probably best to go for a middle price point, as this is where you can usually get the most bang for your buck.
It’s a bonus if your bag comes with a warranty guarantee, too.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I put in my survival backpack?
While there are additional items you may want to consider, these are the main essential items you should pack in your survival backpack:
- Water bottles
- Food to last you 3-5 days
- Tactical flashlight
- Emergency blankets
- Survival knife
- Compass/GPS device
- First Aid Kit
- Water filter
- Pots and pans
- Wind up/battery-powered emergency radio
- A backpacking multi tool
What’s the best survival backpack?
The best survival backpack will differ depending on your size, budget, and intended use of the bag.
However, in terms of durability, comfort, and versatility, we like the TETON Sports Explorer 4000, and the volume of 4 to 5-star reviews on this product speaks for itself.
This backpack is from the reliable outdoors brand Teton, is great value for money, and has everything you need to store and comfortably carry your survival gear: from a sleeping bag compartment and pass-through side pockets to a hydration pocket for a Camelbak so you can keep yourself hydrated throughout your trip.