There are many names for that pack of just-in-case supplies — go-bag, bug-out bag, survival go-bag, grab bag, get-out-of-Dodge-gear. Whatever name your run-for-it bag wears, its contents are a vital part of surviving a super volcano, financial meltdown, hostile government takeover, zombie apocalypse or whatever brand of nightmare your anticipated disaster is.
Meant to get you through the first few days of chaos following a civilization-changing event, your go-bag should contain items that sustain the foundation of life, not luxury. Lightweight food, water, water purifiers, medication, documents, rudimentary shelter and sophisticated weaponry are just a few items to pack away. Other necessary preps include clothing, fire, communication and the most useful tool known to man: a blade.
Most folks choose their go-bag food carefully, and they purchase a quality water filter. Clothing is chosen for durability, warmth and often for an inconspicuous appearance. Then it all gets thrown into your teenager's cast-off school pack, or a $13 Walmart special that will literally come apart at the seams during the first hard run for your life.
Some folks use a duffel or an airline-approved carry-on bag. Though fairly durable, such bags limit mobility. Personally, I want a bag that I can run with, ride a bike or motorcycle with, and even fight in if necessary. Those tasks limit one's options to a backpack or sling pack of some sort.
In order to take lost-world abuse, provide easy accessibility and offer comfort during long hikes or bike rides, a pack has got to be quality. Zippers should be heavy, pockets generous, carry straps robust and stitching durable. Weight of a quality pack won't be light, but will preferably be as light as possible without compromising durability. With all those heavy meatball MREs, a Bowie knife Crocodile Dundee would be proud of, and a box or two of ammo, you'll be fully aware you're lugging your life with you when you sling that puppy across your physique and head for the hills.
Excellent go-bag choices can be had from nearly every manufacturer of quality tactical, mountaineering or hunting packs. Dozens of models are available with about every option someone could want. So shut off Red Dawn, lay aside the tomahawk you're sharpening, and peruse this list for a little inspiration. And afterward, if you know of a pack that deserves to be on the hot list, let us know. Here are 10 great survival go-bags that could save your life some day.
Blackhawk Ultra Light Phoenix Pack
A combination of get'er done durability and uber-light weight, the Ultra Light Phoenix Pack
combines compression straps Blackhawk
hydration systems. Interior capacity is 2,175 cubic inches.
Price: $190 to $246
5.11 Tactical Triab 18
Properly a sling bag that easily converts to a backpack, the 5.11 Tactical Triab 18
offers some great grab-and-go features such as a robust grab handle and a rapid-access pistol pocket. A large, triangular-shaped main compartment contains the bulk of your emergency gear, while an admin pocket and many small organization pockets keep navigational gear, IDs, money and other essentials separate and accessible. Constructed of 1050 denier nylon, the Triab 18 is compatible with hydration systems or armor plates, and offers MOLLE loops over most of the pack. Available in Sandstone or Midnight Ash colors.
Sitka Flash 32
Designed by the offspring of mountaineers that crossbred with passionate hunters, Sitka
packs are incredibly well designed and built. At 3,200 cubic inches, the Flash 32 is one of the roomier packs featured here. It has a tension frame for comfortable carrying of heavy loads, yet it compresses down into almost nothing when loaded light. For preppers who consider a rifle vital to survival, the Flash 32 offers a quick-release cable suspension system for a gun or bow. Accessory pockets and suspension straps provide plenty of places for organized gear. Available only in Optifade Open Country camo, the Flash 32 is pricey, but its worth every penny.
Eberlestock X3 LoDrag
The Eberlestock X3 LoDrag
earned its way onto our list virtue of a precision rifle carrying system. Most hardcore survivalist types agree firearms will play a large part in sustaining life. Though folks typically just stick a handgun in their go-bags, some guys want their preferred long guns. It's a prime pack in its own right too. Adjustable side compression straps draw the load upward for ideal load positioning, and the suspension system is admirably engineered for comfortable carrying. Eberlestock packs are preferred by many cross-country shooting race competitors, which speaks volumes. Speaking of volume, the X3 LoDrag contains 2,000 cubic inches — including the scabbard. Plentiful MOLLE webbing enables accessorizing the pack with trauma kits, a Leatherman MUT or anything else you want to strap on. For organization, portfolio pockets double as laptop compartments. The X3 LoDrag is a bit heavy at 5.5 pounds, but worth it for the versatility. This pack is available in six popular military and camo colors.
Very possibly the best"http://camelbak.com/" target="_blank">CamelBak TriZip is sleek, streamlined and designed for comfortable carry and easy accessibility. The hydration system features CamelBak's QL HydroLock
bite valve adapter and new fill port — a fast-filling, user-friendly ¼-turn seal that won't over-tighten. MOLLE webbing allows users to attach accessories or gear, and side pockets provide quick access into the heart of the pack's contents. Available in black, Coyote, Multi Cam and Army Universal Camo, with a capacity of 1,891 inches.
Price: $269 to $319
LL Bean Maine Guide Rucksack
Timeless in design and classic in appearance, the LL Bean Maine Guide Rucksack
is constructed of weather-resistant waxed cotton canvas trimmed with premium leather. It's the sort of thing former President Theodore Roosevelt would have packed for nine months in Africa, so don't downplay its rugged durability. Of top-loading design, its heavy leather drawstring cinches the mouth of the bag closed. The top flap provides weather protection and offers a place to strap a jacket. Dual rear-zippered pockets offer internal organizational compartments. Durable leather overlays protect wear points and reinforce the bottom of the bag.
Cabela's Outfitter Series Hunter's Rucksack
The Cabela's Outfitter Series Hunter's Rucksack
offers classic design coupled with cutting-edge materials. Lightweight, silicone-coated, 210-denier ripstop nylon looks almost like wool, yet weighs a lot less. A large main compartment provides 2,000 cubic inches of capacity complete with mesh organizer pockets. Comfy padded shoulder straps compliment a molded foam back panel, making it easy to carry your cans of Boston baked beans with low-impact.
One of Badlands
' brand new designs for 2013, the Recon
is light, tough and rides your back like a baby monkey, enabling you to move fast and hard with as little impediment as possible while outrunning zombies or fast-flowing lava. Molded foam suspension and a hideaway waist belt further enhance comfort and versatility. Capacity is 1,900 cubic inches, and plenty of pockets make organization easy. Available in RealTree
XTRA and RealTree MAX-1 camo.
Mountain Hardwear Enterprise
If you prefer a pack allowing you to blend with the crowd on the Santa Monica Pier — yet will outlast you through riots, tropical storms and zombie encounters — check out Mountain Hardwear's Enterprise
. Containing 2,000 cubic inches, it's constructed of cutting-edge mountaineering materials and weighs less than 2 pounds. A tablet sleeve and mesh pockets enable you to carry your technology with you and stay organized. Side compression straps stabilize your load and draw the pack's profile down to a minimum. Easy-access front and back grab handles are one of my favorite features. Available colors are black, Shark, Hot Rod, Azul and Duffel.
Big Agnes Stagecoach Waterproof Rolling Duffel
If you can't carry a backpack — because of physical challenges, age or injury — a rolling duffel from Big Agnes
is a darn good second best. Though they aren't really compatible with bicycles, cross-country trails or running from a flash flood, they hold a ton of gear. The Stagecoach
transports weight with minimum effort where footing is smooth. There are none better than Big Agnes's waterproof models. Well thought out interiors allow organization via large zippered pockets, welded seams deny moisture and inline skate wheels make pulling easy. If you can find a willing buddy, they even have a backpack strap system for short-term carry. Three sizes contain from 3,300 to 9,300 cubic inches.
Price: $149 to $219