Saturday, March 17th, 2018
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Selecting A Bug Out Bag

Now that we have gone over the importance of a bug out bag it is time to learn how to select one.  To get started on selecting a bug out bag I will go over the most common types of backpacks and will give a few examples of how each one can be useful.

mountainsmith-lookout-50Internal frame backpack:

An internal frame backpack has a support frame that’s built directly inside the pack.  It’s not removable and I find it gives better support when carrying a heavier load.  These types of packs are quite versatile and have a lot of storage space inside with many different compartments.  This is also the main type of pack that’s used by hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.  Personally this is my number one choice because the pack is lightweight, extremely durable and doesn’t have any features on the exterior that could snag against branches.  Most of these types of bags have an expandable top enabling you to carry even more gear.  The design of this pack is mean to take the weight off your shoulders and transfer it down your back to your hips for optimal load management.  With this type of pack you can literally carry larger and heavier loads and not even notice it.

mountainsmith-youth-scoutExternal frame backpack:

An external frame backpack is exactly what you see – a backpack that’s attached to an external frame.  The frame is made of strong lightweight aluminum and can also be used in multiple ways. As it was initially intended, it supports your backpack.  You can also detach the backpack and use the frame as a carrying rack for items such as large jugs of water, an animal that you have caught or even an armful or two of firewood.  Again, the design of this pack is mean to take the weight off your shoulders and transfer it down your back to your hips.  I find these to be a bit less comfortable especially in the shoulder area but this is probably because I have a very old one.  The new ones are supposed to be much better and more comfortable.  If you’re the type of person who likes to go hunting, spends lots of time in the woods or are planning on bugging out during an emergency and would like to have a sturdy frame that can be used in multiple scenarios then this type of pack would be a good choice.  Keep in mind that some of these packs feel a bit bulky and if you’re trying to make your way through thick brush the top of the frame can sometimes get snagged on branches.

mountainsmith-haze-50Frameless backpack:

A frameless backpack is a basic standard pack that has no frame or support.  All of the weight from the pack rests on your shoulders.  If you plan on carrying a decent amount of weight for a long period of time you will notice that your shoulders, back and hips will start to get uncomfortable and sore pretty quickly.  For those reasons I would not use this type of pack as a primary bug out bag.  If it’s all you can afford or you plan on using this as a get home bag with the bare essentials then this type of pack will do the job.

mountainsmith-day-tlsLumbar Pack:

A lumbar pack is perfect for short hikes or to use as an EDC (every day carry) bag or get home bag.  It’s basically a mini backpack to carry your basic necessities that you would need to get home in case of an emergency.  Many people use these when they go for a walk or bike ride while others keep them in their cars or take them to work.  It’s always a good idea to have two packs: a main pack with all your survival gear and a smaller condensed one like this edc bag.

So which one do I choose?

I’ve probably confused you even more but when it all boils down to selecting a BOB (bug out bag), personal preference will play a big role.  Just make sure that the one you select is able to store all of your gear properly and securely. Go to a local camping or outfitters store and try on the different types of backpacks and see which one you like most.  If you can afford it, don’t go with the cheapest pack on the shelf – they just aren’t worth it.  You will want to have something that is very durable, fits you properly and is waterproof or at least water resistant.  Here are some other key points that you should take into consideration when selecting a bug out bag.

Your location:

Where do you live? Are you in the middle of a large city, do you live in the suburbs or out in the country?  If you live in the city chances are you won’t want to carry around a huge bug out bag that screams “look at all my gear, come and get it!”.  In your case, a smaller standard backpack might be the way to go as long as you can carry enough gear and supplies with you comfortably.  If you’re out in the country you’ll probably want a backpack with an internal or external frame since you’ll probably be trekking through the woods and other rough terrain.

Are you bugging in or out?

What is your plan? Are you planning on bugging in or bugging out?  If you’re going to bug in then you’ll probably have most of your supplies with you at home and won’t need an over sized backpack.  But what if things start to turn ugly and you have no choice but to leave your home?  You will still want to have a bug out bag large enough to carry all of your important supplies with you wherever you are going.

What type of disaster(s) are you preparing for?

Not everyone is preparing for the same thing.  Perhaps you are only preparing for a hurricane or tornado while other people may be preparing for a tsunami, earthquake or possibly economic collapse.  You will need to sit down and figure out what you are really prepping for.  Make yourself a chart of the pros and cons that each type of pack will have in different types of scenarios.

How many people are you preparing for?

Are you by yourself or do you have a family with kids?  The amount of supplies that you will need to carry with you will also play a part in deciding what size and type of bug out bag you should have.


Whatever you do, don’t buy into the nonsense of 72 hour kits and think that’s all you will need… While premade kits are half decent they are not designed to keep you and your family alive for the long term.  It’s a much better idea to get a BOB and build your own custom kit that pertains to your family’s needs.  We’ll go over building a bug out bag in detail in a future post.  The effects from a disaster can last for days, weeks, months or longer.  Look at hurricane Sandy for example.  People were still without food and electricity for weeks after the hurricane struck.  Please don’t limit yourself to a short term supply thinking or expecting that you’ll be rescued right away.  It’s your life that will be at risk and in a time of crisis you can’t depend on anyone else to be there for you.

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