10 Best Bug Out Bags in 2020

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10 Best Bug Out Bags in 2020

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If you’ve ever done your research on how to use EDC gear to prepare for an emergency, you might already know how important it is to assemble a bug out bag (also known as a go bag or bail out bag). By packing the right essentials you’ll have a grab-and-go bag to keep you and your loved ones safe as you evacuate from an emergency situation. But what goes in your bag is just part of the equation — the bag you rely on to store and haul your emergency supplies itself is also important. Picking the wrong sort of bag for such a critical task can render all the effort you spent gathering the right gear to put inside of it moot, so that’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you pick the right one for your needs. Each bug out bag in this guide has its own set of features and carry style, giving you plenty of options to get you started with your own bug out bag you can depend on in an emergency.

What makes a bag good for use as a bug out bag?

Before jumping into our recommendations, here are a few considerations for picking out the best bug out bag for you.

  1. How big should a bug out bag be?: A good bug out bag should have enough space to fit your gear without being too big or bulky that it becomes cumbersome and unwieldy. Bags that are too small mean you leave important life-saving tools behind. And bags that are too big don’t hold the gear inside well, making them unbalanced and hard to carry while you’re getting out of dodge. If you prefer a fast and light approach, you can opt for a bag around 5-10L in capacity. A fuller go bag designed to last you an entire 72-hour evacuation period might hover around the 12-24L mark or larger.
  2. Durability: You need a bag that’ll handle more than a few scrapes. If you use a fragile bag to bail out, you might find all of your gear on the ground after it rips and tears, and that’s something you’re absolutely not going to want happening. Look for bags with high denier ratings, or rip-stop technology that keeps small tears from being critical failure points for the bag itself.
  3. Easy access: The whole point of having a go bag is to be able to use the items inside. If the bag you pick for the task requires you to stop and unpack everything just to get to the item you’re looking for, it’s not a good choice for your emergency EDC. Some good choices have interiors with high-contrast and high-visibility so it’s easy to identify gear at a glance when you’re in a rush.
  4. Versatility: There should be plenty of pockets and organization space available so you can keep your emergency gear organized, whether your items are big or small or somewhere in between. A lot of bags in this category are compatible with load-bearing PALS webbing, letting you further customize them with pouches and other accessories.

Now that you know the things that makes a bag good for use as a bug out bag, it’s time to pick one for your everyday carry.


The Best Bug Out Bags


Propper Bail Out Tactical Bag

Propper Bail Out Tactical Bag

Purchase
Key Features
Carry Style: Shoulder, Mounted
PALS- and MOLLE-compatiblity
Mesh side panel for quick access items
Specifications
Materials
600D polyester
Capacity
8L
Weight
1.7 lbs
Reviews


Price
$
Propper is a trusted tactical gear manufacturer based out of Missouri, and their Bail Out Tactical bag is pretty much the quintessential example of what most people in the community think a good bail out bag should be. With 8L of space, this is a quick go-bag that’s best suited if you’ve pared your bail out kit to the essentials. With PALS webbing both inside and outside of the bag, you can customize and expand on the pack to your preference. You can also attach this bag to a bigger pack, or to a chest rig if needed.
5.11 Tactical 4-Banger

5.11 Tactical 4-Banger

Purchase
Key Features
Carry Style: Shoulder, Sling
Weatherproof exterior coating
Four mag pouches
Specifications
Materials
500D nylon, 1050D reinforcements, YKK zippers
Capacity
5L
Weight
5.1 lbs
Reviews


Price
$$
5.11 is a go-to manufacturer in the EDC community for high-quality tactical gear and apparel. Their 4-Banger bag has a peculiar name, but it’s designed as a get-home go bag that you can toss in your car with the gear you need to get away from danger. There’s four magazine pockets designed to hold standard rifle magazines, but you can also use those as organization spaces for small and thin gear and electronics like radios. With 500/1050D nylon and YKK zippers, this is a well-constructed tactical bag that carries a low profile, helping you look more inconspicuous as you egress.
Condor Tactical Response Bag

Condor Tactical Response Bag

Purchase
Key Features
Carry Style: Shoulder
Lots of small pockets and organization space
Universal pistol holster for CCW
Specifications
Materials
Nylon
Capacity
494 cu in
Weight
2.2 lbs
Reviews


Price
$
Condor is a tactical gear manufacturer based out of California that perhaps doesn’t get as much credit as they should in the community. After all, if you search for a bug out bag, the image of their Tactical Response Bag is probably one of the first options you see, and for good reason. It features a highly compartmentalized go-bag with plenty of external pockets for gear large and small, two large water bottle pockets, a sub-dividable main compartment, dedicated space for an EDC flashlight, and even a hidden hook and loop pocket for CCW. With so much organization options, you can pack and organize your bug out gear with ease, and you’ll know exactly where everything you need is and retrieve it in a moment’s notice.
SOG Responder Bag

SOG Responder Bag

Purchase
Key Features
Carry Style: Shoulder, Belt
Heavily-padded for comfort
Internal webbing for customization
Specifications
Material
Nylon
Capacity
11.5L
Weight
1.5 lbs
Reviews


Price
$
SOG has been making knives, tools, and tactical gear for military and law enforcement in the United States for decades now, and their Responder Bag is designed as a rapid-response go-pack that’s made for comfortable carry even when fully loaded and on the run. Aside from the large padded shoulder strap, the side of the bag that contacts your body is heavily mesh padded as well. If you need more carry options, the strap is quick detachable, and you can attach the bag itself to a belt to keep your hands and shoulders free in an emergency situation. With 11.5 liters of space and dedicated pockets for organization space, you can fit the essentials. And you can further customize the interior with the integral MOLLE-compatible webbing inside the bag itself.
Hazard 4 Plan C

Hazard 4 Plan C

Purchase
Key Features
Carry Style: Backpack
Hydration bladder-compatible
PALS webbing modularity
Specifications
Material
1000D DWR CORDURA nylon
Capacity
12.5L
Weight
2.2 lbs
Reviews


Price
$$$
Hazard 4 makes innovative tactical bags and gear, and their Plan C is a great example of their design prowess. The Plan C is essential a backpack version of their Plan B modular sling pack, now with two straps for stable and secure carry while on the move. The Plan C features a taller and thinner footprint compared to most tactical bags, and that makes it uniquely suited for use as a bug out bag. Its design allows for a load to be centered on your back without snagging on things as you pass them by in a hurry. It’s hydration bladder-compatible for long haul, and its covered in modular webbing so you can configure it as your mission requires. New for the Plan C compared to the previous model is a 3-D thermoformed semi-hard case at the top of the bag that’s well suited to protect your sensitive electronics gear.
Helikon-Tex Bail Out Bag

Helikon-Tex Bail Out Bag

Purchase
Key Features
Carry Style: Backpack
Can be mounted to a car seat
Beavertail can be separated as an independent satchel bag
Specifications
Materials
CORDURA nylon
Capacity
25L
Weight
3 lbs
Reviews


Price
$$$
Helikon-Tex is a European military surplus retailer and tactical gear manufacturer based out of Poland, and they’ve put together a bag that’s purpose-built for low-profile urban bug out missions. Their Bail Out Bag features a low-profile, 25L-capacity design that forces you to pare down to what you actually need in an emergency. Its YKK-zippered flat opening allows complete access to the interior, making packing and unpacking your survival gear a simple task. The suspension system built into the mesh back of the bag and the shoulder straps make carrying your gear long term less of a burden than with other bags. What’s unique about its design is its ability to transform from a backpack profile to a wide open attachment platform, customizable with a with a MOLLE/PALS-compatible interior panel along with a mesh pockets to segregate and organize your essentials. A large top handle lets you get a handle on the bag for quick movement without needing to put it on or zip it up again as a backpack, and if you find yourself in a vehicle, the bag itself transforms into a seat-back organizer for your essentials.
Mystery Ranch 2-Day Assault Pack

Mystery Ranch 2-Day Assault Pack

Purchase
Key Features
Carry Style: Backpack
Y-shaped opening system for ease of use
Lifetime warranty
Specifications
Materials
500D CORDURA nylon, YKK zippers
Capacity
1648 cu in
Weight
3 lbs
Reviews


Price
$$$$
For decades now, Mystery Ranch has been well known in the military and first-responder world for putting together hard-use tactical packs that’ll stand up to some of the worst hard-use situations you can think of and keep on going. The hallmark of a Mystery Ranch design is their special Y-shaped YKK zipper opening, and it’s front and center on their 2-Day Assault Pack. This unique opening allows you complete versatility in opening and unloading the pack as you can choose between top loading, horizontal access, or a full unzip that grants easy access to all of your essential gear inside. And with webbing on the sides and bottom of the pack, you can outfit the bag to your needs.
Osprey Stratos 34

Osprey Stratos 34

Purchase
Key Features
Carry Style: Backpack
LightWire alloy frame for stability, ventilated suspension mesh harness
All-Mighty lifetime warranty
Specifications
Materials
210D nylon crosshatch body, 310HD nylon packcloth bottom and accents
Capacity
34L (M/L)
Weight
3.1 lbs (M/L)
Reviews


Price
$$$
Osprey is a go-to choice when it comes to making quality outdoors and adventure packs, and their design expertise comes in handy if you decide to use their bags for bugging out. The Stratos 34 is unique among the bags in this category by having a lightweight internal frame that helps keep the bag from crumpling during transport, making carrying a ton of gear a much more manageable experience. Your long-term carry comfort is also enhanced by the suspension built into the harness. And because it’s made out of lightweight 210D nylon crosshatch material, it’s able to give you around 34 liters of space while only weighing about 3 pounds unloaded.
Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger

Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger

Purchase
Key Features
Carry Style: Sling
Space for a 15.4“ laptop
Tons of PALS webbing
Specifications
Materials
1000D ballistic nylon, YKK zippers, Duraflex hardware
Capacity
22.6L
Weight
3 lbs
Reviews


Price
$$$
Maxpedition is a community favorite when it comes to choosing hard-use tactical gear that'll last you through thick and thin. Their Kodiak Gearslinger is uniquely suited for bug out bag use because it combines the features and capacity of a full-sized backpack while giving you the speed and versatility of a fixed sling bag. And unlike other sling bags, the Kodiak Gearslinger is designed to lug a bunch of survival essentials if needed without it flopping around, due to the form-fitting nature of the sling design itself. For modularity, there’s PALS webbing present at pretty much every external point of the sling including the strap itself, making it ultra-useful if you want to mount radios or knives or other bug out gear in a place where you can access it rapidly. And if your bug out ensemble includes technology, you’ll appreciate that the Kodiak Gearslinger has a dedicated spot for up to a 15.4" laptop.
Mountainsmith Day Lumbar Pack

Mountainsmith Day Lumbar Pack

Purchase
Key Features
Carry Style: Hip Bag, Waist Pack, Lumbar Pack
Interior foam-padded sleeve for a small tablet
Reinforced side pockets for up to 32 fl oz water bottles
Specifications
Materials
610D HP CORDURA nylon
Capacity
13L
Weight
1 lb 12 oz
Reviews
No reviews yet
Price
$$
Mountainsmith is an American company that has been making quality bags, packs, and other outdoors gear in Colorado since 1979. Their Day Lumbar Park is uniquely suited for those who can pare their go-bag equipment list down to the essentials. It fits 800 cubic inches (13 liters) of gear with lots of organization space inside to keep even your small tools and items from flopping around while you’re on the move. And while the webbing on the exterior isn’t strictly to PALS spec, you can still use it to accessorize and expand upon the pack as you need. And unlike other packs that tie down your shoulders, the Lumbar Pack stays exactly in place on your back, letting you keep both hands free as you egress from an emergency situation.

What are you using for your bug out bag and why do you like it? Share it with us in the comments below!

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Discussion (5 total)

4 single strap bags? I mean, you do you, but that would be miserable for a “bug-out” bag. JMHO
I gotta go with LJ here. Nothing against single strap bags, and I like the look of the SOG bag, but they are the wrong choice for a bug out bag. Get a backpack. Your shoulders will thank you. I am partial to Hill People Gear and GORUCK, but Maxpedition, Mystery Ranch, and any number of other spots make nice backpacks that would work well.
I have a Mountainsmith Day from 2006 that I still use. I ended up buying their "Strapettes" add-on shoulder straps to better distribute the load on my shoulders. They get a bit tangled but work well for me. I assume they would fit this version?
I am referring to the single strap “sling bags” that carry on one shoulder. I personally have a Maxpedition Sabercat lumbar pack and it is very comfortable, but I can’t hack a sling bag for any extended period/weight.
Genuinely shocked that nothing from Vanquest made this list. The Trident-series backbacks are fantastic, as is the Katara sling-pack, and the Envoy-series messenger bags are also great if you prefer something in that form factor.