When you are out on the trail, it’s important to know that you have everything you need with you. Like everything packed in a high quality survival backpack, right? A big part of the allure of camping for many people is that very spirit of self-sufficiency, the idea that you are in control over your own destiny.
Camping feeds into that fantasy perfectly. In our modern world, we’re constantly inundated with calls and meetings and memos and bills, which makes the idea of bidding all that adieu and forging ahead into the Great Outdoors can seem invigorating.
Of course, you don’t want to go out fishing or out on a nature hike empty-handed, and it isn’t like you can just pop into a Seven Eleven while out on the trail. McDonalds, Walmart, and Starbucks may be everywhere, but chances are you won’t be able to find one out in the middle of a forest or mountainside stream – and that’s part of the allure of camping, after all, escaping the hurly burly of business back in civilization!
That said, some of civilization’s tools and creature comforts could still come in handy while camping, which is why you’ll want to take to the trail with a quality survival backpack!
- What to Look for
- Top Seven Survival Backpack Options
- 1) Bertasche Tactical Backpack 35 L Assault Trekking Rucksack
- 2) G4Free 40 L Military Tactical Backpack Large Army Assault Pack
- 3) Elite Survival Systems Pulse Unisex Outdoor Backpack
- 4) Kombat Unisex Outdoor Molle Assault Pack Backpack
- 5) Zeadio Military Backpack
- 6) Outlife Hiking Backpack 60 L for Men and Women
- 7) WiSport Wildcat Backpack 65 Litres
- In Conclusion
What to Look for
Of course, the key word here is “survival” (or “tactical” for a tactical backpack variant). You don’t want to bring a lot of unnecessary things, since that’ll just weigh you down and make your backpack unnecessarily cumbersome. At the same time, camping can be a strain on the type of lighter fabrics used for traditional backpacks. To make sure your survival backpack actually survives the trip, you’ll want to pay close attention to the material from which it’s made.
Nylon is a common choice for survival backpack fabric. It is reasonably thin while still being strong enough to not wear out easily, which is always the biggest challenge when selecting a backpack for camping. Other backpacks made from canvas fabrics and other types of cloth can be quite light, though they’re more well-suited to urban settings than outdoors. Sometimes you’ll find blends of nylon, canvas, polyester, and other materials. These can offer the best of both worlds, but they may also cost more.
One of the most important durability features to look for in a survival or tactical backpack is fabric that is waterproof. The last thing you want while out on the trail in the rain or in wet conditions is for the materials you are carrying to get soaked and potentially ruined. What’s more, bags that aren’t waterproof can shrink, shrivel, and eventually become disgusting or downright unusable if they are exposed to too much water. You don’t want to have to deal with that, so make sure you prioritise bags that are at least somewhat waterproof – the more, the better.
As important as the fabric itself is, its durability is only half the equation. If your zippers rust or fall off, your backpack will be ruined. For that reason, you want to look out for durable zippers, especially YKK zippers, which are made to withstand the elements.
Then there’s the matter of size. As the cliché goes, “size matters,” but so does the counter cliché, “it’s not the size but how you use it.” On the one hand, you don’t want to be trekking through forests and up cliff sides while cramming your most important camping necessities into a glorified handbag. On the other hand, you don’t want to feel like a mule whose back’s about to break because you choose a massive backpack that’s slowly wearing you down. There isn’t a single answer here, and instead more of a philosophic choice – do you care more about freedom of movement or trip length?
As a general rule, the smaller the backpack, the easier it will be to carry, but the less you’ll be able to take with you, thus likely shortening your trip. Your needs will vary from one trip to the next, especially given that you may be stronger or weaker than your fellow camping buddies and thus may require a lighter bag or be able to shoulder a heavier one while they cannot.
The closest thing to a rule of thumb here is that somewhere between 40 to 50 litres of capacity is good for a weekend-ready bag. If you plan on camping much longer than that, you’re probably best off taking a bigger bag if you can.
The shape, frame, and overall design all have a big impact on how easy the bag is to carry. Bags with a strong frame can provide a lot of support while on the trail. After all, it’s easier to carry a reinforced shapely bag than a shapeless mass.
A frame isn’t necessary, and a shapeless bag may be good for lighter loads, but above 35 lbs a framed camping bag is often useful. There is also a difference between internal and external frames, the former being more stable and durable while the latter will keep the bag off your body, which can cut down on sweat, while both attempt to shift weight and keep the bag comfortable.
After all, what’s the point of buying a bag that’s uncomfortable to wear? You don’t want to schlep around a bag that is heavy, hot, and leaves you sweating up a storm, which is why you’ll want to look for bags with good wicking and sweat-prevention systems, ventilation to keep your back and shoulders cool, or both. One downside of nylon is that it can trap heat, which is why many of the most comfortable tactical backpack options include meshes and other options to increase ventilation.
Padding is another key aspect of bag comfort, with padded hip belts and straps being two huge bonuses to help keep your arms, shoulders, hips, and back from becoming sore or bruised from the load you’re carrying.
Finally, it’s always important to stay hydrated while out on the trail, which is why some camping backpacks come with a hydration pack, sleeve, or reservoir so your water stays easily accessible without taking up space inside the bag.
Top Seven Survival Backpack Options
With all of that in mind, let’s rummage through this list of survival backpack options and see what they have in store for backpackers and campers looking for a new adventure.
1) Bertasche Tactical Backpack 35 L Assault Trekking Rucksack
This model is a bit on the small side, since as mentioned above, 45 to 50 litres is the most common golden mean when it comes to carrying capacity. Its smaller size fits in with that, measuring 68 x 36 x 24 cm and weighing 3 kg.
The tradeoff of that is that it’s also a bit lighter and easier to carry than some of the larger backpacks on this list, so if that’s one of the main deciding points for you, this may be a good decision. It is made with lightweight cordura fabric, which is both water-resistant and fast-drying. This model also comes with a lot of loops, straps, chambers, and pockets, giving you tons of packing options. For example, while it’s on the smaller side, it still has a specially-designed padded compartment that can house laptops up to 15.6 in. large. It also comes with its own thermal bag, space for a hydration bag, and uses breathable fabric to help keep you cool and carry on camping.
Add to that an attachable Union Jack for those feeling particularly patriotic (or who want to keep their bag distinguishable from other monochrome ones) and there’s a lot to like about this option.
2) G4Free 40 L Military Tactical Backpack Large Army Assault Pack
From a backpack with a Union Jack patch to one boasting the Stars and Stripes, this bag measures 30 x 48 x 28 cm and weighs only 1.25 kg. It is also MOLLE compatible. MOLLE is a military acronym for “Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment,” which allows rucksacks to attach more pouches and carrying spaces while minimising weight, including space for a hydration bag. If it’s good enough for the military, chances are it’s good enough for your tactical camping backpack.
3) Elite Survival Systems Pulse Unisex Outdoor Backpack
This model is built to last, boasting sturdy nylon and strong zippers, both of which are waterproof. This is another MOLLE-compatible bag. It also comes with 3 L hydration reservoirs to help keep you hydrated on the go.
That being said, this bag is by far the most expensive on this list. Still, its long-lasting build and spacious MOLLE design makes it well worth the investment for committed campers.
4) Kombat Unisex Outdoor Molle Assault Pack Backpack
Another bag with MOLLE capability, this bag measures 47 x 23 x 28 cm with a single large compartment and two utility pockets. On the one hand, the model is quite streamlined at that design and so it is easier to carry than larger, bulkier models. On the other hand, there are fewer pockets than you might get with those larger backpacks.
As mentioned above, this really comes down to a matter of choice – do you care more about a streamlined bag that’s easy to carry, or one with a ton of pockets? Other units may be better for the latter, but if you’re looking for a bag that’s easy to carry but still has MOLLEE capability, this is a good one to consider, especially given its inclusion of an aqua bladder and adjustable straps.
5) Zeadio Military Backpack
This backpack measures 45 x 40 x 5 cm, weighs 1.56 kg, and features well-separated, easy to access pockets and pouches. It also comes with a detachable bag in case you need one for something such as first aid. The zippers are of good quality.
What really sells this model, though, is its high degree of comfort. The straps boast padding, mesh, and ventilation. It may be basic, but that Comfortability Triple Crown, boosted by dual compression straps, makes this one great for those who care about comfort most.
6) Outlife Hiking Backpack 60 L for Men and Women
At 60 L, we’re starting to get into big bag territory. It is quite strong, boasting a nylon blend that is water-resistant, tear-resistant, and features a strong buckle and strap system. The straps also enjoy great ergonomic design with a breathable mesh to keep you comfortable. As you would expect from a bag of this size, there are also plenty of pouches.
7) WiSport Wildcat Backpack 65 Litres
This is yet another case where the title shows you the capacity, which means you can already see this model is on the larger side. It is also another model that is MOLLE compatible. Taken together, those factors indicate this model is at its best in situations when you’re planning for the long haul. If you want a bigger bag for a longer trip, this may be a good one to consider.
At 65 L, it’s the biggest bag here, with a hefty cost to match. It may be too big for some, but for those looking to take long camping trips, it might be just what you need for weeks in the woods.
For those looking for smaller, lighter bags, the Bertasche and G4Free may be the best choices with their combination of lightweight build.
The WiSport and Outlife options definitely win out for carrying capacity, however, with over 60 L each.
The Zeadio, Bertasche, and Outlife also rank highly when it comes to comfort.
Still, it’s up to you to decide what your camping needs and desires are, and thus which tactical backpack is best suited to help you gear up for the adventure head.
Users also searched for: