2018 Survival Bug Out Bag Guide

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The year is 2018. Do you know where your bug out bag is? If you don’t have one it’s time to take the first step. The bug out bag is the entry point that gets most people started on the path to prepping. Getting together a solid bug out bag is a super actionable step you can take to ensure your safety in the event of meltdown. A bug out bag secures you with the necessary resources to withstand and survive power outages, automobile breakdowns, civil unrest, and disruptions within the municipal systems which keep society civilized.

Your bug out bag is your main companion and great thought must be put into making something useful.

Let’s start with some basics.

Backpack

direct-action-ghost-review

The backpack is perhaps the most crucial aspect to the bug out bag. Obviously, it holds all of your gear. There are certain elements which make a bug out bag great.

A good bug out bag is:

  • Lightweight yet durable
  • Big enough to stow all your gear (30L+)
  • Comfortable
  • Proper weight distribution

There are military grade backpacks and civilian varieties. The differences between these 2 are not as diverse as you’d think. Even civilian made packs can withstand the rigors of daily use. There are also best of both worlds backpacks which combine the most functional elements of both camps. The Rush 72 is the most praised pack in the survival community and for good reasons. 

I am also a big fan of the Direct Action Ghost (full review here.)

If you don’t want to waste hours on end hunting for the proper pack definitely spring for the Rush 72.

The main idea when purchasing a pack is going for durability, comfort, and adequate storage space. Good shoulder straps and a cushy back are most CRUCIAL.

Gear

Next up is proper gear. I recommend reading my SHTF gear guide. For practical purposes, the list below is more than adequate to get you started:

  • Fire making gear (matches, extra lighters)
  • Plastic baggies (waterproof your gear)
  • Black trash bags (store water, create shelter, poncho)
  • Powerful flashlight (tac lights double as self defense weapons)
  • 72 hours worth of food and water
  • Cooking kit
  • Water filter
  • Change of clothes (socks if nothing else)
  • First aid kit (Learn about the IFAK)
  • Batteries and chargers for your smart phone/electronics
  • Paracord (always useful)
  • Knife (read this)

The bulleted list above is the bare essentials. It has everything you need to secure water, make fire and shelter, and defend yourself. There’s also a few core essential items like chargers and battery packs. If there is still reception your smartphone could be your number one life saver.

The food and water are super crucial. Make sure to stow at least 72 hours worth of food and water. Having food and water when there is nothing is psychologically important to your survival, not just physically. Think about food that won’t spoil – clif bars, tuna packets, dried fruit, nuts, and peanut butter are all very good choices. Mountain House has some tasty options. Add hot water and you have yourself a tasty feast.

Also consider an emergency radio system like a Kaito radio. These devices tap directly into the NOAA emergency stations so you can stay up to date with what’s going on. They can be solar, AC, Battery, and hand crank powered. There’s also a powerful flashlight built in and you can charge your phone via USB. Ultra versatile for those times when the power is out.

Final thoughts

Putting together a bug out bag is not rocket science. Knowing how to use the gear is much more difficult. Your first step is making sure you are prepared with the proper gear. The second step is securing the knowledge required to act on your feet and use the gear properly. That only comes with practice my friend.

Thanks for reading.

Choosing the Rush 72 vs the Camelbak BFM

In this showdown we pit 2 of the most solid backpacks on the market against each other. The Rush 72 and the Camelbak BFM represent the best in military grade backpacks. Both of these packs are built for long term use and have seen extensive applications in the military. Both are versatile and have similar features – but both also have significant differences that will surely sway the decision of those with specific requirements. Let’s take a deep dive into both of these packs and discover the core differences and features of both.

Comparing features side by side

Rush 72

Camelbak BFM

The Camelbak BFM

 

**Note** I have individual reviews of each of these packs. Use them to gain a deep dive into each pack and see a comprehensive breakdown of what both bring to the table.

Rush 72 review

Camelbak BFM review

Starting off with the raw carrying capacity of each pack we see the Rush 72 can cram a few more liters of storage. The Rush 72 supports up to 55 liters while the Camelbak BFM clocks in around 51 liters. 3 liters is quite a bit of space but not quite enough to make or break a decision. An extra 3 liters could easily be added to the externals of both packs by making use of MOLLE compatible pouches. Speaking of MOLLE, it’s visually obvious that the RUSH 72 has much more MOLLE than the Camelbak. You can barely find a section of the Rush 72 not completely covered in MOLLE webbing. On the BFM, MOLLE is only seen on the front of the pouch and in some versions there’s MOLLE on the side pockets. The Rush 72 is the obvious choice if you rely on MOLLE.

Pocket configurations on both packs are extremely comparable except for the side pockets. The BFM has 4 side pockets (1 big and 1 small pocket on each side) while the Rush 72 has 2 large pockets. The large side pockets on the Rush 72 are slightly bigger. Personally I would rather have the single larger pocket on the Rush 72 than the 2 pockets with the smaller bigger pocket on the BFM. The mini pockets are basically useless for storage. Each admin pocket (the large front pockets on the packs) boast a versatile arrangement of storage options. Each backpack also has a top pocket designed for sunglasses or NVG’s (night vision goggles.)

Both packs are also hydration ready but this is where the Camelbak BFM delivers a crushing blow to the Rush 72. The BFM supports not one, but 2 hydration bladders in the designated storage compartment with multiple spots to feed the drinking tubes. The Rush 72 is compatible with any standard Camelbak bladder but the feeding system runs through the top admin pocket, getting in the way and taking up pocket space. Not a major problem but a slight annoyance.

The Rush 72 and BFM also come fully equipped with a hip belt and chest strap. The Rush 72’s padding is much thinner but the chest strap is adjustable. Using the C-Clamps you can adjust the strap up and down the shoulder straps. This makes getting a solid fit very easy. The BFM does take the cake for ultimate comfort. Everything on the BFM is extremely well padded and comfortable. If you’re doing extremely long hikes comfort is key. While both offer ample padding, the BFM goes an extra step to deliver the most comfortable experience.

$$Price$$

As of this writing (Jan 2018) the Camelbak BFM is significantly more expensive than the Rush 72.

Check current prices for the Rush 72

Check current prices for Camelbak BFM

Final verdict

Overall these are 2 very comparable packs in terms of features. With all that said, can you truly justify the hefty price tag of the BFM? This might be the case if you value Camelbaks top of the line hydration system and superior padding. However, if you simply need a durable pack and don’t care about the hydration system, the Rush 72 is the obvious pick. It has more space, much more MOLLE, and it’s much cheaper.

My choice? I have to go with the Rush 72.

 

Top 7 Premade Survival Kits Worth Your Money

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I’ve discussed in great detail the exact items you need in any survival kit. You have your urban survival kit, you have the wilderness survival kit, and you have a plethora of bug out bag items. These are great resources if you want to manually piece together a good survival kit. However, I realize some of you simply want something you can buy and stash away for a rainy day. For you guys I have assembled a post of 7 premade survival kits available for purchase straight away.

1.) Emergency Zone 840 Survival Kit

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The most comprehensive kit on this list. The Emergency Zone 840 contains everything you would need in a survival kit with spare room to add your own gear. This survival kit comes with the following items:

  • 118 piece first aid kit
  • Weather protection (2x reflective sleeping bags, 2x emergency poncho, 1x tube tent, 2x hand warmers.)
  • Food and water (2x 3600 cal food bars, 12x 4.2 ounce water pouch.)
  • Water purification (1x folding 1L water container, 5x water purification powder, 1x water purification instruction sheet.)
  • Hygeine kit (2x toothbrushes, 2x toothpaste, 1x comb, 1x razor, 1x shampoo, 1x soap bar, 2x feminine pad, 1x washcloth, 1x toilet paper roll.)
  • Tools (2x glow sticks, 1x survival whistle, 1x 50 ft rope, 1x duct tape, 1x work gloves, 1x multi-tool, 1x playing cards, 1x can opener.)
  • Emergency preparedness guidebook (48 page guidebook, pencil, weatherproof zip bag.)
  • Light (radio/flashlight)

This is a great kit for someone who does not want to spend their time hunting and pecking around for the right gear. I will say, the bag the kit comes in is somewhat low quality. I can’t see it holding up long with heavy use especially in regards to the zippers and straps. This is easily remedied by purchasing a higher quality pack. I’m a big fan of the 5.11 Rush 72. The contents of the survival kit are all high quality stuff and you will find them extremely useful in a survival situation.

Overall I’d say this kit can be fairly well rounded with a few gear additions. I found it a little strange there is nothing in this kit to start a fire with. At the very least throw in a couple BIC lighters and waterproof matches into a plastic bag. I would also say adding a bottle of Ibuprofen into the first aid kit is a great idea.

2.) Ready America Deluxe 4 Person Emergency Kit

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Another great survival kit packed with essential items to weather any emergency. Once again, the included backpack in this kit is subpar but everything else is good to go. I still have gripes with this kit however. I don’t think it includes nearly enough food and water to sustain 4 people as advertised. Certainly add more food and water into the kit and get the contents into a bag that isn’t going to bust on you immediately.

  • (4) Food Bars (2400 Calorie)*
  • (4) Boxes of Water (1 Liter) *
  • (4) Emergency Ponchos
  • (4) Survival Blankets
  • (1) Emergency Power Station: Flashlight/AM-FM Radio/Siren/ Cell Phone Charger
  • (1) Duct Tape (10 yards)
  • (1) Multi-Function Pocket Tool
  • (1) First-Aid Kit (107 piece)
  • (4) Emergency Lightsticks (12-hr)
  • (8) 10” Nitrile Gloves
  • (4) Safety Goggles
  • (4) Niosh N-95 Dust Mask
  • (4) Pocket Tissue Packs
  • (1) Pair of Leather Gloves
  • (1) Emergency Whistle
  • (12)Pre-Moistened Towelettes
  • (3) Bio-Hazard Bags
  • (1) Backpack

3.) 4 Person Deluxe Duffel Survival Kit

4-person-survival-kit-duffel-bag

This is a truly comprehensive kit great for a family. The contents of the kit feature a wide range of essential survival items. This is a heavy kit not made for bugging out but bugging in. It’s a kit you stash away and only take during an emergency bug in situation. Check it out on Amazon for a full list of contents.

4.) Deluxe Earthquake Honey Bucket Kit

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This is more of a kit designed for earthquakes but it could easily be useful in many survival situations. It has gear not found in the other kits like a pry-bar, utility knife, water shutoff tool, face masks, and matches. It also comes in a sturdy bucket making it safe to stash away in the more dark and damp areas of your house. Check it out here.

5.) The Small Commuter Survival Kit

small-commuter-survival-kit

One of the cheapest and smallest kits on this list but still manages to pack a punch as a great kit for the car. Great for the kids or even for yourself as personal survival kit on the road. This small commuter kit contains the following items.

  • 2400 Calorie Mayday food bar and 6 pouches of Mayday water
  • Flash light, Light Stick, Emergency Whistle
  • Mayday Survival Blanket, Emergency Poncho, N-95 Mask Particulate Respirator
  • Basic 37 Piece First Aid Kit

6.) The Mountain House Just In Case Bucket

Mountain-House-Foods
Mountain house makes great go bag goodies convenient storage buckets.

Not exactly a full fledged survival kit but a great long term survival food option. And if you’ve never eaten a Mountain House meal before you are in for a treat – They’ve long been the staple of hikers and backpackers everywhere for their tasty meals and long lasting kits. Their kits are guaranteed up to 30 years and come in an extremely durable bucket. This kit comes with a number of tasty meal pouches.

7.) Premade 250 Piece First Aid Kit

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Last but not least we have a comprehensive first aid kit. The ones included in the above survival kits are great but they’re lacking some crucial items. This first aid kit also comes in a sturdy plastic shell protecting it from the elements wherever you want to store it.

Conclusion

Purchase one of these kits and give yourself the peace of mind knowing you’re prepared. Anything can happen at anytime and you certainly don’t want to be caught with your pants down when TSHTF. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think about these premade kits.

 

 

Building A Practical Bug Out Bag

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Building a bug out bag can be complex or extremely lean and practical. Too many bug out bags I’ve seen online have everything inside them including the kitchen sink. You will certainly become quickly crushed under the weight of such a bag unless you’re in pristine shape. Even if you do have the strength of a thousand pack mules, why would you still choose to include useless gear you’ll never use?

In this post I explore the contents of a lean, mean, and practical bug out bag.

The contents

Here is a list of everything you need:

  • The bug out bag – The 5.11 Rush 72 is considered the best bug out bag in the business. I’ve written a complete review of this bag here.
  • 72 hours food and water – At the core of your bug out bag is 72 hours worth of food and water. The food packed should be non-perishable foods like dried nuts, fruits, Clif Bars, etc. Think about foods you would take on a camping trip. I particularly enjoy the meals from Mountain House foods as my go-to bug out bag food source. They’re a practical way to pack in the calories you need to survive 72 hours.
  • Change of socks and underwear – Not the flashiest gear on the list but completely crucial. Sometimes a change of socks is enough moral boost to blow you through even the hairiest SHTF situations. Besides, having to hike in wet socks is a terrible experience and will only degrade your mentality.
  • Headlamp – A headlamp for when it gets dark.
  • EDC Knife. A knife or a multi-tool for times when you need them. The list of uses for this piece of gear is endless. You don’t need a full blown fixed blade survival knife but a nice folder like the Kershaw Cryo 2 is a great knife.
  • Spare cash – Cash for times when the grid is down and stores can’t process your credit card. Also good for bartering items with other people.
  • Fire starters – Lighter and matches in some kind of waterproof container or plastic bag

Other considerations

All of the above gear is the core list of what you need in a practical bug out bag. There is no reason why you couldn’t survive and get to a safe spot with the above kit. However, we can begin to crazy and add more gear to the core list of items. Use your own judgement and decide for yourself if these items are “practical” and worth the weight.

  • Cell phone and mobile charger – Chances are you already will have your cell phone on you when it’s time to bug out. Consider packing a mobile charger to charge up on the road.
  • Water filter – More for long term survival but I can see practical use in the short term too if you run out of water early. The Sawyer Squeeze is the industry standard for survival water filters.
  • Stainless steel cook kit – You’ll need something to cook any food you find or to boil water.
  • Proper clothing – a layered approach works well in many environments. Read my post on survival clothing for more information into this aspect of survival.
  • Area Map – A map of your city/town. More important if you’re new and aren’t familiar with all the escape routes.
  • Paracord – Paracord has a number of uses out in the wilderness. Use it to rig up a makeshift shelter, make a bear bag, and haul a load up a mountain.

The bug out plan

Perhaps most importantly is your bug out plan. Your bug out plan consists of two parts: Where you’re going to go and how you’re gonna get there. Figure those things out and your bug out bag will be compounded in usefulness. Having a plan will give you peace of mind knowing the road ahead is paved with a clear goal in mind.

Conclusion

The practical bug out bag is cheap and efficient. Add whatever you want but keep in mind the weight of the bag is a crucial consideration.

 

The Complete Go Bag List For Getting Out of Dodge

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Every able bodied human being needs to have a go bag in case of emergency. Your go bag will contain everything you need for at least 72 hours including some gear for long term survival. Let’s explore the elements of a go bag with a basic packing list of survival supplies.

The Go Bag Itself

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The 5.11 Rush 72 Hour Tactical Pack

You’ll need a decent bag to grab in case TSHTF. Maybe you were thinking about using that ratty old Jansport you’ve kept since college. This is fine if that’s all you have but consider making an investment into something that isn’t going to bust the moment you crawl under a barbed wire fence. The go bag carries all your gear and I recommend looking into a quality pack. Read my post on the best Molle packs. Long story short, the 5.11 Rush 72 is a perfect go bag and features tactical elements not seen in other bags.

The Go Bag Survival Gear List

Here’s a quick and dirty list of the essential gear you need in the go bag. I’ll go over each of these items below the list.

  • 72 hours worth of food and water
  • Critical documents (ID, Passport, etc)
  • $100 spare cash
  • LED Flashlight
  • Camping cup
  • Knife
  • Multi Tool
  • Light poncho or trash bag
  • Duct tape (not a whole roll)
  • Lighters and fire starters
  • Water filter (either a Lifestraw or Sawyer squeeze)
  • Drinking canteen
  • Basic first aid
  • Emergency radio
  • USB charging bank for smartphone
  • Chargers for electronics (Micro USB or Iphone)
  • Paracord
  • Change of clothes

The logic Behind The GO Bag

A lot of the bug out bags (go bags) I see are completely overloaded. They include tents, sleeping bags, compasses, and a bunch of other crap you don’t need. You see, the go bag isn’t designed for the end of the world. It’s there to assist you in getting to a safe destination. Maybe your car broke down in a storm or your house got flooded. Perhaps a fire ripped through your area and a mandatory evacuation was issued. The go bag in these cases will see you through a temporary situation. In most cases you won’t be camping in the woods or living off pigeons in the city like some of these apocalyptic crackpots will have you believe.

GO Bag Tips

Food and water will be your number one priority here. While true that lack of shelter will kill you faster in some environments, in most cases you’ll just be hungry and thirsty. This can lead to you making wrong decisions or even death in some extreme cases. A solid GO bag has 72 hours worth of food and water. Think about food you would take hiking. I like the Mountain House packets because they’re easy and they taste good. You can also include other non-perishable items like dried fruits and nuts, peanut butter, tuna packets etc.

Mountain-House-Foods
Mountain house makes great go bag goodies. Just add water and chow down.

Documents and cash are crucial to you not getting hassled by cops and paying for things when there might not be any electricity. You should always keep things like your passport and a spare ID in your GO bag for situations where the originals are at risk for getting destroyed. Your documents give you access to services and can verify your identity to the authorities and possible medical personnel.

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Electronics will of course come into play. A spare prepaid burner phone is a good idea along with all the chargers you need. A battery bank to recharge a dead cell can be a life saver. You have surely felt the fear of a dead cell phone in normal circumstances – only imagine the level of fear in a full blown SHTF situation!

smartphone-battery-charger

Basic survival gear like the stuff they give to the boy scouts. These include pieces of gear used to make fire and purify water. With fire you can stay warm and cook food. With water you can cook and also keep yourself hydrated. Also having a method to purify dubious water sources is crucial. I like the Lifestraw as a cheap option but prefer something more robust like the Sawyer squeeze. Added to this section of the list is a knife, a multi tool, a first aid kit, and a good LED flashlight.

go-bag-survival-gear

The Enhanced GO Bag List

It’s easy to go beyond what is on this list and overload your pack with useless junk. For instance, most people don’t even know how to use a compass but pack one anyways. Why? In most cases you need a map and general sense of where you are for a compass to be reliable. Tents and sleeping bags sound like solid “shoe ins” for the go bag but only weigh you down. Like I said, the likelihood of you having to bug out to the woods is very unlikely if you live in the first world. These are nice to have just in case but they serve little purpose in a go bag.

However, if you’re one to go all out I can recommend some “advanced” pieces of gear not needed but nice to have.

  • Compass
  • Map of your area
  • Fishing kit
  • Trapping kit
  • Ham radio
  • Tent / Sleeping bag
  • Shovel
  • Sewing kit
  • Tactical gloves
  • More food than 72 hours worth

As you can see the pack is starting to get very heavy at this point. Think about the likelihood of you ever needing any of these things. Firstly, who knows how to fish and trap game in the modern world? If you have the skill than obviously include these things. But for the average Joe, the reality is that even with the best fishing or trapping gear it’s very unlikely you’ll catch anything more than a hook to your own lip.

Same goes for the compass and ham radio. These are all items requiring a certain level of skill to be effective. If you don’t have these skills than do your back a favor and don’t add them to the GO bag.

Conclusion

Having a GO bag around might just save your ass one day. If anything you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you’re prepared to make a long trek across town or through a storm and survive. With a good GO bag you’ll have 3 days worth of food and water and the gear required to secure more. It’s very easy to filter water if you’re in a pinch. Put one of these together as soon as you can to ensure your safety during an emergency

USMC ILBE Gen 2 Assault Pack review

When things go fully blown you must have 100% trust in your gear. The United States Marine Core knows first hand the cost of using gear that can’t stand up to the rigors of daily Marine life. Who knows what you’ll need your pack to carry and what kind of situations you’ll be dragging it through.

With this in mind the USMC ILBE Assault Pack was born. This pack is tough as nails and features a number of battle hardened design elements. It’s also the standard pack issued to the United States Marine Core.

Introduction

The 2nd generation ILBE pack replaced the ALICE pack back in the early 2000’s. These new packs were designed with enhanced load bearing features and included other core design elements like MOLLE and external compression straps. Currently the 2nd gen pack is issued to all of the USMC.

Specifications and features

  • ILBE (Improved load bearing)
  • Waist and chest straps
  • Drag handles
  • Side pouches (designed for mortar rounds)
  • Compression straps (lots of them)
  • Molle webbing
  • Detachable Assault Pack (hydration compatible)
  • Nylon

Detachable Assault Pack

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The detachable assault pack

Aside from the massive main compartment, the ILBE has a detachable assault pack designed for small gear and a hydration bladder. This is useful in situations where you don’t want to lug the entire pack around. You can detach the assault pack and carry only the essential items needed for whatever you are doing. The pack clips on and off very easily.

Waist and chest straps

The 2nd generation ILBE includes a number of features designed to make the pack more load bearing. A set of detachable waist straps come with the pack to properly distribute the weight of your load. If you’ve ever hiked without waist straps you know how useful they actually are. They do a great job at setting the bulk of the weight around your hips where you have more strength. The chest straps further serve to decrease the amount of weight on your shoulders for proper distribution.

MOLLE webbing

Molle webbing is all over this pack. With the Molle you can attach compatible pouches for increased load capacity. Molle compatible pouches are relatively cheap and extend the functionality of any pack with the webbing. While this pack can certainly carry more than enough gear, it’s sometimes convenient to have the more important items attached to the outside where you can easily get to them.

Versatility and design

Between the compression straps and the Molle you can choose to get very technical and creative with how you pack your gear. Longer items like walking sticks, sleeping bags and tents can easily be strapped to the externals of the pack. The buckles on the straps are extremely durable and cinch down even large bulky items. The two side pockets located at the bottom of the pack can be used as rifle holsters for the butt of your weapons or slots for hiking sticks.

Personal Review of the USMC ILBE Assault pack

My personal opinion of this pack is strong. It’s perhaps the strongest backpack I’ve ever come across in my testing. Coming straight from the military you can see why this is the case. When the U.S. military decides to do something they don’t mess around and they think of everything.

This pack makes a great tactical backpack and it’s versatile enough to be used in many different environments. It functions very well as backpackers pack. I like to set up camp and then use the assault pack to explore with a few basic things including a hydration bladder.

There isn’t anything this pack couldn’t do and it’s extremely durable. The Nylon is super thick and would take serious force to tear any of the material.

I do think this pack is overkill for most people. Unless your planning on prepping for a full blown SHTF situation or taking off into the wilderness for a long length of time, there are probably better options out there.

But, If you want a pack that will stand the test of time and handle everything you can throw at it, the USMC ILBE Assault pack is the one for you.

It will outlast you and your future generations.

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack Review

condor-3-day-assault-pack-review

Today we’re talking about one of the most rugged and heavy duty packs in the business. The Condor 3 day assault pack is a no nonsense pack to hold all of your gear. Especially in a fully blown SHTF situation, having a strong pack that can carry all your gear and not bust is a very crucial survival factor. In this full review I’m going to dive deep into this pack so you can assess whether or not this is the pack for you (it’s probably overkill for the average citizen.)

Specifications and Features

  • 50 Liters
  • 1000D Nylon
  • Internal Frame
  • 7 Total Compartments
  • Drag Handles
  • Molle Webbing
  • Padded Shoulder Straps
  • Adjustable Sternum Strap
  • Padded Hip Belt
  • Hydration Bladder Ready (Support For two 3L bladders)
  • Drainage holes for each compartment
  • Compression Straps

Load Capacity

Condor 3 day assaualt pack main comparment
The main compartment

 

One of the defining features and selling points of the Condor is the large load capacity. The entire capacity checks in at 3038 cubic inches or 50 Liters. That’s a ton of space. Opening the main compartment is like staring into an endless abyss of storage space for all of your gear.

The internal frame does a good job at supporting any load you can throw at the Condor. At 50 Liters the internal frame becomes an absolute necessity especially if you plan on stuffing the pack completely full of supplies.

Storage Pockets

Many large packs like the Condor only offer a simple dump-and-go style rucksack compartment. I like the Condor because there is a lot of pockets for organizing all of your gear.

Main compartment – The main compartment consumes roughly 40 Liters of the total space. Inside are a number of organizing pockets and tie down straps to lash your gear. As a bit of a neat freak myself, I like having the option to organize my gear in places where I know I can find things. One large pack with no pockets proves to unwieldy and it always takes too long to find gear. This can be crucial in a fully blown SHTF situation where time is of the essence.

Communications compartment – This is a 10 X 14 pocket designed to hold a radio and a set of maps. Honestly, you could shove anything here but it would fit a small radio and map perfectly. There are 3 nylon separator pockets in this pouch for organization.

Front compartment – an 11 X 12 dump and go style pocket. Great spot for your first aid kit or anything you will need on a regular basis. Items like food bars, headlamps, and fire starters would go great in this pouch. On the outside of this compartment is 6 rows of Molle webbing. This great stuff to add additional pouches/attachments to the externals. Read my post on the best molle pouches for some ideas.

Side pockets X2 – On the sides of the Condor 3 Day Assault pack are 2 storage pockets measuring 9 X 5 X 2.5. There is nothing fancy about these pockets. They can easily fit a 1 Liter water bottle or anything else you can manage to stuff inside of them. Also on the outside of these compartments is more Molle webbing for additional gear attachments. You can really load this thing out if you want.

Hydration Pockets X2 – In the main compartment are two separator pockets for two 3L hydration bladders.

Condor 3 day assault pack with hydration bladder
Hydration compatible

My Personal Review

There are a lot of things I love about the Condor 3 Day Assault pack. The large storage capacity means I can basically stuff as much gear as I can carry. The Molle webbing means I can pack this thing out to back breaking proportions.

Even so, this pack was made to bear a heavy load. The shoulder straps are extremely well padded and the back plating is also padded to the max. The pack is indeed a comfy one. The hip belt takes most of the weight from your shoulders and distributes onto your hips. This makes carrying a heavy load much easier.

The adjustable sternum strap slides up or down to accomadate different body types. Once again, very comfortable.

For you organizational freaks out there, the Condor delivers with 7 pockets to stow and micro manage your gear. Just don’t forget where you have put things!

The entire pack is practically bombproof being made of 1000D Nylon. You could throw this thing through a wood chipper and it would come out unscathed.

With that said, a durable pack like this is not without weight considerations. The condor is going to weigh more than your average pack because it is made so durable. If weight is a consideration you might want to look at other lightweight options.

Is the Condor 3 Day Assault pack for everyone? I don’t think so. This is a serious pack useful for serious endeavors only. I wouldn’t even think about using this as a daypack. This is for the person going into the deep woods for weeks at a time, or for the person preparing to bug out and never return.

Final Thoughts

This is a serious pack designed for serious tactical applications or extended trips into the wild. I have no doubts this pack will stand up to anything you can throw at it!

The best price for this pack can be found on Amazon.

Thanks for reading the review and please leave a comment if you have any questions!

 

12 Best Tactical Backpacks For Your Survival Gear

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So, you’ve been diligent on fulfilling the task of collecting all the essential survival gear. Across your room – a sprawling spectacle of the gear you found on the Bear Grylls official survival checklist (just kidding.) There is only one problem – you do not have a backpack to put all this stuff in. More specifically, you do not have a tactical backpack to put all this stuff in. Did you think all this was going in the Jansport bag you’ve had since freshman year of High school? Not if you’re serious about busting out of a full blown SHTF situation.

Read this post for an in depth bug out bag checklist.

What is a tactical backpack?

Tactical is a term to used to represent gear that has a functional or practical use in specific situations – usually military or high intensity situations where the gear you have must hold up to pressure. Tactical backpacks are backpacks designed with heavy use in mind. They are extremely durable and have features you typically don’t see on normal backpacks – external Molle for example. Molle is external webbing designed by the military to add extra storage space to the pack. It’s been a standard on tactical backpacks for a long time. When you buy a tactical backpack you can be damn sure the thing is going to hold up to whatever you put it through. For this reason, they make great bug out bags.

Let’s crack into the packs.

Direct Action Ghost Tactical Backpack

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The Direct Action Ghost Tactical Backpack

This is a 31.5 liter that packs in serious versatility. The Ghost tactical backpack features a main storage compartment as well as a detachable external pouch. 500D cordura materials makes this pack extremely durable. One thing I really love about this pack is the slimmer/taller profile than most tactical backpacks. The entire pack looks super clean – especially with laser cut Molle running the exterior of both the main compartment and the detachable pouch. Deeply padded in all the areas that matter, primarily the back plate and the shoulder straps. The Ghost also has a 2.5L hydration bladder pouch built straight into the main compartment. I could see the Ghost tactical backpack being a great SHTF backpack and a competent pack you could take out hiking or backpacking.

Spec Ops Ultimate Assault Pack

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The SPEC OPS Tactical Backpack

Another extremely durable pack boasting unique design features you won’t find in other packs. For one, the High-Vis material lining the inside of the pack is actually quite nice. The sharp contrasted background allows you to easily locate items in your pack visually. The zippers and buckles on the Spec Ops are hands down the strongest I’ve ever seen on a pack. They are seriously well built. Thick zippers and thick buckles are crucial to having a functional pack for years to come. But what about pack space?  This tactical backpack features 3 main cargo areas and a hydration pouch giving you 40L of raw storage capacity. That’s a good amount of space. I find that 30L is not enough but 50L is too much. 40L hits the sweet spot. 1000D nylon makes this pack virtually bombproof. This pack also has a unique blend of both traditional and laser-cut Molle on the externals of the pack.

Monkey Paks Tactical Backpack

Monkey Paks Tactical Backpack
Monkey Paks Tactical Backpack

Don’t let the name detract you from thinking this is not a serious pack. This is a full blown tactical backpack in a smaller profile. It’s one of the smaller packs on this list but it packs in massive punches in a few key areas. One, this pack is going to be a lot lighter than most. This is crucial for those who value speed and efficiency over all else. Bulky packs will slow you down and you probably don’t need half the gear you packed in it anyways. The Monkey Paks tactical backpack comes with 5 pouches including a hydration pouch – and best of all, the hydration bladder is actually included with this one! Everything from the zippers to the waterproof 600D nylon material is just as rugged as the other contenders on this list. At $40 USD, you can’t go wrong.

Protector Plus Military Tactical Backpack

Protector Plus Tactical Backpack
Protector Plus Tactical Backpack

Do you want to go full blown pack mule status? I know many guys who go balls to the wall no matter what they do. If SHTF, you know they’re going to have every single survival widget packed and ready to rock. The Protector Plus tactical backpack features a ton of space – up to 80L. That’s more than enough room to pack for 2 – 3 people including yourself. All of this space is sectioned out between the main rucksack and 3 external pockets. You have one zippered pouch on the front and 2 side pockets – all of them generous in size. This pack is waterproof and completely solid. You have Molle on the externals so you could load it down even more with extra Molle compatible pouches.

Arcenciel 40L Tactical backpack

Arcenciel Tactical Backpack
Arcenciel Tactical Backpack

Storage pockets…storage pockets everywhere! One thing I see people discuss on forums is the lack of storage pockets on tactical backpacks. Many packs are rucksack style and designed only with raw storage capacity in mind. The Arcenciel 40L tactical backpack breaks this trend and delivers extreme storage organization in a sturdy, military grade profile. You will find yourself discovering new pockets all the time. This pack has plenty of space to store all your critical gear and enough Molle to add more if need be. Lots of design options too. Rainfly included.

USMC Assault Pack

USMC Assault Pack
USMC Assault Pack

Yes, the same pack they use in the United States Marines Core. It goes without saying that this pack is well built and absolutely bombproof. You could throw this thing through a wood chipper and still use it to bug out. This pack features an internal frame and detachable top lid. In total there is 70 Liters of internal space. You will find it easy to lash gear to the externals of the pack with the many buckles and Molle webbings. Definitely the most well built, bombpoof pack on this list.

5.11 Tactical Rush 72

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The 5.11 Rush 72 Hour Tactical Pack

If you’re an avid reader of this blog you know how much I talk about the 5.11 tactical Rush 72. It’s one of my favorite packs and for lots of reasons. Tactical backpacks tend to look very military. I like packs that can keep the durability of a military pack while looking somewhat civilian. The 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 delivers. 1050D nylon makes this pack one of the strongest on this list – damn near waterproof with an extra layer of water resistant coating. Lots of meshed pockets too including a fleece lined top pocket for scratchable pieces of gear. You’re still going to want to keep your smartphone scratch free in an SHTF situation right?

>>>Read my full review of the 511 72 Hour Rush<<<

Condor 3 day assault pack

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack
Condor 3 Day Assault Pack

 

This is a simple and durable pack. There is nothing fancy about this tactical backpack and that’s a good thing. For those of you that just want a pack that’s going to last, this is your pack. The Condor 3 day assault pack is a no frills, practical bug out bag. It has a number of pockets including space in the main pouch for two 3L hydration pouches. This is a really solid backpack with nothing that over complicates the process of bugging out.

Kelty Eagle 7850

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The Kelty Eagle 7850

Kelty is a traditional backpack manufacturer but they over delivered with the Eagle. This is a true to the word tactical backpack built for serious MOUNTAIN OPS. This is a stuff and go pack. Definitely not for the type of person who demands that everything be neatly organized. The Kelty Eagle 7850 features a large 66L “dump and go” style cargo sack and a detachable lid pouch that can be used as a fanny pack or shoulder sling. Simple yet versatile. The front zipper you see opens up to the main compartment of the pack giving you easy access to your gear. I have to admit, I’m starting to prefer ruckstack style backpacks over the traditional clam shell style. It’s easier to get to gear and easier to load up at a moments notice. Don’t overlook the Kelty Eagle if you’re in the market for a tactical backpack.

Camelbak Motherload

The Camelbak Motherlode
The Camelbak Motherlode

Camelbak, the leading manufacturer of fine hydration packs has entered the tactical market with a strong competitor. The Camelbak Motherlode is a surprisingly capable tactical backpack. On the front you have the traditional Molle webbing that comes standard with any solid tactical backpack. Also on the front you have an admin pocket with generous storage space and all kinds of pockets to stay organized. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Camelbak if it didn’t come with a top of the line hydration bladder. The more I take my Camelbak out the more I appreciate the convenience of having a hydration bladder readily accessible. Pair a pack like this with a portable water filter and we’re talking serious versatility when it comes time to bug out. One thing to note is just how comfortable the Camelbak Motherlode is. It’s got thick padding where it counts. If you’ve done any amount of hiking or backpacking you know the last thing you want is a shoestring backpack strap digging into your traps the whole time.

NPUSA Tactical Daypack

NPUSA Tactical Day Pack
NPUSA Tactical Day Pack

I’m including this one here because of the raw value. For $40 the NPUSA daypack can’t be beat. And don’t let the name fool you either – this pack is more than capable of going full pack mule status with 32 Liters of storage. Of course, the external Molle adds to the functionality and what you can carry. 600D nylon material gives this pack the strength and durability required to blow through any survival situation without busting halfway in between. Lots of value here that can’t be passed up.

Pinty 600D Tactical backpack

PINTY 600D Tactical Pack
PINTY 600D Tactical Pack

If you really want to go total value mode then this is your pack. It’s an overall solid pack with only a few cons. For the price though you really can’t complain. I wouldn’t have this pack on the list if it wasn’t fully capable of handling the roughest conditions. It’s built durable like the other packs but with a smaller profile. It’s a 20L pack which is significantly smaller than the other ones. You’re going to have to pack smart – you definitely won’t be taking any bulky tents with you in this one.

Which to choose?

I know this is a massive list of tactical backpacks. It’s hard to make a choice with so many options available to you. If I had to boil it down to the absolute best pack on this list I got to go with the 5.11 Rush 72. It’s such a quality pack and heavily tested. You won’t find too many people who have problems with the 5.11 line of products. Simply the best in the business. If price is an issue the NPUSA tactical daypack is the obvious choice. It’s durable and large enough to carry all your essential gear.

With that said, don’t wait until its too late to snatch one of these packs up. You never know when the shit is going to hit the fan!

Top 5 Best Molle Backpacks

Molle backpacks are functional military-spec bags that allow you to attach gear to the outside via specialized webbing. Molle has been the standard tactical choice for military personnel — and for a good reason. Molle is versatile technology that easily extends the carrying capacity of any backpack. Let’s look at 5 of the best Molle backpacks out on the market in 2016.

Spec Ops T.H.E. Ultimate Assault Pack

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The Spec Ops Assualt Pack is a versatile Molle designed pack that works well for a number of applications. This is the bugout bag of choice for many survival enthusiasts. Super durable self healing zippers (the last thing you want to bust) and unique features you won’t find in other packs — the high visibility meshing on the inside of the pack for example. This makes it easy to grab what you need from the pack as fast as possible — especially in the darkness of night. Also, the buckles on this pack are insane! Extremely durable. The problem I have with most packs is that the buckles bust too easily under load. You can tell right away that these buckles won’t be busting any time soon. Use this pack as your GOTO bugout bag, camping bag, or even your everyday recreational bag (it carrys my 15″ laptop perfectly.)

This pack does not have any organizational pockets on the inside. If you’re an organizational freak of nature than one of the other packs in this review will be more satisfactory. However, you can easily attach multiple organizer pockets to the outside via the molle webbing. This pack has the best Molle layout I’ve seen on any pack.

It should be noted…this pack is overbuilt. The heavy duty quality of everything on it means that this pack is HEAVY. Not advised for the lightweight backpacker but highly advised for anybody that values insane durability and longevity.

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Direct Action Ghost Tactical Backpack

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For the average height survivalist who wants to go GHOST MODE. I say average height due to the detachable hip belt. I am 5.11″ and the hip belt almost doesn’t fit my torso. If you’re tall the detachable hip belt probably won’t fit. Not a big deal since you can remove it from the pack — less weight means faster bug outs anyways.

I got to say, I’m a fan of the super slim/taller profile of this bag. I think the bag looks better than any other Molle backpack I’ve seen. But that is just aesthetics…let’s talk about function.

Basically this bag is 31.5 liters (including the detachable organizer pouch) and has Molle in every damn place imaginable. And we’re talking LASER CUT Molle. More functional than the original Molle while looking 10X as cool.

As for as pockets go, the Direct Action Ghost Tactical backpack has a few. In the main compartment you have a deep pocket for your hydration bladder and a zippered organizer pocket on the front flap. I have a 2.5 liter hydration bladder that still has plenty of room.

On the outside of the main storage pocket is a sunglasses pocket and 2 expandable zipper pockets for water bottles or whatever else you want to stuff in them.

Also on the exterior is a secondary 3.5 liter detachable organizer pouch. This makes the pack extremely versatile depending on what you want to do with it. You can grab just the main pack when you don’t need the added space and then attach the pouch later in situations where you do. This organizer pouch has multiple pockets that make it easy to keep important gear in order.

Out of all the packs I’ve tried, this pack is probably the most comfortable. Both the back and the shoulder straps are padded to the max. There’s nothing worse than a pack with shoestring shoulder straps that dig deep into your traps and deltoids with every step. They are also ventilated to air out your sweaty pack during a long bug out session.

A+ for comfort most definitely. Once again, these Molle packs are extremely high quality and the Ghost is no exception — using military grade hardware for the zippers, buckles, and everything in between.

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Kelty Tactical Falcon 4000

 


The pack (Now called the Kelty Eagle 7850) built for MOUNTAIN OPS. Boasting a 66 liter pack and rocking the coyote brown color, the Kelty Tactical Falcon was built for an extended camouflaged stay on the high mountains — or any place you need to carry in a LOT of gear. We’re talking about going full on STUFF MODE with this thing because it lacks serious storage pockets aside from the large “dump and go” style ruck sack compartment.  People cry about this thing having zero organizational space but that’s what the MOLLE is for. If you want organization then you can purchase MOLLE packs that can attach to the outside — and this pack has plenty of MOLLE to go around. At the top of the sack you will find a detachable lid style pouch that converts into a fanny pack, or, if that’s not manly enough for you, a shoulder bag. Like all Kelty gear, this backpack is extremely well built and very padded in the shoulder straps and back area. A lot of backpack companies add extra bullshit to their packs for flashy purposes. I like the Kelty because it keeps things simple, functional, and no-nonsense.

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ILBE USMC Assault Pack

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Now we’re talking. This pack is standard issue for the United States Marine Core. I like to think of it like the Kelty falcon 4000 on steroids. It’s a similar style rucksack (70 liters) with an internal frame and top detachable lid. This pack is BOMBPROOF. I am too afraid to throw around the fragile packs I have from REI but not this one. I treat it like a red headed stepchild and it still comes back for more punishment. BOMBPROOF I tell you. I think the U.S. military knew what they were doing when they made this pack. MOLLE webbing runs the side of the pack by the compression straps. It has the digital style camouflage if that’s your thing.

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5.11 Tactical RUSH 72

The tactical 5.11 Rush bag is a great hyrbid option

This is the most popular bag on this list. It’s also a bag that people have very strong opinions about. Some love this bag while others absolutely hate it. I personally really enjoy this pack and it’s my favorite on this list (saving the best for last.) It’s truly the best of both worlds — not too big and not too small. It’s coined as a 72 hour bag, meaning you can fit 3 days worth of gear in it. I have taken this thing on 3 day backpacking trips and can attest to this statement. Rock solid durability. Tons of Molle. And, if you want to take this pack into town you don’t look like you’re leading an armed cavalry to take down the local bank. It looks very civilian while staying true to military spec:

  • Made in USA
  • Large, external shove-it pocket, Top exterior crescent-shaped organization pocket, two exterior, side, gusseted zippered pockets
  • 1050D nylon with water-repellent PUx2 coating on main body, 210D 118T water-repellent PUx2 coating on inside pocket flaps and pocket bags
  • Closed-cell foam back padded hydration pocket with two back-to-back zippered pull tabs
  • Top, quick-access non-scratching fleece-lined sunglass pocket
  • Generous web-platform on three sides with additional attachment points

A great pack for bugging out, multi-day camping trips, or recreational use. The best Molle backpack for your money in my opinion.

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Conclusion

Did I miss anything? Let me know what you think of these Molle backpacks in the comments below. That’s a direct order soldier.

And if you liked this post, check out my post on the best tactical backpacks too. Thanks for reading!