The last thing you need when surviving in the wilderness is your hiking backpack calling it quits. With the best survival backpack, that will be one concern you can file away for good.
The best survival backpacks tend to draw inspiration from military designs because the military really, really needs to count on the longevity and survivability of its gear.
For survival backpacks, that means you’re going to be looking for thick polyester or nylon fabrics for durability, a boatload of straps and compartments for organizing gear, generally big storage capacity and details for comfort and ease of use, such as padded ventilated back straps, a cushioned waist belt and smooth heavy-duty zippers.
If you’re thinking about taking some kind of survival adventure or simply want to have a big bag ready to survive any wilderness conditions, check out the best survival backpacks below. We’ve got mostly military-inspired tactical options but we also included one traditional backpacking option too because it really prioritizes comfortable carrying.
Whichever you go with, you’re going to have a survival backpack that’s practically guaranteed to outlast you and whatever tribulations you put it through.
1. 5.11 Tactical Backpack
There are so many great survival backpacks out there thanks to the fact that so many draw from military-inspired designs. For the best survival backpack though, we like the 5.11 Tactical Backpack for its affordable combination of everything you’d want in a survival backpack. It can hold 55 liters of whatever you need to survive, spread across 30 individual compartments, and is guaranteed to last way longer than you do in the wilderness thanks to its durable 1050D nylon construction and YKK zippers.
Add in multiple buckles and cushioned straps to ensure you can carry that weight comfortably and you’ve got a reliable companion to survive in even the harshest conditions.
5.11 Tactical Backpack
2. Crazy Ants Military Tactical Backpack
For another great survival backpack, we like the Crazy Ants Military Tactical Backpack. Though this backpack lands on the smaller side of tactical survival backpacks, with 37 liters of capacity, two detachable packs add a lot of cargo flexibility if you need more space. Plus, whatever you bring will stay bone dry thanks to the thick waterproof 900D polyester construction. The backpack doesn’t have a ton of individual compartments, but there are more than enough to keep your survival gear more or less organized.
Crazy Ants Military Tactical Backpack
3. Osprey Packs Atmos AG 50L Backpack
Traditional hiking packs also make for solid survival backpack options. The Osprey Packs Atmos AG 50L Backpack would be an excellent choice for survival.
Available in three sizes, 47L, 50L and 53L, this backpack has plenty of space to stuff whatever you need for your adventure, as well as a sleeve for water bags, a sleeping bag compartment and sleeping pad straps. It’s also made from high-strength nylons for durability and is a dream to carry thanks to the well-ventilated anti-gravity suspension, adjustable shoulders and cushioned waist belt.
Overall, this Osprey backpack marries packing volume and easy carrying to perfection, though you will pay a good chunk of change for that perfection.
Osprey Packs Atmos AG 50L Backpack
4. EMDMAK Military Tactical Backpack
A high price tag doesn’t necessarily make the best survival backpack. Case in point: The EMDMAK Military Tactical Backpack. This backpack carries 42 liters, features multiple compartments, incorporates everything you’d need for comfortable carrying and is made from 900D nylon for extended use. For well under $50, you can’t do much better.
EMDMAK Military Tactical Backpack
5. Reebow Gear Military Tactical Backpack
BEST-SELLING TACTICAL BACKPACK
When it comes to products that have a lot of similar offerings, we like to identify customer favorites because if thousands of actual buyers love a product, it tends to be pretty great.
The Reebow Gear Military Tactical Backpack is one such pretty great, customer-loved backpack. As of publication, it’s the best-selling tactical backpack on Amazon and, remarkably, boasts 85% five-star reviews on over 12,200 ratings. Our job is to look at products and that level of approval is unheard of.
And when you look at the backpack, that all makes sense.
It’s made from a thick water-resistant canvas with double-stitched heavy-duty zippers and holds up to 40L. Like our previous picks, it boasts MOLLE webbing all around to add additional packs or gear as needed. You can also count on comfortable carrying with the ventilated padded back and constant hydration through the water bag compartment.
The only downside is the lack of padding on the waist belt, but except for that, you get all the same stuff as our top picks for only a few bucks more than our budget pick. We’d say that’s a pretty fair deal on an overall great survival backpack.
Reebow Gear Military Tactical Backpack
6. Outdoor Plus Backpacking Backpack
BEST EXPANDABLE PACK
Nothing’s worse than being on a trip or adventure and not being able to pack any further. The Outdoor Plus Backpacking Backpack solves that problem with zipper expansion. When zipped closed, this backpack can carry up to 70L, but unzipping the side zippers expands the backpack up to 85L, plenty of additional space for whatever else you need to pack away.
Everything else is pretty standard fare — 900D waterproof polyester, MOLLE webbing and a cushioned removable waist belt — except for the lack of multiple discrete compartments, but the main compartment will easily be able to accommodate your gear, if not perfectly organize it.
Outdoor Plus Backpacking Backpack
7. Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack
BEST FOR SHORT TRIPS
For a smaller, more basic survival backpack, go for the Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack.
It’s lightweight, made from 500D Cordura, features plenty of storage compartments for all manner of gear, a molle system and cushioned back straps, though the waist belt is not cushioned.
There’s not much more to it: This is the best survival backpack for short trips because it’s durable, water-resistant and has all the features you’d need to load up on gear.
Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack
8. Tacticon 24BattlePack Tactical Backpack
We wouldn’t have so many great survival backpack options without the military-inspired design and, critically, the veterans who actually put this rigorous kind of gear to the test. So why not buy a survival backpack from a veteran-owned company?
The Tacticon 24BattlePack Tactical Backpack isn’t exactly special, but a friendly price and a few strategic details separate it from the rest of the pack. Instead of metal zipper handles, this backpack uses oversized paracord for its double-stitched zipper lining. In another interesting feature, the outer pocket features a built-in universal handgun holster for fast access. Sure, you won’t need it every day, but you’ll be glad it’s there in a true survival situation.
We also appreciate the backpack’s ability to collapse down to 20L, making the bag a lot more versatile.
Other expected features like a hydration pocket, padded straps, a breathable back and MOLLE webbing complete the package. Put everything together and it makes sense why this backpack received 83% five-star reviews on over 2,900 reviews.