Are you a minimalist who keeps little more than a granola bar in your bag, or do you feel that you need to fit a Skyscraper, 300 band aids, an AK-47, and a puppy in it?
If you follow my tips, it doesn’t matter what size Bug Out Bag (BOB) you want. You will be able to find it.
You need to carry enough gear that will cover most scenarios without overdoing it.
When Feet Become Miles, Ounces Become Pounds
If you go hiking much, you know one simple mantra: “When feet become miles, ounces become pounds.”
By following this guide, you can determine what size pack is best for you.
|Nights||Capacity||Bag Weight (Gear Not Included)|
|1-2||20-50 Liters||1.5 – 4.5 Lbs|
|2-3||50-60 Liters||2.5 – 5 Lbs|
|3-5||60-80 Liters||2.5 – 5+ Lbs|
|5+||80+ Liters||4 – 6+ Lbs|
Based on the chart I have given you, determine what you need in capacity.
A few things to keep in mind:
The typical person would do well to grab a 50-60 liter pack for most situations.
To obtain the proper fitting pack, measure your torso, NOT OVERALL HEIGHT. This is the only real way to measure for one.
Your body design is different than everyone else.
Most manufacturers will use a measurement from the the base of your neck to your hipbone.
Women and Children’s designs are different than men’s. The straps have different shapes and the torso sizing is different. Don’t get the wrong pack because “it’ll be alright.”
The following is a basic chart for a typical manufacturer:
|Up to 15.5 inches||XS|
|18-19.5 Inches||M / Regular|
|20+ Inches||L / Tall|
You don’t want to unload every bit of the contents in your bag just to get to your gear.
When it matters most, you can get to your gear by choosing the right pack and understanding its parts. Choose one that organizes and compartmentalizes everything so it is easy to get to your stuff.
Airlines don’t do it. You wouldn’t do it to your automobile.
Don’t place all of your gear on one side or in one pocket. Give thought to weight distribution so you don’t strain your back and shoulders.
Hiking packs are designed for long trekking, and have a somewhat standard design based on years of research. Many times they will have the same pockets on them. These are the basic compartments of most hiking packs.
The main compartment is large and will easily carry the bulk of your items.
Because it is so large and has very little additional dividers, it is a versatile pocket for large items.
But, it is a little more difficult to pack.
It is also more difficult to get to your gear quickly, so you will want to pack items that you don’t need constant access to in it.
The most important thing in packing is your weight distribution. This will make or break your back.
You could use this pouch for the obvious.
I keep bags and tents strapped to the outside of my pack, because they take up lots of valuable space.
Hammocks and mosquito netting go well here.
Keep the weight in this compartment light, since it isn’t designed or located in a spot that is good for heavy weight.
These are the mesh pockets on the sides of your pack that have an elastic band to hold your bottles in.
If you are going to use them, always tie your bottles to your pack so they don’t fall out.
I keep small items that I want to get to quickly in these convenient little pockets. I don’t need to remove my entire pack to grab a hand full of trail mix.
These pockets work well for
If you don’t have to get to the item all the time, you can place lightweight items in here to fine-tune the weight balance of your pack.
This is another convenience pouch that is designed to keep you out of the main compartment. Once again, you will still have to take your pack off to get to the items.
Keep light items that you will be needing a lot in in all outside pockets
Understand all of the pockets and their designed intent, so you can properly distribute the weight of your gear, which can save your back, shoulders, and knees a lot of pain.
There are probably a million options out there for the larger number of bags you could use.
If you don’t want to choose the wrong one, it can be EASY to choose the correct bag with all the correct options.
You will need to decide what is best for you when it comes to the different options on your Bug out Bag. The following are some typical options on many bags available.
Hip straps to disperse the weight onto your hips and are comfortable thanks to the hip padding.
You can walk much further because of this.
Narrow shoulder straps dig into your skin and always need readjusted. You will get blisters and sore shoulder muscles.
Wider Straps are more comfortable.
Pack your bag. Then tighten down with the compression straps. You can pack more in it, and make the pack smaller and tighter.
This keeps the bag weight closer to your back, reducing fatigue.
Another thing I do with them that they weren’t designed for? I use them to help tie down items on the side of my packs.
Water is heavy, inconvenient, and IMPORTANT. When you have a bladder, you can keep it on your back and hydrate yourself while on the move. Less unnecessary stopping is a good thing.
Most bladders hold 2-3 liters of water. This is much more than a sports bottle holds.
Because bladders are usually on your back, they keep the heaviest item you have close to it, reducing fatigue.
Sweaty backs while hiking are uncomfortable. They get chaffed and raw. When your shirt bunches up, it gets worse.
Air flow channels or mesh webbing that allows your back to breath as it sweats reduces this problem.
These look like a “handle” on your front pocket. Usually it is multiple loops so you can hook stuff to it with carabiners.
This is nice for the odds and ends that you will attach.
If you hike with poles, but don’t want to hold them all the time, these are an invaluable resource to hang your poles onto.
I don’t use hiking poles, so I use these for attaching or stabilizing other gear.
Tucked away in a Velcro compartment, rain hoods keep your gear dry. If you have one of these, it will allow you to pull it over your pack so water doesn’t soak into it.
MOLLE is basically a vinyl strap that is stitched in one inch increments to make lots of points to attach to.
MOLLE stands for:
The following items are just a few MOLLE compatible items that you can get.
You are using these anyway. You can attach items that you will need while hiking or orienteering to your chest and shoulder straps.
These are items that you will have to get to.
By understanding the sizing, pockets, and options on packs, you will have the knowledge and capability to make an informed choice when you go looking for a new Bug-Out Bag.
As I write tips for your adventures and hear about cool gear, I will let you know all about it!