Goal: Comfortably carry everything you need to get home.
All the parts in this series:
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 2: Navigation
- Part 3: Communication
- Part 4: Medical
- Part 5: Survival
- Part 6: Utility
- Part 7: Lights
- Part 8: Defense
- Part 9: The Bag (You are here)
- Part 10: Organization
- Part 11: Checklists
- Part 12: Conclusion
Wow, okay, we have all the gear we’ll need to get home in an emergency situation and we’ve scheduled some training classes. How the heck do we organize all this stuff?
A backpack. But which one?
We need a bag that can hold everything we need to get home, allow us to organize it effectively, and be small and light enough to transport to and from our vehicle or while hoofing it home when our truck breaks down.
We’d also like a backpack that:
- Is just large enough to hold all this stuff but gives a little bit of room to store extra items, like your jacket if it’s warm.
- Is small and light enough that we’re not tempted to fill it with more gear, which only means weight and complexity.
- Has multiple pockets, slots and straps to help us keep stuff organized and segmented. MOLLE and hook-and-loop panels inside the pack in multiple places really lets us optimize our placement.
- Includes a water bottle pocket.
- Is comfortable to carry and wear, but it doesn’t need to be crazy. We’re not hiking the Appalachian Trail here.
- Is durable, but again, don’t worry overly much about this. You’re not rucking through a war zone with this thing.
- Doesn’t look tactical. A tactical-looking backpack (picture external MOLLE panels, straps, camo patterns, etc.) wouldn’t look out of place in many states (free ones). But why draw attention to yourself if you have to leave your vehicle and beat feet? A grey man is an ignored man, which is what you want when you’re trying to get home.
- Is relatively affordable.
There are a lot of backpacks that fit this bill, but we’re recommending Vertx’s Last Call Pack. It’s only 20 liters, which is more than enough for the loadout spec’d here, while still leaving room for emergency add-ins. It’s not tactical looking at all. It has a CCW zippered compartment for your gun, allowing for discrete but quick-access carry.
We wish the Last Call had more pockets internally, but they cover most panels with hook and loop and/or MOLLE. Vertx makes quality gear, it’s comfortable to wear and it’s relatively affordable for a well-made, CCW-enabled backpack. (If you don’t care about the color, shop around and you’ll find that some colors are cheaper than others.)
We’ll cover how to organize everything in this backpack in the next section.
If you don’t like this pack for whatever reason, there are a ton of alternatives. Here are a few:
- Vertx Ready Pack 2.0 or Gamut Checkpoint if you’re carrying a folding rifle. Just make sure you confirm the interior height is enough to stow your rifle. Measure twice, buy once.
- Maxpedition Entity 21 or larger, if you’re adding additional gear. Maxpedition Prepared Citizen 2.0 is also a great nothing-to-see-here option.
- Fieldcraft Survival’s Mobility GoBag is a really interesting option. It can be attached to the back of the seat in your vehicle, allowing quick access to your first aid kit. But then you can zip up its cover and convert it into a backpack if you need to bail out. While we love this bag, we’re not recommending it for this get-home use case because we want something easier to take in and out of the vehicle.
- If you ignore our very sound advice to carry a backup weapon in your backpack, then you don’t need a pack with a CCW compartment. Your universe of potential bags just expanded dramatically. As long as a bag allows you to organize what you need, where you need it, most any backpack will do. Even your Star Wars pack.
Now that you have the bag, get everything organized in Part 10 - Organization.
We participate in Amazon's Associates Program, along with some others, which means that we may receive a small commission when you click on and buy any of our recommendations (at no extra charge to you). That being said, we don't really care if you decide to buy something we recommend or not, because our goal is to help you get prepared for anything. The reasons for our recommendations are spelled out in the articles, but they all boil down to one thing: this is what we think is currently the best option. Sometimes that means you'll buy it, sometimes not, that's fine. Just know that our recommendation was honest, unbiased and (hopefully) of value to you.