Survival Backpack

Anyone experiencing an unexpected disaster will benefit from having a survival backpack fully stocked and ready to use. Devastating tornadoes, floods, blizzards, epidemics and possibly a terrorist attack may eliminate power, communication and medical systems we take for granted, leaving us vulnerable to the elements, dehydration, starvation and disease.


In an urban area populated by millions of desperate people, roadways leaving the city could be overwhelmed with vehicles all attempting to escape simultaneously. Rioting, looting, and general lawlessness will make it impossible to venture out to get food, water and other essentials. No one knows how long such a dangerous condition could exist before help arrives, if it ever arrives at all.

A backpack crammed with items essential for basic health and medical needs will at least give you a fighting chance following a disaster. During the last 30 years, the instability of global climate, the economy and world governments has precipitated a perspective calling for urgent attention to disaster preparedness.

The increasing acknowledgment that disasters are growing more common and more intense has caused people to stop and think what would happen if they could not access electricity, water, food and medical supplies. As a result, bug-out bags, bug-out vehicles, and prepping for disasters have become, for many, a lifestyle rather than just a passing fancy.

Survival Backpack Items

Most backpacks meant for survival use are made from tough yet lightweight waterproof material similar to canvas. Shoulder and chest straps should fit comfortably and allow for easy access to items when they are needed while on the move. Plenty of pockets secured with strong zippers are also desirable. In addition, backpacks with reflector stripes may improve your chances of search teams finding you at night.

A backpack containing enough general supplies to last 24 to 72 hours should include most of the following:

  • Solar blanket
  • Water purification tablets
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Waterproof matches
  • Self-charging AM/FM radio
  • Band-Aids and antibacterial ointment
  • Ibuprofen tablets
  • Large plastic garbage bag, which has many uses from providing shelter to catching rainwater
  • Metal canteen cup
  • Signaling whistle
  • High-calorie protein bars

These items represent the necessities for any backpack that you require for survival purposes following a short-lived disaster. For events that cause a long-term situation in which supplies will definitely be unavailable, you need a larger survival backpack stocked with items for a week or two of living in a post-disaster condition.

Items useful to survival of an extended disaster situation include:

  • Tinder cubes to start a fire
  • Tube tent
  • Instant soup packages
  • Kool-Aid/hot chocolate packets
  • Teabags and instant coffee packets
  • Sugar packets
  • Peanuts/crackers
  • Anti-diarrhea tablets
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Roll of gauze and medical tape
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • Fishing line/hook
  • Emergency candles
  • Signaling mirror
  • Compass
  • Swiss Army knife
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Wet wipes

Assess Your Environment

Depending on where the disaster occurs, certain other items should be included in your backpack, such as insect repellent and salt tablets for hot, humid regions or an extra solar blanket and appropriate clothing for colder regions.

If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, extra dust masks and additional medical supplies are necessary, because this kind of disaster often results in concussions, broken bones, and severe lacerations due to falling concrete.

Alternatively, areas vulnerable to flooding would probably not need dust masks. Instead, pack mosquito repellent, dry clothing and more water purification tablets in your survival backpack, since stagnation, bacteria, and insects are likely to contaminate the water.

If you live in a large metropolitan area and worry about bioterrorism or epidemics, pay more attention to the medical supplies you pack and include disinfecting solutions such as isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide.

Remember that everything you place in your backpack should contribute to your survival in one way or another.

Return from Survival Backpack to Disaster Survival Kit

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