The Best Bug Out Bags?

Hector Santana
5 min readMar 27, 2024


Are Not What You Think.

These bags are meant for situations where being inconspicuous really does not matter. (USARMY)

Bug out bags are often depicted as very stylized tan combat packs with lots of pockets, zippers, and grab handles. But do you really want to carry something that high speed during a calamity? The answer is no. Bug out bags should be as simple and discreet as possible. They should not attract attention and should give the impression that there is not much value in the contents of the bag. In fact, the more beat up the bag is, the better. An inconspicuous bug out bag will blend in, making you blend in- get it? Ok now that we have dispensed with that urge to look good while scrambling to get out of dodge- let’s look at some bags.

Believe it not, the most versatile bag for bugging out is an ordinary school bag. It is a common sight in public and often non-descript in design giving no impression of what’s inside. Don’t make it colorful, dark blue or black will do. Please do not hang items from the bag and make sure to wear dark colors to hide the contours of the bag from onlookers especially at night. Avoid silver or shiny zippers as they attract unwanted attention or can even give away your position. Select bags without the common sheen found in cheap fabrics. Look for a matt finish in the fabric to avoid detection when moving through the night.

This low-profile, dark bag is excellent for bugging out. Yes, you won’t get everything in it, but its discreet

Yes, these bags are boring but that’s what they are supposed to be, unassuming and practical. Big bulky bags tell people you have lots of goodies and will only set you up for an attack, a robbery, an assault, or worse. You can also supplement your bag by wearing a waist pocket hidden under your coat or jacket. Do not make it bulky, it is only intended as a backup in case you have to abandon your bug out bag for any reason. Keep your most important items in the waist pack. Your identification, money and your important cards should be on your person. Your clothing says a lot about your status. Avoid broadcasting that you have money or resources. Keep a low profile and wear ordinary clothing, not your best wares. Leave the Armani and flashy shoes behind, thank you.

Bags with pockets inside are fine, as are bags with pockets on the sides. Avoid bags with lots of Velcro as they make noise when you open them, opt for zippers instead. Tough denier fabric is great since the bag may have to take a beating during your travels. Cotton is fine but always look at the seams to make sure they are sewn properly and cross looped for added strength. Nothing is worse than a poorly sewn bag, as it can come apart with the slightest rugged activity. Remember, to use a plastic garbage bag as a liner on the inside if you think you may have to cross a river or that it may get wet.

This bag is great at night but during the day it looks like a quality bag. Ask yourself, will it attract attention?

If your bag is dark and has many zippers with good quality fabric, it may still attract too much attention. An expensive looking bag on a person with expensive clothing is a sign of prosperity. If you have a good bag avoid looking like you may have valuables by wearing that Essentials or Fendi jacket. Look to wear clothing that is functional but does not signal that there is money or valuables here. Remember, during a bug out there may be those looking for opportunity. Don’t become a victim by unwittingly wearing expensive garb. I have friends that talk about looking homeless in a shit hit the fan situation. Folks don’t pay too much attention to the homeless, they tend to avoid eye contact with them. That may be a good idea if you are moving alone.

Which bag looks more inconspicuous? Thats the one you should use in a SHTF scenario.

Great bug out bags are highly functional and do not scream for attention. Tactical bags are for tactical purposes, meaning instances in which people are willing to look for and get into a fight. Bugging out is about survival, moving to your location without engaging an adversary. Don’t make the mistake of believing that because you are armed you should engage all comers. This is foolish and can get you killed. The best method of bugging out is to do it quietly, without attracting attention. If you are a woman, wear a baseball cap or hoodie. If you are a family look like as non-descript as possible. Use no valuables and make your bags look as plain as possible. If you have a toddler, use a rear facing carrying strap and let the women carry them. Even some of the worse men who engage you are more likely to allow a woman to leave the area if there is trouble. If you are armed don’t make her a target, train to separate if needed because I know you want her and the child to survive. But yes, do put a firearm on her person not in her bag and only if she knows how and when to use it. As with all weapons, don't use one unless you train regularly to use it effectively.

He looks like he could be dangerous, but his bag does not. Keep it black or navy blue.

Ok, remember-keep the bag proportional to your body. A bigger body can carry a bigger bag. Just don't make it too big, the bigger the bag the more valuables they think you have in it, that's not the picture you want to paint. If you have a lot to carry, spread it out to the folks traveling with you or slightly upsize the bags everyone has to make up the room you will need. Be mindful of the space you have, understand that you will not be able to get everything in a bug out bag. Take care when selecting what to take with you, only essentials should be in the bag. Food, first aid, radio, water filter, you get the picture. If you are uncertain about what is essential see the US FEMA website for guidance. Bug out bags are an important part of your plan to leave the area in an emergency and as much planning should go into them as you would for where you will ultimately go to be safe from danger. The whole point is to attract minimal attention during your bug out. Keep that in mind. Safe trails out there…



Hector Santana

*Top Writer-Camping and Survival. I love to write about the great outdoors, survival and foreign policy. An avid outdoorsman and survival instructor.