It’s a pack I see a lot in airports across the country and for a good reason. The S.O.C Bugout Bag (ours is in the foliage green color) is a big backpack that can carry a lot of gear and take a beating. While it’s a popular option, there are some things to take into consideration before pulling out your wallet. We got this bag from Brownells, a company that has guns and ammunition along with gunsmithing tools and emergency and survival gear.
Construction: This bag is quite hefty, weighting in at 5 pounds 5 ounces. The construction is 600 denier polyester and canvas blend. Some of that weight also comes from the aluminum back-stays that give support while carrying heavy loads. The shoulder straps are connected by metal clips and can be stored for using the bag as a carry-on for air travel. While the pack is comfortable to carry and durable, there are some improvements that could be made to keep the pack in competition with more modern designs. That’s coming later.
Organization: The front pocket of the pack opens to reveal a light grey organizer panel, which helps identify smaller items. There are two mesh zippered pockets for storing small items as well as a pouch for a phone. There is also a document/map slot that is closed by a strap with loop Velcro. The second pocket has zippered organizer pockets that are ideal for storing cords or supplies that need dedicated storage. There is a hydration compartment that can store up to a two-liter bladder, but no laptop compartment. The main compartment can expand by opening a zipper that runs along the outside of the pack, increasing this pack’s capacity from 47 liters to 54 liters. While that gives you more room for your gear, it will change how the pack sits on your body, so pack wisely.
Needed Improvements: The hip belt was a big failure point for me. It loosened itself several times while walking on flat ground with a 25-pound load, and it became annoying quickly. Second, the metal clips on the straps should be replaced with quick release buckles for easier use with gloves. I also believe that the weight of the pack can be reduced while keeping the same level of durability. Using a light rip-stop nylon on the interior pockets will help lighten the load along with thinning out the aluminum stays. Using a plastic frame sheet with the aluminum stays can help maintain rigidity while cutting weight out. For me, the jury is still out on whether I think the pack needs the ability to store the straps for suitcase-style carry. I’ve never seen anyone traveling with this pack use it as a suitcase.
Ideal Uses: This bag is designed to fill several roles, but it is best suited as its namesake: a bugout bag. This bag would be best used as the bag you grab and toss into your car when you get an evacuation notice or when you need to leave home in the case of an emergency. It can easily hold and organize three days worth of supplies. But due to its heavy weight, I would not make this a long-range pack for those traveling on foot.
Check out the S.O.C. Bug Out Bag, and purchase it for $99.