Forget everything you know about traveling with a backpack. Especially those countless camping scenes you see in “survival” movies. You know the one I mean, people sitting around a campfire, stuff spread everywhere and then it fades to black and they wake up. Yes that kind of bullshit.. So let’s start with the basics, I’ve already covered how to select a survival backpack. Our next step will be packing it properly and after that using it correctly too. For this example we’ll assume you bought a backpack with a top compartment, two side compartments and a main compartment in the middle. We’ll also assume it has a strap to go around your waist to keep the weight on your hips. These might sound very specific for an assumption, but that’s like 99% of large survival backpacks out there. My own experience comes from walking around in a SMOG jacket that had food and supplies for 24 hours, an OPS-VEST with ammo and supplies for 48 hours and a backpack with 2 weeks of supplies in it. For this example I’m going under the assumtion you’re wearing normal clothing and the backpack is the only place you can store large items.
Okay first the side compartments. Use one of them for cooking gear and food. If you can gather so much food that it doesn’t all fit in there, pack the bulk items in a plastic bag in the bottom of the main compartment, keep items you need quick access to in these side compartments. For example a small pan or cooker, alongside with your food. The other side compartment is reserved for medical supplies. A little tip, keep an emergency band-aid in your pocket in case you’re ever separated from your backpack.
The top compartment has rain gear in it. Put your own poncho in there along with the rain cover. A good idea for this compartment is to have the rain cover on top, below that there’s your own poncho. As a last layer have a tarp with elastic cords with hooks on them in there. In case of heavy rain out of fucking nowhere, you open the top compartment, pull the rain cover over your bag and put it down. Put the poncho over your head and suspend the tarp between whatever is around you. This way you can shelter yourself from incoming rain withing 2 minutes. This can mean the difference between trying to dry your stuff for a week and messing with your morale, and sitting comfy under a tarp all dry and happy.
00he main compartment is for mass storage. Notice how your everyday items aren’t in here? They’re all in the most easy to reach places but also the slowest to pack. The first things that go in the main compartment are heavier things you don’t need all the time. I’m saying this, because we want to keep the weight at the bottom, so the waist strap can put the weight on your hips. Yes it’s called a BACK pack, but you carry the weight on your hips and legs. Okay so the first things are probably clothing and bulk food items. Think those bags of rice and pasta you scavenged, canned food, maybe an extra jug of water. Wrap those in the clothing to keep them from making noise while hitting each other and to protect the packaging. Above this you put the clothing you need more often, like an extra pair of boots, socks, underwear and some hot or cold weather stuff. People in colder area’s, you will need a larger backpack. You need a thicker sleeping bag and more clothing. So for those in Florida, good for you! And to my friends in Canada, well you know what winter can do…
Next thing to pack is a sleeping bag. Make sure it’s a bag that comes with a really tough and large rain cover. Preferably a goretex bag or something else really tough. Put the sleeping bag inside the goretex cover, roll it up and put it as the top item in your main compartment. Now whenever you get a chance to make a stop or get a few hours of sleep, you simple roll out the bag, place your backpack in the goretex cover as well and set in to sleep. There will also be other items that I didn’t cover, but prioritize them according to how fast and often you need them. With an exception for really heavy things, they have to go in the bottom. Pro tip here, find a backpack that also has a large front compartment and use that to store additional ammo. Still easy to reach and the weight will be in the middle of the pack.
Okay, so now we’re going to dive in to the part where you live out of your backpack. I’ll use a few simple “do and don’t” rules to cover the most important aspects of living out of a backpack, WITH constant danger around.
DO NOT hang a bunch of loose shit on hooks and suspenders on the outside of your backpack. The only things on the outside should be an inflatable mat on the bottom of the pack and maybe a water bottle, but only if secured properly. Hanging cooking gear on the outside like a fucking doorbell or for zombies to hold on to, is just stupid.
Only unpack what you need at that exact moment. Repack anything as soon as you don’t need it anymore. Let’s say you’re cooking rice and you need to get it from the bottom of your main compartment. Most people first dig out the rest of their stuff and put it somewhere to the side, then grab the rice, put it in the pan, set the rice aside and start making dinner. Now imagine just as everything is outside of your backpack, a horde of zombies comes around the corner. You can now only grab your half empty backpack and maybe that rice, but no time for the rest. Instead of this, unpack everything that’s in the way, put the rice in the pan, put everything back in the pack and leave it to your side with the main compartment open. Now if zombies show up, you throw the few items you’re using into the main compartment, zip it up and haul ass. Leaving maybe some wet rice on the ground instead of half your gear.. This rule is CRUCIAL!! “Put any items that you’re not going to use in the next few minutes back into your backpack“.
Well those were the two most important things to remember. Especially that last part about not leaving things unpacked. I hope this information is useful to people and if there’s anything to add from your side, let me know in the comments! We’re stronger as a group, so input is key.