It is probably the hallmark of any survival gear item that preppers focus on first when they are getting started and that is the 72 Hour Survival Backpack. This is the bag meant to be grabbed as you are running out the door, or that lives in the trunk of your bug out vehicle waiting for some crisis to happen. It should contain most everything you need to survive for three days in the woods, on the run or hiding in a cave somewhere.
There are many options for survival backpacks out there including building your own from scratch. I had seen Surviveware before in my gear searches but had not yet personally purchased any of their products. A short time ago they approached me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing the Surviveware 72 Hour Survival Backpack and sent me one for consideration.
If I am being honest, I was a little skeptical at first just from my cursory inspection of the 72 Hour Survival Backpack on Amazon and their website. In my experience, most preassembled kits like this cut corners, and the price point for a bag that proclaims to have everything two people need to survive for 72 hours seemed a little too good to be true.
But before I get into the details of any gear review of the Surviveware 72 Hour Survival Backpack, and before I review any product actually, I think it makes sense to step back and consider the intended purpose of any item I am reviewing.
Who is this 72 Hour Survival Backpack designed for?
My initial focus for gear reviews in the past was on how I personally would use a particular item. While that may seem obvious, I decided that approach could unfairly paint some reviews. Essentially, I may view products one way or determine their utility based upon how I would choose to use them and that may work in some instances, but it reduces my objectivity.
I started looking at the Surviveware 72 Hour Survival Backpack and immediately thought about a few people in my life that could really benefit from a system like this. Specifically, my daughter and her young family, who are further away from me than I would like. They are less enthusiastic about Prepping than I am but are still smart enough to know being prepared for emergencies makes sense. They could really use a system like this.
I also thought of my Mother who is on her own now and just as far away from me. She probably has a much more optimistic idea that everything would be ok in any kind of crisis. She probably thinks she would be rescued somehow and wouldn’t spend a lot of money on preparedness, but she would use items like this also if she had them. What do these people have in common?
I think the Surviveware 72 Hour Survival Backpack is designed for people who want to be prepared but might not have the time or interest in getting to know too much about prepping. There are those who want to purchase quality items they can use in an emergency but do not want it to require changing their life too much in the process. These are people who would never spend a minute pouring over the gear reviews, analyzing content lists, and building their own bug out bag from scratch.
The opposite of that user is the self-described survival expert or bushcrafter who I can easily see turning their nose up at this bag. I would say that type of user isn’t who this bag was designed for. Could they still use it successfully? It’s full of survival gear so of course, they could use the items in this backpack, but the ex-special forces operator is not the target consumer I don’t believe. Comparing this pack to what a Navy Seal would personally carry is not fair.
And I do not think that should diminish this bag at all.
Using my target user perspective as someone who wants a lower hurdle to jump into preparedness as the focus of the review, let’s proceed.
First Impressions of the Surviveware 72 Hour Survival Backpack
Upon first inspection, the bag I received, called the Responder Survival Backpack was impressive. It was a full-size pack, even larger than a regular backpack and the exterior of the pack was finished in a water repellent fabric.
The front of the bag has plenty of Velcro so you can stick all your morale patches on there if desired as well as MOLLE webbing all around, sturdy shoulder straps, padded back, hip straps, and a nice grab handle. The pack weighed in at around 27 pounds and I expect the water had a good bit to do with that weight, but it was not too heavy for the average adult to lug around for a while.
The back of the Surviveware 72 Hour Survival Backpack zips open and there is a pouch that is supposed to be for a laptop and your personal documentation. I can’t see carrying a laptop in here if I was seriously in a survival situation, but it would certainly fit.
I think this compartment could be great for Maps of your bug out route or potentially a water bladder. There is no opening to stick the drinking tube through, but you could just stick it out of the zipper in a pinch.
The backpack also has a side pouch that looks like it’s lined with Mylar, so my assumption is that this is either to insulate items or provide faraday bag-like protection of your sensitive electronics. I tested this with my phone and Bluetooth still worked perfectly well even when the pocket was completely zipped so it will not work as a signal blocker. I could see small, refrigerated medicine fitting in here with a really small ice pack.
My favorite feature on the exterior is the top pouch and Surviveware has included one of their Small First Aid kits. The kit itself is better than most boo boo kits I have seen in this size and configuration. Rather than having 500 band-aids, you actually have some decent gear in here and it’s labeled well to help someone who is stressed find what they need quickly.
The Small First Aid kit has attachment straps on the back and it could be attached to the outside of the pack, but I really like it staying the top compartment. It can be reached even when your pack is on, or easily when you set the pack down and you don’t have to dig around for it. It’s less likely to get caught on something or swing annoyingly as you walk.
The Small First Aid kit even comes with a basic live-saving information booklet. Granted this isn’t a full-blown wilderness survival kit, but it has more than the minimum supplies you would need in a survival situation for most minor injuries.
The inside compartments of the Surviveware 72 Hour Survival Backpack
Opening the bag reveals an OCD person’s dream. The Surviveware 72 Hour Survival Backpack has 6 zipped containers that provide two people each with Food, Personal gear and Water. There is even enough room left over for a change of clothes but you would have to be careful how you pack them.
Each container can be removed if you wanted to reconfigure the backpack, but the organization is simple, clear, and easily understood which goes back to my target user for this pack. I think Surviveware has done an excellent job of labeling everything in here. It’s very easy to understand what, and most importantly, where everything is.
My own personal get home bag may have more gear than this, but it is nowhere near as neatly organized.
Initially, all the items on the gridnet side came in a Ziploc bag that even included instructions and a diagram for how to mount everything but even without that, it’s pretty easy to stick items in the straps or rearrange them as you see fit. More on that side of the Surviveware 72 Hour Survival Backpack later.
Each food container has SOS Emergency rations. There are 9 bars total which gives you three days of “food”. For the uninitiated, these emergency rations are not going to be like any food you have ever eaten, unless you like a coconut flavored bar of soap. The benefit of these survival rations is that they last for years even in higher heat environments and that’s why I keep them in my get home bag in my vehicle.
They may not taste like a cheeseburger – actually they don’t taste like anything much at all, but they will keep you alive with about 1200 calories per day per person.
Honestly, they are not that bad and like my Dad always used to say, “If you’re hungry enough you’ll eat it”. Bonus is that you don’t have to cook anything with these emergency rations, but you probably will want a good bit of water with them to wash the rations down.
Speaking of water, there are 9 bags of SOS Emergency water in each Water container, and these are also SOS brand with a long shelf life. For many survival situations, anyone you are talking to is going to recommend a gallon a day for hydration and hygiene. Again, this backpack will keep you alive, but you will likely need to augment your supply especially if heat is a factor. Luckily Surviveware thought of that too and included your very own LifeStraw emergency water filter.
The last bag is marked Personal, and this has several useful items. There is a survival whistle, a survival bivvy, rain poncho, N95 mask, goggles, biodegradable wipes to clean up with, and a small trash bag for disposing of waste.
The dust mask and goggles are a smart touch as well as the wipes which can be used to freshen up or as an alternative (better in my opinion) to toilet paper.
Another smart idea is the inclusion of a small box of tampons. Besides the obvious uses, Surviveware has given alternate suggestions for these as Medical Bandage, Fire Tinder, Stopping Nosebleeds, Earplugs, gauze for mouth injuries, and apply ointment.
It sounds simple but again, this is the type of information people in my target use case may not consider and shows again how the Surviveware 72 Hour Survival Backpack would be a great help for them.
The other side of the backpack is chock full of various other survival supplies you could use.
You have the LifeStraw that I mentioned before, a splint, chem lights, paracord, waterproof matches, a knife, emergency tent, duct tape, and a hand-crank radio that’s also solar powered with a flashlight built-in. There is even an included cord that you can use to charge your smartphone if necessary.
Overall Thoughts on the Surviveware 72 Hour Survival Backpack
Going back to my target user, I think the Surviveware 72 Hour Survival Backpack is a really great solution for people who want to be prepared for emergencies. It has everything you need to be fed, obtain water, provide shelter and those are the basics of survival.
I think it is vitally important how Surviveware has organized and labeled everything because stress makes it harder to think. The people I can see really benefiting from this survival backpack aren’t practicing with their fellow milita members or running drills on the weekends. The simplicity of this bag and what it provides are a tremendous benefit.
That being said, I can always see ways to improve what they have here, but it’s nothing you couldn’t do yourself. I might add a couple of headlamps simply because I think they are a must-have lighting option. I think you could include a small collapsible backpacking stove and a container for heating water. A higher-capacity water filter would be nice too, but again those are all personal preferences.
There are a thousand other items you could add to this pack and I think I’ve seen them all but you don’t need toenail clippers or a sewing kit to survive. This pack has the basics, they are packaged in a smart way and the contents are of respectable quality for the price point.
If you are looking for a simple backpack to throw in your car, give to a loved one, or use yourself, I think the Surviveware 72 Hour Survival backpack makes a great option.