Pack Special Features – What Do You Need?

Whether you’re in the field, exploring a city, or hiking in the wilderness, a good backpack will have your six. If you’re in a scenario that goes haywire and your plans go downhill, you’re going to want a solid and comfortable backpack that can carry your survival gear and give you the tools you need to plan an escape. If you’re simply going on vacation, you’ll need different features. In this article, we break down the typical scenarios you may experience and how backpacks with features made specifically for those activities will make your life easier.

  • Day-to-day activities: these are your everyday errands and chores. These features can be useful at any time and will more than likely be needed for an average person that is out and about.
  • Crisis situations: these are considered earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other disasters that might strike at any moment. When you need to leave in a hurry and have a bug-out-bag prepared, packs that can hold emergency-based materials will be extremely useful for you.
  • Travel: Are you going to a different country? Will you be traveling more than a few miles away? These features will help you travel with all the essentials that you need for business, leisure, and personal trips that you want to take. They’ll usually help keep your items and private information safe from the hands of thieves.
  • Military life: Servicemen have special needs that require backpacks with plenty of features. Whether out in the field or back home during training, they’ll need to carry heavy equipment and lug plenty of supplies.

But, considering the number of backpacks for sale in the market, and the variety of features they have, how do you figure out which one to buy? Well, it really all depends on the scenario, but we’ve tried to make the decision process easier for you by providing a list of some of the most valuable features of a backpack to help you in a survival situation:

  • RFID lining
  • Openings and cooling mesh
  • Hydration bladders
  • Body and compression straps
  • Interior padding
  • Specialized pockets
  • USB chargers
  • Lockable zippers

Having the attributes listed above during travel and survival can mean the difference between safety and disaster. It is important for you to be aware of their uses so that you are ready and aware when they should be used.

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) Blocking Liner

RFIDs are electronic devices that consist of an antenna and a microchip. While this technology has existed for quite a while, it wasn’t until recently that they became an integral part of everyday society. Licenses, passports, and even credit cards can use this technology, and while they do make life convenient, they’re also liable to expose your information to skimmers. This is because RFID chips can transmit the information on them wirelessly. Skimmers will then use wireless RFID readers that can activate the chips and extract your information without you ever realizing it.

Thankfully, there is a solution and it comes in the form of RFID-blocking backpack lining. Backpacks with RFID lining are made from special materials that are poor conductors of electromagnetic waves, which will block any potential skimmer’s attempt at gathering your information. Essentially, RFID blocking backpacks keep your items from emitting their information and weakening any external signals from reaching them inside.

As a side note, you can line the inside of your backpack with aluminum foil to achieve the same results.

Scenarios where this would be useful:

  • Day-to-day life
  • Traveling

Openings and cooling mesh

Some backpacks have multiple types of openings that can be used for distinct purposes and have their own benefits.

  • Top opening: this is the most commonly used type of opening for a backpack and you will most likely use it on a regular basis. It’s simple to use. All you have to do is open it, reach inside, and dig through your gear to find what you’re looking for. These types of openings are good for when you need to stuff your backpack, as the items more than likely won’t fall out if you open it just enough to put your hand inside.
  • Side opening: these are only available in a handful of backpacks and daypacks. These openings let you access items that are on the side much easier than it would be to reach from the top. They are considered a secondary pocket that stands in addition to a front or top opening backpack.
  • Bottom opener: this is considered another secondary opening that is usually found in packs with zippers at the top or even the front. They’re handy for getting the stuff you put at the bottom of the pack, except now you can do it without having to struggle and dig for it.
  • Panel access opening: these are front access packs that offer you a little compartment in the front. Their shapes are usually in the form of an inverted U and the panel actually drops a bit whenever you open it. They’re easy to rummage through as the pocket tends to be fairly small.
  • Cooling mesh: typically, this panel allows your backpack to ride a small distance away from you so that the air can flow through. It will help you prevent your back from sweating and avoid the awful feeling of the wind hitting you whenever you take it off.

Almost every military backpack has numerous openings that can be accessed from multiple locations without much trouble. It is important to determine what openings would best suit your overall needs.

Scenarios where having multiple pockets are useful:

  • Day to day life
  • Traveling abroad
  • Crisis scenarios
  • Military life

Hydration Bladders

Water is life, and having additional water storage in your backpack can make the difference between life and death. Fortunately, most hiking backpacks will feature a bladder where you can put a decent quantity of water, or will have a sleeve where you can buy a reservoir and insert it into the pack. Normally, backpacks that have the bladders inside will be called a “hydration pack.”

Scenarios for hydration bladders:

  • There is not one scenario where having extra portable water is not useful. These are always recommended in any situation..

Torso, Sternum and Compression Straps

You’ll notice that some backpacks have straps in the sternum and torso area. Both of these help maintain stability and remove some of the weight from your back and distribute it to the other areas of your body. Larger backpacks tend to have straps on the sides called compression straps. Below is more in-depth information about the main straps that different packs offer.

  • Sternum strap: these connect at the middle of your chest area to help increase the stability of your backpack. This particular strap is useful for hiking and heavy movement activity, where a sudden shift in weight could cause you to fall or lose your balance.
  • Torso strap: carrying weight on your back for an extended period of time can be detrimental to your health. Torso straps shift some of the weight in the pack from the back of your body toward the front to help protect your body from strain.
  • Compression strap: these help compress your backpack for situations when you need to minimize their size. But they also work the opposite way and if you need extra space, you can release them to carry more things in your pack.
  • Load Lifters: these form a 45 degree angle between your backpack and shoulder straps, helping to keep your pack fitted snugly to your body. These prevent sagging on the lumbar region of the body and are considered a must-have item by hikers.
  • Scenarios where additional padding is useful:

    • Day-to-day activities
    • Hiking
    • Traveling on planes where carry-on luggage space is limited.

    Interior Padding

    If you’re a photographer or computer enthusiast, you’ll want to have a backpack with some good interior padding. However, if you’re going to travel with just the essentials, then you should probably skip this feature. This is because too much padding can be a burden as it can absorb excessive amounts of heat. It can also cause you to carry a pack that’s larger than you need to.

    Scenarios where additional padding is useful:

    • Any activity that requires you to bring fragile items

    Specialized Pockets

    Military backpacks are typically known for having a massive amount of pockets. While these can be useful a lot of the time, they can make it hard to figure out how to organize your items. However, they do have their uses, and if you can discreetly figure out a way to label them, you’ll never have a hard time figuring out where your items are. For example, you can always have one dedicated to first-aid, one to hold your coins and cash, another to hold passports and identifications, etc. Typical packs include side, internal, and front pockets.

    Notably, some backpacks include specialized pockets that can serve to store specific pieces of gear.

    • Concealed carry: if you have a concealed carry permit, and want to feel safely protected during your treks, a concealed carry pocket is definitely for you. They’re normally big enough to fit a Glock or even a 1911 comfortably. These pockets are padded in order to protect your pistol, and additional outside padding helps you keep it concealed from any potential assailants.
    • Laptop sleeves: padded laptop sleeves are super important to computer enthusiasts. But these pockets aren’t just useful for computers; they also fit tablets and other electronics to keep them safely protected from impacts and falls.
    • Water bottle holder: these are side pockets that help you carry water bottles without having to store them inside the bag. This helps keep the condensation from the bottle from potentially damaging your items inside.
    • GPS pockets: These pockets are lightly padded to prevent a Global Positioning System (GPS) from losing its signal when you are in areas with spotty service.

    Scenarios where special pockets can be useful:

    • Day-to-day activities
    • Traveling abroad
    • Hiking
    • Crisis situations

    USB Charger Outlet

    For those technology fans out there who can’t live without their phones, a few specialized laptop bags come with padded interiors and USB chargers on the outside that will keep your cellphone and other small electronics charged. Simply plug them in the night before and they should provide a few charges worth of energy to your gear.

    Scenarios where they are useful:

    • Daily activities
    • Travel

    Zipper Locks and Theft Proof Zippers

    Who doesn’t like protecting their valuables? Most backpacks today feature two zippers that have a small lip between them, which can fit a zipper lock and keep them together. You might think that any regular lock will do, but keep in mind that if you use a normal key lock or a zip tie, TSA agents can and will break them in order to screen your luggage. Zipper locks avoid this problem by simply clipping onto the locks and being noticeably challenging for a criminal to open, but easy to unhook if you’re the owner or an agent. Also, TSA has a list of approved zipper locks that can be used during airport travel.

    Scenarios where zipper locks are useful:

    • Travel

    The accessories listed above all serve a distinct purpose to make your carry easier. While some of them might be unnecessary for your specific needs, you’ll want to consider a backpack for every occasion you may experience. Ultimately, the right backpack will often make your life much easier regardless of whatever comes your way.

    Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

    Emmanuel "Dash the Bomber" Barbosa

    Emmanuel Barbosa, AKA Dash The Bomber, is currently serving in the 7th fleet, and has over 8 years of experience in the military. A writer with a penchant for the humorous and informative, he loves to share his stories with those who would be willing to listen. Having served in deployments that have taken him around the world, Dash has seen and heard about many things that would be hard to believe. A loving father and a faithful husband, he is dedicated to protecting his family and country. For fun he enjoys cosplaying, videogames, and writing for online magazines.

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