Tactical backpacks are regularly used by members of the military and law enforcement. In some instances you may also see the fire and rescue and medical services utilizing them. All on a day to day basis.
Anybody who has to carry a large amount of equipment will appreciate a well designed tactical backpack.
Civilians who hike or go hunting regularly will likely also invest in a tactical backpack. because they know the value of having a tough, practical backpack along with them for the trip. These backpacks have been designed to store their vital gear in an easily accessible manner.
You should definitely consider a tactical backpack before opting for a more fashionable alternative. Not just for their enhanced storage space and ease of use. They’re also generally manufactured out of much more durable, weather resistant materials. This means you don’t need to worry as much about your gear getting soaked if you happen to get caught in a sudden downpour of rain.
The interior of these backpacks is also generally highly structured. This allows you to effectively organize and categorize your gear. Which can make accessing vital tools or components much quicker and easier to accomplish.
These layouts have been designed to give your gear the maximum protection possible while making it very comfortable for you to lug about.
Considerations Choosing Tactical Backpacks
Having the right equipment for the job is absolutely essential. You may be wondering what specifically to look for in a backpack to ensure that it’s suited to your particular needs. You may also be wondering where you can actually buy a tactical backpack and what types you should consider.
When choosing the right tactical backpack, you’re going to want to consider a few key points. Below I’ve written a buyers guide that covers some of the most cmmon questions people have on tactical backpacks.
We will look at some of the main factors that make a tactical backpack great. These factors are price, MOLLE compatibility, customizability, durability, and size.
Not sure about your budget? Well, backpacks can range from $30 to $300 and when it comes to tactical backpacks, you get what you pay for. You really have to take a minute and decide what you’re going to be using this new backpack for. How often will you use it? Are you going to be walking a great distance with it? How much weight will be in it? Is your gear inside at risk of being damaged?
The higher the price the better quality of materials and more features. Your basic models < $100 will function well as good daypacks but that’s all I’d recommend. When it comes to backpacks, you get what you pay for.
MOLLE webbing allows you to attach multi-tools, magazine pouches, first aid kids, grenade pouches or whatever you need to your tactical backpack.
This gives you the option to customize your gear to your needs and allows you to carry more gear. Members of the military (especially special forces) rely heavily on MOLLE webbing because every mission is different and they will tailor their setup to the specs of the mission.
So let’s say you’re an outdoors person who loves to hunt one week but play airsoft the next, you may want to change your setup for different activities. That’s the luxury of having a backpack that allows for MOLLE attachments.
Perhaps you want to go rock climbing next and your bag now needs to carry water, approach shoes, snacks, extra layers of clothing. Whatever your needs are, it pays to have a great backpack that can do it all.
This is why when browsing for a great backpack you should be looking for one that gives you the ability to customize it to your needs and not be restricted in any way.
Almost every tactical backpack ahs them. Compression straps are those webbing straps that crisscross from both sides. The main purpose of compression straps is to help compact your gear and squish the load closer to the pack’s frame. This forces the weight onto your back for better weight transfer and will make it a million times more comfortable.
Having the weight properly distributed also helps with balance too. So with good packing and the use of compression straps, most of the weight should be centered on your back. This will make a brisk walk or run easier and will reduce fatigue while doing so.
Size / Carrying Capacity
Tactical backpacks can range in size from a daypack to a 3-day large pack. The packs that are primarily made for 72-hour use generally top out in the range of 35 to 40 liters. However, there are tactical backpacks that are much larger. These larger packs allow you to stay out for a week or longer without having to resupply.
If you like to hunt very reclusive game during specific seasons or enjoy long-distance trekking, you might want a pack that can carry close to 55 to 65 liters. Your final choice on pack size will ultimately depend on whether you’re looking for a daypack, one for weekend getaways, or one for extended trips in the wilderness. When all is said and done, you just want to make sure you can fit all of your necessary gear like a flashlight, first aid kit, or survival kit in your pack for your adventure.
Not all backpacks are made the same. Some are way more durable than others. You get what you pay for after all. You will find models made of ballistic nylon, Cordura nylon, ripstop nylon etc. However what ones the best?
Well any rucksack made with ballistic nylon is preferred it is designed for maximum durability and anti-tearing qualities. Cordura Nylon is another favorite and is well known for having greater abrasion resistance. Cordua Nylon is pretty lightweight too. Both nylons have been around since ww2.
One thing you can look at is the Denier count. The higher the denier count, the more durable of a backpack it is. Denier is a unit of measurement that we can use to figure out the fiber thickness of individual threads in the backpack.
However, you have to consider the material used too!
The denier range for Ballistic nylon is 840D to 1680D while the denier range for Cordura nylon is 330d to 1000d.
Some materials that have a lower denier count are actually more resistant to scratches.
So What Should I Opt For?
As you can imagine, it pays to do your research. As a general rule look for tactical backpacks that have a denier count of 500-1200d.
Now avoid backpacks made from just polyester or Kodra. These are low quality packs that don’t have the durability you need.
The next thing you have to look at is the stitching and zippers used on the bag. YKK zippers are trusted worldwide for producing high quality zippers. These are used on lots of tactical and outdoor gear. TiZip, ITW Nexus and AsutriaAlpin are great options too.
When it comes to stitching, experiments have shown that nylon thread is stronger than polyester (3). Similar tests have shown that straight stitching is actually stronger than stitching in a zigzag pattern. This is because straight stitching spreads force along a line, whereas zigzag stitching concentrates force at the points of the zigs and the zags.
Paying attention to stitching is important because the seams of a tactical backpack are typically its weakest points. A company that has taken the time to reinforce the stitching of their backpacks is one that can be trusted over those that hardly mention how they’ve stitched the pack together in their product description.
In a backpack that you might be wearing for days at a time, comfort should also come into play. Some of the features that help to improve the comfort of a tactical backpack include the quality of the suspension system, padding on the shoulder straps and hip belt, and the breathability of the back panel. These features will largely determine how the pack sits on your body, how it feels on your shoulder and hips, and how effectively it can wick away moisture when you’re really putting it to use.
Top Tactical Backpacks in 2020
RUSH24 Military Backpack by 5.11
Our Review: 5.11 is a brand that you’ll find me praising a LOT. I have used products from their company a lot and my experiences have been pleasant every time. I would struggle to give them a single complaint, to be honest.
Durability and Construction
5.11 are producers of some great pieces of kit and this RUSH 24 Backpack is no different. This is hands-down one of the best backpacks I have ever bought. If you can get past the premium pricing you won’t be disappointed.
When you get to use this bag and put it through the tests you’ll find the high price point is completely justified as this bag can withstand some amount of abuse while giving you the necessary features that you need.
This is not a lightweight backpack, it is manufactured using heavy-duty materials and has nylon molle webbing all over. It is crafted using premium-grade 1050d Nylon. There is a space to add a waist belt but one is not included with the purchase.
It has an adjustable sternum strap and a contoured yoke shoulder strap to help with comfort.
It uses YKK zippers which are of excellent quality. The grab and go handle has been reinforced too.
The shoulder straps are really comfy even if you have the bag full to the brim.
Size and Organization
This bag has a 37L capacity. It’s a large backpack and probably one of the biggest ones you can wear before you need to add a waistbelt onto it. It has a Molle functionality so you can customize this to however you see fit. The main pocket is very roomy and I’m pretty impressed with the organization of the backpack overall. No matter how you pack it, the exterior doesn’t really change shape.
- A lightweight tactical bag that is made of 1050d nylon materials.
- Highly durable and water resistant.
- Very Spacious main compartment.
- The bag utilizes a MOLLE/5.11 Slick Stick Web Platform.
Reebow Gear Tactical 3-Day Assault Backpack
Our Review: The Reebow Gear Millitary Tactical Assault Pack Backpack has been around for years and is well-liked in the community.
It has a 34-litre capacity which is plenty for a day walk and great for an overnight bag too.
Three day packs are always fairly spacious and give you plenty of room to store your gear. It’s designed to be incredibly durable – hence the presence of double stitching. It’s also polyester lined which provides a greater level of insulation against the elements and is generally stain proof. It comes secured with a waste belt and has a good amount of MOLLE compatibility. This will allow you to secure additional pouches to your bag in case you need to increase your load bearing capacity.
If you’re after a bag that looks the part, then this one can certainly fit that role too. It looks awesome.
This particular tactical backpack is actually a pretty popular choice among photographers. Now this isn’t a photography website but do know a bit about optics. I’d imagine they opt for this bag due to the high level of protection it provides against outdoor conditions. From our understanding photography gear is pretty expensive, so it’s no wonder they’d opt for something like this to help protect it.
It also has support for a hydration system, which will be particularly useful if you’re planning on going out for long trips. The shoulder straps are well-padded and the zippers are strong/durable.
Durability and Construction
As mentioned above, this is a fairly durable bag. It’s made from a high density fabric that’s unlikely to rip anytime soon. You’ll likely see hundreds of hours of heavy use with this particular backpack without encountering any issues.
Size and Organization
It’s well organized and divided up into sections of various sizes. The compression system allows you to keep your load as tightly compact as possible so it doesn’t interfere with your mobility. This is still a fairly comfortable experience too due to the breathable and well padded shoulder straps.
- Fairly Tough
- Water Bladder Support
Tactical Rush Mobile Operation Bag by 5.11
Our Review: This particular variant is absolutely ideal for people who want to stay as mobile and lightweight as possible. It can be easily and quickly equipped with the singular strap system. This strap is also designed to be worn ambidextrously. Despite this you can still attach the bag firmly to ensure it doesn’t fly off when you’re active. It’s waterproof to ensure any components stored inside won’t get damaged by the elements. It is also completely customizable due to the presence of MOLLE webbing from the tip of the bag to the very bottom.
That’s not all it has to offer, though. There’s a pocket specifically for storing your sunglasses/other lenses that’s lined with fleece to protect them. There’s also a discrete interior pocket located at the back-facing side of the bag.
Size and Organization
Whilst it’s not as big as some of the other options available on the market, this bag still provides a decent amount of storage space. It can be used as an overnight bag. There’s a possibility it could be used for longer depending on how you choose to go about actually customizing the bag. It has numerous different admin-type pouches within the interior for storing paperwork without damaging it. There’s also an integrated communications pocket near the shoulder. There’s even room for a hydration bladder on top of the great deal of open space in the main compartment.
- Super lightweight and agile
- Highly Customizable
- Integrated Comms
- Integrated Hydration Support
MOLLE Pouches – What Should I Get?
If you’re looking for a breakdown of what MOLLE pouches to consider buying, look no further. We’ve composed the ultimate guide to MOLLE pouches. This includes the types available, what brands to choose from and of course where you can actually buy them. Read our ultimate breakdown here so you’ll know how to effectively kit yourself out once your military rucksack arrives in the mail.
Top Tactical Backpack Brands
There are a variety of top brands out there manufacturing high quality tactical gear. 5.11 are an incredibly popular choice for tactical backpacks. They’ve been around for a while now and have so many different models and variations that it can be difficult to keep track of them all. With that in mind, the best tactical backpack brand for you is whoever is manufacturing the best bag for your own specific niche.
Other brands to keep an eye on can include: Reebow Gear, Gowara Gear, SOG, Oakley and Monoki.
Frequently Asked Questions on Tactical Backpacks
What is a Tactical Backpack?
A tactical backpack is a special type of bag designed to be highly durable, comfortable and carry all the necessary gear that military personnel, law enforcement, and other emergency services require.
They appreciated by many worldwide for making their job easier and assisting in indirectly saving lives. They allow you to bring all the first aid, tactical equipment or other vital gear to the necessary location.
Who makes the best ones?
We get asked this all the time but its completely subjective. Some people will fall in love with a brand and swear by it but really you should be asking who makes the best tactical backpack for your specific requirements.
What makes a backpack tactical?
You can literally add the word tactical to anything and people will buy it because they think its better. Tactical bananas, tactical condoms etc. But no, there is a reason the backpacks in this list are called tactical.
For a backpack to be tactical it has to be durable enough to be used in harsh environments and be put through the tests for a long period fo time.
It has to have sufficient carrying space to take all fo the user’s necessary gear such as medical supplies, communication devices, ammunition illumination tools etc.
And lastly, its got to be comfortable enough to be carried over many miles.
Are tactical backpacks bulletproof?
Some backpacks can have Level III 7×12 Ballistic Insertions placed in them. Typically you would just put a plate in the back of your vest and wear the backpack on top though. Some parents in the US are looking at bulletproof backpacks because of the increasing amount of school shootings though.
If this is your reason for looking, we recommend the Rebel Tactical Ballistic Backpack or the PARCO IIIA Ballistic Backpack.
Where can I Get A Tactical Backpack With Helmet Holder?
Most tactical backpacks have MOLLE functionality. You can buy something like the Marauder helmet holder to fix your helmet onto your tactical gear. This is really more of a question of helmet compatibility than it actually is a question of backpack comparability.
What About A Tactical Backpack For Dogs?
If you have a service dog that needs to carry some equipment we have an article that focuses on tactical bags for your pooch.
What About A Tactical backpack For Traveling?
If you’re a frequent traveler who’s on the hunt for a backpack that is practical and highly durable, I’d says anything on this list would work. Most of these backpacks would be sufficient on a warzone and therefore will work well for backpacking across Europe.
Tactical backpacks have been around for a long time. As modern material science improves, so does the quality you can begin to expect from these handy pieces of gear. These bags are built for utility – so unlike with your everyday clothes shop, you shouldn’t really pay too much attention to brands. As long as you can objectively evaluate the strength of the bag, it’s carrying capacity and of course any additional features it may have then you’ll know enough to make an informed purchasing decision. It also doesn’t help to have a dig around for some customer reviews, too. This will allow you to see if any unexpected issues are prone to propping up the manufacturer might have taken the liberty to not make clear to potential consumers.