You may be asking, what exactly makes a backpack “tactical?” and thus what makes the best tactical backpack? Before the world got modern and abundant enough for fashion and trends to be at the forefront of our minds, there was the military. With it came law-enforcement, search and rescue, and drive to survive against all odds. Maximization military performance focused on producing durable, strong gear with premium quality hardware and textiles. Gear performance came from outstanding modularity in the face of high activity.
What kind of gear specifically were tactical backpacks originally engineered to hold? They’re the connection point that keeps your gun and your other weapons strapped securely to your person. An outstanding tactical backpack has all of the feaures necessary to enable its wearer to most efficiently perform procedures of defense, law enforcement and special ops.
Are you a gear head, impressed by innovations in form and function?
Are you putting together a bug-out-bag?
Or are you simply looking to streamline your daily life?
Then you may want to read on and find out exactly why the best tactical backpack can be a real good addition to your gear.
Best Tactical Backpack Buyers Guide
Let’s talk about what you should be looking for in the best tactical backpack:
The textile construction of a strong product is waterproof or water resistant and can take a beating. One of the strongest materials in the world is Nylon Cordur, or ballistic nylon generally ranges in strengths from 200D-1200D. Do not even entertain purchasing anything made of anything less than 500D-1200D. Do not consider Kodra, nor anything polyester. You’re asking for holes in your pack and possibly damage to your gear if you’re using your gear on its intended expeditions.
Textile is the core of what is going to protect all your gear. It is engineered for durability and resistance to abrasion. You can consider X-Pac(VX) fabric for its weather resistance, but it tends to be heavier. Similarly, make sure the products are sewn with nylon thread, not polyester.
Zippers and Other Hardware
It is frustrating to have a zipper break and your gear exposed to the elements. It can be straght up dangerous to have buckles break at the wrong time. A tactical backpack company worth considering knows that customers are on the look out for these details and will indicate such specs in their descriptions. For your convenience, we’ve established a short list of reliable brands for worthy hardware: YKK, ITW Nexus,Tizip, AustriAlpin, and more.
Modularity refers to a pack’s flexibility and changeability to adapt to specific use and purpose. A two week trip in the remote backcountry’s demands are going to be dramatically different than a grab-and-go trip to the market up the street. A strong tactical backpack offers you options and these are often in the form of MOLLE webbing. MOLLE stands for “Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment.” It is the foundation for accessibility to your gear and organization of it.
MOLLE looks like nylon webbing attached in approximiately one-inch wide increments across the outer surface of the pack and its purpose is to offer carabiner-ready attachment points all over the pack for your water bottle, your sleeping mat, for your ammunition, etc. This allows you to combine various brand products to customize your outfit to the nth degree. MOLLE can also come as laser cut fabric with “MOLLE holes.”
The definition of a decidedly non-tactical pack (aka a poor choice of purchase) would probably be one singular, endless central compartment in which to lose your stuff in and never find again until you empty every single thing out of the bag. Access is about organization. It is about providing compartments to organize that make logical sense to YOU and that you can see yourself utilizing. A competitive rucking event leaves no time for wondering where x is and even less time for digging around tryng to extract x from a massive pile of gear like a needle in a haystack.
One key feature to improve and personalize access is a tri-zip (3-zip) style opening. Some users prefer this pack style over the more common clamshell access pack. With a clamshell, you have to jam the entire length of your arm from the top down to bottom of your pack trying to unearth stuff that’s stuck a the bottom of it. With a tri-zip, you’ve got y-shaped zipper access that reaches all the way down to the bottom so that reaching stuff at the bottom doesn’t require sticking your whole arm down a snake’s throat.
Beyond the main access zip, you’ll want to look for individualized compartments for all of your smaller items. Some bags have velcro tabs to keep stuff like your lighter and pens standing up close to the top of a compartment. Some compartments zip, some don’t.
Fit and Comfort
This aspect is going to be highly personal, to be the most informed, we really recommend you go to a brick and mortar store to try on some product options. Once you’ve touched the products and tried them on, you’ll be more confident and successful making the best online selection. You’ll get to know yourself better and the available product range better too. You’ll want to know your body’s specific measurements based on your height and torso length and order by size accordingly.
These dimensions are indicated under product description, but there are going to be some measurements that aren’t, such as the width between shoulder straps and the adjustability of the chest strap. These features are subtle, but they are examples of nuances to pay attention to when shopping in person and then making your purchase online. Every brand has their own suspension system designed to shift weight from your shoulders to your hips. The importance of this obviously varies based on the amount of weight you plan to be carrying, the nature of the gear, and for what distance.
Now you know what to look for in the best tactical backpacks, let’s take a look at our reviews of the best you can buy on Amazon today.
Ten Best Tactical Backpack Reviews
Are you competitive shooter? Highly specific, this backpack comes with three internal handgun storage cases that slide out the side. This idea for any firearms equal in size or smaller than a Glock 34 or a 5” 1911. The stitching and structure for these soft cases are top notch and we consider them to be this bag’s top feature.
Magazine storage is included. Four outer zippered compartments offer fast access to ammo and related accessories like your target stapler, bore sighter, light, range finder, gloves, eye and ear protection and other tools. All this stuff has its place so it’s easily within reach and not buried in the bottom of the bag. You won’t find yourself digging around blindly when time is of the essence.
The pack is available in tan and black and features triple nylon stitching all around. With its internal honeycomb frame, it holds itself rigid, never collapsing, to ensure ease of organization and access to all gear. Attention to load stability is in the padded waist strap. There’s a velcro tab to personalize the pack with your ID patch.
This pack has primo construction with high-denier nylon. DuPont Teflon treatment makes it highly water-resistant. It comes with a rainshield. Access it easily from its own zippered pouch near the top. Extra features include locking zippers around the handgun compartments and velcro loops to keep rolled up paper targets.
-solid, triple-stitched construction
-3 dedicated handgun compartments
-easy access to all your gear
-locking zippers to protect your firearms
-comfort focused padding and waist belt
-designed in the U.S.A.
-manufactured in China
-limited adjustability of shoulder straps for taller individuals
-magazine loops are inconsistently sized so some of your gear is secured tightly in and others are held loosely
This pack stacks up. Its features are the epitome of what we look for in an awesome tactical backpack. Materials are some of the finest, including 1050D nylon, water repellent coating. The front-most compartment, termed the “admin-panel” is specific organzing everyday essentials like your notebook, pen, swiss army knife, small tools, carts, and flashlight. Moving further back is the inside compartment with internal mesh zippered storage and elastic topped options. Here you can keep a first aid kit, a tourniquet kit and additional larger daily essentials. The nylon-stitched MOLLE system of this pack is out of this world, expanding across front and sides. All sides of every pock are fully utilized with inside mesh pockets to for your phone and other gadgets and various charges and chords. Some pockets are fleece-lined for technology protection touch screen preservation.
Rush24 Pack Size
The RUSH24 comes in several earthy colors including beige, black and army green and several sizes. Choose from the 37 liter, 24-hour overnight pack intended for hard use. The smaller 24 liter pack is ideal for every-day carry and general to hard use. The 55 liter option is styled for 72-hour survival, and will serve your needs as a doomsday bug-out-bag. It is built for hard use, and is the only size option that comes with a padded waistbelt. Finally, the 30 liter option is the most highly specific. It is equipt with hidden concealed-carry capability (CCW) and a built-in laptop compartment.
We also noticed particularly noteworthy brand integrity with this series. 5.11 is commited to a service-oriented mindset and the training and gear necessary to support it. What is readiness? According to 5.11, it is the capacity to help those in need, to protect and serve, and to crush goals. This brand is about preparedness, this brand goals really shine in their products.
-4 use-specific sizes to choose from
-a padded, uniquely constructed pocket for everything you need
-concealed carry and laptop options
-fleece-lined pockets to protect screens
-draw-string and mesh pocket options for air circulation
-intricate MOLLE system
-large water bottles are difficult to store
-might have overdone it with the number of pocket options; possibly overwhelming organization options
The Dragon Egg was specifically designed for advanced military and law enforcement operators. It features a patented Combat Vent System that promotes air circulation in the areas in contact with the body to increase comfort over prolonged use. The bag focuses on being low-profile, snag-free, light-weight and waterproof. Its water-resistant Cordura 500D fabric comes in a variety of colors. The Kryptek, PenCott, MulitCam textile options are near-infrared (NIR) treated to help prevent night vision detection. The 25+ liter size suits this pack for 2-day excursions on top of patrol, search and rescue and advanced tactical duties. This model is coined “The Egg” shape because it is smaller in height and width than similar bags of the same capacity. This makes it particularly comfortable for wearing with ballistic vests and belt kits.
-daisy chain webbing
-laser-cut MOLLE improves upon traditional MOLLE by not absurbing water
-suspension system based in S-profiled shoulder straps
-Patented CVS-Combat Vent System
-straps on the bottom are not user-removable
-no crush protection at sunglasses pocket
Featuring 7 external pockets and 3 external, this is an option that has everything you need without overwhelming you with options. At 56 liters, it is ideal for longer outdoor excursions. A smaller half-day option is also available. Double-layered bottoms add to the durability of the set-up without bogging you down with unnecessary weight. There are internal hook/loop mounting platforms to keep your stuff where it should be and keep you free from the burden of digging around for your stuff lost at the bottom of your pack.
-repositionable and replaceable compression straps
-unique Hook and Hang Thru System invites integration of specialized items like First Tactical’s Rifle Sleeve
-the multi-purpose backboard supports structure, is removable and transforms into a handy splint, paddle and shovel
-some may prefer more organization and pocket options
This tactical backpack was designed as a carry-on, long-range tactical patrol bag. It has a 180-degree opening and Shove-It compartments meant to house big gear. Breaching tools or a baton fit conveniently into side pass-through slots for easy access. There is a generous three-surface web platform, and orange lining ideal for finding gear in low light conditions. Materials are on point with 1050D nylon construction.
-breathes well even in 95 degree temperatures
-fits well in the passenger side seat, allowing easy access to all the pockets next to you
-versatile fit for all people, even heights up to 6’4”
-narrow-profile back for ease of movement
-branded zipper pulls are very thin webbing instead of nylon cord
This is a highly specialized mini hospital backpack constructed of 1000D nylon. Engineered for medics and army personnel, this bag comes in four colors: black, coyote tan, green and red. Numerous velcro and zippered compartments easily house the hundreds of necessary items inside to run an on-site mobile hospital. Specifically, the bag features organization options for the following (not included) tools and medical necessities: blood pressure cuff kit, gauze sponges, cervical collar, bandages and butterfly strips, suture sets, tweezers, two emergency blankets, scalpels, hand sanitizer, inhalents and other first aid supplies.
-two removable pouches in the main bag
-capable of bearing significant loads upwards of 40 pounds
-high volume capacity
-sturdy construction but less rugged, lower quality zippers than competitors
-Many small pockets with large loops, less large pockets with small loops
The Condour brand has over 20 years of experience designing products in the tactical and outdoor gear industries. This bag features a separate pocket that can fit up to two 3 liter hydration bladders. Seven pockets are designed for organization without crossing the line into too many. Its shoulder straps contour to the body and come with D-rings for equipment attachment. The waist belt removes. An individual foam pad back panel creates air flow to allow this to be worn in all temperatures. Colors including crye-precision multicam and black, army green and beige.
-larger than a regular daypack and can be filled above the weight and size limit
-accessible, heavy duty grab handles
-side pockets large enough for a Nalgene bottle
-zipper pull tabs are less durable, may require replacement
-lower density cordura
What’s unique about this pack is its extreme breathable hypervent suspension. Its frame is curved to create a comfortable flow of airspace between the pack and your body, making it ideal for all climates and particularly hot, humid ones. There are a myriad of adjustable pack compression options to streamline your load.
-top quality contruction, high density nylon cordura
-tremendous MOLLE options
-limited room inside the pack due to its shape
-frame cannot be easily removed
This bag is compact, well-padded, laptop ready and is best for EDC, or everyday use. It features both internal, external and side pockets. The brand’s feature video advertises rapid firearm access, a specialized concealed carry platform with stabilizing slots, loops and velcro, top the line, durable YKK zippers, quick release shoulder straps, a MOLLE compatible front panel with bungee cords, accessible front pocket with a clasp and line to keep your keys anchored in the bag, fleece-lined laptop and tablet compatible pockets, mesh-lined zipper pouches for chargers, and a water bottle stablizer cord in side pocket.
-ideal for users around 5’7” or of average height
-difficult to fit two pistols
This pack is incredibly unique, with its stable one should design that is engineered to fit over your left shoulder to free up your right arm for increased shooting accuracy. All contents of the bag are rapidly and easily accessible both sitting and standing when rotated toward the front of the body. The bag can also be worn in front to closely guard its contents and for further maximized speed of access. It is made of 1000D nylon cordura and water resistant.
-unique, dynamic, highly specific one-should design
-frees up your shooting arm
-double-stitched stress points
-limited space and organizational features
-imbalanced weight distribution
Anyone can enjoy and make use of the superior craftsmanship of the many tactical backpacks available. You don’t have to be a cop or marine or licensed to carry to use the best tactical backpack for all it’s worth. Camping, rucking and other sports enthusiasts unite in appreciation of a strong tactical backpack – while you’re here you may enjoy my guide to the best hiking rucksacks or the best tactical flashlights.