Best Tactical Backpack – Reviews & Detailed Buyers’ Guide
You can buy and wear any type of backpack if you’re just going on a casual hike. But if you’re headed to places where there’s frostbite, lots of rain or the sun is beating down on you, only the best tactical backpack will suffice. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small unit or a large one. What matters is that they don’t pop out at the seams, the content inside is accessible and there are no snags. Whether you’re a seasoned survivalist or it’s your first outing, these packs should keep you going.
Our Best Choices within Tactical Backpacks
Our Top Picks
5.11 Rush 72
The 5.11 Rush 72 may be utilized as 3 day tactical laptop backpack, and you can also use it to as a travel pack (it meets the airline specs) and also as a bug out bag or a daily carry all.
This is one of the best survival backpacks owing to its organization. There’s a top pocket, numerous internal and external pockets, one front compartment, and a couple of large side pockets. The front compartment has straps that you can loosen up and it also has a mesh button.
With the mesh bottom and loosened straps, you have sufficient room to store a helmet, climbing equipment and other large items. The main compartments and side pockets come with numerous inside pockets that are either meshed or zippered. The front side on the other hand, comes with an admin panel for organizing your pens, documents, maps or fishing bait and tackle.
The main compartment can be opened up shell style, and this is nice because it provides you with quick access to the content inside. There’s a pocket here for your smartphone or glasses, and there’s a hydration compartment that can house a bladder. Take a close look and you will see this tactical day pack has a couple of water tube ports on both sides of the top handle.
This model has several pockets and compartments that make organizing easy, and you should have no problems arranging your gear according to priority. This bag is MOLLE/PALS compatible: what this means basically is there is webbing on the sides and front that allow you to add more pouches and bags of varying sizes and shapes. At the bottom are four additional attachments that let you carry other items below it, i.e. a tent or sleeping bag.
It is made from solid materials and this is no exception. It is constructed of 1000D nylon and sewn with special threading that won’t loosen even with regular use. The same thing durability can be seen with the zippers and it is water repellant as well. When everything is taken into consideration this unit is well made and should last a long time even when used extensively.
Putting It On
This, being the best military backpack, is comfortable, and the padded areas (four of them) allows for airflow. It also has waist and chest buckles that keep it secure and helps move the weight to your hips. The waist straps can be adjusted and even a tall person should find this a good fit. The same adjustability is present in the shoulder straps and it even comes with clips for quick discharge. The Rush 72 has a 60 lb. load capacity, and that’s more than enough as most people can carry only up to 45 lbs. anyway even on the best military rucksack.
- Plenty of pockets and compartments
- Sleek shape keeps the pockets from bulging out
- Design does a good job keeping the weight off your back
- The material is water repellant, not waterproof: a cover foil is needed if there’s heavy rain
Condor 3-Day Pack
This is one of the best products for the money as it is high quality and comparable with the other 3 day backpacks from Condor. With a 50 liter or 3038 cubic inch internal frame pack, the Condor is quite sizable, and there are seven compartments here as well as several pouches and pockets.
When you’re looking for the best 3 day assault pack, pockets and compartments are always important and the Condor realizes that. It is constructed from 1000D water-resistant nylon with double stitching all over, plus there are rain flaps for diverting rain, and the zippers are solid too.
As befits the best tactical bag, the Condor comes with three major compartments. At the rearmost compartment is a spacious pocket with enough space for 2 x 3 liter hydration bladders, and the zip mesh is lockable. However this compartment can also be used for storing a laptop and other gear.
The middle compartment comes with four net slots that you close with zippers, and there are a couple more pockets with zippers and 3 open pockets by the front compartment. Like the other survival-centric models here, the Condor has a spacious main compartment.
The main compartment, which you open with dual zippers, measures 2,600 cubic inches/40 liters by volume or 13 x 20 x 10 inches, more than a match for a solid hiking backpack.
The Condor gets high marks as it follows your back’s contour. Also, there’s heavy padding on the back area, with quarter inch padding, and in four areas there are additional 3/8-inch padding. What makes this one of the best when it comes to giving you more value for your money is that there’s a lumbar area too. This area, which is raised by ¾ of an inch, is a component of the hip system and provides a great deal of comfort.
The shoulder straps are ¾ of an inch thick and 3 ½ inches wide, and this provides extra stability and comfort. Each padded area on the bag is layered with finer nylon that should stay dry, and these paddings also do a good job in providing regular air flow around it, and also helps dry perspiration more quickly.
The hip belt and shoulder straps are both adjustable and should fit any individual regardless of height and weight, as the hip belt is good for waist measurements ranging from 26 inches to 54 inches. Like other models that are heavy duty, the sternum strap here can be adjusted horizontally and vertically. Another nice feature here is the Velcro tie ups as it helps prevent strap ends from getting entangled in trees and bushes.
The Molle webbing on the Condor can be found on the shoulder straps’ back and the front of it, making it easy to add extra pouches and bags. At the bottom of this specific model are 4 ballistic nylon straps if you want to carry more gear, testament to its durability.
- Tie downs and straps keep your gear in position
- Side pockets have durable double zippers and each one can hold a 1 liter water bottle
- The 3 outer tie down straps can be used to compress the bag.
- Not waterproof
Maxpedition Falcon II
The Maxpedition Falcon-II is comparable to the best EDC backpack in terms of quality. This is a medium sized model with a capacity of 25 liters or 1520 cu. in., but it is flexible and has space for a large number of gear. The Falcon II makes a case for being one of the best rucksacks today thanks to its multi layered design and multiple compartments.
The best military rucksack comes with well-designed compartments and the Falcon II follows suit. There are three storage compartments complete with mesh pockets, and there is a pocket for a hydration bladder as well. Because the Falcon II is medium sized, you can use this as a daypack for camping and hiking, and it is compact enough to fit under an airline seat. While this is not as large as other heavy duty backpacks, there is enough space here for several textbooks and a 15 inch laptop.
Like the best 3 day assault pack, the Falcon II is built from 1050-Denier tear-and-wear resistant nylon, and it has Teflon coating for enhanced stain and water protection. With it you would expect protection even at the bottom, and that’s true here with its abrasion-resistant plastic coating. The unit may feel a bit stiff when you first use it, but with constant use it should soften up quickly. Note that softening up doesn’t it is going to feel “cheap” but rather more flexible. While empty, it weighs just 2.5 lbs.
The Falcon II in Action
This rucksack is going to keep water off with a few hours of nonstop rain, but a rain cover is still recommended because if the downpour does not cease the Teflon will get wet. This really isn’t a shortcoming though as even the best tactical rucksack would benefit from a rain cover.
The Falcon II doesn’t have bottom drain holes save for the hydro pack compartment so you don’t have to worry that placing the Falcon II on a puddle will drench the contents. The Falcon II also comes with breathing padded shoulder straps, and these are fitted with several loops.
The Falcon II cut shape is clearly ergonomic and should keep you comfortable even if carrying a heavy load. With the way the backrest and the carrier have been set, you won’t feel any pressure on your shoulders. On its own the Falcon II does what it’s supposed to, but if you need more gear, just use the PALS webbing and you’ll be able to carry everything from pouches to carabiners, a shovel, cord, knives, tent etc. and the Y strap can be used to store your jacket.
You can compress the three compartments or expand them using the side straps, and that’s a real nice touch as it helps keep the bag compact and in shape. When you assess the Falcon II overall design, it is top of the line and more than sufficient for the survivalist.
- Well designed
- Comes with plenty of pockets
- Durable and built for heavy duty use
- As a medium sized model, it may not have enough space if you carry a lot of gear
Spec Ops: The Pack AKA the Perfectly Sized Travel Backpack
If we are talking about the best choice for survival, the Spec Ops is going to be near the top. This is a 2500 cubic inch or 40 liter model that is ideal for a 2 or 3 day hike, and it is versatile enough to be used as a an everyday pack, a travel bag and a survivalist’s bag.
The Spec Ops is available in camouflage and black, and with dimensions of 19” x 13” x 12” it is just the right size for storing in an airline’s overhead compartment. If you’re searching for the best choice for hiking that you can literally take anywhere with you, the Specs Ops could be what you’re looking for.
The Spec Ops is just the right size for tactical use, and it’s large enough you can last for a week or two, or even longer if you’re the minimalist type. As one of the best options today, the Spec Ops provides more than enough room for all your gear so you don’t have to carry another bag.
With a capacity of 40 liters, the Spec Ops has room for a lot of stuff. The space inside it is divided between the two front pockets (the bottom pocket is bigger) and the main compartment. One of the things you will notice is that there is webbing everywhere: there is webbing on the bottom, all over the sides and the two front pockets as well.
Another reason why this is one of the top options is you can use it in different ways. If you take this in the backwoods or outdoors it’s easy enough to strap on a sleeping bag, tarp or a tent onto the bottom webbing. As for the top pocket you can put all kinds of stuff there.
For a tactical hiking rucksack you can fill the top pocket with a whistle, pocket knife, flashlight, compass, head lamp, emergency kit and so on. These are the things you will want to carry not just during a survival outing but anytime you are traveling. Even with all those items mentioned there should still be room in the top pocket sleeve for your business cards, pens and notebooks.
The bottom pocket is spacious enough for your electronic gadgets like digital voice recorder, GPS, camera, tablet and other stuff. The bottom pocket also provides sufficient space for gloves, a tarp and so on. Just to give you an idea of how much you can fit in, the Spec Ops top pocket measures 8” x 10” x 2.5” while the bottom pocket has dimensions of 10” x 12” x 3.5”. As those figures indicate, those pockets are large.
The Main Compartment
The Spec Ops main compartment is unzipped from the top and sides, and it’s not a full clam shell but only partially. In terms of space there’s more than enough for storing a first aid kit, and the interior makes it ideal for keeping wires and plugs as well as chargers. Some people also use the main compartment to keep essentials like a towel, cap, socks, a sleeping bag and clothes.
A look at the main compartment shows it has yellow material lining. This is not just for aesthetic purposes as it is also useful for identifying the items you put in there. Any way you look at it, it’s main compartment is spacious. When you are done packing, adjust the straps and put it on your back. Even if the it's full it feels snug and doesn’t come off as too heavy.
The back of the compartment has rubber padding and it is this feature that provides comfort for your back. Unlike those on a host of other choices, the padding isn’t too thick or thin: just right. It also has a mesh pocket where you can put small objects inside.
As this review has shown, there is no shortage of items you can put in the Spec Ops, and while it is meant to be geared towards the survivalists, that should not stop you from using it as an everyday bag to store your stuff.
- Available in different colors
- Comes with lots of webbing
- Plenty of pockets
- Comfortable to carry
- May be too big for casual packers
Camelbak Motherlode Hydration Pack
The Camelback Motherlode is one of the best options, as few can match its feature set and versatility. Measuring 20 x 14 x 13.5 inches, the Camelbak has 2580 cubic inches of room inside, and any way you look at it that’s a whole lot of room.
This one is made from solid 500 Denier nylon: the previous version was made of 1000D fabric, and the switch to 500 Denier nylon has made it 35% lighter.
Both large and small types today have Molle webbing and this one is no exception. There is webbing on the sides, the front and the loops down at the bottom and the webbing isn’t just plentiful as they’re also tough, allowing you to attach any number of things onto it. A lot of hikers prefer to travel light, but if you need to add more pouches or other gear, the webbing and the Velcro strips will let you do this quite easily.
The front pocket opens up like a clamshell so you have access to your stuff quickly. Like any other good alternative, all the items inside are arranged neatly so when it is open the content won’t spill out. The items inside are divided into three pockets at the rear and a front pocket with a fortified bottom.
One of the pockets is divided and ideal for storing electronic gadgets like your mobile phone or tablet, and the first pocket has a hook for storing these devices. The two other pockets on the main compartment are for your documents and papers, and the other areas in the front pocket can be used for storing other items like a 24-hour ration kit, first aid, gloves, cap, cords and other items.
The other pocket in the main compartment is at the top of the Camelbak. You open it with a two way zipper and while smaller than the other pocket, still has enough space for GPS, electronic gadgets, sunglasses and other items you want to protect and keep from getting scratched.
The Main Compartment
The main compartment has a couple of compression straps and zippers, and there is also a mesh pocket with fortified seams that will keep any item you put in separate from the rest. As to how many items you can put there, there is enough room for a sleeping bag, a bivy, an inflatable mattress and a compact portable cooking system. Take a look at the back of the pack and you’re going to see a bladder pocket, and a 100 oz. / 3 liter bladder with drinking tube is bundled with the product.
The bag can also be used as an EDC (every day carry), but if you do this, consider removing the bladder and using the pocket to store a laptop or large tablet, and this again goes to show how versatile it is.
- Made from durable materials
- Lots of space inside
- Available in various colors
- Lots of padding
- The main compartment has a drainage hole so you need to put your stuff in a waterproof bag
The best choice is not necessarily the most expensive, but it should have straps to keep it in place and can withstand varying weather conditions. The good news is there are a lot of models which can do that, and any of the ones we've reviewed here more than qualify for the title of best tactical backpack.