Designed for heavy duty use in the military and built to withstand the rough conditions of a battlefield for prolonged periods of time, tactical backpacks usually make no sense in the civilian world.
But knowing that you can take a backpack like this anywhere, from the seaside to the mountains, without worrying about putting it through the worst of conditions, makes them appealing. At least to some of us. And we’re not talking only about apocalypse preppers and survivalists here.
Tactical backpacks come with very good organization options, compartimentation layouts and plenty of storage space, something most other backpacks don’t offer. They’re super comfy, reliable, dependable, and can serve you well as an everyday pack to take anywhere you go, from your urban chores to your hiking and camping trips.
Not to mention the many accessories they come with, from hydration bladders to the MOLLE system and a plethora of useful pockets and straps for securing your gear both inside and on the outside of the pack. The carrying system is conceived for long days of walking and marching and intensive physical activity so they’re super comfortable even for the most demanding hiking routes.
At the end of the day, if you’re spending a lot of time wearing a backpack, you should make sure it’s one that makes your life easier. And tactical backpacks do just that. Plus, they look great both in your favorite cafe or a mountain cabin.
But let’s jump right in and find out which are our favorite 20 tactical backpacks:
One of the most interesting options for an every day carry is the sling pack, which allows for super easy access to everything without getting it off your back. You just need to spin it around and you’ve got your pack in front of you for accessing your essentials or just protecting your valuables in crowded places.
The Hazard 4 Evac Plan-B Sling Pack is a wonderful choice for that matter. It comes with plenty of storage space, 1080 cubic inches to be more precise, plus the MOLLE web system on the front and sides for additional gear carrying options.
It features an ambidextrous padded shoulder strap so you can carry it on either shoulder, padded thermo-molded back for a super comfy fit, 3 liter hydration bladder and clip-on stabilizer should you want to secure it in place for intense activity.
The Red Rock Large Assault Pack is a tactical backpack with a classic design. It features 2,135 cubic inches of storage space and comes with the ubiquitous MOLLE webbing on the front and on the sides, so you can further customize it with various pouches or accessories.
There’s also a 2.5 liter hydration bladder under the back panel so you can stay hydrated on the move. The back is well padded and ventilated, while the carrying system includes adjustable shoulder and sternum straps, plus a waist strap that comes in handy when carrying heavier loads.
Compression buckles, D-ring connection points and a total of seven colors to choose from are also things to keep in mind.
With plenty of storage room, the Maxpedition Vulture II 3-Day Backpack is a good choice if you’re looking to carry everything for 3 or 4 days of hiking and camping.
The integrated hydration compartment which can hold a 3 liter bladder is more than enough for your daily water needs, while the big front pouch lets you store plenty of stuff that you want to have easy access to.
There’s the MOLLE system on the sides and back, padded shoulder and waist straps so you can comfortably carry all your necessary items, plus compression straps to make the pack as small and tight as possible.
Overall, it’s a classic, no-frills, military backpack.
The Eberlestock Halftrack Backpack is an extremely versatile companion for any kind of trip, so it can double as a travel backpack should you want to go farther than your daily trips around town.
On the front panel it comes with PALS compatible webbing so you can customize it with all the modular pouches you might want extra. What makes it different than other tactical backpacks it’s the slimmer and taller profile, so it’s easier to fit in tight spaces with it on your back. Think buses or crowded stores where side pouches might be a little too much.
One little extra that’s rare on such a backpack is the integrated rain cover, which pulls out from its bottom compartment, so you can keep everything dry no matter how bad the weather gets.
The smaller sized Tactical Tailor Removable Operator Pack is made to attach to other bigger MOLLE compatible backpacks but it can be worn around as an every day carry pack.
It’s build from 1000 denier Cordura nylon with a clean and simple design. It comes with two main compartments and is compatible with a 3 liter hydration bladder, which comes as an extra. There’s MOLLE webbing on the sides and front for some customization and a nice bungee perfect for securing various items such as a rain jacket.
With a 24 liter capacity, MOLLE system on the sides and front, big front admin pouch, the SOG Ninja doesn’t seem to be too different than other options on the market.
The main appeal to it has to be the price, because this is one of the best budget tactical backpack at around $30. It’s perfect for every day use, featuring an integrated padded laptop sleeve accessible via a side zipper which is a great feature.
There are also several other zippered pouches on the interior for better organization and side pockets for water bottles or other extras. Come to think of, it’s probably one of the best tactical packs, especially given its affordability.
A great option for a low key tactical pack is the 5.11 Tactical All Hazards Prime Backpack which features a nice design with front shove-it pouch that can hold anything that doesn’t fit in the other compartments like a helmet or a jacket.
A lot of customization is possible through the MOLLE webbing on the front and sides, plus the internal mesh pouches and internal webbing which provide several organization options.
The front compartment has a clamshell design and comes with a high visibility orange lining for low light conditions, while the second compartment can fit plenty of gear.
One of the largest tactical bags out there, the Sandpier of California Long Range Bugout Backpack comes with a whooping 5,600 cubic inches of storage space, so you can carry everything your need for multiple day trips into the wild.
The pack is made from 1000 denier abrasion resistant nylon, so it’s a heavy duty option for the worst of days. There’s reinforced aluminum backstays, optional shoulder harness and padded waist belt for comfortable carrying.
It also features MOLLE webbing, hydration pouch and a big front pocket with plenty of organization options.
12. TAD FAST Pack Litespeed
The TAD FAST Pack Litespeed is another good backpack to serve as an every day carry, with heavy duty materials, customizable MOLLE straps on the exterior, closed cell foam padding on the back for comfort and easy to access top pocket for essential items.
It also has a hydration pouch and 96 inches of removable paracord for securing items or to serve as emergency gear.
Featuring an integrated 3 liter hydration reservoir with Microban antimicrobial technology complete with bite valve and tube system, the Blackhawk S.T.R.I.K.E. Cyclone Pack is a complete pack for those who need the hydration system without paying extra to get it.
The Cyclone Pack has a classic design, with two front pouches with MOLLE system and a good 1800 cubic inches of storage space. Carrying is made comfortable by ventilated soft-shell back panel, contoured padded straps and reinforced waist belt.
The 25 liter Direct Action Egg MK II Backpack is the perfect size for an every day carry, and with many additional features, it’s hard not to take it into consideration.
There’s plenty of customization options with all its external straps and the laser cut MOLLE/PALS front panel. Though not as tough as other options on this list, the 500D Cordura is good enough.
What’s super important for most people these days, it comes with a padded sleeve on the back side for a 15″ laptop, so you can take it, and your work, with you anywhere.
Similar to the Blackhawk above, the Spec-Ops T.H.E. EDC Pack is exactly what its name implies, an every day carry pack.
It’s got all the needed features, such as 1000 denier water resistant material, MOLLE webbing, hydration pouch, plenty of organization options and a nice removable waist belt for further customization.
The 5.11 Tactical RUSH 24 2.0 is one of the best tactical backpacks out there if you don’t mind the heavy military aesthetic with all the MOLLE webbing on the exterior and the lack of a waist strap, which is much needed for heavy loads.
It’s a 37 liter pack, so there’s plenty of storage space and makes for a wonderful carry-on for air travel. It’s a go-anywhere do-anything kind of backpack. Make it your bug out bag, weekend hiking trip bag, every day carry bag or your gym bag, it can handle anything.
The pack features a 1000 denier nylon rugged construction, excellent interior organization and a nice CCW hidden compartment behind the front pocket.
Drifting away from the classic design, the Blackhawk Cyane Dynamic Tactical Pack is a smaller sized pack with a beaver-tail styled all purpose front pouch which fits anything from jackets to helmets.
There’s only two rows of MOLLE webbing on the front pocket, so not much customization options here, but it comes with side pockets for water bottles or other accessories. There’s also a 3 liter water pouch and removable mesh padded back piece for comfortable carry.
The Samurai Tactical Wakizashi is the budget friendly version of the superb 5.11 Tactical RUSH 24 we listed earlier.
It’s smaller in size with a 24 liter capacity and has similar features as the 5.11 RUSH, but it lacks the clamshell design, the laptop sleeve and some quality here and there.
Overall, though not a real tactical pack as it doesn’t stand the rigorous military standards, the Wakizashi compensates with its affordability, priced at around $40, making for a great budget EDC option.
Though a motorcycle backpack and not a tactical one, the Velomacchi 35L Giro is a great option that offers plenty of the features you’d need from one and the minimalist covert aesthetic to blend in anywhere.
Super functional, it offers the same ruggedness of a tactical pack, it’s waterproof and abrasion resistant and it comes with a top loading design and magnetic roll top closure.
For the modern, connected individual, there’s a nice side pocket perfect for most laptops. Though unexpected, it’s also compatible with a hydration system.
The Mystery Ranch 2 Day Assault Pack is a tactical backpack with one of the nicest designs we’ve seen. It’s also super lightweight at only 3 pounds and a versatile and functional bag.
It features 27 liters of storage space, so there’s plenty of room for a multi day trip, and comes with a padded laptop sleeve should you need to take your laptop with you.
The most interesting part is the three zipper system that makes accessing items inside extremely easy.
With its advanced front panel design with ergonomic hexagonal attaching loops, the 5.11 Tactical AMP12 Backpack stands out from the crowd and adds a more covert style which can even be considered stylish in military standards.
The pack itself is lightweight and compact and has a capacity of 25 liters, which is enough for any day, no matter how long that ends up to be. The pack features a back panel internal pouch which fits up to 15 inch laptops, so you can take it to the office or to your favorite work hub.
The back panel is thermoformed so the pack will be super comfortable to wear for long hours. The hexagonal loops on the front are great for mounting gear at various angles, and the mesh interior pockets are great for organizing your stuff.
If you need all the technicalities of a tactical backpack without the immediately noticeable military aesthetic, look no further than the 5.11 Tactical COVRT18 2.0.
It’s the go to tactical bacpack if you want to blend in and remain unnoticed in an urban environment. It looks more like a laptop or bike pack but offers all the features you’d expect from a 5.11 Tactical backpack.
There’s hydration pouch, laptop compartment, side pockets for water bottles, internal loop panel and zippered mesh pockets to keep things organized. The material is 500 denier nylon and reinforced 840 denier on the bottom for greater abrasion resistance.
And with 32 liters of storage, you’ve got plenty of space for just about anything you need.
1. GoRuck GR1
With its minimalistic and simple exterior, the GoRuck GR1 offers the best of both worlds when it comes to every day carry gear. It features all the bells and whistles of a tactical backpack while remaining low-key for every day civilian life.
The 21 liter storage space is perfect for daily use and the 3 rows of MOLLE webbing on the front and sides provide more customization options should you want it.
It features a super tough 15″ laptop compartment on the rear panel, accessible from the side. For comfortable carrying it comes with a reinforced back panel for better structure and tough padded straps. The interior comes with additional MOLLE webbing, mesh zipper pocket and elastic pouch, giving it plenty of organization options.
Overall, it’s one of the toughest and most durable tactical backpacks out there which are also low-key enough for daily urban use.
These are our favorite 20 tactical backpacks. From heavy duty military designs to low-key packs for moving around unnoticed, there are plenty of options that meet military standards of durability and tactical functionality.
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