12 Best Military Style Tactical Backpacks Reviewed

Best Small Capacity

The SOG comes in at 24 litres and is great for less than 24 hr activities.

Best Sling Bag

The Reebow is an over-the-shoulder bag that is well built and spacious.

Tactical backpacks generally closely resemble regular backpacks. But compared to regular backpacks they’re tougher, more durable, hold more items, and are better equipped for long, strenuous or potentially dangerous expeditions.

Image

Model

Size

No. of Compartments

Check Price

5.11 RUSH72 Tactical Backpack, Large, Style...

5.11 RUSH72 Tactical Backpack For Military

55 Liters

5 Main Compartments, Multiple Small Pockets

REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack Large...

Reebow Gear Military Tactical Backpack

40 Liters

2 Main Compartments, 2 Smaller Front Pockets

GOWARA GEAR Military Tactical Backpack,Small...

Gowara Gear Military Tactical Backpack

34 Liters

2 Main Compartments, 2 Smaller Front Pockets

SOG Ninja Tactical Day Pack, 24.2-Liter,...

SOG Ninja Tactical Day Pack

24.2 Liters

1 Main Compartment, 2 Small Front Pockets

Tactical Sling Bag Pack Military Sling...

Reebow Gear Tactical Sling Bag

12 X 9.5 X 6 Inches

1 Main Compartment, 2 Small Front Pockets

Expandable Adjustable Backpack With Waist...

Armycamo USA Expandable Military Tactical Backpack

39 - 64 Liters

3 Main Compartments

BLACKHAWK 3-Day Assault Back Pack - Black

Blackhawk 3

37 Liters

1 Main Compartment, 2 Small Front Pockets

Direct Action Dragon Egg Mk II Tactical...

Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack

25 Liters

2 Main Compartments, 1 Small Front Pocket

MOLLE II Rucksack Backpack Assembly (ACU),...

MOLLE II Rucksack Backpack Assembly (ACU)

65 Liters

1 Main Compartment, 2 Detachable Sustainment Pouches

CamelBak Motherlode 100 Ounce 3 Liter Long...

Camelbak Motherlode Mil-Spec Hydration Backpack

37 Liters + 3-Liter Hydration Capacity

1 Main Compartment

EVERLIT Complete 72 Hours for 2 People...

Everlit Earthquake Emergency Kit 72-Hour 2 Person Survival Kit

Large

2 Main Compartments, 2 Small Pockets

Premium 2 Person Bug Out Bag - Emergency...

Zippmo Bug-Out Bag For Two People

12.5 X 16.25 X 7 Inches

1 Large Main Compartment, 2 Smaller Front Pockets

What is a tactical backpack?

Tactical backpacks are designed to handle the demands of military action, treacherous hikes, and law enforcement missions. However, they're a popular choice for us mere civilians who need an extra-tough backpack with some intelligent design features. They are similar to bug out bags (BOB) in design.

They’re made to assist you in “survival mode” when the weather turns or if you’re simply a brave and intrepid hiker. There are lots of different sizes and shapes, with features such as hydration bladders and MOLLE webbing. All military-style, tactical backpacks have great capacity and strategically-designed compartments for packing everything you need in an easy to access way.

Read on to learn more about tactical backpacks, why they’re so popular and what to look for when choosing one. Then we’ll get onto the 12 best tactical backpacks which we’ve reviewed. Each review is complete with pros and cons and an assessment of who each bag is most suitable for.

best tactical backpack

Why People Love Military Style Backpacks

People love military style backpacks because they are made of extremely durable materials which last the test of time. Regular backpacks can be prone to tearing or fraying around the zips, but military backpacks are designed to last.

Tactical, military-style backpacks are popular thanks to their comfortable construction. Because they’re intended for long bouts of travel with heavy loads, they're designed to put the least possible amount of stress on the back.

Storage and versatility are also key reasons why people love these sturdy backpacks. Military-style backpacks are designed to fit the most items into the space provided, with quick access. They're often designed to cater for a certain period of time, for example, 72 hours (this means they're designed to carry enough stuff to sustain a 72-hour trip).

Most tactical backpacks have MOLLE webbing on the exterior. These look like rows of tough fabric, sewn in increments to create a series of loops. These allow you to carry items on the exterior of your bag. You can use a MOLLE pouch or simply clip items through the loops.

This gives you total control over where you stash your stuff and allows you to grab items instantly without opening the pack.


What To Look For In a Good Military Backpack

Type of Use

Different military backpacks serve different purposes and uses. Before picking one, make sure you're clear on what you need it for so you end up with the most suitable pack.

If you're looking for an everyday pack with tactical backpack benefits, look for one with a laptop compartment. For every day use, you don't necessarily need a water bladder compartment or lots of MOLLE webbing, but you'll still get the durable materials and waterproof security.

For hunting or anything which requires super-fast access to items, you could go for a military sling backpack. This allows you to swing the pack around to your front to grab anything you need. You could also look for a tactical rifle backpack which has dedicated features for securely carrying equipment.

For hiking or rugged camping, think about the duration of your trip. Find a backpack which has been designed for your desired duration, i.e. 12, 24, 28 or 72 hours.

This ensures you have enough room and suitable compartments to fit the necessary items for survival during a certain time period. Also consider a pack which comes with survival gear such as first aid kits and emergency items.

Military 1st blog

"

Not to be confused with a 'Bug Out' bag, a '24 Hour' bag should contain some very basic essentials should you for any reason not be able to make it home or become severely delayed.


Size & Capacity

The size and capacity you require are dependent on your needs. If you intend to use your pack for long hikes or missions and you need to be equipped for survival mode, you’ll need a large capacity.

But if you’re looking for an everyday military style backpack which can double as a short hike pack, you can choose a small military backpack with a lighter weight.

Before choosing a pack, make sure you’re fully aware of all measurements including weight, capacity in liters and dimensions. Your own size can be a factor, as you don’t want a pack with large dimensions if you’re a narrow or petite person.

Compartments & Carry Options

Consider your preferences for carrying your bag, whether it’s a traditional over-shoulder design or a sling tactical backpack. Or, you might need a pack which has pockets along the hip straps. It comes down to how quickly you need to access your stuff and what’s most comfortable for you to wear.

Think about what kind of compartments you need, how many, what size, and if you need any padding (i.e. for laptops and tech items). Are you using your pack for long or dangerous treks or missions? If so, think about food and water storage as well as space for first-aid kits or emergency gear.

Ergonomic Design

Your military tactical backpack must be comfortable to wear. Look for a padded, ventilated back to keep you cool and as dry as possible during travel. Look for adjustable hip straps, especially if you’ll be carrying a heavy load, as they’ll keep the weight off your shoulders and upper back.

Consider the size of the bag, especially the shoulder span between straps, compared to your own shoulder width. A bag which is too narrow can cut into your shoulders, while a bag which is too wide can slip and place strain on the outer shoulders.

Water Resistant & Tear Material

Tactical backpacks are generally of the highest durability when it comes to materials used, but some are stronger than others. Be aware of the material specs and look for a higher denier such as 1000D nylon.

Most tactical backpacks will be water resistant, if not waterproof, but some come with a waterproof cover. Think about your trekking conditions and assess whether or not waterproof is necessary (i.e. are you carrying laptops or tech?).

When it comes to MOLLE, most tactical backpacks will have it, but some have more than others. Some packs have a full MOLLE webbed exterior, while some have only a few strips. If you're going to be clipping lots of items to your pack for easy access, then a full MOLLE pack is a smart choice. Otherwise, it's not a crucial feature.

Hydration Bladder

The best tactical hydration backpacks come equipped with a water bladder, a dedicated compartment, and a leak-free drink tube (see the CamelBak Motherlode hydration backpack in our list).

Others come with a compartment to fit a water bladder, and a hole to feed a drink tube through, but you must buy the bladder separately. Figure out how much water you want to carry with you before having to refill, but most bladders hold from 2-3 liters.

Price Vs. Quality

The best tactical backpack for the money differs from person to person depending on their budget, requirements and intended usage. With any backpack choice, you want to get maximum quality for the money spent. In some cases, you can spend a little and get high quality and durability.

However, it does pay to consider how much you will use your pack, which gives you a general “cost per use” to put things in perspective. If you’re going to be using a pack daily or weekly, for long or demanding expeditions, then a tactical backpack in the higher price bracket will be worth it.

If you need an everyday pack for urban usage or short-term usage, a cheaper back will be fine. Military backpacks range in price from as low as $30 to upwards of $350.


12 Best Tactical Backpacks Reviewed

Without Supplies

1. 5.11 RUSH72 Tactical Backpack for Military

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Size = 55 Liters
  • Number of Compartments = 5 Main Compartments, Multiple Small Pockets
  • Hydration Bladder = No - Has Hydration Pockets
  • Material = 1000D Nylon
  • Warranty = Yes – Lifetime

This large tactical backpack is incredibly highly rated and very versatile. It's made for a 72-hour trip and has every compartment and pocket you need for all intensive outdoor pursuits. It has a full MOLLE exterior for customizing the layout of your gear, a hydration pocket, and glove-friendly zip tags.

We love the "shove-it pouch" which is a gap between the main bag and the front compartment with adjustable straps to customize the size. You can shove your jacket, a helmet or anything else which you need to access quickly and store easily.

This backpack isn’t for everyday use as there are too many unnecessary features for urban commutes or city day trips. It’s definitely a tactical hiking backpack for rough and tough outdoor pursuits spanning a few days.

Pros

  • Lots of pockets
  • Padded back
  • Shove-it pouch
  • Durable main material
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Zippers not durable

2. Reebow Gear Military Tactical Backpack 

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Size = 40 Liters
  • Number of Compartments = 2 Main Compartments, 2 Smaller Front Pockets
  • Hydration Bladder = No
  • Material = 600D Fabric
  • Warranty = Yes – 6 Months

The Reebow Gear tactical backpack has been created for 3-day expeditions, with MOLLE webbing and adjustable size thanks to side compression straps. It’s comfortable and supportive to wear, with a padded back and adjustable chest and hip straps.

The comments reveal that while it’s advertised as having a hydration bladder pocket, it appears that it doesn’t. It’s a little simpler than other military-style backpacks, but still has the capacity and durability for intensive treks or missions.

Honestly, this pack could be used as an everyday backpack, just with a little more attitude. If you need a large backpack to stash lots of things in, with durable, water-resistant material and a military-style aesthetic, this could be the one.

Pros

  • MOLLE webbing for customizing item storage
  • Padded back
  • Compression straps for adjusting the overall size
  • Large main compartments for ample storage
  • Durable materials

Cons

  • No hydration bladder

3. Gowara Gear Military Tactical Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Size = 34 Liters
  • Number of Compartments = 2 Main Compartments, 2 Smaller Front Pockets
  • Hydration Bladder = No - But Pocket Fits A 2.5 L Hydration Bladder
  • Material = Specs Unknown, But Very Military-Grade
  • Warranty = Not Specified

This is a small tactical backpack (43 liters, 11 x 18 x 12 inches) with MOLLE webbing. This pack is extremely similar to the Reebow Gear pack above, with the main difference being the size.

It has two main, large compartments each with multiple smaller pockets inside. There are two smaller pockets on the front of the bag which would be great for quick-access items such as phones or maps.

It does have ample space for a 2.5-liter hydration bladder, as well as hip and chest straps. These details make it a good military-style pack for shorter hikes or on-foot day trips in hot climates.

You can adjust the size of the pack with the compression straps. The size and storage options make this a perfect everyday bag for day trips or even school, college and commuting.

You can fit a lot of stuff in here including laptop, gym clothes and shoes, books and smaller items such as notepads and stationery.

Pros

  • Small for everyday use
  • Compressible size
  • MOLLE webbing
  • Versatile compartments

Cons

  • Stitching prone to breaking

4. SOG Ninja Tactical Day Pack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Size = 24.2 Liters
  • Number of Compartments = 1 Main Compartment, 2 Small Front Pockets
  • Hydration Bladder = Yes
  • Material = Polyester/Canvas
  • Warranty = Yes – Lifetime

This is a great example of a tactical-style backpack which is best suited for everyday commuting, college, school, work, and general urban usage. It's affordable, comes in 6 color options and is pretty compact.

It's not the kind of backpack you'd take on a hike, camping trip or emergency situation, it just doesn't have the capacity. Plus, it doesn't have a hip or waist strap to take the weight during long walks.

The fabric leans a little more toward regular backpack material, (poly/canvas as opposed to ripstop nylon) It does have MOLLE webbing on the outside and a hydration bladder pocket, so you could use it for day trips during holidays in hot or intrepid places.

It has some cool features such as a stretchy side pouch for your water bottle, padded back panels, easy-grab zip tabs. It's ideal for carrying books, a laptop, a few clothing items, and small items such as wallets, stationery, and phones in the little interior pockets.

A great choice for students, commuters or workers who want a pack with a tactical-style aesthetic.

Pros

  • Small, compact
  • Hydration bladder pocket
  • Great for urban life
  • Affordable

Cons

  • No hip strap

5. Reebow Gear Tactical Sling Bag

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Size = 12 X 9.5 X 6 Inches
  • Number of Compartments = 1 Main Compartment, 2 Small Front Pockets
  • Hydration Bladder = Yes
  • Material = 600D Polyester
  • Warranty = Not Specified 

Here we have a tactical sling backpack from Reebow Gear. It’s worn slung over one side as opposed to over both shoulders and has smaller straps to reduce movement and swinging during usage.

You can wear it on your back, chest, or carry it with the top handle. It's not big or particularly roomy so you're not going to take this on a long or risky hike.

It's better suited to short hikes or day trips when you only need a few essential items. It's also great as an assault pack as it fits two small handguns and ammo.

It has a lot of small pockets for tucking away little items such as wallets, phones, small cameras, and snacks. It has a pocket which is perfect for a 9.8-inch iPad.

The back panel has an open sleeve with a clip closure for keeping a hydration bladder, so it could be great for super-hot, long commutes in the summer, short, fast hikes or even running.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Small and compact
  • Versatile wearing options

Cons

  • Fragile buckles and stitching

6. Armycamo USA Expandable Military Tactical Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Size = 39 - 64 Liters
  • Number of Compartments = 3 Main Compartments
  • Hydration Bladder = No
  • Material = 600 Denier Polyester
  • Warranty = None 

This is an impressive and cheap tactical backpack for a variety of uses. It’s expandable in size and capacity from 39 to 64 liters, thanks to the pull-tabs on the sides.

It has some heavy-duty, durable features such as a coated top handle, rainproof seam sewing, and strong zips. It has MOLLE webbing on the exterior, and rip-proof 600D polyester, bringing it into military backpack territory.

The three main compartments offer ample storage with lots of smaller slots and pockets for keeping little items safe and secure.

This pack suits a wide range of uses. You could compress it down to the smaller size, remove the hip straps, and use it as an everyday commuting or school bag. You can then expand it out, add the hip straps, and pack it with all of the supplies needed for a 3-day hike.

Pros

  • Padded hip belt
  • Adjustable size
  • Comes in 8 colors

Cons

  • No hydration bladder pocket

7. Blackhawk 3

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Size = 37 Liters
  • Number of Compartments = 1 Main Compartment, 2 Small Front Pockets
  • Hydration Bladder = No - But Has Bladder Pocket
  • Material = 1000 Denier Nytaneon Nylon
  • Warranty = Yes – Lifetime

This backpack is far more sleek and unassuming than other tactical backpacks. It doesn’t have any MOLLE webbing, and the front exterior is completely plain but for one concealed zip.

It’s a high-quality pack made from super durable nylon and YKK zippers. It’s comfy to wear thanks to the padded back panels, padded shoulder straps and padded, adjustable hip straps. It has a large main compartment and two smaller compartments with ample storage space for necessities.

It's compatible with the Blackhawk! Hydrastorm Hydration System or you could use your own hydration bladder. Combined with the hip straps, these two features make it ideal for hiking, camping, and on-foot day trips.

It's also perfect for commuting, work, school, college or weekends away. Definitely not a heavy-duty backpack for military or emergency mode.

Pros

  • Durable material
  • Padded back and straps
  • Strong zips
  • Compatible with Blackhawk! hydration
  • D-rings for clipping gear

Cons

  • No MOLLE webbing

8. Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Size = 25 Liters
  • Number of Compartments = 2 Main Compartments, 1 Small Front Pocket
  • Hydration Bladder = No, But Has Hydration Bladder Pocket
  • Material = 500D Cordura
  • Warranty = Yes – 1 Year

This is one of the more expensive military backpacks on our list, but it does have a lot of great features for the money. It has a unique, laser cut MOLLE system on the exterior, expandable sides and mesh back padding.

It has a smaller capacity, at 25 liters, but it’s expandable due to the adjustable side straps with clips. It has a comprehensive organizer pocket with lots of zipped, open and Velcro slots and pouches for all kinds of small items. You can slot an iPad or small laptop into the open sleeve and it will be held snugly.

It has a pouch on the side for your water bottle, as well as a pocket compatible for a hydration bladder, so your hydration needs are covered.

It has been designed to be a 2-day tactical backpack, but you could easily use to as an everyday backpack for commuting or school.

It would be the perfect military-style backpack for using during the week for urban life, then expanding out and using in the weekends for outdoor pursuits and hikes.

Pros

  • 10 color choices
  • Side pouch for water bottle
  • Durable
  • Expandable
  • Hip strap

Cons

  • Expensive

9. MOLLE II Rucksack Backpack Assembly (ACU) 

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Size = 65 Liters
  • Number of Compartments = 1 Main Compartment, 2 Detachable Sustainment Pouches
  • Hydration Bladder = No
  • Material = 1000D Nylon
  • Warranty = Not Specified

This is a US-made military backpack made for serious military usage. It has a main rucksack with a large capacity of 65 liters with internal load dividers for strategic packing.

It has two sustainment pouches (one on each side) which can be removed. They're made for carrying extra items such as food and water packs and can be removed and used separately by hooking onto a sling with the D-ring.

The exterior is made from a super durable 1000D nylon with a camo design. The top half of the backpack and the flap-over top closure have MOLLE webbing for customizable item storage.

This is definitely not for everyday use, or even for light camping and hiking. It’s heavy, large and made for tough, heavy-duty military duties.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Large capacity
  • Versatile
  • Hip straps
  • MOLLE webbing

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Not for everyday use

10. Camelbak Motherlode Mil-Spec Hydration Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Size = 37 Liters + 3-Liter Hydration Capacity
  • Number of Compartments = 1 Main Compartment
  • Hydration Bladder = Yes - 3 Liters
  • Material = 500D Nylon
  • Warranty = Yes – Lifetime

This military-style backpack from Camelbak combines the capacity of a gear backpack with a hydration pack. It comes with a 3-liter hydration system, as well as a 37-liter capacity for carrying gear.

It's ergonomically-designed with padded back panels, adjustable shoulder straps, and a hip strap. The MOLLE webbing on the exterior allows for the customized carrying of smaller items.

The hydration technology is really clever, with a Hydrolock bite valve adapter, auto shut-off tube for fast and easy refill, and back pocket for easy bladder access.

You could use this backpack as an everyday pack for commuting or even college if you remove the hydration equipment. You can then reattach it and use the pack for hiking trips, hard-going day trips in hot climates and camping trips. It's expensive but it does come with some durable and user-friendly technology.

Pros

  • Hip and chest straps
  • 3-liter hydration system
  • MOLLE webbing

Cons

  • No Cons

With Supplies

11. Everlit Earthquake Emergency Kit 72-hour 2 Person Survival Kit

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Size = Large
  • Number of Compartments = 2 Main Compartments, 2 Small Pockets
  • Hydration Bladder = No
  • Material = 600 Denier Polyester
  • Warranty = Yes – 1 Year

This survival backpack is packed with absolutely everything required for 2 people to survive for 72 hours during a natural disaster or emergency situation. The pack itself is large, sturdy, compact and compressible. It has a couple of MOLLE web strips, but not a full cover like other bags.

It’s complete with water, 3600 calorie food bars, rope, cord, gloves, goggles, blankets, masks, glow sticks and much more. The first aid kit comes with everything you need to treat wounds on the go.

It’s a great option for anyone wanting to get all of their survival needs in one go, with a large, sturdy backpack. Ideal for people living in tough climates, disaster-prone places, or who simply need a good stock of survival gear to supplement long or tough outdoor pursuits.

Pros

  • Large, durable bag
  • Fully equipped for survival
  • Approved by US military veterans

Cons

  • Expensive

12. Zippmo Bug-Out Bag for Two People

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Size = 12.5 X 16.25 X 7 Inches
  • Number of Compartments = 1 Large Main Compartment, 2 Smaller Front Pockets
  • Hydration Bladder = No
  • Material = Nylon
  • Warranty = None

This camo-colored bug-out bag is kitted out to protect two people for 72-hours in an emergency situation. The pack itself has ample storage, with a large main compartment and two smaller pockets on the front exterior.

It has a waist belt for ergonomic usage and adjustable outer straps to either compress the bag or pack more items. It comes with everything needed for survival for 2 people, including food and water packs, knife, gloves, mask, first aid kit, insulated emergency bags, waterproof matches, and a flashlight.

This is a great option for you if you’re in need of some emergency gear and a large, new tactical backpack. You could keep it packed and ready to go in the event of an emergency, or use the pack and supplies as needed for hikes, missions and even travel.

Pros

  • Durable pack
  • High-quality supplies
  • Thorough survival pack
  • Versatile pack
  • FEMA-approved supplies

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No chest strap

Ultimate Survivalist List

for overnight trips and rough hikes, you always need to be equipped with a survivalist pack stashed away in your military hiking backpack. These are some crucial items to check off your list, with links to some highly-rated product ideas.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

How heavy should a tactical backpack be?

It depends on how much you intend to carry and for how long you're going to be wearing the pack. The best military-style backpacks for more casual use are as light as possible without compromising on capacity, durability, and detail. Most tactical backpacks range from between 2 and 4 pounds, give or take.

Larger packs with more features and suitable for longer trips will be on the heavier side. Military backpacks which are for military duty and action are heavier and bulkier, but they are designed for super fit and strong wearers.

Which of these brands are made in the USA?
  • Zippmo
  • Molle II
  • Camelbak
Can I get a tactical style backpack for everyday use?

Absolutely. You can get a tactical-style backpack which has the durability, adjustability, and versatility of a tactical backpack but in a smaller size. Look for a small tactical backpack which has decent-sized compartments and smaller pockets, but without the unnecessary details such as a hydration pouch.

Something like the Gowara Gear Military Tactical Backpack or the SOG Ninja Tactical Day Pack in our top-12 list is an ideal everyday tactical-style backpack.

What is the price range of these bags?

The military backpacks on our top 12 list range in price from around $30 to around $340. There are mid-range packs in the $80 bracket as well as a couple sitting at around $150.


Conclusion

You'd be smart to choose a tactical backpack, even if it's for everyday use. The fabrics used are characteristically durable, rip-resistant and water resistant. They're intelligently designed for maximum versatility and comfort.

Some are more authentic than others, with all of the specs and features compatible with military-grade backpacks. Others are more suited to every day, commuting or school, but with tactical-style aesthetics.

Check out our top-12 list of the best tactical, military-style backpacks and you'll find one to suit your needs.


  • Updated September 21, 2020
Scroll Up