Many of the accessories we use are inspired by the military lifestyle. Bomber Jackets, Aviator glasses, Chronograph Watches and so many other items all share their roots in the military. The reasons the military-inspired products appeal to such a wide following is their utilitarian design, stout build, and lasting craftsmanship. Backpacks too are among the items that have an army-inspired range. Tactical backpacks are popular for their ruggedness, ample storage space, and modular design.
Civilians and army personnel alike swear by tactical backpacks for their versatility and packability. Their cleverly divided storage space appeals to students, commuters, and travelers. Ruggedness and accessibility are appreciated by professionals who work outdoors.
Tactical backpacks make organizing efficient and convenient for hiking, trekking or camping trips. Their structured layouts and weather-resistant materials make sure that your gear remains safe. The ergonomic design makes the backpack sit comfortably on your shoulders. Tactical backpacks are versatile and modular, and this makes them popular among many. Sadly just like every other trendy item, the market is flooded with tactical backpacks. It becomes a bit daunting to find a good tactical backpack from the midst of cheap knockoff and subpar imitations.
How do you find the best option for your money?
What features to look for in a good tactical backpack?
You too may have these questions. Read this buying guide, and we will help you in finding the best tactical backpack in 2023 for you.
Best Tactical Backpack 2023
1. GORUCK GR 1 – Best Tactical Backpack According to Reddit
What Redditors had to say about it
u/pandadude “The GR1 fits what I usually need in my everyday carry (or carry-on travel) with ease and is as comfortable as a loaded backpack can be under heavy loads. The black is unassuming and blends into most casual situations and outfits. The proportions are nice for getting on a crowded subway or tossing under an airplane seat. My Thule laptop sleeve for a Macbook Pro 15″ fits into the laptop compartment. Shoulder straps are very comfortable. The bottom of the pack is slightly bigger than the top, which allows for more storage”
u/jdmess401 “I EDC’d a 21L every day for about three years when I commuted 1.5 hours each way via train between my home and Boston for work. Since I didn’t have a dedicated spot in the office, I had to carry everything I needed for a full 8-hour day: food, water, laptop, chargers, mouse, cables, battery packs, etc etc. I needed a bag to carry all those items. The GR1 held up incredibly well while performing these tasks. (The wide straps made it easy to lug the weight around, sometimes for hours if there was standing room only on the train.)”
u/heatx “GoRuck backpacks are great! I’ve used mine daily for the past few years. It’s one of the most versatile backpacks I’ve seen. It can work for almost any scenario. I’ve used this bag for traveling, college, photography, etc. it easily fits everything I need in it. “
The GR 1 is a high-quality tactical backpack from GORUCK, an established brand for tactical gear. GR 1 is a minimalist and compact tactical backpack available in two sizes – 21 liters and 26 liters sizes. It is optimal for everyday carry as well as outdoor excusrions. GR 1 has an open flat design inspired by special forces medics. You can easily organize your backpack by fully opening the backpack. The shoulder straps are nicely padded for comfort.
The carrying handle also comes with extra padding. On the inside, there is a reinforced laptop compartment next to your back. The manufacturer claims it to be bombproof. Also provided is a false bottom so that you don’t accidentally damage your laptop if you put your backpack on the floor. The GR 1 comes with a removable hard plastic frame sheet. By using the frame sheet you can keep your backpack straight and stable.
GORUCK has used YKK zippers in this backpack. These heavy-duty zippers are constructed from the parachute 550 cord. They are glove-friendly and won’t make any noise. The GORUCK GR 1 is made from 1000D Cordura fabric. This makes the backpack abrasion-resistant and tear-resistant. The backpack is highly water-resistant so your gear will remain dry even in rains. GR 1 comes with 3 pockets – 1 large elastic pocket, 1 large mesh zippered pocket, and 1 small go-to pocket.
The multiple pockets are good for efficient packing and organizing. There is also a quick access pocket for items like keys. Three rows of external and internal MOLLE webbing allow you to customize GR 1 how you want. You can also clip a hydration bladder into the interior MOLLE webbing. GORUCK provides GR 1 with a lifetime guarantee, this shows their confidence in their product.
2. GORUCK GR 2 – Larger Tactical Backpack
What Redditors had to say about it
u/Outcome005– “I used the GR1 21 liters backpack for all my college time, and it is awesome. And now I use it as a work and travel backpack. You cannot mess with a GORUCK”.
u/SilkyChineseFood- “I have a GR2 and use it every day. I hike and travel all the time and get the GORUCK as hand luggage on the place. Had it for a year or more, and it still looks brand new”.
u/hackatac- “If you’re looking for the toughest bag in the market and ready to compromise to carry the extra weight, then you should buy a GORUCK backpack. I have owned the backpack for nearly 2 years and have performed 2 GORUCK challenges using it and it still stands out and is fantastic. I would say out of the 10 bags I have it carries weight on the shoulders, unlike others. I’ve put 100 pounds in the bag, and it is still comfortable”.
GR 2 from GORUCK is the upgraded version of GR 1. It has all the features of GR 1 with added space and compartments. GR 2 is available in 3 sizes – 26 liters, 34 liters, and 40 liters. If you are looking for a rucksack that will double up as your everyday carry bag we will recommend 26 liters size. But if you carry lots of gear with you, you may go for bigger sizes. All sizes are TSA compliant so you won’t have any trouble fitting them in the overhead compartment of airplanes. GR 2 is made from the same 1000D Cordura, so its toughness is guaranteed. It is also rainproof and comes with YKK silent, glove-friendly zippers. The zipper pulls constructed from the parachute 550 cord. Shoulder straps and top handle are extra padded to carry heavier loads more comfortably.
There are 3 internal pockets: 1 large elastic pocket, one large mesh zippered pocket, and one small go-to zippered pocket. It also has a slant pocket on the front that provides you quick access to keys, snacks, and other small items. As in GR 1, it also comes with a removable frame sheet that allows you to carry more weight comfortably. Your laptops will be secure by a reinforced Bombproof Laptop Compartment and a false bottom. There are 4 rows of external and internal MOLLE webbing that let you customize your GR2 how you want. The GR 2 is covered by GORUCK’s Scars Lifetime Guarantee, so you will never have to worry about your rucksack.
3. 5.11 RUSH24 – Military Style Tactical Backpack
5.11 is another trusted brand for tactical gear. Their Rush 24 is a good choice among the tactical backpacks This is a tough and rugged tactical backpack made from 1050D Nylon. This is a backpack built to be ready for anything. You can choose this backpack whether you are looking for an everyday carry (EDC) or for outdoor activities hiking or camping. Rush 24 comes with a water-repellent coating that makes it rainproof. You can put enough gear for a 72 hour getaway in its 37 liters space. Rush 24 comes with a reinforced grab-and-go handle for you to drag it around. When you open it there are three mesh admin compartments for you to fit all your stuff. There are two side pockets and a stuff-it pocket with an integrated drawcord. We also liked that 5.11 provided a zippered fleece-lined eyewear pocket. There is also a zippered side water bottle pocket.
If you prefer a hydration bladder there is a pocket for it too. It also has built-in twin drainage grommets so that any spillage doesn’t spoil your gear. Rush 24 is designed with a contoured yoke shoulder strap system, which feels comfortable on your shoulders. There is an adjustable sternum strap that provides extra stability. On the outside are two external compression straps that will pack your gear tightly. In doing so, you’ll be able to center the weight on your back and body more easily. A hook and loop nametape and flag patches are a nice touch. 5.11 has provided good quality self-repairing zippers from YKK. So your zippers won’t get stuck. The pull tabs are glove-friendly. Rush 24 comes with a wrap-around MOLLE / SlickStick web platform. So you can customize your backpack with more features and add accessories it making it able to carry more gear.
4. Maxpedition Falcon-II
The Maxpedition Falcon II is a tactical backpack designed for durability and comfort. Falcon II is made from 1050-Denier nylon fabric. This is abrasion resistant, so you don’t have to worry about the safety of your gear on your outdoor trips. It is also water-resistant so your gear will not get wet even when you go out in the rains. While organizing you can fully open your backpack like a clamshell.
The clamshell opening feature enables you to organize your backpack in the most efficient manner. On the front of the backpack is its unique Y-shaped midline compression strap that helps distribute weight evenly. You can further press your gear more tightly with the side compression straps connected through quick-release buckles. The Maxpedition Falcon II is a compact tactical backpack with a size of 23 liters optimal for an everyday carry (EDC) backpack.
The dual-directional YKK zippers add to the quality. So you will never have to worry about breaking a zipper if you’re in a pinch. The foam-padded shoulder straps and ergonomic design make it comfortable to wear. It also has built-in sturdy sternum & waist belts that eliminate pressure points and provide extra support when hauling heavy gear. On the back is provided a zipper pouch that can accommodate up to two 100 Oz water reservoirs. Through the covered port openings, you can take out hydration tubes so that you can hydrate yourself without breaking the momentum.
Falcon II comes with multiple internal pockets and loop fields for customization. A concealed carry pocket is also provided. Falcon II is MOLLE compatible so you can carry even more gear by attaching additional compartments. Falcon II could do a better with a breathable back panel. Otherwise, it is a good tactical backpack that will accompany you on many expeditions.
5. Condor 3 Day Assault Pack
The Condor 3-day pack is a large heavy-duty tactical backpack. With its spacious 50 liters cargo capacity you can pack enough gear for a 72-hour exploration. The Condor 3-day pack with its seven compartments is designed for easy access and organization. The large main compartment comes with quick-release gear retention straps and two zipper closure mesh pockets. You can fully open the main compartment for easy packing. The second compartment contains three document pockets, two radio pockets, and pen holsters. On the rear are two large pockets with three elastic closures.
There is also a bottom pocket with a zipper closure mesh pocket. You can carry two 3-liter hydration bladders in the side pockets and loop a hydration tube through integrated tubing ports. The featured body contour padded shoulder straps, sternum strap, and waist belt enhance comfort and support. A foam pad back panel optimizes comfort and airflow. There is a reinforced carry and drag handle on top. Twin side compression straps keep your gear compactly packed and reduce your profile. There are horizontal and vertical webbing on the front and along the shoulder straps. The shoulder straps also have integrated D-rings
6. BLACKHAWK! S.T.R.I.K.E. Predator
This is a rugged and versatile tactical backpack. The BLACKHAWK! S.T.R.I.K.E. has a capacity of 32 liters divided into three compartments – one large and two smaller front compartments. This backpack is spacious and can be used for weekend hiking trips or as an everyday carry (EDC) backpack. The large compartment has an internal pouch and three ports with flaps. It looks durable and is constructed from tough nylon fabric and heavy-duty zippers.
The BLACKHAWK! S.T.R.I.K.E. comes with padded, contour-fit shoulder straps with sternum strap, so that you are comfortable even when hauling all of your gear. Its comfortability and stability are further increased with a reinforced waist belt with additional attachment points. There is a rubber drag handle on the top backpack. The backpack features a hydration system that is protected by Microban antimicrobial technology and features a Bite Me bite valve and patent-pending quick-disconnect system. On the bottom of the pack, there is a metal grommet for drainage. The back panel is padded and breathable. You can tightly press your packed gear with quick-cinch buckles. The straps have anodized D-rings on them. It is MOLLE compatible and there are a hundred attachment points on the pack.
7. Orca Tactical Backpack
Durable, comfortable, and functional – Orca tactical backpack will not disappoint you. With it’s 11″ x 18″ x 2″ dimensions and 34 liters capacity, this backpack has room for all of your essential gear. Orca tactical backpack is heavy-duty and military-grade made from 600D polyester material. The ORCA tactical assault backpack is reinforced and double stitched at all stress points which makes it more sturdier. Its closures are secured by high-quality YKK zippers with nylon pulls that are rust-resistant and tough. The backpack comes with a special coating that makes it both water-resistant and scratch proof.
For comfort and strength, the backpack comes with padded and double-stitched straps. The back area is covered in mesh for ventilation during travel. For additional support, the backpack is provided with waist straps. The backpack includes an elastic band to keep the straps organized and in place to prevent snagging. It can hold up to a 1.5 liters hydration water bladder. You can secure your packed gear with side compression straps. A MOLLE webbing system on front and sides ensures you can add tactical MOLLE gear and pouches as needed for any mission.
8. Tacticon Armament 24BattlePack
Tacticon Armament 24BattlePack is a great 3-day tactical assault backpack. It has lot of attractive features and comes at a great price. This is a highly modular backpack, with a 40 liters storage space divided into multiple compartments. It comes with waterproof lining inside of each compartment in the backpack. For increased sturdiness, the backpack comes with double stitching around the entire pack. Heavy-duty and over-sized zipper protects the backpack from rain and other elements. It is provided with a padded oversized laptop computer compartment for up to 17-inch laptop screens.
The 24BattlePack comes with a built-In universal concealed carry gun holster. It has an insulated compartment with hanging clips and drink tube access for your hydration bladder. The backpack has a patch area for name tape and flag patches. MOLLE webbing is provided on the front for any additional tactical gear and pouches that you may need. There are polymer D-Rings located throughout the pack for carabiner attachment. The best point is that the backpack comes with a lifetime warranty that covers everything from the zippers to the stitching.
9. REEBOW GEAR Tactical Backpack
The REEBOW GEAR military tactical backpack is perfect for any outdoor trips or long hikes or even demanding treks. Made for heavy-duty use, it is stitched from a durable and water-resistant high-density fabric. With a capacity of 40 liters, it can hold quite a bit. It can pack up to three days worth of necessities so you can bring everything with you. This tactical backpack is double-stitched, which adds to its robustness. The heavy-duty zippers with utility-style cord pulls are suitable for dust and grime of outdoors. Its side and front load compression system lets you pack your gear tightly so that you don’t have a bulky backpack dragging you down.
The REEBOW GEAR has foam padded straps with ventilated mesh, for a breathable and comfortable experience. Its rear panel is ventilated and breathable as well. This backpack is also hydration compatible, so you can bring your hydration bladder and stay hydrated without breaking your momentum. It is MOLLE compatible. This allows for extra protection and the addition of more gear. So you are able to bring additional things you may need. And all of these features come at a price under $40, which makes it more attractive.
How to find the Best Tactical Backpack?
This is a buying guide so that you can choose the best tactical backpack that brings you more bang for your buck. You should keep the following parameters in your mind while making the purchase.
Comfort: In our opinion comfort is the paramount factor when buying a tactical backpack. You may not get much use out of a cool looking backpack if it cuts in your shoulder. Or your hiking trip may be less enjoyable because a poorly designed backpack tired you out. Your daily commutes may become more sweaty if your backpack doesn’t have a breathable back. You get our point. So make sure the tactical backpack you like comes with the proper amount of padding in the straps and grips. Also, make sure the harness sits comfortably on your shoulders. Don’t forget to check the breathability of the back panels.
Durability: There would be no point in buying a tactical backpack if it is not durable. So pay attention. First for the backpack to be durable it should be made from tough material. Polyester will not cut it, you should not choose a tactical backpack made from polyester. You should go for nylon at the minimum. We recommend heavy-duty fabrics like X-Pac or Cordura. Whether it is Urban Jungle or actual Jungle, these materials can take their share of punishment. So the tactical backpack will last you longer.
You should also pay attention to the stitching. As the stitching is usually the weak links in a backpack. Just like for fabric avoid backpacks stitched from the polyester thread. Nylon is better. If the stitching is in a zigzag pattern it would be better. Best to select a backpack that comes with reinforced stitching.
Zippers are another component you need to pay attention to for the durability. Especially so if you are buying the tactical backpack for your excursions into the outdoors. The dust and grime may cause the zippers to get stuck. So prefer the backpack with self-repairing zippers. YKK zippers are known for their quality.
Budget: Tactical backpacks are available for all budgets. You can buy a tactical backpack under $40. You can also buy one that costs more than $400. You get what you pay for. You can decide your budget based on your needs. There is no need for spending $300 on a tactical backpack designed for special forces if all you want is an everyday carry bag. Similarly, it will not be wise to carry a $30 backpack on a survival challenge.
Size: The tactical backpacks may come in size ranging from 25 liters to more than 65 liters. You should shop based on your needs. If you want an everyday carry (EDC) backpack, 30 liters space should be enough for you. Buy 35 liters to 40 liters if you carry a lot of gear. If you want a tactical backpack for a weekend getaway or for hiking or trekking trips you should choose 45 liters. For even more intense trips like a week-long hunting trip, buy big size backpacks.
Another feature you may want in a tactical backpack is MOLLE webbing. It allows you to accessorize your backpack with additional compartments or pouches so you can carry more gear. You can also add customized features to your tactical backpack. MOLLE webbing improves both accessibility and modularity of your tactical backpack.
You should choose a tactical backpack that comes with compression straps. A loosely packed backpack will drag you down. With compression straps, you can press your packed backpack tightly. This will make your backpack sit nicely on your back.
Last update on 2023-10-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API