Tactical packs have far more pockets and organizers than regular backpacks. They come with loops and other attachments to let you hang items off the pack as well. Tactical packs are great for taking on a trip to the wilderness, military deployment or for use as a bug-out bag. These packs are versatile and lightweight, with a contoured, comfortable fit.
Whether you’re designing a bug-out bag or looking for a new pack for your camping weekend, this review has a selection of the best tactical backpacks. Choose the best tactical backpack to meet your needs and read through our buyer’s guide section to confirm your decision.
If you are in a hurry, here’s our top picks.
Best Pick: NPUSA large expandable tactical pack
- Material: 600D High density polyester for daily rugged use. Removable USA Flag velcro patch
- Molle strap system: allows for attachment of external gear; D rings on shoulder straps; Side load compression straps to keep load tight
- Hydration Ready: water bladder pocket inside main compartment with hose/tube pass through hole at the top
- Excellent storage: 4 zippered side gusset pockets, 2 front zippered pockets, organizer, 1 main compartment
- Dimensions: 18.5"L x 12"W x 8.5"D; Volume: 2000 cu. in.; Expandable main compartment up to 2" extra storage space via perimeter zipper
For the best overall tactical backpack, we recommend the NPUSA large expandable tactical pack. This pack comes molle-ready, with plenty of storage for long trips via the expandable function in the pack. There are also plain color options available for those individuals that want the tactical functionality, but a subtle look instead of the military or tactical feel that comes with the camouflage design.
Longer Trips: Camelbak Milspec
- Hydration capacity: 100 oz (3 L)
- Cargo Volume: 2929 cup in (48 L)
- Total Volume: 3112 cup in (51 L)
- Designed to carry goggles/nvg
If you need something for longer trips, then the Camelbak Milspec is a good choice for 5-day trips, and the Condor is a great tactical option for 3-day trips. Both options come with plenty of storage, molle options, and different color designs to suit your tastes.
Day Pack: Outlaw II Gear Slinger Tactical Backpack
- ULTIMATE TACTICAL SLINGPACK - The Outlaw Gear Slinger Pack is one of the best gear packs on the market and is perfect for an urban assault or just your everyday commute. It also makes a great military pack, rucksack, and hunting or hiking backpack. With MOLLE compatibility, you can add additional MOLLE pouches to make the sling pack even more versatile.
- HEAVY-DUTY SHOULDER PACK- Double-stitched seams combined with heavy-duty 600D PVC-backed polyester makes the Outlaw Gear Slinger weather resistant, strong, and lasting. A Y-strap compression strap allows you to tighten your pack and secure your gear from moving around. A molded EVA back panel adds rigidity to the sling pack and allows for improved airflow.
- VERSATILE DESIGN - The Outlaw Gear Slinger is designed to give you access to your pack without ever having to remove it from your body. Simply sling the bag under your arm so the bag is in front of you. All of the pockets and zippers are oriented horizontally so you can access them when the bag is in this position. Once you are finished finished with the sling pack, sling it back out of your way behind you.
- DESIGNED FOR COMFORT - A thick-padded shoulder strap adds comfort and support to this large shoulder pack while keeping the tactical backpack secure. Several pockets and access points make the Outlaw make easy to use and pack as a laptop commuter sling bag or for a weekend hiking trip.
- QUALITY = LIFETIME WARRANTY - Designed in Salt Lake city, UT, this Paratus 3-Day Operator's Tactical Backpack will last countless missions and will always be ready for any commute, assault, hiking, ruck, or backpacking trip. All 3V Gear packs come with a Limited Lifetime Warranty against manufacturer defects.
If you’re looking for the best daypack for camping, hiking, or going to school, you can’t beat the value on offer with the Outlaw II Gear Slinger Tactical Backpack. This model has plenty of space for everything you need on a day trip, and it’s available at an affordable price point.
Tactical Backpack Reviews
5.11 Rush72 Tactical Military Backpack
If you’re taking a 3-day tour anywhere in the world, then the 5.11 Rush72 Tactical Military Backpack is the perfect piece of kit to help you carry all your gear. This model comes with plenty of space and handy pockets.
This military-style backpack comes with design and construction in durable 1050D nylon for superior wear resistance. This three-day pack is a bit on the larger side. However, it has tie-down straps on the bag’s sides that allow you to pack it down to save on space. This space-saving option is great if you only need a day or twos gear with you in the field.
While the marketing on this pack labels it as a military spec, that doesn’t mean you have to use this pack for combat or adventure only. It’s a great pack for all types of travel, offering you plenty of versatility and storage options. At 55-liters, it’s on the larger side of 3-day packs in this review.
The admin compartment in the front pocket contains all your dividers and pockets for your home office. Store your phone, stationery, and notebooks. You get a laptop section in the rear of the bag, and two long side pockets. The front of the bag comes with two compartments, one for your smaller personal stuff like wallet and passport, while the larger pocket holds other essential items like food, notebooks, and maps.
You also get a rear compartment for a hydration bladder, and there are plenty of loops on the outside of the bag, allowing you to hang storage off the bag.
- Wide, adjustable straps make it easy to carry this pack
- Plenty of storage space
- Hip belt for distributing carry weight
- Good weight distribution across the shoulders
- A good backpack for students and others that need a daily driver
- Pricier Option
Camelbak BFM Mil-Spec Antidote Backpack
For those people that want a military-spec tactical backpack – with a civilian look, check out this model. The Camelbak Milspec Antidote backpack is one of our favorite models if you’re packing for a three-day trip. However, this bag might be too big to act as a daypack, especially if space is a concern.
You get an attractive sand-color as well as a black-colored model for civilian use. However, there are two military camouflage color themes if you want to give the bag a military tactical look. This bag measures out its storage capacity at 51-liters, with 48-liters in cargo, and 3-liters in hydration.
The bag features design and construction with premium 210D nylon for strength, durability, and water resistance. You get the built-in hydration pack with a color-coded water line over the left or shoulder. The deep side pockets and short top side pockets provide plenty of additional storage space, and the zips all feature pull-strings for easy opening.
- Military-spec for rugged reliability
- Plenty of capacity and multiple pockets
- Molle attachment with hydration sleeve
- Available in multiple colors
- Too big for a Day Pack
Condor 3-Day Assault PackThe Condor is another fantastic 3-day pack for the adventurer, camper, or traveler. This model features plenty of storage space in its 7-pockets. The shoulder straps and back pad of this tactical backpack feature contoured design to minimize pressure on the lumbar and thoracic spine, decreasing fatigue in the user.
The ergonomic shoulder straps feature plenty of padding for additional support on long treks. If you do find yourself on a long trail, hook up the waist straps to relieve some pressure from your upper body. This model comes in five color themes, with black and olive green for civilian colors, and three camouflage designs of a military spec.
The shoulder straps also feature D-rings, allowing you to clip karabiners for keys and other essentials close by. The waist belt is detachable, and you also get a sternum strap for additional support on long hikes.
Featuring nylon construction, you get a water-resistant pack that carries up to 5-liters of cargo. We were kind of disappointed to see that this pack doesn’t include a hydration sleeve.
- Stylish design with compact size
- Lightweight and easy to pack
- Plenty of pockets and compartments available
- Durable and robust side handles
- Buckles are low quality
Hazard 4 Plan-B Sling Pack
We like the unique design of the Hazard 4 Plan-B tactical backpack. This pack comes with a fully customizable storage option that’s ideal for urban environments. This model also comes with a mole system, providing modular storage for your devices and equipment, keeping everything on hand.
You get a movable, padded internal divider, with compression straps to keep everything secure inside the pack. This model also includes a 3-liter hydration bladder, making it the ideal choice for hikers.
Featuring design and construction with durable, weather-resistant DuPont 1000D Cordura, the Plan-B tactical backpack is the best choice for all weather conditions.
The exterior of this pack comes with plenty of loops to let you secure karabiners, and the side straps allow you to compress and pack the bag down when it’s not full. The padded shoulder strap has an ergonomic fit, removing pressure from your lower back.
This model comes in black, sand, and olive colors, with a military-style camouflage pattern available as well.
- Comfortable with good balance across the shoulders
- Large main compartment
- Good choice for traveling internationally
- Featuring a hip strap for even weight distribution
- Pockets on the small size
UPUSA Expandable Tactical ReadyPackThe NPUSA tactical backpack wins our award for the best premium model in this review. If you’re looking for the king of 3-day tactical packs, then it’s hard to beat the value on offer with this model.
This bag features design and construction with waterproofed polyester and features a mole strap system for additional storage for all your gear. Balance the load across your shoulders using the side-loading compression straps for user-friendly comfort.
This military-spec tactical backpack comes with two front pockets featuring premium zippers. You also get four side pockets and D-rings on the shoulder straps for additional carry-storage of items like car keys, clip on your key ring with a karabiner and move on.
You also get a hydration sleeve with this model, allowing you to quench your thirst on the walk. This model comes in an attractive design, with the USA flag on the lower front pocket. You get the choice of three civilian colors or five camouflage options.
The exterior of the top pocket features storage loops, allowing you to nag other objects like karabiners from the loops.
Overall, this model is comfortable to wear and offers you stable performance in the field. We would like to see a hip/waistband for additional support, but that’s all we have to say about this bag.
- Sturdy construction
- Numerous pockets and compartments
- The main compartment features a laptop sleeve
- This pack is waterproof
- Molle strap system
- Padded straps for enhanced comfort during extended wear
- Zippers could be stronger
Outlaw II Tactical Gear Slinger Sling Pack
So far, we’ve looked at plenty of 3-day and 5-day tactical packs. Those packs make for excellent bags if you’re going on a multi-day adventure with friends or family. However, what if you only need a daypack? Students and commenters don’t require a large bag, and it only gets in the way on your commute.
You need a compact and lightweight bag that stores your essentials while offering you plenty of utility and user comfort.The Outlaw II is the ideal daypack for any situation. Whether you’re going into the Great Outdoors or using it in an urban environment, this model has everything you need in a lightweight, affordable, compact tactical daypack.
This pack features double-stitched polyester seams for good strength and water resistance. The padded shoulder straps are comfortable, spreading the load across your upper back. This model comes with a storage mole and a can, providing you with everything you need to keep your gear organized and ready on demand.
The Y-strap secures the backpack, restricting unruly movement when running or moving quickly through crowds. You also get the option of four civilian colors, giving this pack an undercover tactical look.
- Loads of pockets and compartments
- Molle system included
- A good choice for hikers and campers looking for a day pack
- Comfortable straps and even weight distribution
- No safety hook in the carry compartment
Other Best Selling Options
- Military Tactical backpack size approx.:13"*20"*11" / 33*50.5*28CM (W*H*D),Capacity: 40L; Military backpack is made of high density fabric--durable and water-resistant
- Molle tactical backpack has molle system, Molle webbing throughout for attaching additional tactical pouches or gear as 3 day assault pack backpack combat molle backpack.
- Assault pack backpack with double-stitched, Heavy duty zippers and utility-style cord pulls, Side and front load compression system, Ventilated mesh padded back area & shoulder strap,breathable and comfortable.
- Military backpack has hydration compatible that works great for a hydration bladder (backpack didn't include hydration bladder) as hydration backpack or outdoor camping hiking backpack.
- Tactical assault pack backpack can be used as 3 day assault pack, range bag, hunting backpack, survival backpack, army backpack, trekking backpack or day pack for daily use
- Water repellent backpack great for daily commute, travel, and hiking; modular design with large main compartment, front zippered pocket, and more
- Carries comfortably on your shoulders with yoke-style adjustable, padded straps and adjustable sternum slider; contoured foam back with multiple air channels
- Tactical features include MOLLE webbing for attaching a variety of optional accessories; tubing port for accessing hydration bladder pocket (reservoir sold separately)
- Hook-and-loop are on front of pack for attaching a flag patch; stretchy side pouch fits most water bottles
- Measures 13 x 18 x 3.5 inches (WxHxD) with 24.2-liter capacity; backed by lifetime manufacturer’s warranty
- Dimension: 18.5 x 12.3 x 7.9 inch /L x W x H. 2 main large compartments with multifunctional pockets for different stuff: sleeping bag, pillow, clothes, climbing rope, notebook, water, cell phone, key, flashlight, knife and other sundries and other 2 separeted pockets on the front of the backpack can store other smaller stuff.
- 1 hidden zipper anti-theft pocket with magic sticker on the back for your precious stuff. Molle webbing throughout whole bag can attach additional pouch or outdoor gear. And 2 mesh bags on each side of the tactical backpack can carry water goblet or umbralla when you're outside.
- Ideal as large tactical backpack for 3 day survival backpack, rucksack, everyday carring bag, emergency backpack, bug out bag backpack, range bag, hiking backpack, walking and climbing backpack, camping backpack, rucking backpack, rucksack or travel backpack for outdoor, sports, hiking, fishing, camping, training.
- With removable USA flag patch in front. Made of durable high-density water resistant 1000D polyester, superior zippers and reinforcement edge & bottom with side load compression system, perfectly used in wild environment.
- Breathable mesh back panel and adjustable shoulder strap (adjusted from 17.5-33.65 inch) is scientifically designed to ventilate, keep your back dry. Meanwhile 1 horizontal strap surrounding your waist to firm our large tactical backpack on your back. 1 year warranty on every backpack.
Tactical Backpack Buyer’s Guide
Planning your escape from society for a weekend away camping or hiking on public land is a thrilling experience. The thought of all the trails you can walk and the fun you can have with your friends or family is exciting.
Packing for your trip requires some extensive thought on your part. The list of gear you need to bring with you is likely longer than you thought. Right now, you’re having a hard time leaving things out as you whittle down your essential equipment list.
Stuffing all your gear into a backpack can be a frustrating experience. Most bags don’t have sufficient organization and storage for all of your equipment. Instead, you’ll choose a larger pack than you need, just so you can take all your stuff.
The chances are that you’re going to regret that decision later. Carrying a large backpack on a trail is uncomfortable, and it can severely reduce your energy levels, ruining your experience on the trip. You need a tactical backpack for a comfortable, organized, and effective solution for carrying all your gear.
In this section, we’ll go over everything you need to consider when purchasing a new tactical backpack. Make sure you read through our FAQs to get more insight into the tactical bag that’s right for you.
Subtle or Serious?
When selecting your tactical backpack, you must decide if you want to give it that typical “Tactical Look” of camouflage, making you look like a military person on a mission. Some people enjoy that look, and they like the camo effect on their equipment.
However, you’ll find that the world’s leading tactical experts all agree that the best choice is to go with a pack that has tactical functionality but doesn’t look like a tactical pack.
In a crisis where you’re using the pack as your bug-out-bag, you want people who see you thinking you don’t have any tactical knowledge or anything of value on you.
A camouflage pack makes you stand out like a sore thumb, and people will come after you for your supplies, or they might perceive you as a threat to their survival.
Therefore, chose wisely, depending on your needs and requirements. However, bear the rule of “subtle or Serious” in mind when selecting your colors and design.
Why Do You Need a Tactical Backpack?
So, why would anyone need a tactical backpack? After all, it’s not like we’re Navy SEALs running around on a tactical operation. Well, a tactical backpack offers the average civilian plenty of utility for everyday use.
Tactical packs have plenty of pockets; they feature lightweight materials, innovative design for user comfort, and ergonomic support. Tactical backpacks have a design that allows them to move with your body, making them ideal for hikers, extreme sports athletes, and even students that walk to school.
Rugged, Robust, Durable, and Reliable in All Weather Conditions
Tactical backpacks often feature design and construction with premium weatherproof materials, such as Gore-Tex. Others typically have a nylon or polyester material, but a decent pack will have a thick fabric for rugged durability.
It’s important to note that not all tactical backpacks are waterproof. If you’re looking for a weatherproof pack, make sure you check that it has this functionality before finalizing your purchase. Most tactical packs are lightweight and contour your spine for a comfortable fit during use.
Multiple Storage Compartments for Convenience
Open your average backpack, and you’ll find a few pockets. However, a tactical backpack has dozens of pockets available for stowing your gear. If you need to keep something on hand and remember where it is, your tactical backpack keeps your equipment, and you organized on your trip.
Keep your essentials safe, and never worry about losing anything again. The multitude of pockets keeps your gear on hand, giving you easy access to it whenever you need it, without rummaging around in your pack looking for that camera lens or flashlight.
One the exterior of the pack, you’ll find plenty of loop straps. You can tie-off other equipment to these straps, such as your swimming trunks, allowing them to dry as you walk. Attach karabiners to the bands and use them to carry other gear like water bottles or climbing ropes.
Suits Extended Use in the Field
Tactical backpacks come in a variety of sizes to suit your needs. If you’re going on a three or five-day hike, then your equipment needs will be vastly different from going on a day hike. Therefore, you need a pack that can accommodate all your gear for the additional days you spend on the trail.
When looking for your extended-use tactical pack, choose a model that has padded shoulder straps and a hip strap to help you distribute the weight away from your shoulders towards your hips. The hip strap reduces your fatigue while allowing you to carry more weight.
Check that your tactical backpack features a padded back pad. Look for models that include a mesh backing to keep your back and clothes dry when walking in hot weather. A molle water bag is a useful accessory that keeps you hydrated while walking.
What are the Top Features of the Best Tactical Backpack?
When choosing a tactical backpack, you need to keep in mind a couple of key features before you make your purchase. While the physical aspects of the bag are important, the functionality is what sets a tactical pack apart from standard camping and hiking backpacks.
Here is a brief list of the crucial factors to look for in your tactical backpack.
Sizing Tactical Backpacks
When choosing your pack, the most crucial part is selecting the right size to meet your needs. A day pack is around 30-liters, while three or five-day bags have capacities of 55-liters or more.
Choosing the right size bag to match your trip length is vital. A bag that’s too small won’t hold all your gear, and a larger bag has wasted space that slows you down.
Pack Design and Material Quality
Most tactical backpacks feature design and manufacture with high-density nylon for durability and weatherproofing.
If water-resistance is crucial to you, make sure you check the water-resistance rating before settling on your purchase. Some bags are suitable for wading through streams, while others might leak and wet your gear.
Cordura nylon is a popular high-quality choice for military-spec tactical bags, and this material is waterproof. Some manufacturers make canvas packs, but these are typically not waterproof. However, a canvas bag is light and rugged. It’s a good choice for dry environments where you don’t have the risk of getting your gear wet.
Ensure that your pack has a contoured design to fit your back. The best tactical backpacks feature backplates with lumbar support and hip straps to take the weight off your upper back. Look for designs that limit movement when walking.
When your pack starts moving around on your hike, it causes rashes and discomfort, resulting in reduced operator fatigue.
The zipper is an essential part of your tactical backpack that many people overlook. If you have a low-quality zipper, it might break off after a year or two of use.
Broken zippers aren’t the end of the world, but they are an inconvenience that goes against the reason why you bought the pack in the first place. Look for bags that have YKK zippers, or zips that look thick and sturdy.
Most tactical backpacks will come with carrying handles on the top and one side of the pack. This setup allows for easy handling of the bag in tight situations, such as on a plane when you’re trying to stow your pack overhead.
Diversity of Pockets
The second most common reason why people opt for a tactical pack over a standard backpack – is the selection of pockets on offer with a tactical pack. You get much more variety in your storage options with a tactical pack.
Check for front pockets with multiple compartments, look for loops on the exterior of the bag, carry handles, and straps. All these features add up in the versatility and utility of the backpack.
Inside the bag, you should also have plenty of storage options. However, many manufacturers make pockets that are too small for your gear. In this review, we selected models with deep, functional pockets that offer the user practical storage options for their equipment.
Adjustable Shoulder Straps and Fitting Buckles
Wearing the pack is another critical consideration. It’s no good having the best tactical pack with plenty of storage and utility – but it feels uncomfortable during use. All the models in this review come with adjustable straps that let you custom-fit your bag, depending on the weight of the load you’re carrying.
Avoid models with tight shoulder straps. The discomfort around your shoulders and upper back increases fatigue, reducing the time you can spend on the trail each day. Some models have chest straps that extend the support around the chest area. Other models feature hips straps that make it easier to carry heavier loads for 5-day trips.
Most tactical backpacks will come with adjustable stowing straps on the sides and front of the bag. These straps help you tie down the bag into a compact size when you have less gear inside. It’s a great way to save space when packing the car or traveling on airplanes.
One of the most important features of a tactical backpack that separates it from a traditional pack is its design and mobility.
A tactical pack moves with your body, allowing you to complete high-performance movements without feeling off-balance or like you’re carrying a load. The best tactical packs feel like an extension of your back. Imagine that you’re a turtle hauling around your shell.
Tactical packs need to move with you – not against you. Therefore, tactical packs are a good choice for trail runners, cyclists, hunters, paintballers, or any other athlete that needs to carry a load during movement.
When you’re on the trail, it’s annoying to have to reach for your water bottle every 5-minutes on a hot day. Fortunately, hydration sleeves offer you a solution to this irritating problem.
Some tactical packs have dedicated compartments where you can store a flat water-bladder. You can fill this bladder with up to 2-liters of water or energy drink of your choice and sip it while you take your trek.
These hydration sleeves connect to a tube that runs from the pack through the shoulder strap. At the end of the line, there’s a hands-free fitting that allows you to take a drink of water while you’re on the run.
Plan Your Budget
Tactical backpacks are available at various price points. The big-name brands will end up costing you more, but the quality of the pack is usually much better than those packs with a lower price tag.
Premium brands feature premium materials and stitching, and that costs money at the manufacturing level. The company passes these costs onto the consumer, so you end up paying more for a premium brand backpack that an unknown.
Before you start going through the models on offer, set yourself a budget and stick to it. It’s easy to get swept away in all the cool features of tactical backpacks. As a result, you might end up spending more than you can afford if you don’t plan your budget first.
Tactical Backpack FAQ
Read through this list of frequently asked questions for more clarity on selecting the right tactical backpack for you.
Why would I need to buy a tactical backpack?
There are numerous reasons why you might want to buy a tactical backpack. These packs come with plenty of storage, and they have design and construction to provide hours of user-friendly wear, without initiating fatigue in the back or shoulders.
Tactical packs are a favorite choice for hikers, campers, trail runners, and anyone that needs to carry their gear on a trip. Tactical packs keep your belongings in easy reach, with plenty of storage to keep everything organized and on hand.
How to ensure the tactical backpack I’m interested in buying is comfortable to wear?
Before you purchase your tactical backpack, read through the user reviews. Search online and look for reviews on the pack you’re interested in buying.
Fortunately, we spent hours going through the leading packs available to bring you the best choices for this review. All the packs in this review are comfortable and suit prolonged use without any operator fatigue.
When purchasing your pack, look for models that have padded shoulder straps, webbing and breathable fabrics on the back pad, and loads of loops and hooks for additional attachments.
Is a tactical backpack more robust and durable than other backpacks?
No, in most cases, tactical backpacks have the same stitching and design as high-end mountaineering or camping backpacks. You get reinforced stitching in your pack, along with quality materials that are weather-resistant and waterproof.
Tactical backpacks have design and construction to make it easy for you to move while wearing the pack. The design allows for quick and rapid movement, without limiting the range of motion in your arms or legs.
What are the top features to look for in tactical backpacks?
When looking for a new tactical backpack, the most crucial feature is to match your needs. If you only take day trips out to public land or national parks, then buying a 3-day or 5-day pack is pointless. Match your pack to your needs and choose one that offers you everything you need for your next trip.