Many people underestimate the benefits of a good backpack. They think that any old backpack that they have lying around the house (or purchased from Walmart) will do the job. Depending on where they plan to go and what they plan to do, they may be right. But for any serious outdoor adventurer who wants to trek through harsh and unforgiving terrain, perhaps even live outdoors for several days, then you definitely need something better suited for this task.
Tactical backpacks – first used by soldiers to carry their gear and endure extreme conditions – will surely be enough for anything you have planned. Whether you are actually a soldier or just an outdoor enthusiast, this backpack has something for everyone. If comfort, durability, and ample storage space is what you are looking for, then look no further. It also doesn’t hurt that these backpacks look bad-ass as well. As far as heavy-duty backpacks go, you cannot go wrong with a tactical backpack.
What to Look For
Regardless of how you plan on using your military backpack, you have to get the best. Even among these heavy-duty backpacks, there are a wide range of qualities available. You want ones that are durable and comfortable. But aside from the functional reasons, you also want one that looks good and makes you happy. There are lots of things you need to keep in mind to make the best choice, so let’s dig in.
Here are some basic questions to get you started. What are you going to use it for? What is your price range? How much gear do you plan on bringing? Will you be getting attachments in the future?
The first factor you should be looking for is how comfortable the tactical assault pack is. It’s not enough that the bag carries a lot of gear. Ultimately, you are the one that will be carrying the bag, and if it doesn’t feel good, then you won’t be carrying it for long. Look out for high quality shoulder straps and thick padding wherever it presses against your body.
Next, consider how far you have to reach to grab something. Items you frequently use should be easily accessible, but even the tools you don’t use often should be relatively easy to access. If a tactical assault pack has too many zippers and compartments, it can be unnecessarily difficult to find something.
As a result, we have compiled a list of high-quality backpacks to help you quickly find the right one for your needs. For each backpack we have considered all of the aforementioned factors and at each price-point. Keep reading on for our review of the best tactical backpack you can currently buy.
Even if money is tight, I’m sure you’ve experienced the displeasure of cheaping out on something that you needed only for it to fall apart after one or two uses. Then you’d have to buy another, and you’d only end up spending more money in the long run. Buying a cheap tactical backpack will lead to the same outcome. Thus, you should always be willing to spend a little more for the quality that you desire. If there is a brand or product that is badly reviewed – for instance, if people frequently complain about how cheap the material is – then even if it fits your budget, you should waste no further time researching it and move on.
But, this is true for nearly all products, so what are the unique features that a tactical backpack offers that the layperson may not know about? Unfortunately, there isn’t a general answer that I can provide that is true for all situations because how you intend to use it affects which bag you should purchase. We will provide a basic overview of which bag is suited for what purposes below.
The Importance of Comfort
Whether you are going on a day hike or will be taking your backpack with you on a 3-day mission, you want it to be as comfortable as possible. Carrying the bag for extended periods of time can cause the straps to dig into your shoulders if it is not padded properly. It can also result in injuries, in addition to how uncomfortable it feels. Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that your rucksack will be relatively comfortable to use:
- You need a strap that runs over your chest and attaches to two shoulder straps. This will change the way the weight is distributed and make the bag a lot easier to carry by alleviating pressure from your shoulders. Do not underestimate having this small strap.
- A strap that wraps around your waist can further distribute the weight, placing the load onto your hips and legs instead of your back. Once again, this will protect your upper body from both discomfort and injury.
- Bigger isn’t always better, and buying the biggest bag when you don’t have that many things to carry is simply unnecessary. Before making a purchase, carefully check the dimensions and determine how much space you truly need.
Selecting the Right Material
Another important factor to consider is the material used to construct the pack. There are numerous bags made with different materials, and each type has their pros and cons. Most bags that you find will generally belong in one of two categories: canvas or nylon. With that said, within these two categories are additional factors to consider that can drastically alter how the bag should be used.
For instance, you could find a pack that is constructed from traditional nylon, or you might come across one made from rip-stop nylon or even Cordura nylon. There is a plethora of variations even within classifications of nylon which can confuse the average person. Therefore, our recommendation is to consult reviews in addition to any information the manufacturer provides to get the best idea of what the backpack has to offer.
An additional consideration is deciding between synthetic materials like nylon or something like canvas which is more natural. Generally, synthetic materials are on the lighter side because they offer a higher strength-to-weight ratio. Thus, less material is needed to carry all of your gear and you will carry less weight overall.
As for loading style, there are also two categories to keep in mind: top loading and front loading (similar to washing machines). Which one you should select depends on your packing style, what gear you intend on packing, and just plain old personal preference.
As a general rule of thumb, you can put more total things into a top loading backpack. On the other hand, front loading bags are usually easier to organize. The front loading style provides great access to the bag’s interior, making it easy for you to access your gear or to put things away. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about top loading bags, and sometimes you may get frustrated fumbling around trying to get the gear you want.
however, sometimes you simply need to bring plenty of gear out with you, and the sheer volume of goods that you can cram into a top loading pack may be enough to justify a purchase. People who may use this bag to its full potential are those who will use it to spend several days outside. In summary, if you just want lots of space, get a top loading pack. If you are going to be reaching in and out of the bag a lot and don’t have that much gear, go for the front loading style.
Nowadays, you can find tactical backpacks with a “hydration compartment” (or some similar sounding term) which basically means you can place a bladder that stores water onto your backpack. This can be either extremely important to you or absolutely useless. If you are in an environment where fresh water is hard to come by, then definitely consider this option. Otherwise, you probably don’t need it.
Our Recommendations on the Best Tactical Backpacks
5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Back Pack
Nearly everyone who has owned this backpack has said that they loved it. This is in spite of the fact that it is one of the pricier options in the market, user reviews are nearly unanimous about the 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack and for good reason.
First, this backpack sports three pockets inside made out of a mesh material to help you organize your contents, a hydration pocket, and there is even a fleece-lined pocket to accommodate your sunglasses. Furthermore, this bag is compatible with the MOLLE-SlickStick system. Many owners have noted that it is highly comfortable, capable of being used for work or play, and is durable enough for daily use. It seems pretty clear that if you are looking for a very safe, reliable, but slightly expensive option, then this is your best bet.
Smith and Wesson Lite Force Tactical Pack
For those who are strapped for cash, the Smith and Wesson Lite Force Tactical Pack is a bag that has received great reviews despite its lower price tag. First, it is MOLLE compatible. Next, it has a maximum capacity of 1000 cubic inches, and can be fitted with a hydration pouch.
Many owners have commented on how lightweight this bag is for everyday use. If you don’t have a lot of gear to carry, this small bag can be a great option if you are planning to take it out for a short trip. In terms of durability, it provides a lot of value for its price tag and is a viable option if you want something you can use on a daily basis that is lightweight and easy to carry around.
Monkey Paks Tactical Backpack with 2.5 L 3 MOLLE Bags
This bag is in the same price range as the 3V Gear Velox II, and it sports plenty of nifty features. First, as the name suggests, it comes with 3 MOLLE attachments whereas these attachments are not included in with a lot of other bags. Next, the hydration bladder lets you quench your thirst for when you are moving. In terms of material, it is made from 600D nylon and it has heavy-duty zippers which make it convenient to open and close its various compartments.
Previous and current owners say that it is definitely a good choice if you go on lots of day hikes, and can even be beneficial on brief overnight trips. Overall, this is a versatile bag at an affordable price, and is capable of performing all of its functions well. In terms of quality, it is well-built, easy-to-use, comfortable, and an option you should keep an eye out for.
3V Gear Velox II Large Tactical Backpack
Yet another MOLLE compatible product, this bag has tons of space; 1628 cubic inches, to be precise. It has numerous pockets, is hydration bladder ready, and its large zippers let you more easily open and close the bag. If the Tactical Rush 24 backpack was a little big out of your price range, this slightly less expensive rucksack may fit into your budget.
User reviews constantly praise the strong construction and material of this bag, nothing that it is sure to last a long time before needing a replacement. Not only that, but the 3V Gear Velox II can also be used for numerous purposes such as being used as a gym bag, day hike bag, work bag, or anything else you’d want a sturdy backpack for. Many have mentioned that it can hold a surprising amount of items which is always a plus.
G.P.S. Tactical Range Backpack
Out of all the items on this list the G.P.S. Tactical Range Backpack is the most expensive, but it is also capable of withstanding the toughest conditions and rigorous use. Being MOLLE equipped, there is room for attachments if you wish to add them. Next, the honey comb frame and padded waist strap make it comfortable to carry. As a range backpack, people have praised its ability to hold all of their range gear and how easy it is to access each section.
The price tag can be a turn-off, but many owners say the price is justified for the features that you get. This bag can do way more than just hold your guns; you can also bring snacks and drinks, ear protection, your range finder, eyewear, and much more. Don’t worry, this bag can handle it.
After reading all of the information provided in this review, you should have a basic understanding of what kind of tactical backpack you should keep an eye out for. In our review, we recommended small bags, large bags, budget bags, and expensive bags. There should be something for everyone to use as a starting point.
By taking the time to consider all of these types of bags, you should now be confident enough to conduct deeper research or perhaps you will already be ready to purchase something. A high-quality tactical backpack ought to last for several years of constant use. It should also be comfortable, carry all of your gear, and should provide you convenient access to you gear. With all of this information, you will be able to make a well-informed, confident decision.