If you need the best tactical backpack for survival in the great outdoors, combat, or an all-purpose bag for everyday carry, you will find it in this guide.
Best Tactical Backpack Guide
We love tactical backpacks because they are designed with one thing in mind: utility. A tactical backpack will make sure you can pack your things as efficiently as possible, with no wasted space, and carry them around comfortably on your person.
What is a tactical backpack? Tactical backpacks originated from the armed forces and law enforcement, but have become ubiquitous among active men everywhere. They are designed for professional use in harsh conditions, especially in combat. A tactical backpack is a backpack which allows for the organized storage of survival gear, weather and water resistance, sometimes blast resistance, and quick access to weaponry. Whether you are backpacking in another country, or just going to and from work, you need a bag which can keep up with your lifestyle.
Need something less tactical for everyday use on your college campus? Read our guide to the best college backpacks for guys.
What to Look For in a Tactical Backpack
Most tactical backpacks we highlighted come with a few useful features, such as room for a water reservoir and even a port through which you can thread your headphone wires. These backpacks are perfect for toting a handheld radio and all of your other tools. The compartments are cleverly designed to be meticulously organized so you can find your most important gear quickly, no need to rummage through everything.
Durability is essential in a tactical backpack, and these are designed to handle the toughest conditions you can throw at them. They will keep all your equipment safe from the elements and from rugged handing. These totes will also stay comfortable on your back, even when weighed to the max with your gear.
We hand-picked this best tactical backpack roundup for all-around look, build-quality, comfort, and utility.
What are Those Loops on my Tactical Backpack?
Those loops are called MOLLE webbing. MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment.
The 5.11 Rush 24 water-repelling day pack is ideal for first-responder and daily carry. It features a roomy main pocket, dual zippered side pockets, a pocket for your hydration bladder, and multiple internal organizing compartments. It even totes an innovative fleece-lined pocket for your shades or eyeglasses. In addition to the usual yoke shoulder straps, it even has an adjustable height sternum strap, so you can travel all day with your gear comfortably. Business travelers and road warriors alike love this tactical backpack, and for good reason. If you want a medium-sized backpack for every day use, this is the right choice. -BUY IT
The Orca Tactical Military Rucksack is coated in a unique water and scratch-resistant skin, double-stitched, and reinforced to be tougher than a killer whale, making this perhaps the best military backpack around. When looking for the best military rucksack, you should not pass over this beast. The YYK zippers with nylon pulls make this two-day bug out bag a rugged companion as you go about your mission. It is covered in MOLLE to fit nearly any accessory, surrounded by compression straps, and features smart elastics to tie-in any potentially dangling straps. This tactical bag comes in three colors: black, khaki, and green. The prominent, yet tasteful Orca logo makes this bag legitimately pleasing to the eye, but most importantly it symbolizes Orca Tactical, one of the most reliable outfitters in the world. Do not go on your next hike, hunt, or camping trip without this superb, heavy-duty bug out bag. -BUY IT
The Sitka Gearslinger is a nearly invincible, sling-style bag with an innovative twist… literally. The ergonomic single-strap design lets you shift the backpack around your torso to your chest for easy access. This allows you to grab whatever you need without taking the bag off. This unique design has been field-tested by professionals across the armed forces, who love the convenience of the sling design. The backpack has a hydration compartment as well as top and side handles, for easy lifting even with your heaviest load. If you need frequent access to your gear while you are on the go, this small tactical backpack will work for you and allow you to stay focused on the mission. -BUY IT
The Condor Compact Assault pack is the best assault pack out there. It boasts quick-release shoulder straps for expedited access to your most important gear. Unlike other compact rucksacks, this beauty features a waist-belt in addition to the standard sternum-strap, for the best back-protection possible. The pockets are impressively deep, with superb organization inside for documents, pens, and tools. Foam padding on the backside help ventilate the space between the pack and your torso, to keep you cool and dry in tough conditions. If you are going through a tight urban space, this assault pack will be the optimal fit. -BUY IT
The GoRuck GR1 leverages reinforced 1000D Cordura to create the optimal minimalist travel bag. You cannot discuss this rucksack without mention of its bombproof laptop compartment, which can protect your digital assets from nearly any blast. The spacious, clamshell design makes it easy to pack and retrieve all your gear, especially thanks to its silent YYK zippers and its mesh internal organizer pockets. This tough travel companion features thick, padded straps and a rigid back plate for surprising comfort on the go. Hand-made in the USA and backed by a lifetime guarantee, this tactical backpack exceeds any challenge you care to throw at it (or in it). -BUY IT
The 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 is a battle-tested, veteran-approved backpack which boasts an enormous carrying capacity thanks to its efficient design and ultra-resilient nylon construction. The bag is steeped in a special water-repelling formula which coats both the exterior and internal compartments to protect from the elements and leaks. Like most tactical bags in its class, it also has a protected hydration pouch to let you venture farther than ever before. It is a truly enormous presence, both in terms of its size and importance in the world of tactical gear. For the price, it is the best tactical bug out bag on the market, hands down. -BUY IT
The Condor 3 Day Assault Pack has generated an immense following of professionals from first-responders to special-operations personnel, and for good reason. Its heavy-duty build-quality allows it to be stuffed to the max with your most important gear, and its fans are typically able to live out of it for as long as 10 days straight. It is designed to maximize storage space but still help you keep a low profile in the field, thanks to its external compression straps. Despite the size, you will not lose anything inside it, thanks to its sophisticated internal organization system, which features compartments for everything from radios to pens and documents. Its waist and sternum belts ensure that you will navigate safely and effectively. Find out why this is probably the best 3 day assault pack you will ever lay eyes on. -BUY IT
The Maxpedition Falcon II is made with MIL-SPEC Cordura fabric, an advanced composite nylon weave that is essentially the excalibur of tactical fabric: it will almost never tear. The pack has a rigid back to prevent sagging and therefore offers exquisite lumbar protection. Reinforced at tension-bearing zones (like the handle and straps), this military-grade pack can handle immense stress while it keeps all your gear safe and organized. A durable, yet soft foam padding protects your equipment, and your back, at all times. It pairs perfectly with the Maxpedition Micro Pocket Organizer which can attach to the MOLLE webbing, to better organize your small, quick-access gear. Finally, it is packed to the brim with MOLLE webbing to make for a perfectly modular and adaptable battle-buddy. -BUY IT
The Direct Action Ghost Tactical Backpack is among the most versatile backpacks in the world. Integrated with innovative, elastic side pockets, this bag can grow or shrink depending on your needs. Of all the three-day backpacks, this is one of the lightest there is. But do not let it’s incredible light-weight fool you, this beast can withstand water, snow, snags, and blasts with ease thanks to its water-resistant coating and nylon polymer construction. To top it off, this bad boy is treated with a special compound to make it nearly invisible to infrared, night vision goggles, for when you truly need to make like a ghost. -BUY IT
The Seibertron Falcon Water Repellent Backpack is not only one of the coolest looking tactical backpacks, it is also among the most affordable. You do not need to sacrifice quality when you look for solid value, and this backpack is the proof. Whether you are a weekend-backpacker, an avid hiker, or a college student, you will love the versatility and strength of the Falcon. It can withstand most any weather conditions, thanks to its 900D waterproof, tension-resistant, tactical fiber. Even at its heaviest, it provides impressive comfort due to its convenient waist and sternal belts, which will hold everything in place. This well-rounded gear pack comes in black or khaki. -BUY IT
The Red Rock Outdoor Gear Assault Pack is built from a flexible, yet tough polyvinyl chloride skin, and boasts MOLLE webbing across nearly the entire surface of the bag. The pack includes four expanding compartments for 28 liters of storage, sophisticated internal organization compartments, and four quick-release compression straps to bind everything together. Whether you are facing the wilderness, or need to maximize the utility of your carry-on, this tactical backpack can do it all without slowing you down, due to its ergonomic waist belt. Find out why this assault pack is considered top-notch among law enforcement officers and backpackers alike. -BUY IT
The Monkey Paks Tactical Military Backpack is designed to prioritize organization above all else, and in that sense, it does not monkey around. This large tactical backpack can fit your gear in just the right way that nothing will get lost in the shuffle. When you go on a multi-day camping trip, or take a weekend to go climbing, you cannot afford to lose track of the little things like carabiners or even bug-spray. With the extensive, expanded interior and its vast array of pockets, this military backpack is as good as a filing cabinet. A durable double-stitching technique means that this pack can withstand the toughest treatment. It even comes with a BPA-free leak-proof hydration bladder, which fits right in, so you can bring your water with you and never feel like there’s a monkey on your back. -BUY IT
The SOG Ninja Tactical Day Pack stands alone as the best EDC tactical backpack of 2018. It is ideal for anyone who loves the appearance and practicality of a tactical backpack, who does not necessarily have the day-job to match. Let’s face it, you might get some funny looks if you walk into Chemistry 101 if you look like you just stepped out of Rambo. That is where the Ninja Tactical Day Pack comes in. It may look more like an ordinary backpack, but it is certainly more than that. It boasts the same MOLLE webbing we know and love, an elastic side pouch for water bottles, and even a hydration bladder compartment. It sits comfortably on the shoulders thanks to its yoke-style, padded straps, and can handle the everyday bounces of the daily commute, bike-ride, or even a multi-day trek in the wilderness. Do not underestimate the Ninja. -BUY IT
The Hazard 4 Plan-B Sling Pack is comprised of the famously strong 1000D Cordura Nylon, which makes this one of the most durable sling-style tactical packs you will ever find. Sling packs are the next big thing in tactical wear, and with good reason. Need quick access to your flashlight, pistol, or ammunition? Forget about dropping your backpack to the ground and fussing around on your knees. With the innovative shoulder sling, simply twist the bag to the front of your body and grab anything you need in seconds, all while standing up or even running. Not only is this gem hydration-bladder compatible, it actually features a large pocket specifically designed for easy searching while worn on the chest. This slim design has been approved by personnel from a pilot inside the cockpit to a journalist in the back of a moving HumVee. When faced with the havoc of war, travel, or urban tactical maneuvering, this is without a doubt the backpack you want to have on your side (or chest). -BUY IT
The ArmyCamo USA Tactical Backpack may be a new player on the scene, but it has exploded in popularity. This modern backpack is optimized for the new wave of everyday carry tactical backpacks in 2018. It can store up to 48L, an absolutely insane load for such a compact-appearing ruck. The main pocket is cleverly designed to expand to twice the size, from 5″ to 10″ as needed. To keep up with the times, it has two electronics pockets built into the shoulder straps, for quick access to the most important instruments and calls. It has an ergonomic removable waist-belt, as well as a top pocket perfect for storing headphones, earplugs, and chargers. We love the oversized zippers which make it just that much easier to get to your gear quickly. The hydration compartment accommodates a bladder of up to 3L, perfect for a long hike or overnight trek. -BUY IT
The 3v Outlaw II sling pack is an ideal small pack for everyday tactical use. The one-strap design is the pack’s most conspicuous feature, which makes it a quick-draw specialist. Simply rotate the pack from the back to the chest, and side access pockets allow you to quickly grab a pen, note pad, tablet, or concealed weapon without even removing the strap. MOLLE connections integrated throughout, a Y compression strap, and a stabilizer strap allow customization and expansion on this compact platform. Details like a theft deterrent zipper snap, elastic strap keepers, hydration-ready configuration, and lots of internal pockets for organization put this small workhorse over the top. Check out this small bag with a big attitude for EDC bliss. -BUY IT
The COVRT 18 looks ordinary, but that’s by design. This backpack is packed with built in features hiding in plain sight. Designed with undercover police and military in mind, the COVRT 18 boasts true tactical essentials such as a side-access concealed weapon pouch, a customizable hidden identification panel, and an R.A.C (Roll-down Assault Compartment) to house magazines and grenades. But the backpack is practical above all, loaded with features for the everyday warrior too- it’s hydration ready, holds a laptop and organizes clerical supplies, and even has a lens-friendly sunglasses pouch. A removable back plate and ventilated ballistic mesh padding keep you comfortable all day. With the durability and light weight of 500D nylon construction, no matter what battle you have to fight, the COVRT 18 has your back. -BUY IT
This WolfWarriorX Military Backpack is an excellent 72 hour jump kit and one of our most versatile selections. With smart side-buckles, this ruck can expand or compress, and clip in, based on how much gear you have. It is designed with an advanced back-pad shock-absorber with breathable shoulder padding. It has extreme mobility thanks to its padding and compressibility. Featuring MOLLE webbing for ultimate modularity, this bag makes a great started pack for anyone interested in building a custom bug out bag. The inner compartments feature multiple accessory pockets, a mesh water bottle pocket, and shoulder-strap pockets for your radio or phone. With a removable waist belt and sternum straps, this is super-ergonomic and ideal for camping, traveling, mountaineering, or EDC. Need a tactical gift for the hunter or trekker in your life? This is it. -BUY IT
The Gonex 70L internal frame pack is a trail pack with lots of features and no frills. Equally at home at the campsite, airport, or barracks, this military styled backpacking pack has practicality built in. The tried-and-true internal frame design gives maximum load carrying comfort, and the nearly 4300 cubic inches of cargo space is divided nicely into quick-access and larger compartments. The huge main compartment opens like a duffel bag for quick visual access to exactly what you need- an essential feature on a large pack. The built-in rain cover is a must on the trail, and MOLLE straps flanking the pack give tactical flexibility. Heavy duty 900D fabric won’t let you down and the adjustable suspension system allows a customized fit for almost any user. For a weekend away or your next backcountry deployment, this big bad bag gets the job done. -BUY IT
The Velox II tactical backpack is the real deal. This is what you reach for when you need a pack that can take whatever you throw at it OR in it. The Velox II expands to 1600 cubic inches of volume, big enough to serve on overnight trips, as a bug-out bag, or just room for the jacket left over from a chilly morning in the great outdoors. Strategically placed compression straps keep all that cargo secure and also keep the pack stable when carrying lighter loads. And if that 27L of space isn’t enough, or you need some quick-access accessories, the pack is loaded with MOLLE connection points for further expansion. The pack is made from 600D PVC-lined polyester for the perfect combination of structure, weather resistance and just plain toughness. For real world performance, reach for a real tactical pack. -BUY IT
If tactical hydration is what you’re looking for, turn to the most trusted name in hydration backpacks- CamelBak is the authority on hydration technology. The centerpiece of the Ambush pack is CamelBak’s MIL-spec Antidote reservoir. Featuring the largest fill port available and quick link connections, the Antidote offers ultimate adaptability and the greatest ease of use in high pressure situations. The Ambush compliments this platform with multiple exit ports for different delivery configurations and access to the fill port without removing the reservoir. The lightweight pack also has ample additional pouches perfect for EDC essentials. Tactical touches include silent zippers, MOLLE webbing points, and availability in three battle-ready color schemes. With a slick design that hugs the body for comfort all day, you’ll find the Ambush essential for your next patrol. -BUY IT
Need some more water storage? Find the best MOLLE water bottle pouch for your new tactical backpack?