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Best Tactical Backpacks – Expert Review (2021)

Updated on November 10, 2020

Tactical backpacks are no longer reserved for the military and police force. They are great for travel, hiking, as well as being a good option for students.

Many of the packs are hydration bladder compatible and include multiple compartments to help you organize your gear. These packs are designed to be durable and keep your gear protected, as well as sit on your upper body comfortably. 

The packs range from simple daypacks to 3-day packs which, if packed correctly can store resources with up to a week, making them perfect for long distance hiking or camping.

Below is a comprehensive guide on the top 5 tactical backpacks to help you make the best choice for your specific outdoor activity.

You may also like the following reviews: best EDC, most customizable, daypack, budget and more.

Best Overall Tactical Backpack

1. 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack

5/5 Overall Rating

The 5.11Tactical RUSH72 Military Backpack is a versatile, rugged and full-featured tactical backpack.

The backpack has enough storage space to store supplies for up to 72 hours. The backpack has a large stuff-it pocket as well as excellent internal organisational pockets.

The strategic pockets will keep you organised no matter what the occasion.

The backpack as side mounted lanyards and three-sided MOLLE webbing which allows for customized use.

The full zip front and rear compartments contain a padded laptop sleeve and hydration storage system.

The backpack is only 4lbs and is water resistant and durable.

Main Features
  • 1050D Water resistant Nylon
  • 55L total capacity
  • Duel-zippered front and main compartments
  • Eyewear pocket
  • Hydration compartment
  • CCW Ready
  • MOLLE/5.11 Slickstick web platform interior
What we like
  • Multiple large compartments
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Water resistant
  • Sturdy
What we dislike
  • Zipper quality
  • Can be unwieldy when fully loaded
Key Takeway

You cannot go wrong with the 5.11Tactical RUSH72 Military Backpack. If you have the cash to spend and need a rugged tactical backpack, this backpack is a no-brainer. Although the pack has a few short-comings, the pros certainly outweigh the cons. It is no surprise that this is such a highly-rated tactical backpack.

2. Condor 3-day Assault Pack

4.5/5 Overall Rating

This is a pack that was built for extreme situations. The Condor 3-day Assault Pack is a heavy-duty backpack that is both tough and versatile. It can carry almost everything and anything.

The pack includes seven different compartments, including two main storage areas with internal gear compression and sorting compartments, as well as two side packs and external zipper pouches.

The pack allows for great organisation and with 50 liters of storage can store supplies for up to one week if packed correctly.

It also can store two 3 liter hydration bladders and has integrated tubing parts. 

The pack has horizontal and vertical webbing along the shoulder straps which includes D-ring attachments. The pack also includes a foam cushion back panel for extra support as well as waist and sternum straps..

Main Features
  • Seven storage compartments
  • 50L of storage 
  • Can hold 2-3L hydration packs
  • Integrated tubing parts
  • Reinforced shoulder straps, including D-ring attachments
  • Foam cushion back panel
  • Waist and sternum straps
  • Compression straps on each side
  • Comes in 8 different colors
  • 2.5 pounds /1.1kg
What we like
  • Many compartments
  • Adjustable, quality shoulder straps
  • Can store hydration bladders
  • Versatile

What we dislike
  • Mesh pouches
Key Takeaway

This Pack has everything you could want in a tactical backpack, and at an affordable price. If you don’t want to splurge on the 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack, this option will give you everything you need without the price tag.

3. 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack

4.5/5 Overall Rating

The 5.11 Tactical RUSH24 Backpack is arguably the best tactical daypack on the market at the moment. 

It certainly is the most popular option. It is a full-sized daypack that will fit everything you need for a 24-hour trip; including water, food and accessories.

This is a smaller version of the 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack.

It has 37 liters of storage. The pack is durable and waterproof as well as MOLLE compatible.

The pack has a main compartment that is flexible with dividers as well as a front pocket and hydration pocket.

Main Features
  • Roomy main storage area
  • Hydration pocket
  • Adjustable sternum strap
  • Two external compression straps
  • 1050D Nylon
  • YKK zippers
  • Water resistant
  • Hook and loop name tag and flag patches
  • Duel zipping pockets on the sides
  • MOLLE compatible
What we like
  • The pack is durable and study
  • Quality material and zippers
  • Versatile
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Hydration pocket
What we dislike
  • There are no additional compression straps
Key Takeaway

5.11 certainly know what they are doing when it comes to making tactical backpacks, whether you want to go for the Rush 72 or the Rush 24, you are bound to find the right pack for you. The only downside is that the price is quite steep.

4. Red Rock Large Assault Pack

3.5/5 Overall Rating

The Red Rock Large Assault Pack is just a larger version of the company’s popular assault pack.

The pack has four expanding compartments for all your gear without becoming bulky or overbearing. 

The pack has 35L of storage space and the three main compartments have zippers and organizers. The back panel can hold a 2.5L hydration pack.

This is a rugged and spacious 3-day backpack. It is MOLLE compatible and is easily adjustable to fit your individual needs.

It has contoured mesh padded shoulder straps as well as waist and sternum straps for even weight distribution.

It is made out of 600 denier PVC lined polyester, so it may not be as durable as other tactical backpacks on the market. But it is at a very attractive price point..

Main Features
  • Four expanding compartments
  • 35L storage space
  • MOLLE compatible
  • 600 denier PVC lined polyester 
  • Contoured mesh padded shoulder straps
  • Waist and sternum straps
  • Quick release compression straps on three sides
  • Mesh ventilated padded back panel with touch-fastener-closure
  • 7 colors
  • D-ring connection points
What we like
  • Adjustable
  • Good value for money
  • Sturdy
  • Well-built
  • Spacious
What we dislike
  • Lacks built-in organisation
  • Made from polyester which is less durable than Nylon
Key Takeaway

This is a sturdy, spacious pack with many winning features. Red Rock Large Assault Pack's downfall is that it isn’t made with the strongest material. But at such an attractive price point, it is certainly worth it.

5. Hannibal Tactical 36l MOLLE Assault Pack

4/5 Overall Rating

The Hannibal tactical 36L MOLLE Assault Pack is an affordable and quality assault pack that is very popular and highly rated amongst consumers. 

The pack has 36L of storage space and is made of 600x600 density fabric. 

The pack has two main compartments, two small compartments in the front with a back pocket for a 3L hydration bladder. Each compartment has a variety of pockets to help with organisation. 

The large compartment has an elastic strap which is perfect for keeping your laptop in place. 

Each compartment has two zipper pulls and one of the compartments can fully open all the way down.

The pack has padded shoulder straps and an expandable waist belt. The pack is also MOLLE compatible for additional customization.

Main Features
  • 36L storage
  • MOLLE compatible (Nylon)
  • Y-style compression strap to secure your load
  • 600D Oxford Fabric
  • Can store a 3L hydration bladder
  • Thick padded back area
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Expandable waist belt
  • Water resistant
What we like
  • Affordable
  • Customizable
  • Great organisation
What we dislike
  • Lower Denier count means it may not be as durable as other packs
Key Takeaway

Hannibal has substantial storage, top-notch comfort and extreme customizability at a very attractive price. However, it is not made of ultra-durable Nylon and has a lower Denier count. But at such an affordable price, it is to be expected.

Tacktical Packs - Buyer's Guide (Key Features)

It is important that you are able to single out the characteristics that separate a good tactical backpack from a great one. You also need to be aware of your specific needs and which characteristics fit your needs.

Price

Tactical packs can range from $30-$300. When choosing how much you are willing to spend you need to consider what you will be using the pack for.

In general, more expensive packs will use better materials and have more added features.

If you are just looking for a simple daypack to use once in a while, there is no need for the pack you purchase to break the bank.

Direct Sun Access

Remember that the solar panels need direct sun exposure in order to generate the required power needed. If you are using the pack in conditions that don’t allow this, the pack will not work as desired.

MOLLE Compatibility

MOLLE webbing gives you the opportunity to add accessories to your tactical backpack, so you are able to carry more gear. You can add straps, compartments and other customised features. MOLLE webbing allows you to mould the pack to fit your own individual needs and customize your pack for each activity. They allow you to organise your pack and find your easily.

Compression

Compression straps help to compact your gear and pack once the pack has been completely packed. Compressing your gear into a denser package centers the weight of your pack on your back and body more easily, which will reduce fatigue and allow you to cover more ground more quickly and easily.

Size & Capacity

The sizes of tactical backpacks range from a daypack to 3-day large packs. Typically, packs will have storage space from 35-40L, but they can get much larger, with some packs having enough storage space to stay out for a week or longer without having to resupply.

If you are looking for a pack to suit a long-distance trip, lookout for packs with storage from 55-65L.

Check out our comprehensive backpack size guide for more information on what size backpack you should get. 

Durability

The durability of a pack is dependent on the materials and construction. For a durable pack, you want to find one with a denier count between 500-1200. Cordura Nylon is a well-regulated fabric and X-Pac is also a good option. You’ll want to avoid packs made from polyester or Kodra.

The stitching and zippers also play a role, you cannot go wrong with the classic YKK zippers. Nylon thread is stronger than polyester thread. You also want a pack that has straight stitching instead of zigzag stitching.

Campfort

A tactical backpack needs to be comfortable, especially because you are likely to be carrying a lot of gear. You will want to look out for a quality suspension system, padding on the shoulder straps and hip strap as well as the breathability of the back panel.

Best-Tactical-Backpack-for-hiking

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