What You Need to Know about the Best Tactical Backpacks

Soldier carrying a tactical backpack

Tactical backpacks may have been originally designed for military purposes but they are becoming a lot more requested by the general public. This is because these type of backpacks are durable, hardwearing, and perfect for extreme outdoor activities.

Of course, that means that picking out the right tactical backpack requires a little bit more work on your part. To make it easier for you to decide which one you need, we have provided some helpful guidelines. From material and size to special features, we have you covered. Here is everything you need to know.

Buying a Tactical Backpack? Here’s the Guide You Need

It is important to know what to look for when you are choosing a tactical backpack. This is because there are a lot of technical components that you have to consider. By understanding which features to look out for and which ones are purely for aesthetic purposes, you will be better equipped to choose a good tactical backpack. The following are things that you will need to pay attention for this purpose:

Tactical Backpack Strength and Durability

Undoubtedly, one of the most important aspects of any tactical backpack is its ability to withstand grueling conditions and an unforgiving environment. There are two main factors that will affect just how strong and tough, your tactical backpack will be – the material and the weave.

Backpack Material

There is quite a lot to get into when it comes to the topic of backpack material. This is because the fabric alone isn’t necessarily a determination of the overall strength. For instance, nylon is typically chosen over polyester because it is tougher. This is true when the fabrics of the same deniers are compared with one.

This, of course, brings the subject to denier. It is important to understand that denier refers to the weight of the material rather than its strength. As you can imagine, the thicker the material is, the stronger it usually is. So when examining nylon and polyester of the same denier, nylon wins out. However, if the nylon that is being used has a lower denier than the pack made of polyester with a higher denier, the polyester backpack is tougher. So, it is safe to say that it is all relative.

Despite this, nylon is what is most commonly used with tactical backpacks. Even here, though, there are two types of nylon to choose from: ripstop fabric and Cordura fabric.

Ripstop Fabric

Ripstop refers to the design in which nylon fibers are woven into lighter materials. This type of fabric has a diamond or box pattern which can prevent rips from spreading, which is the property that lends its name to the material. This fabric also has an advantage of being quite light despite its durability.

Cordura Fabric

Cordura fabric is not necessarily as good at preventing tears as ripstop material. What it is excellent at, however, is abrasion resistance. This means that you can cut down on the amount of wear that your pack experiences, particularly when used in rocky terrain. There is another fabric known as Kodra which is virtually indistinguishable from Cordura.

Material Weave

There is only one thing that you need to remember when it comes to choosing the right weave: diagonal weave. Fortunately, most tactical backpacks use a diagonal weave in their fabric. Not only does this weave add strength, it also helps to minimize the wearing away of the pack.

Now, the weave that you should stay away from is called the Oxford weave. Quite a few people are tricked into thinking that this weave is superior as it is what is used in vehicle seatbelts. Contrary to popular belief, however, this weave will simply not hold up.

The Right Capacity

You will be able to find tactical backpacks ranging from capacities from around 1520 cubic inches up to 4500 cubic inches. Size and capacity are tricky issues when referring to tactical backpacks. This is because choosing the biggest pack possible isn’t always the best decision. Here, it is best to find a backpack that will only accommodate what you want to carry with you.

Therefore, to decide which backpack is the right size, you will first need to determine what it is that you will be taking with you on your journey. Once you have calculated the overall capacity that you need, then you will need to find a backpack that can accommodate it.

You should avoid choosing an oversized pack, imagining that it is going to help you out on multiple occasions. First, the larger the pack, the heavier it is bound to be. Furthermore, for tactical backpacks to be easier to carry, everything needs to be tightly secured inside. So, if you have more space than items, they are bound to move around inside, making it more difficult to walk. This is why you should match the capacity and proportions only to what you intend on taking with you.

Pockets, Compartments, and Storage

In the same vein as space, you should also think about pockets, compartments, and other storage features of a backpack. As we’ve mentioned above, the only way that a tactical backpack is useful is if everything has its own place and position. Therefore, the greater the number of pockets or compartments, the better.

When it comes to pockets and sleeves, you should think about the interior of the pack as well as the exterior. If you are going to need quick access to tools or other items, then look for a pack that has a lot of external pockets. If you want to attach bigger gear or tools, then look for lashings and loops that will allow you to attach this equipment to your backpack.

If you want additional external storage look for a MOLLE system. MOLLE refers to the acronym used by the U.S. Military to denote the term Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. MOLLE features will look like horizontal straps on the outside of the backpack. These have sewn down at intervals to create small loops where you can store your gear.

The Strap System

One of the primary things to look at when examining a tactical backpack is the shoulder straps. This is because this feature, to a large extent, will determine just how comfortable your backpack will be. Ideally, you should look for thick straps but those that are compatible with the width of your shoulders. You should also look for padding on the bottom of the shoulder straps so that the material will not cut into you.

The next thing that you should look at is the hip belt. The safest way to carry greater weights is to carry the majority of the weight around your hips. This is what a hip belt allows you to do. Look for belts that sit right above your hip bones and that have padding around this area.

The sternum or the chest straps provide stability to the bag, particularly for larger packs that need to be held securely against your back. Consider sternum straps that sit several inches below your breastbone to avoid uncomfortable chafing while walking.

All of the straps on your bag should be well attached to the backpack, preferably by durable double stitching. This will ensure that it won’t tear even if you pack a greater load. Also, the straps should be adjustable. You will then be able to find a perfect fit for you.

Waterproof Features

A tactical backpack needs to be able to withstand the elements which means that it needs to keep your belongings dry even in a downpour. By itself, nylon may be water resistant to a certain degree but definitely isn’t waterproof. Waterproofing properties are typically achieved by covering the backpack material with other types of waterproof materials or coatings.

The fabric, however, is not the only thing responsible for keeping a backpack waterproof. Usually, the zippers are the weakest point on any backpack, especially when it comes to letting water in. This is why any zippers that your backpack does have should be covered in waterproof material. The internal portions of the zipper should also be sealed and protected with waterproof features.

If the rain is strong enough or your backpack will need to be submerged for a period of time, it is quite likely that water will get in. As such, the backpack should be equipped with drain holes. These are places through which the water can drain away, making it easier for the pack to be dried.

The Appearance

When most people think of tactical backpacks, an image of camouflage material immediately springs to mind. Nonetheless, not all tactical packs have camouflage patterns – there are many that come in black, green, and other colors. It is up to you, whether or not you actually need a camouflage pack. If you are hunting or maybe even hiking and want to stay out of sight, then the camouflage pattern may come in handy. If this is not a concern, you probably will not need one.

Additional Features

There are a few additional features that you may want to consider, depending on what you expect to get out of your tactical backpack:

  • Hydration System: if you are going to be traveling for long distances in hot weather, you may not want to keep stopping to drink water. In this case, you should look for backpacks with places to put a hydration reservoir and a means to secure a drinking tube on the backpack. This way, you will be able to drink water while on the move.
  • Tear Away Medical Pouches: is there a chance that you may need a first aid kit in a hurry? If so, then you should look for a backpack with a tear away medical pouch. This way, you will have easy access to your first aid kit if you find yourself in a tough spot.
  • Concealed Compartments: if you are traveling with a tactical backpack and you want to secure your important items, then look for concealed compartments. You will be the only one who knows where these pockets are located and will be able to keep money and travel documents there.

This is all of the information that you need to have to be able to choose and purchase a tactical backpack that is best for you and your excursions.

Top 10 Best Tactical Backpacks

1 – Tenzing TX 14

Tenzing TX 14 Day Pack, Realtree Xtra
  • Real tree Xtra
  • Total of 3 compartments, 2 side pockets and 3   organization pockets
  • Extremely Lite pack at 1lb 14 oz
  • 1600 total cubic inches and H2O Compatible
  • Ultra-soft and quiet Tricot fabric

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Tenzing TX 14:

Reviewers like these things about the Tenzing TX 14

  • Most of the buyers considered the bag as extremely comfortable.
  • Other buyers said that the sling design fits comfortably on either of the shoulders.
  • Reviewers mentioned that access to all the compartments are quite easy.
  • Few reviewers said that the design of the bag has got a nice appeal.
  • Buyers said that the bag is quite lightweight.
  • Some buyers mentioned that the side pockets of the bag are of great help and can be used to hold water bottle also.
  • Users said that the ergonomic padded shoulder strap of the bag are quite comfortable.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user mentioned that the top handle of the bag is fragile.
  • Some users felt that the bag is overpriced.

2 – Direct Action Dragon Egg MK2

Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack
  • Lightweight and versatile 2-day backpack designed for advanced Military & Law Enforcement operators
  • Patented Combat Vent System provides increased comfort for their users during prolonged use
  • Unique laser cut MOLLE/PALS system is lowprofile, lightweight, snag-free and non-water absorbing
  • Durable, water resistant coated Codura 500D fabric with multiple color/camo options for versatility
  • Kryptek, PenCott, Mulitcam are NIR(Near-infrared) treated; Helps prevent detection with night vision. ACCESSORIES NOT INCLUDED

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Direct Action Dragon Egg MK2:

Reviewers like these things about the Direct Action Dragon Egg MK2

  • A lot of users have mentioned that the Direct Action Dragon Egg tactical backpack is durable due to its Cordura material.
  • Others found that it is equipped with redesigned side pockets that are elastic for expansion.
  • Several users noticed that it is lightweight and versatile.
  • Users found it comfortable to use.
  • According to some users, it is designed for military and law enforcement operators.
  • They also mentioned that its combat vent system provides comfort, especially during prolonged use.
  • A reviewer said that the bag’s laser cut system has a low profile and non-water absorbing.
  • Testers indicated that it comes in various colors.
  • They also noted that its shoulders straps are well-padded.
  • Other testers said that it has a roomy compartment for storing things.
  • They also said that it has pockets necessary for organization of things.
  • Reviewers indicated that its side loops are handy.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the pockets are not designed well.
  • Another user found that the padding of its shoulder straps is stiff.

3 – Badlands Diablo

Badlands Diablo Day Pack
  • Ultra light 1900 cubic inch hypervent suspension day pack
  • Hypervent suspension keeps pack off your back
  • 2 compartments and 6 pockets
  • KXO 32 camo fabric is extremely durable and quiet
  • T-6 aluminum internal frame

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Badlands Diablo:

Reviewers like these things about the Badlands Diablo

  • A reviewer who’ve used it for several rifle and muzzle loader trips said it’s very comfortable,with great capacity for a full day in the field with room for extra layers and rain gear.
  • One user exclaimed that he’s finally found a good hunting pack with its incredible suspension, great pockets and compression straps.
  • Hunters love how the bag kept their hunting stuff dry under the rain.
  • Many hunters choose this bag for its solid construction and perfect size to carry all their hunting gears and other stuff.
  • Others love the standoff mesh and frame of the pack which prevent the back from getting drenched with sweat.
  • Light, comfortable,spacious,incredible suspension,great pockets,hydration capacity are cited as the main reasons for choosing this bag.
  • One user particularly noted how the frame offers a lot of support.
  • Others find this a great in-between pack.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some reviewers thought the pockets were inaccessible and clumsy when most needed.
  • One user said it’s an excellent pack but the camo pattern was different than advertised.

4 – Badlands 2200

Badlands 2200 Camouflage Hunting Backpack - Meat Hauler - Rifle, Bow, and Pistol Compatible and Hydration Compatible
  • FULLY LOADED - The 2200 covers all the bases with a built-in meat shelf, internal scope and tripod pockets, and a zippered rear entry panel for quick access to your gear; DWR-treated fabric offers scent suppression and resists moisture, dirt, and blood
  • COMFORTABLE CARRY - ThermoMold Suspension utilizes molded foam so ergonomically advanced that it virtually matches every contour of the human form; T-6 Aircraft Aluminum internal frame and load lifter straps transfer weight to your hips to reduce fatigue
  • STEALTHY - A neutral color palette allows the Approach pattern to adapt to your surroundings AND the current lighting; Blends seamlessly into a wide array of environments; Teams up with whisper-quiet KXO-32 fabric to make you undetectable to your prey
  • VERSATILE - Features an integrated rifle boot and built-in hipbelt pistol holders; Compression straps to give you lots of options for gear attachment; Compatible with 2-liter hydration systems and the Badlands Bow Boot
  • TECHNICAL SPECS - Weighs 5 lb 15 oz (2.7 kg) and measures 19 x 17 x 9 inches; Main compartment has a volume of 1980 cubic inches (32.4 L); Total volume is 2250 cubic inches (36.9 L); 8 pockets

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Badlands 2200:

Reviewers like these things about the Badlands 2200

  • Many users thought the pack has plenty of room and has an internal frame that is great for packing out meat for hunters.
  • Some reviewers liked how it straps up to be small and sleek.
  • Many users thought this pack is comfortable.
  • One user dubbed it as a badass pack.
  • Some users noted how this pack feels great with a heavy load.
  • Others liked its water resistance feature.
  • Many users find it great when hauling out meat.
  • Others find it easy to secure and balance load.
  • Some reviewers love its many pockets, quiet zippers and lots huge storage capacity for long hikes.
  • One user said it’s the most comfortable, durable, and usable pack, he ever tried and owned.
  • Some users noted how it sits on the hips nicely.
  • Some love the versatility of the pack from hiking to camping to hunting.
  • Many find the hip straps very comfortable as it distributes the weight evenly without any pinching or pressure points.
  • Most users thought that the quality of materials and construction was impressive.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user said he wished there was a larger pocket for additional storage.
  • Some reviewers noted the pack does not have both boots for rifle and bow carry.

5 – Mystery Ranch Urban Assault

Mystery Ranch Unisex EX Urban Assault Coyote One Size
  • Take on the urban sprawl with the Mystery Ranch EX Urban Assault daypack.
  • Versatile pack inspired by military rucksacks.
  • Spacious main compartment with 3-zip entry.
  • Internal pocket for added organization.
  • 15" padded laptop sleeve. Fixed harnessing for a stable and secure fit. Padded shoulder sleeve with mesh lining. Made with 500D CORDURA fabric. Imported. Measurements:Bottom Width: 13 in Depth: 5 in Height: 20 in Strap Length: 34 in Strap Drop: 17 in Handle Length: 8 in Handle Drop: 2 in Weight: 1 lb 12 oz

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Mystery Ranch Urban Assault:

Reviewers like these things about the Mystery Ranch Urban Assault

  • A lot of users have mentioned that the pockets of the Mystery Ranch Urban Assult backpack make organizing smaller items easier.
  • Others thought that it is durable due to its 500D Cordura fabric.
  • Several users felt that things were secured well due to its efficient zippers.
  • Users found it comfortable to use.
  • According to some users, its compartments keep the materials organized and safely in place.
  • A reviewer mentioned that it has excellent load stability.
  • Testers recommend the bag for work, trail, or travel purposes.
  • Other testers noted that it is easy to access the contents of the pack through its 3-zip design.
  • Laptop users found it easy to store their gadgets due to a compartment dedicated for laptops.
  • Gadget savvies likewise praised the sleeve devoted to their tablets.
  • Many wrote that its shoulder straps could be adjusted easily.
  • They also said that its design is simple yet functional.
  • Users also found its internal frame essential in carrying a heavy load well.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that its shoulder straps are very narrow.
  • Another user found that the seams on some of the pockets started to come undone.

6 – Badlands Kali

Badlands Kali Day Pack (Realtree AP Xtra, 22 x 14 x 8-Inch)
  • Daypack designed for women 2500 cubic Inch
  • Hypervent suspension keeps pack off your back
  • Unique shaped waist belt and shoulder straps with shorter torso length
  • 6 pockets 4 compartments
  • Hydration system capable

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Badlands Kali:

Reviewers like these things about the Badlands Kali

  • One user said she’d recommend this pack to any girl who wants a pack that fits right.
  • Many users are happy with the ventilation on the back as it helps prevent sweating.
  • A parent loved how its fits very well for smaller framed people.
  • A lot of users thought the bag was pretty comfortable and has tons of storage space.
  • A reviewer praise its great lumbar support, keeping the weight away from the body.
  • A woman who used this bag to contain all her medical supplies and personal belongings said that the pack is very comfortable and she didn’t feel like she was carrying anything.
  • One user was amazed with how the pack rides off her back, thus preventing sweating and distributes weight making her feel like she was carrying less.
  • Many female users agreed that this bag was made to fit a woman and keep her comfortable.
  • One user exclaimed that she loved this pack so much and that she can’t wait to use it for the hunting season.
  • Many husbands thought it’s a great pack,well-built and perfect fit for a woman’s body frame.
  • Great compartments,perfect fit,crunch straps,lumbar support and ventilation are cited as the most favorite features of this bag.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complains about the internal frame that’s not padded and rubs on her lower back.
  • Some users thought the pack was too long and big for them.

7 – Alps OutdoorZ Pursuit

ALPS OutdoorZ Pursuit Hunting Pack
  • Unique organizational front shelf pocket helps keep all your gear at your fingertips
  • Keep your essentials close with a drop-down rifle/bow holder pocket, quiver holders and hydration pocket and port
  • Padded waist belt with two pockets and reinforced webbing to accommodate clip-style holsters
  • Blaze orange rain cover included to stay safe and keep your gear dry during inclement weather conditions
  • Weight: 4 lbs. 1 oz., Size: 2700 cu. in.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Alps OutdoorZ Pursuit:

Reviewers like these things about the Alps OutdoorZ Pursuit

  • Some users thought the outer compartment on the back has nice storage organization.
  • One reviewer who’ve used the bag for a while said the zippers have never given him any issues, and have always worked flawlessly.
  • One hunter was so happy with how it holds his bow securely with the provided straps and secures his rifle perfectly.
  • A lot of users thought it’s very roomy, organized and versatile and comfortable.
  • Some hunters liked how it securely holds compound bow or even a rifle.
  • Others liked the nice hip belt and sternum strap with whistle buckle.
  • Some love the presence of a built in ‘blaze orange’ rain fly in a hidden bottom pouch.
  • One user said everything about this bag is high quality.
  • Many users love the presence of hidden pockets and storage compartments.
  • Reviewers recommend this pack to anyone looking for a back pack that’s priced reasonably yet offers the same if not better quality and features.
  • Many users find the mesh bottle holder useful.
  • Some users who have had the bag for a while was so amazed with how it has held up to a lot of use without a single durability issue.
  • Others are happy to find this bag compatible for a bladder, so you don’t need to pack around water bottles.
  • Many hikers love how the straps and supports around the hips and chest, provide great and comfortable support while hiking.
  • Many users thought it’s a very comfortable pack that easily accommodates what they need for a day trip plus emergency gear items.
  • Others particularly noted how the buckles and zippers functions well and seem built to last.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Other users thought the clips are not properly sewn.
  • One user thought it’s made of poor material.

8 – Eberlestock Gunslinger 2

Eberlestock Gunslinger II Pack
  • The Gunslinger ll is the latest evolution of the original Eberlestock Gunslinger pack, and both are in wide use by elite military, police, and civilians all over the world
  • A great platform to make the ultimate "go bag"; compact, yet capable of internally storing a sniper rifle or an M-16/M-4/AR type weapon, water, ammo, and survival gear
  • Pack volume: 2,100 c.i.; scabbard volume: 600 c.i.; total volume: 2,700 c.i.
  • Weight: 8 lbs 3 oz; Dimensions main bag: 22"h x 10"w x 8"d; Scabbard Dimensions: 34"L x 10"W x 3"D, with a 26" circumference opening
  • Comes standard with Eberlestock Intex-II frame system

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Eberlestock Gunslinger 2:

Reviewers like these things about the Eberlestock Gunslinger 2

  • Most reviewers said that many features and adjustments make it flexible for either day trips or an overnighter.
  • Many other users said that it has side accessibility as well as the top.
  • Some users said that the pack is custom adjustable.
  • They also said that there is molle all over the pack for strapping or adding on other pouches.
  • Users said that there is plenty of pockets.
  • Other reviewers said that the zippers are thick and wide.
  • One great feature mentioned by many users is that the pack expands very nicely and the compression straps work great to keep everything tight.
  • Buyers said that it is the best hunting bag they have ever bought.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users complained that it’s little expensive.
  • Some other users said that they wish the pack had a little better accessibility with a full opening back.

9 – Eberlestock Halftrack

Eberlestock Halftrack Pack
  • Upper back wall radio rack with 3 antenna portals
  • Padlock webbing tie-points all over the pack
  • Shooter's harness with 3D mesh is vertically adjustable for varying torso lengths, and is both thinner for shooting, and more comfortable for heavier loads
  • Numerous small pockets and organizers -- so you can always go right to what you're looking for
  • Gossamer polycarbonate frame

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Eberlestock Halftrack:

Reviewers like these things about the Eberlestock Halftrack

  • Most reviewers mentioned that it has front loader with two levels of varying-sized tuck-pockets lining its interior.
  • Testers noted that the tunnel pockets on either side have a D-ring at the top.
  • Users pointed out that it features a longer waistbelt with a 2×6 PALS Matrix on each side.
  • Many of those who have used the bag indicated that it fits all the things you may need.
  • They also reported that a plastic mesh flap on the rear wall serves as a radio rack.
  • Other users noted that it has a fold-down shelf that can be used to divide the main compartment into upper and lower chambers.
  • A lot of reviewers said that the bag is very comfortable and rugged.
  • According to other users, it has the ability to carry two hydration bladders.
  • Other users noted that it has a good padding on the back.
  • They also pointed out that it has all the compartments you may need.
  • Testers mentioned that the quality of the bag is outstanding.
  • Several reviewers indicated that bag has a perfect size for overnight or 2-3 hikes.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer had issues with the size of the bag.
  • Another reviewer said that the fabric is thin and has an odd label.

10 – Exos Bravo

Exos Bravo Tactical Assault Backpack Rucksack. Great as a Bug Out Bag, Daypack, or Go Bag; for Hiking, or Camping. Molle Equipped & Hydration Pack Ready(Coyote Tan)
  • Capacity: 34L, 2073 CU in. When measured in accordance with Standard ASTM F2153
  • Inner Main Compartment: 18" x 10" x 5", Inner Secondary Compartment: 16" x 9" x 3"
  • Outer Top Compartment: 5" x 8" x 3", Outer Bottom Compartment: 10" x 8" x 3"
  • Material: 600D Polyester, Double-Stitched Grab Handle, Ventilated Mesh Padding for Strap & Back Area
  • Heavy Duty Zippers and Utility-Style Cord Pulls, Side and Front Load Compression System

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Exos Bravo:

Reviewers like these things about the Exos Bravo

  • Most of the users liked that the bag has several pockets with compartments.
  • The bag has a nice chest and waist strap suggested by the buyers.
  • The hydration pocket of the bag is praised by most of the users.
  • The zippers of the bag work smoothly as mentioned by the reviewers.
  • Majority of the users liked the design and durability of the bag.
  • The double stitching of seam in the bag has got positive reviews by most buyers.
  • Many users found this bag value for money.
  • Few buyers appreciated the ventilated mesh padding at the back of the bag.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users said the shoulder straps are not of good quality.
  • The bag was too small as mentioned by some users.

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Last update on 2018-12-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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