Best Tactical Backpacks 2016

A tactical backpack is an extremely versatile (and useful) piece of equipment. You don’t have to be in the military to buy a pack like this, as every hiker will benefit from purchasing this kind of product. A good tactical backpack is highly functional, durable, and can carry a variety of gear; all the way from camera equipment, clothes and even cooking utensils (as well as just school textbooks).

hikersThere are a great variety of excellent tactical packs available on the market today, which makes it hard to decide which one you’ll be purchasing. Some of them are created to fit the military specifications (mil-specs) and can be used by professionals, while others are designed with hikers in mind. As a result, many packs have a large number of specialized pockets and buckles. This versatility is the reason that makes choosing a pack quite a difficult task! All of them seem good, so it’s hard to decide which one to buy.

To help you make your choice, we researched the market thoroughly and examined quite a few backpacks to get a feel of the product. We also studied dozens of reviews to find out what the users think about different models. This allowed us to compile a list of the top 5 tactical backpacks you can find on the market today. However, before we move on to talking about them, we will explain the factors you need to consider when shopping for this kind of product – as well as list the reasons for investing in the best tactical backpack.

Choosing The Best Tactical Backpack

To be sure that the product you buy is actually worth the money you’re spending, and will serve you for many years to come, you will need to consider the following factors when choosing your pack:

1. Comfort

The best tactical backpack must be comfortable. Otherwise, your hike with this pack will turn into a torture session! Study the design carefully and check whether the pack is equipped with hip padding and special straps, ones that will allow you to adjust the backpack to fit the contours of your body perfectly should be preferred. Pay attention to the design of wide straps and air channels as well, as they also play an important part in determining the level of comfort (especially if you plan a long-distance trip during the summer).

2. Material

The material of the pack you end up picking will affect its durability and comfort levels. There is a wide range of materials to choose from, so you should consider the benefits of each in order to pick the one that meets your needs best. Nylon is the most popular material for this type of equipment; it’s strong, light, and dries fast (which is a very important feature for a tactical backpack).

  • Rip-stop nylon

This is a more advanced variety of nylon that includes all of its initial benefits, with an added bonus of being stronger. Packs made of this material are the preferred choice of those who value sturdiness above all else.

  • Polyester

This material is generally inferior to nylon, as it isn’t as strong and takes longer to dry. However, it has a very high UV resistance level. Therefore, your polyester pack will look brand-new much longer than a nylon one. If functionality isn’t your main concern, this might be a good choice to run with. The difference in strengths between these two materials isn’t that big, but it’s still something you can notice.

  • Canvas

Canvas bags have a unique retro feel to them, and there is no arguing the fact that they are extremely durable. However, the material itself is rather heavy, which means you should only be considering a pack of this variety if you’re willing to do some relatively heavy lifting (in comparison, at least).

  • Cordura nylon

This is the most popular material for day packs! It’s very lightweight and durable, but it’s not waterproof. Since most people want their packs to be military grade, waterproofing is a must.

3. Capacity

CapacityThis feature determines how much gear you can carry, so it’s important that you’re aware of what’s going into the pack itself beforehand. If you happen to be with the military, you will definitely need a large pack; you’re going to need enough space to pack for at least a weeks-worth of missions. If you happen to be a hiker, think of the length of your average hike when making this decision; it’ll make things much simpler.

If you want to buy the best tactical backpack to use every day, you should purchase a smaller model that won’t look out of place when you’re walking down the street with it. Don’t forget that the bigger the pack is, the heavier it will be. Take your health and physical fitness level into account, and choose a backpack you can carry comfortably (even when it’s full). Generally, a daypack capacity should be about 30 liters.

4. Compartments

The rule of thumb when it comes to the compartments on a tactical backpack is that the more, the better. Versatility is the most optimal feature to look for in regards to this type of equipment, so you should look for packs with multiple compartments in different sizes. These will allow you to fit any kind of gear you’d like in your pack, as well as allow you to keep it properly organized. Remember, these packs are created for survival; so it’s imperative to choose a pack with a design that allows easy access to the most important pieces of your gear. If you’re serious about your pack needs, you could consider buying a MOLLE pack. MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. These packs use the Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) in order to allow you to attach/detach various pouches, gear, and slings with ease.

5. Loading design

In regards to the loading design, you can choose between a front and top loading pack. Each type has its pros and cons, and in the majority of cases, the choice between them is a matter of personal preference. Top loaders are generally used for long trips, even though they have fewer compartments. Regardless of the compartments they lack, top loaders are lighter and offer more flexibility regarding capacity. Front loaders are the most common kind and make it easy to organize and reach your gear; think of your typical backpack in this sense. When it comes down to it, most day packs are front loaders.

6. Color

The color of your pack is a matter of personal taste. In some cases, you may be required to have all your gear designed in certain colors – otherwise, the choice is pretty much yours. The best tactical backpacks come in sheer black, brown, green, and a variety of camouflage colors; so you will have plenty of options to choose from.

7. Extra features

The best backpacks usually have a few nice extra features that enhance their comfort level, as well as efficiency. For example, this might be a foam back panel that increases durability and makes it easier to wear the pack for extended periods of time. A rain hood is another useful extra that will add a layer of protection to your gear! Take a look at the offered extras, and pick the backpack that meets your personal requirements best.

8. Price

The cost of the pack is important, but you shouldn’t allow it to be the determining factor. The quality of the piece is much more important, as you’ll be making an investment that should last for more than a few years. Investing in a reasonably expensive, but highly durable and comfortable pack, will save you the need to buy a new one for many years to come.

Reasons to Buy the Best Tactical Backpack

If you doubt whether you should invest in a top-quality tactical backpack, the answer is a definitive “Yes!”. Here is a list of the reasons why this purchase is a wise decision:

1. You actually save money.

The best tactical backpack will serve you well for many years, so you won’t have to buy a new one for quite some time.

2. It can help you survive.

Depending on where you plan to use the right pack, it may indeed become the reason that will help you survive through a hike gone wrong (or a military mission that doesn’t proceed as it was planned).

3. It’s highly convenient.

Convenience is the name of the game when talking about packs – that’s why most of them go above and beyond to ensure that you’re accounted for in that department.

4. It’s very comfortable.

These packs are designed to make the multi-day trip (with a backpack full of gear) you’re embarking upon less stressful. Your back will definitely be grateful for taking the time out of your day to research the proper packs. Trust me on that one!

Top Five Best Tactical Backpacks

Top 5: Mil-Tec Military Army Patrol MOLLE Assault Pack

Image of Mil-Tec Military Army Patrol Molle Assault Pack Tactical Combat RucksackThis piece of equipment is durable, versatile, and waterproof. Therefore, it offers everything you would expect from an excellent tactical pack. With a 36L capacity, it can fit a variety of gear that can keep you going for a couple of days. The PVC coated 600D polyester is light and extremely durable, which is a nice touch. The pack features MOLLE webbing, as well as loops and D-rings on the shoulder straps; this is so you can adjust the piece however you see fit. You can also take it upon yourself to transform it with the attachable gear and pouches available to you! It also has a built-in Velcro pocket for a hydration bladder.

The reviewers agree that this pack offers up a very good value for your money. Ross Spencer says: “I got top of the line quality. There is more room than you would think inside this pack!”. Another reviewer, Matt, compliments the fact that the pack fits very well; even on a man 6’2” tall with a very broad back.

The only complaint that we were able to find was related to the fact some people don’t like the lack of a chest strap. Although it’s somewhat of a nuisance, it can be added with ease on this particular model.

Top 4: Monkey Packs Military Army Style Backpack

Image of Monkey Paks Small Tactical Assault MilitaryThis pack is highly versatile and features a hydration bladder for further convenience. The Paracord zipper pulls are extremely easy to use, even if you wear gloves, and the zippers themselves are extremely durable. There are 5 separate compartments to help you organize your gear, and each features several additional pockets. The pack is waterproof (600D) and built to last under extreme duress. You can be sure that this piece of equipment will serve you for many years, even if you use it very often! Monkey Packs is a company with a good (if not great) reputation, so if you develop any problems, you should contact them. Their customer support service will help you right away.

The reviews of this pack are overwhelmingly positive. A reviewer, says: “I could not be happier! The zipper is big and very sturdy, so you can get a good grip on it. The other thing I like about this pack is that it’s very adjustable.” Ryan Seme summarizes it quite well in his review: “This pack is awesome!”. Some people claim that the hydration bladder that comes with the pack is rather flimsy, but these complaints are extremely rare.

Top 3: 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 Backpack

Image of 5.11 Tactical Rush 12Note that this particular model is also available in larger sizes (24, 36, 72), so if you like the description, but want a pack for multi-day trips, consider buying one of these options. 5.11 is a renowned manufacturer of the best tactical backpacks. Therefore, you can be sure in the quality and durability of the Rush. This particular pack is made of water-resistant 1050D nylon, which is top of the line material for durability purposes.

It features self-repairing YKK zippers, with large glove-friendly pull tabs that are easy to operate under any conditions. The backpack is designed for extreme resistance to wear and tear, and has a variety of pockets/compartments that make this piece of gear extremely convenient. It even has a fleece-lined eyewear pocket within easy reach! The web platform on the front and sides allows for the customization of your pack with pouches and other accessories to meet your needs. 16 individual compartments ensure that you will keep your gear well organized at all times, regardless of how hectic things can get.

The reviewers agree that the Rush is one of the best tactical backpacks available today. W. Garlighouse says: “Outstanding combo of MOLLE and Velcro panels, and the workmanship is outstanding. It’s a small bag, but nearly perfect for my requirements.” John Runion adds a few compliments of his own, stating: “This bag is well constructed. The stitching and MOLLE system is just awesome!”.

The only complaint we managed to find is that the pocket for the hydration bladder cannot be re-purposed, that is, if you don’t use the bladder. However, as this is a tactical pack, the presence of a hydration bladder is pretty much required.

Top 2: Eyourlife Tactical MOLLE Backpack

Image of Eyourlife Sport Outdoor Military Rucksacks Tactical MolleThis is a heavy-duty nylon pack that can handle any kind of abuse, and that’s why it’s so reliable. It is waterproof and generally weather-resistant, so you can be sure that it will protect your gear well (even under the most extreme conditions). The pack is highly convenient, as it comes equipped with a highly functional MOLLE webbing, and 2 front pockets that can fit the gear you need to keep within easy reach.

The pack features heavy-duty extra-large zippers that won’t fail you in any situation. The whole design is aimed towards durability and resistance when it comes to any form of abuse, which is the reason why this pack is one of the best tactical backpacks available on the market today. The company also offers you a chance to choose between 6 different colors, so you will definitely find the piece that meets your needs perfectly.

According to the vast majority of reviews, this pack is an excellent choice. David M. Lewis says: “It’s well built, and can store a lot more than it seems!”. Another reviewer, going as “shabadu420”, claims: “This pack is great for what it was originally developed for. It’s an assault style day trip, short mission go-bag. It’s meant to be small, compact, and carry essentials.”

Some people complain that the pack is too small, but the size is clearly stated in the product description; this is intentional, so you can get an idea of how much it can fit before you buy the piece.

Top 1: Red Rock Outdoor Gear Assault Pack

Image of Red Rock Outdoor GearThis piece of gear definitely deserves its title of the best tactical backpack. It’s light, versatile, and will meet all your needs. The pack is designed for comfort; It has a hydration compatible mesh padded back panel, which means that you will be comfortable wearing it (even under the merciless rays of the summer sun). The contoured shoulder straps further enhance comfort, as does the waist strap.

The Assault Pack from Red Rock features a variety of pockets and compartments, which are ideal for man different things. It has a clam shell style opening master compartment that can fit nearly anything, as well as a mesh sleeve pocket. Two front utility pockets with an organizer sleeve make the pack even more convenient to use; the pack itself is made of polyester, and it definitely is the best tactical day backpack you can find today.

The reviewers claim that this pack is “extremely well built”, as one of the customers would put it. Dominick Cocciemiglio III adds: “I would say this is a great pack. It’s small and compact, but is equipped with enough room for all the essentials!”. Another reviewer, who went by the name Sam Kelly, adds: “I have had this pack for 7 years or so, and I absolutely love this product! It’s pretty much perfect for traveling!”.

While studying the reviews, we managed to discover one “disadvantage” of this pack. Some people claim that MOLLE webbing isn’t as efficient as one would expect, but that isn’t the case. These complaints are rare, so it’s lead us to believe that it’s a matter of personal preference.


If you use backpacks at all in your life, buying a tactical pack is a great decision. It’s durable and very convenient, which will compliment your life in a few different ways. You’ll face a few challenges when shopping for it, because there are so many great pieces available on the market; but that’s what this guide is for!

The capacity and material of the pack are the most important factors to consider when shopping for this item. You should also take into account the number of compartments, loading type, and extra features that make the piece more adjustable. The price is the factor you should consider last, as quality is everything when it comes to tactical gear; trust me on that one.

The best pack currently available on the market is Outdoor Gear Assault Pack by Red Rock. It’s light, durable, versatile, and designed to be extremely comfortable! Not only that, but all of that comes in a relatively affordable package.

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