LAST UPDATED: November 14, 2020
The Best Tactical Backpacks (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Be ready for anything with a tactical backpack on your back
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PUBLISHED ON November 14, 2020
You may think a backpack is just a backpack. The average backpack can handle carrying books and supplies, but it can’t stand up to much more. You need a special, more capable backpack if you’re hunting, hiking, traveling, heading out on a survival trip, or need military-grade gear. And if you need a backpack that can handle every one of your needs and survive in rough, rugged environments, a tactical backpack is the perfect pick.
These tough backpacks are designed to withstand heavy-duty use. They’re durable, sturdy, and able to endure all kinds of weather and conditions while outdoors. And a tactical backpack offers enough inside and out for your gear. You can check out some of the very best tactical backpacks in the guide below.
This rugged tactical backpack is considered a three-day assault bag. It has a 40-liter capacity and is constructed of high-density fabric with a polyester lining.
- Has a MOLLE system and double-stitched zippers
- Ventilated mesh-padded on back and shoulders
- Hydration compatible
- Compression straps are very long
- Waist belt comes loose
This canvas and polyester bag comes in seven color options. It has an adjustable yoke, padded straps, and sternum slider.
- Has a MOLLE system Hydration compatible
- Flag patch on front
- Side pouch for water bottle
- Zippers are not durable
- Some reviewers complain about quality control
This three-day tactical assault bag comes in five colors. It’s high density double-stitched 900D Oxford & nylon fabric and is water-resistant.
- Three rows of MOLLE
- Velcro areas
- Adjustable straps and ventilated padding
- Lack of structural support in the back
- Zippers are not durable
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Benefits of a Tactical Backpacks
- Carry more. Tactical backpacks are larger than standard backpacks. They also have better-designed compartments, enabling you to carry significantly more.
- Stay organized. You’ll find several pockets and compartments on tactical backpacks. There are various sizes and shapes to give you a lot of options when organizing your gear.
- Be more comfortable. Tactical backpacks have better designs to account for the human body. They have more straps for securing the back to your body. There is better and more padding to cushion the weight.
Types of Tactical Backpacks
These tactical backpacks take the typical commuter backpack and give it a serious upgrade. You’ll find them to be smaller than standard tactical backpacks because they’re meant for carrying a day’s worth of gear. They have more compartments and larger storage capacity than a typical commuter backpack. The materials used to construct commuter tactical backpacks are more durable than standard commuter backpacks.
These tactical backpacks are designed to be lightweight since you’ll be carrying them while hiking over rougher terrain or longer distances while backpacking. They have several compartments that are designed for holding camping gear. These backpacks are designed to be bigger than the commuter style of a tactical backpack. They typically come in natural colors, but you may find some that are more colorful.
These are the closest you’ll come to having a military tactical backpack without buying an actual military-issued bag. They come in colors like desert, sand, and camo. They’ll have similar compartments and MOLLE systems that you’ll find on military bags. These backpacks also tend to have the largest storage capacity, making them perfect for travel, long trips, or activities that require a lot of gear.
Founded by an Afghanistan combat veteran, Tacticon’s focus is creating reliable and high-quality tactical gear. Its product line is curated with custom made products that feature innovative features and designs. Check out the 24 Battle Pack Tactical Backpack that’s a perfect example of the company’s commitment to quality.
Reebow’s focus is to produce high-quality performance tactical gear. Its product line is meant for those who hunt, enjoy the outdoors, play airsoft paintball, or are in the military. Each product is extensively tested to ensure reliability in extreme conditions, such as the Military Tactical Assault Pack Backpack, which is lightweight and versatile.
Founded in 2019, G4Free focuses on building a product line designed to make outdoor activities more comfortable. Through extensive research and development, its product line continues to grow. The G4Free Outdoor Tactical Backpack is small yet has plenty of compartments for carrying a surprising amount of gear.
Tactical Backpack Pricing
- Under $40: These are considered budget tactical backpacks. They use quality material but tend to be smaller and have more general use compartment designs.
- $40 to $70: Tactical backpacks in this range are reliable and durable. You’ll find various combinations of features and compartment setups.
- $70 and up: These are the highest quality and largest of the tactical backpacks. They’ll have the most features, use the toughest material, and have more comfort qualities. They also tend to have the most MOLLE system locations.
Size and Compartments
Tactical backpacks come in a variety of sizes and compartment setups. You need to choose a backpack big enough to carry all of your gear. However, it shouldn’t be so big that you can’t comfortably carry it. There should also be a variety of compartment sizes to hold smaller items to help you stay organized.
The weight of your backpack will become uncomfortable with extended wear if your backpack doesn’t have padding. Look for padding on the back panel to protect the spine and padding on the shoulder and waist strap. The padding should also be breathable; otherwise, you’ll get hot and begin to sweat under these contact points.
Since tactical backpacks are designed to carry a lot of gear, they can become quite heavy. Because of this, they have additional straps that encircle your body. These straps need to fit around your body so that you can use them. Measure your shoulders, torso, chest, and waist, as these are the points on your body where the straps secure.
- Hydration Pack. Some tactical backpacks come with a hydration pack or are compatible with one to be added later. If you plan to take your backpack to remote locations, this can be a useful feature to help you stay hydrated. It should be a soft-sided bladder that’s removable for easier cleaning.
- Material. The stronger and more durable the fabric is, the tougher your backpack will be. Look for abrasion-resistant fabric. It should also have a waterproofing treatment to keep your belongings dry. Most backpacks use a nylon or polyester fabric with a high denier rating. The higher the rating, the more durable the fabric.
- MOLLE System. Any tactical backpack worth its salt will have a MOLLE system. This lets you customize your backpack with smaller specialized storage compartments and tool holsters. You’ll be able to expand your storage capacity significantly with this system. You’ll find most MOLLE systems on the upper front of the backpack, but higher-end backpacks will have them on the bottom and sides also.
Best Tactical Backpack Reviews & Recommendations 2021
This rugged, durable backpack is designed to be used as a three-day assault pack, range bag, and trekking backpack. It measures 13 x 20 x 11 inches and has a capacity of 40 liters. The bag’s exterior is made with high-density fabric that’s water-resistant, and the inside features a polyester lining. Along the outside of this tactical backpack is a MOLLE webbing system that lets you attach tactical pouches or gear. It also has double-stitched, heavy-duty zippers; utility-style cord pulls; a side and front load compression system; and ventilated mesh back and shoulder straps padded for comfort.
One drawback is that the compression straps are long, causing them to get caught on things, which can be annoying. You can address this by cutting them or looping them through the MOLLE system. You may also find that the waist belt can come loose over time.
Made of a polyester canvas blend that’s water repellent and durable, this backpack measures 13 x 18 x 3.5 inches and has a 24.2-liter capacity. It features a modular storage design with a large interior compartment, a front zippered pocket, and MOLLE webbing for attaching additional accessories. You can also use this bag with hydration systems. Thanks to the adjustable padded straps and sternum slider it’s also comfortable to wear, and it has a contoured foam padded back.
Unfortunately, the zippers aren’t particularly durable on this bag and can burst open. However, the bag comes with a lifetime warranty, so if your zippers burst, you can get a replacement. This also applies to any manufacturing defects that you discover in your bag.
This backpack includes an array of accessories and features that cover every one of your needs, from a hydration pouch to cord to hooks and D-rings. The backpack is made with high-density double-stitched 900D oxford and nylon fabric, which is tough and water-resistant. There are three rows of MOLLE Velcro on the front of the pack, multiple MOLLE attachment straps and wedding on the sides and bottom of the pack, and MOLLE webbing on the shoulder straps, so you can easily attach additional tactical pouches or gear. Measuring 11.81 x 19.68 x 11.81 inches, this tactical backpack also includes 10 accessories like a MOLLE 500 ml water bottle pouch, patches, a paracord lanyard, Grimlock locking, and a stainless steel saber card.
Unfortunately, this bag lacks firm structural support through the back panel. However, if you adjust the bag correctly, this shouldn’t deter from the bag's comfort level.
This tactical backpack is tougher, more durable, and more military-ready than many of its competitors. It measures 10 x 13 x 19 inches and can carry gear for one to three days in its expandable 20 to 40 liters of storage space. It’s collapsible with proprietary compression straps that allow you to shrink or expand the pack. It’s waterproof inside and out, and it features a built-in concealed carry holster, a laptop storage area, and an insulated compartment for a hydration bladder. You can carry up to 100 pounds of gear in this efficient, tough tactical backpack.
One drawback of this backpack is that the straps tend to be short. This isn’t a problem if they are long enough to fit you. The holster isn’t very big either, but if you only plan on carrying a smaller concealed weapon, this shouldn’t be an issue either.
This backpack is a strong and sturdy tactical backpack for hunting or trekking, but it’s also comfortable and roomy enough to use on your daily commute. It measures 12 x 20 x 13 inches, and it can hold up to 36 liters of gear and items. It’s made with water-resistant 600D fabric, and the interior of the backpack features two compartments. There are an additional two small compartments at the front of the pack, and a back compartment can hold a hydration bladder. You’ll be organized and able to protect what’s inside in any weather. It’s comfortable to wear with padded adjustable shoulder straps, an adjustable waist belt, and thick mesh padding across the back.
You may find this bag to be smaller than other tactical backpacks. However, this shouldn’t be a problem if you’re using it for its intended purposes as a commuter bag.
This backpack takes the qualities of a tactical backpack and applies them to a standard backpack. What you end up with is a tactical-style backpack that’s perfect for school or work. It comes in three colors: black, camo, and black with red accents. The bag measures 20 x 14 x 8 inches and is large enough to hold a 17-inch laptop. The front of the backpack features an organizer pocket and mesh optics panel. For comfort, it has a compression-molded back panel and adjustable shoulder straps.
One drawback of this bag is that some clips are plastic and not metal, making them less durable. You may also find it quite large and bulky; however, that’s perfect if you have a lot of stuff to carry.
This 45-liter tactical bag is made of high-density 900 denier nylon fabric and comes in khaki, black, and green. The bag measures 11.8 x 11.8 x 19.6 inches. Despite its large size, the material helps to make the backpack lightweight. The bag features several nice features, including utility-style cord pulls, heavy-duty zippers, and ventilated mesh on the back pad and shoulder straps. The front and sides of the bag have a MOLLE system for expandability. The bag is water-resistant and can be used for everything from hiking to going to the range.
One drawback is that this backpack doesn’t come with a small medical bag. However, if you don’t need to carry medical supplies, then this isn’t an issue.
This tactical backpack is styled to closely resemble a more traditional backpack style. It’s made of polyester fabric and has zipper closures. The bag measures 17.1 x 11.1 x 6.1 inches and has a capacity of 24 liters. One standout feature is the amount of MOLLE webbing throughout the entire backpack, giving you the most versatility and flexibility in how you use the bag. It’s also compatible with a hydration bladder, and there are a bladder pocket and hydration hose port. The shoulder straps and back panel have ventilated mesh padding.
Unfortunately, this back isn’t as durable as other bags on this list. However, it isn’t meant for heavy-duty use as its ideal as a commuter bag. You may also find that there are too many compartments.
This tactical backpack is designed for wearing while hiking. It comes in eight color options and measures 14.5 x 21 x 8 inches. It can expand up to 13 inches thick and has a maximum capacity of 64 liters. The construction of the backpack uses 600D nylon material for durability. The backpack is treated with a PVC waterproof coating on the outside and a tear-resistant liner. There are sternum and waist straps for increased support and comfort when the bag is fully loaded.
One drawback is that while it has a MOLLE system, it's blocked by a bungee cord strap. However, you could always cut the strap off if you'd rather use the MOLLE system. It also doesn't have nearly as many MOLLE straps as other tactical backpacks.
This 35-liter tactical backpack comes in five colors and measures 11.81 x 10.24 x 17.72 inches. It has an adjustable and removable chest and waist belts, which gives you more flexibility in how you use the backpack. The construction of the backpack uses polyester 900 denier Oxford fabric. The shoulder straps and back panels have padding for increased comfort. It also has a Y-shaped buckle strap to reduce pressure on your shoulders.
The downside of this backpack is that it has less MOLLE straps than other bags. They are also only located on the front of the bag. The bag does have several smaller independent compartments to make up for this. It also has several large compartments but lacks smaller internal organizational pockets.
- Test your bag out before you need to use it. This gives you a chance to ensure it will work for your intended purpose. Load the bag up with everything you plan to bring with you.
- Put the bag on and adjust the straps. The padding needs to sit on your shoulders with the sternum and waist straps at the proper levels to reduce stress on your body.
- Don’t forget to purchase additional compartments for use with your MOLLE system. This enables you to carry water bottles, knives, tools, and a variety of other necessities.
Q: What are the best tactical backpacks?
The best tactical backpacks use durable high-density fabric with double stitching. They have a large storage capacity by utilizing several compartments. They also have a MOLLE system for additional customized storage.
Q: What is a tactical backpack?
Tactical backpacks are inspired by military backpacks. They’re designed to be rugged and highly functional. These backpacks maximize comfort to allow you to carry a lot of gear in a compact space.
Q: How much is the best waterproof tactical backpack?
You can find high-quality tactical backpacks that are also waterproof for around $40, but the best will cost upwards of $100 or more.
The Reebow Gear Tactical Backpack stands out as an ideal choice with its durable and rugged construction and extensive MOLLE system. For a more affordable option, the SOG Ninja Tactical Day Pack doesn’t disappoint with its adjustability and padding.