What is the best tactical backpack this year?
Welcome to Rangermade’s reviews of the best tactical backpacks, constantly kept updated. Whether you’re into hiking, fishing & hunting, bushcrafting, recon, survival, sports, or are just looking for a sturdier option for traveling or for everyday carrying, then there’s a high chance you’ll find a perfect fit for your needs on this page.
The sheer range of tactical backpacks that are available is overwhelming, so I’m pretty confident you’ll find help in the legwork I’ve done here to discover the best candidates for a tactical backpack Top 5. I also went ahead and compiled a comparison table of 20+ carefully selected backpacks. These range from compact to 3-day backpacks, all being high-quality, durable backpacks. The table shows an image and the name of the product, outlines the main features and the price range you can expect to find it for sale at, and also shows the user rating of that backpack.
Use the quick navigation below to get to the parts of this page that you’re most interested in:
- Comparative table of the best-rated tactical backpacks
- Detailed reviews of the Top 5 Best Tactical Backpacks in our chart
- Tips on how to find the best tactical pack for your needs
You may also be interested in these related pages:
- The Best Small Tactical Backpack (for backpacks smaller than 1700 cu. in.)
- The Best Daypack for Hiking
- The Best Hunting Backpack
Comparative Table of the Best Tactical Backpacks
|Spec Ops T.H.E. Ultimate Assault Pack, MultiCam||Very good all-round backpack, perfect travel and EDC size. Read the full review...|
Check out the Pack Frame for load balancing
|5.11 3 Day Rush Backpack, Black||72 hour high-performance bag that fills multiple roles, from a tactical assault pack to a hunting or hiking bag, to emergency go-bag or EDC bag. Read the full review...||$$$||4.7|
|5.11 Rush 24 Back Pack||The 24-hr version of the RUSH 72||$$||4.7|
|Maxpedition Falcon-II Backpack||All-purpose tactical backpack. Read the full review...||$$$||4.5|
|Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger, Black||Everyday carry (EDC) backpack. Single shoulder strap construction allows the user to "swing" the pack to the front while still wearing it.||$$||4.6|
|Tactical Tailor Operator Removable Pack, Ranger Green||1178 cu. in. Day Assault Pack. Attaches to other packs. Contoured shoulder straps. 3L hydration compartment||$$||4.4|
|Eberlestock HalfTrack Military Pack w/Tunnel Pockets & D-Rings||Tactical/hunting heavy duty backpack with internal frame. 2 day pack. Read the full review...||$$$$$$||5.0|
|Condor 3 Day Assault Pack||Heavy-Duty 3 Day Pack. Read the full review...||$$||4.6|
|Sandpiper of California Bugout Backpack (Black, 22x15.5x8-Inch)||3-day backpack, great for travel||$||4.4|
|Red Rock Outdoor Gear Assault Pack (Large, Olive Drab)||3 day pack||$||4.6|
|The North Face TNF Black Recon Backpack||EDC daypack with laptop and tablet pockets||$$||4.8|
|Camelbak 61073 Motherlode Hydration Pack, Black||Great hiking daypack and EDC backpack. 3 liter water bladder and drinking tube included. Can use the bladder pocket as a laptop pouch. Redesigned model. Read the full review...||$$$$||5.0|
|VVV Gear Paratus 3 Day Operator's Pack (Olive Drab)||Modular 3-Day BackPack||$$||5.0|
|Patrick Backpack - 20" Military Molle Backpack 56L (Black)||Military-style backpack. Hand gun pouches. 1 x laptop long pocket, 1 x ipad pocket.||$$||4.7|
|Grey Ghost Gear Wraith Pack Kryptek Typhon||Compact tactical pack. Includes hydration bladder.||$$$||5.0|
|Explorer Tactical Backpack, 20-Inch||Multi-pocket tactical backpack with gun pouches. Laptop and tablet pockets.||$||4.6|
|Fieldline Tactical Alpha OPS Daypack, Black||Versatile tactical daypack||$||4.6|
|Velox II Tactical Backpack (Black)||Tactical Backpack MOLLE Compatible||$||4.6|
|ACU Military Backpack in Black - High Quality and Great Design - by Modern Warrior||Military-style tactical backpack||$||4.5|
|Tactical Tailor Operator Urban Pack, Black||1,836 Cu.in. volume|
17 inch Laptop compartment
The Top 5 Best Tactical Backpacks in 2015
What’s the best tactical/survival backpack this year?
We are reviewing here five of the top-rated backpacks with great quality/price ratios. Use the quick nav below to jump to where you want:
- 5.11 RUSH 72 review
- Condor 3-Day Pack review
- Maxpedition Falcon-II review
- Spec Ops T.H.E Pack a.k.a. the perfectly-sized travel backpack
- Camelbak Motherlode Hydration Pack review
1) 5.11 RUSH 72 review
Can be used as a 3-day tactical backpack, a bug-out bag, as a travel pack (it’s in the size range of airline requirements), or as an everyday carry-all pack.
Organization. This pack contains one front compartment, a main compartment, a top pocket, two large side pockets and various external and internal pockets. The front compartment can be loosened from the straps, and with a mesh bottom, it creates a large pocket perfect for carrying a helmet, climbing gear, or anything you need to have at hand that is also large enough to not fall down. The side pockets and main compartments have several inside pockets that are zippered or meshed. The front side has an admin panel to keep your maps, documents and pens organized (or your fishing bait and tackle, why not).
The main compartment opens clam shell-style, allowing fast direct access to all its contents, which is great.
On top there’s a fleece-lined pocket ready to house a pair of sunglasses or a cell phone. There’s also a hydration compartment that can take a bladder. There are two ports for the water tube out on either side of the top handle.
There are a lot of compartments and pockets on this backpack to help you divide and subdivide your gear, for easy access and according to priorities. The pack is MOLLE/PALS-compatible, which refers to the 1-inch thick webbing that covers the front and sides, which allows you to add extra pouches of all shapes and sizes. On the bottom there are four attachment points that also allow carrying something underneath, like a sleeping bag or a tent.
Materials. It’s made of strong 1000D nylon, sewn with solid threading that’s not likely to loosen after some use; the zippers are sturdy as well. The material is water-repellant, not completely waterproof; you’ll need a cover foil if you’re in heavy or long rain. Overall, this bag feels well made and robust and will withhold extended usage.
Putting it on. This bag is comfortable. The yoke may take a little to get used to, especially for larger guys, but it will not be uncomfortable. The four padded areas on the back allow some airflow around them. The chest and waist buckles help secure the weight in place, and transfer it to the hips. The waist straps are adjustable and will fit even a taller person. The shoulder straps are also adjustable and come with clips for instant discharge in an emergency situation. The RUSH 72 can take up to 60 lbs of load without an issue. However most people are comfortable carrying up to 45 lbs, but it’s comforting to know that this pack can actually carry more than you’re regularly throwing at it.
- has a sleek shape – the side pockets do not protrude out of the main body, and the compression straps make the bag slim when not full. This makes the pack fit for city use. You won’t look like you’re camping at your local coffee shop.
- plastic backplate with an aluminum band that’s adjustable to your back’s profile.
2. Condor 3-Day Pack review
Build. Another great 3-day backpack, this is a high-quality and robust tactical backpack from Condor. It’s a fairly large 3038 cubic inch or 50 liter internal frame pack, with 7 total compartments and lots of pockets and pouches to keep your gear organized. It’s made of 1000D water-resistant nylon, double stitched almost everywhere. The zippers are solid and have cover flaps to divert rain.
Organization. The 3 main compartments are divided as follows: in the rearmost compartment there is a large pocket that can fit 2x 3 liter hydration bladders (with Velcro slots for the hydration tube) and a lockable zip mesh. But you can also use this compartment to haul other stuff, like a laptop computer. The middle compartment has 4 net slots which can be closed using zips. There are 2 pockets with zippers, as well as 3 open pockets in the front compartment.
The main compartment opens fully via dual zippers, and is around 13 x 20 x 10 inches or 2,600 cubic inches/40 liters in volume. A feature that not all backpacks have is, there are straps and tie-downs up and across in this compartment to hold the gear steady in place. In a survival situation, you’d want to have your clothes in a sealed 3 mil thick contractor bag to keep them dry, since this pack is not waterproof.
The side pockets have double zippers, which is nice, and can take a 1-liter water container each.
The backpack can be excellently compressed using the 3 outer tie-down straps.
Comfort. In a tactical or survival situation the pack could be strapped on your back for days, so comfort is an important issue. Comfort is given by the way the backpack follows the contour of your back, and by the shoulder and hip straps. On the 3-Day Condor, the back area is heavily padded: there’s a quarter inch of padding all over, on top of which 4 strategic areas have extra 3/8-inch padding, along with a generous lumbar area that is raised by ¾ of an inch. This is part of the hip belt system, which is one of the most comfortable I have ever tried. The shoulder straps are 3 ½ inches wide and ¾ of an inch thick which provides extra comfort and stability. All these padded areas are covered with finer nylon that will stay relatively dry. The paddings also maintain a constant airflow around the back, drying perspiration out faster.
Both the shoulder straps and the hip belt are adjustable to fit folks of any width and height. The hip belt will fit any waist from 26 inches up to around 54 inches. The sternum strap is adjustable both on the vertical and on the horizontal. One neat feature are the Velcro tie-ups found on each strap which will prevent your loose strap ends to get caught in bushes and trees.
Expansions. There’s Molle webbing all over the front of the pack and in the back on the shoulder straps, to give you yet more options to attach extra gear. On the bottom there are 4 ballistic nylon straps that make it easy to strap on yet more gear.
The Condor 3 Day Assault Pack boasts good craftsmanship, thoughtful design and durable materials, which makes it fit for any tactical or recreational application. It’s got room for a ton of gear, is comfortable even when full, and has got a lot of versatility to be sized to a wide range of body sizes, from 5 foot 2 up to around 6 foot 6. In addition, it’s got a great ability for customization with its Molle webbing and the dozen of pockets. One of the best 3 day backpacks all-round.
3. Maxpedition Falcon-II review
This is a medium-sized backpack with a capacity of 1520 cu. in. or 25 liters, but is very versatile and can take a surprising amount of gear. It’s got a layered design with three storage compartments with mesh pockets inside, plus a hydration bladder pocket (bladder not included). It can make a great daypack for the outdoors, a perfect travel companion (will fit under the seat of a larger airliner), or can accommodate a 15-inch laptop and textbooks just fine.
It is made of 1050-Denier tear-and-wear resistant nylon material with a Teflon coating for increased water and stain protection. The bottom is an abrasion-resistant coated plastic and cordura in most models, except the “digital foliage camo” one which is not abrasion-resistant. This pack may feel stiff when new but will soften up quickly. It is a very robust backpack with a weight that feels exactly right at 2.5 pounds.
In use. This pack will keep water away for a few hours in continuous rain, but eventually the teflon coating will become wet, so you need to have a rain cover with you. There are no drain holes on the bottom, except in the hydro pack compartment, so landing the pack in a puddle will not soak the insides.
This backpack has padded and breathing shoulder straps, which are also equipped with various loops. The ergonomic cut shape of the carrying system offers excellent comfort even at heavy loads. Due to the comfortable carrier and the design of the backrest you can feel virtually no pressure on the shoulders.
Even with the pack loaded, you can still attach more gear to the PALS webbing, such as a tent and mat, knives, cord, shovel, hatchet, carabiners, magazine pouches, etc. The Y-strap on top can hold a jacket. The three storage compartments can be compressed or expanded using straps on the side, so the pack stays compact and keeps its rectangular shape. All in all, the design of this pack is an open invitation to the hard-core survivalist to get creative.
A tip: the Falcon-II can also be comfortably carried on the chest while carrying something else on the back, leaving ample room for the arms and head to move unhindered.
4. Spec Ops T.H.E Pack a.k.a. the perfectly-sized travel backpack
This is a 40 liter or 2500 cubic inch backpack, perfect for a 2/3-day hike, or as a travel bag, or even an every day use (or EDC, Every Day Carry) pack. It comes in camo colors, but also in black, which is the color of choice for those who want to use tactical backpacks as everyday-carry and travel packs. The size of the T.H.E. is 19”x13”x12”, which fits perfectly in an overhead compartment on a plane. This so happens to be the backpack I carry around on my travels, and also on day hikes and anywhere I go.
For those of you who are looking for a travel backpack, you just found what you were looking for. This pack has spot-on dimensions, which is why I included this in my title. The Spec Ops T.H.E. is perfectly fit for travels a week or two long (or even longer, if you’re more of a minimalist), since it’s got enough space to let you bring all the necessary stuff with you without the need for an additional duffel bag.
T.H.E. stands for “Tactical Holds Everything”, a marketing gimmick from the manufacturer to appeal to those of us who like to have ‘tactical’ in everything, but this is indeed a quality all-purpose pack.
You can hold a lot of stuff in 40 liters. That’s enough space for you to travel on a 2-3 week vacation without any headache. The space on the Spec Ops T.H.E., is split between the main compartment and the two front pockets, with the bottom pocket being the larger one.
This backpack is literally covered in Molle webbing. It’s got them on the two front pockets, on the entire sides and on the bottom. If you take this on the outdoors or backwoods, you can strap on a tent, a tarp, or a sleeping bag to the bottom webbing.
In the top pocket I always like to carry an emergency kit, a fanny bag that contains a head lamp, compass, flash light, a CD for signalling, pocket knife, a whistle, and a few other items. I take this bag with me everywhere I go. Also in the top pocket I have a sleeve with pens and business cards, then my Orange Circle notebook that I’m very fond of.
In the bottom pocket, I got my electronics: camera, GPS, another head lamp, a digital voice recorder (comes in handy to take when I’m walking and get hit by an idea for a blog entry, or a short story; also when you’re recording directions and stuff). I also carry a kit with a tarp, some work gloves and other random stuff.
The top pocket is 8”x10”x2.5”, and the bottom one is 10”x12”x3.5”. There’s a lot of space in these pockets.
The main compartment unzips from top to the sides some two thirds down on the bag. It’s not a clamshell opening, but a partial one, or trap-door. In here I like to keep the med kit, a cordage kit (with plugs and wires and chargers, some bungee cord), then my Snugpak sleeping bag and liner, another bag with miscellaneous stuff like gloves (I know, I’m being redundant), socks, cap, a towel. Apart from these, there’s plenty of space left for clothes.
The inside of the main compartment is lined with a yellow material to give contrast and help you find stuff easier. It’s roomy like a suitcase, and when you have it on your back, with the straps adjusted properly, it feels really snug. On the back of the compartment there is some rubber padding, for your back’s comfort, not very thick, but not thin either. There’s also a mesh pocket, but of a stiff and solid type of mesh that’s not going to get a hole if you put your keys in it.
When you’re using this pack for everyday use, you can put a laptop and books in it and they’ll fit just fine. And even if it’s not fully loaded, the pack will still stay firm. The Spec Ops T.H.E. is a great backpack for any type of use. You may also want to have a look at the complementary Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack Frame for better load balancing.
5. Camelbak Motherlode Hydration Pack review
The Camelback Motherlode is one of the top-rated tactical backpacks out there. Take a moment to follow along and see why.
It’s a 20 x 14 x 13.5 inch sized daypack with 2580 cubic inches of space available for loading. The material used in it is a high quality 500 Denier nylon, which converts in 35% less weight on this Motherlode version than in the previous version which used the 1000D fabric.
It’s got lots of Molle webbing on the front and on the sides, as well as four loops on the bottom. That’s really tough webbing, so you can actually attach a lot of stuff to it. If you don’t like to keep a daypack at the bare minimum, you can add magazine pouches and a lot of other gear attached in this way. You also got the Velcro strips to stick your patches onto.
The main front pocket opens almost fully, clamshell style, so you get instant access to its content. It’s well organized inside however, so you’re not going to drop your goodies on the ground when opening it. The content is well divided between three layered fabric pockets at the back, and a zipped mesh pocket at the front, that’s also got a reinforced bottom. The first of the three pockets is divided and is for electronics like GPS, cell phone, etc. There’s even a little hook above it, to hold one of these devices in place. The other two pockets are for paper or documentation. In the rest of the front pocket you can have for instance things like cords, cap, pair of gloves, your med kit, a 24-hour ration kit, and other small items, just stuff you need to have handy. You can fit plenty of gear in this front pocket.
The second front pocket, at the top or roof of the backpack, opens also with a two-way zip, is smaller and has fleece lining. It’s for storing sunglasses, phones, GPS, generally items that can get scratched by rubbing against the tougher fabric of the backpack.
And onto the main compartment of the Motherlode. It’s got a pair of compression straps on either side and two-way zippers. Inside there’s a zippered mesh pocket with reinforced seams that separates any items you may want to hold in it from the main space. It’s a good idea to keep the bulk of your gear in a dry bag, and not store it directly in the main compartment.
There’s a great deal of space in here. To give you an idea of how much you can fit in here, I keep here as fixtures a Jetboil cooking system, an inflatable mattress, my Snugpak Stratosphere bivy, and the Snugpak Softie 6 sleeping bag. And there’s room left. At the back of the backpack there’s the bladder pocket. A 3-liter (100 oz.) bladder and drinking tube come included with the Motherlode.
If you want to use this pack as an EDC (every day carry) pack, then you can remove the bladder and instead use its pocket as a laptop sleeve. Any 15” laptop will fit nicely. When the bladder is removed, the rehydration tube ports get covered with Velcro patches, so there’s no hole sticking out of the bag. You can also put out a radio antenna through the holes, if you’re in the military or are doing tactical applications. At the bottom of the main compartment there is a drainage hole, so that’s another reason to keep all your things in a waterproof bag.
One word to add about the included rehydration bladder, called the Antidote: Camelbak has listened to customer feedback, and whereas on the old bladders you had to turn the cap multiple times to take it off, all it takes now is a quarter of a turn and off it pops. The bladder is reachable from the inside of the main container, but also from the top, via a zipper.
On the back of the system, you’ve got generous shoulder straps, with a sternum strap that’s fully adjustable both horizontally and vertically to fit your size. On the back panel, there’s a really generous amount of space for air circulation between the padded areas, which should help keep your back dry for a long time. The hip belt is also adjustable, but a nice feature is that it’s completely removable by undoing the side buckles and the Velcro underneath the lumbar padding. Really well thought-out.
When loaded up, the compression straps on the sides help keep the bacpack compact. This is a backpack with good ergonomics, and it rides very well on the shoulders and back.
The Camelbak Motherlode compares in size with the 5.11 Rush 24, the main difference being that it’s got fewer pockets, which is preferable if you like to find your gear fast. The fabric on the Motherlode is really high quality and durable, and the craftsmanship is on a par. This is probably one of the best systems that Camelbak has ever produced. Should you buy one, you won’t need a replacement any time soon, guaranteed. See it in all the colors available.
Tips: How to spot the best tactical backpack
Whether you’re looking for a small or a 2-day or 3-day backpack, or even a larger one, here are some things for you too keep in mind and look for.
Comfort is by far the most important factor. The whole build of a backpack contributes to user comfort, and especially its backside, with its plating, padding and shoulder and hip straps. If possible, try before you buy. If not possible, read hands-on reviews from owners – you’ll discover a wealth of details there.
Ease of reach – the gear most frequently used should be in the pockets and pouches, or even attached to the Molle stripes. But the inner compartments should also be quickly reachable, and not wrapped under a lot of zippers and buckles.
Good organization – the more compartments and pockets, the better the distribution that can be achieved. But then there’s a risk to forget what’s where; good organization should be practiced over time until it becomes second nature.
Expansion system – a Molle-compatible webbing, as well as extra straps on the bottom and various areas will ensure that the backpack can accommodate other pouches, pockets and containers.
Durability – last but not least, look out for a strong build and high grade materials. Sometimes the threading can become loose in time, so the thread material and sewing should be observed. Double stitching is to be preferred if available. Generally heavy-duty backpacks are made of ultra-strong nylon material, with YKK-grade zippers and straps of ballistic nylon.
Extra features: volume-adjusting straps, hydro compartments, water protection can be significant pluses.Click for More Heavy-Duty Bacpack Deals and Reviews