Covert Missions And Bug Out Bags – What Is The Best Tactical Backpack?

We always want to get the most out of our gear and for some, a standard backpack is just not enough. Sometimes we want something tougher, more practical, more adaptable and more efficient to use. At those times, we want a tactical backpack.

If you want to know about which tactical backpack to buy for your needs or even if you just want to know about the differences between regular backpacks and tactical backpacks, then this guide is for you.

Buyer’s Guide

First of all, what is a tactical backpack and who needs one? Let’s briefly look at these questions before thinking about what you need to think about when you’re choosing one.

What Is A Tactical Backpack?

Green Tactical Backpack On A Rock

A tactical backpack is a military-style backpack and the main features are that they are rugged, compartmentalized and modular, designed to perform in combat situations.

Most modern military forces use MOLLE equipment, notably the US and British armies. MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment and backpacks using this system generally make the best tactical backpacks.

MOLLE equipment achieves its modularity by using rows of heavy-duty nylon stitched into the material. This means that any MOLLE compatible pouches or other attachments can easily be fixed on quickly and securely to the backpack, giving a high degree of versatility.

5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Back Pack

A MOLLE Backpack - Via Amazon.com

In combat situations, soldiers do not have time to unpack their backpacks or rummage through their belongings to find things. The solution to this problem is compartmentalization which means everything can be stored in small compartments and is easily accessible.

The best tactical backpacks, whether destined for military or civilian use, feature well-designed pouches and compartments for easy storage and access of equipment.

Backpacks for military use need to stand up to much more abuse than a regular backpack and tactical backpacks are designed to be much more rugged than a standard civilian bag.


Who Needs A Tactical Backpack?

Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack

Via Amazon.com

Apart from military use, tactical backpacks are becoming more and more widespread in civilian life. They are popular with people who require a backpack that will stand up to rough treatment and are often used by survivalist backpackers.

Many people choose a tactical backpack over a regular one because they appreciate the extra convenience of the accessibility provided by the compartmentalized pouches.

Tactical backpacks also make particularly good ‘bug out bags’ – but there is a theory that the overtly military style may show that a person is well prepared and probably carrying supplies which would make them a potential target in a doomsday scenario.


How Do I Choose The Best Tactical Backpack?

There are several points to consider when choosing the right tactical backpack for you.

MOLLE

MOLLE Backpack On The Tree

If you are choosing a tactical backpack, you probably want a MOLLE one. However, not all MOLLE backpacks are the same. You need to consider how much modularity you need and how much extra stuff you want to attach to see if a backpack has enough attachments for your requirements.


Compartments

Military Tactical Assault Pack Backpack Army Molle

Via Amazon.com

A good tactical backpack has a well-thought out interior design. You will need a good number of compartments to allow you to easily store and access your equipment with a minimum of fuss, but if there are too many compartments you may end up forgetting where you packed things.


Durability

Tactical Backpack And Canteen On Grass Near The Tree

Obviously one of the most important requirements of any tactical backpack is that it can resist particularly tough treatment and can withstand extreme environments. You need to be sure the tactical backpack you buy will be tough enough for the conditions you plan to use it in.

Tactical backpacks can be made of nylon, reinforced nylon, polyester or canvas. Nylon and reinforced nylon are strong and dry quickly while polyester is not as durable and doesn’t dry as fast. Canvas is the old-fashioned option and is tough but heavy.

You also need to consider the stitching, which can come apart if it is of a poor quality. Double stitching is best. Zippers are another area of concern and they should be strong enough that they won’t break when out in the field.


Hydration Bladder

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack

Via Amazon.com

Some tactical backpacks feature a water bladder or a compartment designed to hold one. This is a useful feature and can be vital in some situations. If you think this is something that you need, it is a point that is well worth remembering.


Size And Weight

Girl Sitting With Her Tactical Backpack Outdoor Snow Forest

The bag itself shouldn’t weigh too much as you want to keep weight to a minimum. Beyond this, you need to consider how long you plan to use it for. If it is for short overnight trips, a 30-litre bag will do. For longer trips, you will probably need something larger.


Comfort

Soldier Returning Home After War

Just because it is a military-style backpack, that doesn’t mean it has to be uncomfortable. On the contrary, if you are carrying all your gear on your back, you need it to be as comfortable and painless as possible and this is a key consideration.


Price

It more or less goes without saying that you will need to consider the price. While there are more inexpensive versions available, if you are planning to buy a tactical backpack, it is likely that you require a certain level of performance and you need to be ready to pay for that.

Reviews

#1. Condor 3 Day Assault Pack

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack

Via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our Rating

The 3 Day Assault pack from Condor is a large MOLLE tactical backpack designed to store enough equipment and provisions for three days. It has seven pockets in all, one specifically for hydration bladders and others that are further divided internally. There is a foam pad for increased airflow.

This pack is rugged and water resistant and will stand up to some rough treatment and harsh conditions. There are plenty of MOLLE attachments which means it’s easily customizable. The double zippers also mean that everything is easy to access.

One of the best things about this pack for me is that it’s comfortable to wear. It’s a big pack designed to carry a lot of gear and when it’s fully loaded it can be heavy so comfort is important. I like the adjustable sternum strap which holds everything in place nicely.

The one major flaw with this bag is the design of the zippers. They are the only part of the bag that looks like it might not last and they are also not the easiest of zippers to do up which means you may lose valuable seconds fighting with the bag in moments when you may not have time to lose.

Apart from the zippers, this bag is an excellent choice for someone looking for a bag for longer excursions and would make a suitable 72-hour bug out bag. It wouldn’t be suitable for someone looking for a 24-hour bag as something much smaller would be a better choice.

Pros

  • Space for two hydration bladders
  • Good range of pouches and pockets
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Lots of MOLLE attachments

Cons

  • Zippers not tough enough
  • Zippers awkward

#2. 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Back Pack

5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Back Pack

Via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our Rating

The Rush 24 backpack from 5.11 is a durable nylon bag with plenty of MOLLE attachments designed as a 24-hour bag. It features a spacious main storage section as well as lots of pockets and pouches. There is also a dedicated pouch with a hook for a hydration pouch.

What I like about this pack is its quality of design. There are so many different compartments and you can really organize your stuff well and find it quickly. The large number of MOLLE straps also make it versatile and easy to customize.

It’s comfortable to wear and has a special neck yoke to ensure it sits well on your back. It also has compression straps which you can use to squash it down small and make sure things aren’t flapping about if you need to.

The main drawback is that there is no waist strap even though there is a place to attach one if you want. The sternum strap can also sit a little high and may be uncomfortable if you don’t adjust it properly. Finally, perhaps there are too many pouches and you might forget where you put things.

Overall, I think this is a tough and well-designed bag. For me, the number of pouches is a plus and you can get used to where you store things with practice. It’s not the cheapest tactical backpack available but for me, it’s good value for money.

Pros

  • Lots of MOLLE attachments, easy to customize
  • Large number of storage pockets
  • Tough and rugged
  • Compression straps

Cons

  • No waist strap
  • Can be uncomfortable if you don’t adjust it perfectly

#3. Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack

Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack

Via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our Rating

The Direct Action Dragon Egg is a two-day tactical backpack featuring a laser-cut MOLLE system which gives lightweight, low profile water resistant attachments. There is also a foam padded ventilation system to ensure proper air flow.

The first thing you will notice about this backpack is that it is a well-designed bag made of good quality materials. The compartments inside are also practical and help keep everything organized.

This bag is available in several military-style color options and for me, it’s one of the coolest looking tactical backpacks available. I also like the vent system which helps keep the pack dry.

The main problem I have with this pack is that it is noisy. The buckles make too much noise when you close them and the backpack also rattles when you move. This is not great in a “tactical” backpack! Also, it’s only available in overtly military colors so it’s not a very discrete bug out bag.

Overall, a cool-looking and rugged bag that I would recommend to anybody looking for a tactical backpack for shorter trips of up to two days. It is not designed for longer than that. Also, it makes too much noise if you’re really going to use it for covert missions!

Pros

  • Looks cool
  • Foam padded ventilation system
  • Quality materials
  • Plenty of MOLLE attachments

Cons

  • Noisy
  • Only available in military colors

#4. 5.11 RUSH MOAB 6 Backpack

5.11 RUSH MOAB 6 Backpack

Via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our Rating

The Rush MOAB 6 is a smaller sling-style tactical backpack from 5.11 made of tough nylon with internal and external organization using the “tier” connecting system.

The advantage of this backpack is that it is a sling-style single strap bag which means it can be swung round to the front of your body for ease of access without the need to remove it. For me, the sling-style also means it looks pretty cool.

It’s a rugged and durable bag and it has lots of MOLLE attachments which means it’s versatile and easy to customize. There are also plenty of pockets of varying sizes inside which makes it easy to store stuff.

The problem I found with this bag is that it’s a little uncomfortable. The sling-style gives you easy access but it seems that the strap itself hasn’t been designed well enough and is not great for carrying a heavy load for long periods. The buckle is also a little high.

This is a good choice of bag for someone who is looking for a smaller, lighter tactical pack that also looks the part. However, this is not suitable for longer trips as realistically it is too small to fit the equipment in that you would need for more than just one-day outings.

Pros

  • Sling-style bag
  • Customizable with plenty of MOLLE attachments
  • Logical storage option
  • Looks cool

Cons

  • Uncomfortable
  • On the small side

#5. ArcEnCiel 40L Camping Bags Waterproof Molle Backpack

ArcEnCiel 40L Camping Bags Waterproof Molle Backpack

Via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our Rating

This 40-litre bag from ArcEnCiel features numerous internal divisions, a designated computer pouch, an external bungee and a rain cover. It is available in several military and non-military colors.

The most attractive thing about this pack is its price tag as it is significantly cheaper than some other tactical backpacks. It is not of the highest quality but it is well enough made and represents good value for money.

It is a relatively rugged backpack and features plenty of MOLLE webbing which makes it adaptable and easily customizable.

On the downside, although this backpack is marketed as waterproof and comes with a rain cover, I have to say I am slightly dubious about its water resistance capabilities. It is also marketed as a 40-litre bag but for me, it still seems a little small.

I think this bag might be a good choice for someone looking for an affordable tactical backpack for activities like camping or fishing as it is quite rugged and features MOLLE attachments. However, if you need a high-quality MOLLE tactical backpack, you should probably plan to spend a little more.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Good value
  • Rugged
  • Adaptable

Cons

  • Small
  • Not waterproof

Conclusion

All five of these bags have their advantages and disadvantages and all would be suitable in different situations.

The ArcEnCiel is a good affordable option, the 5.11 MOAB 6 is a good sling-style one day pack and the Tactical Rush 24 is a good all-rounder when you get used to it. I also like the look of the Dragon Egg.

For me, however, if I want a rugged and tough pack that will stand up to all the rough treatment I want to put it through and that offers a full complement of MOLLE webbing, as well as good storage options, the Condor 3 Day pack is the one I would choose.

How about you? Do you use a tactical backpack? Which is your favorite? What are your experiences? I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment – and if you enjoyed my article, please don’t forget to share!

Julie McClain
 

Chief editor here at Outdoorzer. I'm an outdoor lover and ever since I was a little girl, I've worked hard to learn all I could from my Dad about Camping, Hiking, RVs and surviving in the woods.

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