I think that we can all agree that getting the best tactical backpack for your specific needs is not an easy task.
It requires intensive research into how many compartments it has and then we must not forget about the quality factor.
Fortunately for you, it does not need to be that hard. In fact, once you have written this review, you will know all there is about tactical backpacks.
Check this out:
I have reviewed 10 of the best tactical backpacks where each one has its own specific benefits and features. I will look at things such as quality, type of material, molle systems, compartments, volume, etc.
You can also have a sneak peek at my buying guide below to get an idea of what to expect in this review:
Tactical Backpack Buying Guide
There is a large variety of backpack available to buy online and it can take you hours just to find a handful of impressive candidates.
On top of that, if you do not know what all of the features mean and some of the potential downfalls or benefits they might contain, then your first backpack can either be your best buy of the year or something that you throw on top of your cupboard.
I think it is important to delve into every aspect so that you can be made aware of what to look for. If you are already a backpacking expert, then you can skip this manual.
1. Materials used
The type of materials used will directly influence the quality of the backpack. The most common type of material used is nylon and to be more specific you will find 600D up to 1050D nylon.
The “D” simply stands for denier which is a measurement used to indicate the weight of the thread. The larger the number before the “D”, the heaver it is.
The weight is also directly correlated to the strength of the fabric because a heavier thread might also indicate a thicker and stronger thread as well.
The other 2 types of materials used are Cordura and Polyester as well. Another thing to consider is the craftsmanship which will have an impact on the quality of the stitching.
2. The size of the backpacks
This is also a huge factor that one needs to consider before buying a backpack. If you like to go on a full weekend trip that will last 2-3 days, then I would recommend a backpack that is at least 40L.
If you like to go on trips that last more than 3 days, then I would recommend the beast of a backpack that is around 70L. This back is called the Gonex backpack.
Another good choice is the ALPS OutdoorZ Commander for when you are specifically going on a hunting trip that will last more than 3 days.
3. Sortable compartments
If you are like me and you cannot take it when you have to search for something, then we both can agree that we need a backpack that has compartments that are also sortable.
There were 2 backpacks that stood out for me especially when it comes to sorting. The first one was my top pick (also the least expensive of the 2) and is called the Explorer backpack.
The second backpack that was very sortable with a ton of compartments is the Direct Action backpack, but keep in mind that this one is a lot more expensive than the Explorer.
4. Additional Compartments
Most backpacks will have a main compartment where you can store your clothes or shoes, but what about some of the extra compartments?
Most of the times you will find the additional compartments at the back and also sides of the backpack. These smaller compartments are ideal for the smaller items that you do not want to put inside of the main compartment.
The biggest drawback of putting smaller items in the larger main containers is that this makes them harder to find when they get mixed up with the larger items especially clothes.
Has long does it usually take you to find a matchbox in your backpack?
Some backpacks will also contain molle on the surface which can be used to attach additional compartments or pouches.
5. Speciality backpacks
Some of the backpacks mentioned in this article are made for one specific reason. Some are made for carrying guns, others for hunting and some are made to carry a water bladder.
The one that is designed to carry guns is called the Case Club which has a special compartment that is made for carrying up to 4 pistols/revolvers. This case can also be locked as well.
Other specialty backpacks are the ones that can carry and also comes with a water bladder. The first one is the Unigear backpack that is mainly used for carrying water but does not have a lot more space for other items.
The second backpack that is used to carry a water bladder is the Monkey Paks backpack. This backpack is much larger than the Unigear and can carry much more.
6. Water resistance
There is nothing worse than opening your backpack after walking in the rain only to find that all of your clothes and food are now wet.
The nylon material that is being used will keep most of the moisture out of your backpack but is not 100% guaranteed. Some backpack also comes with a water-repellent coating on the surface which is ideal for wet conditions.
However, I would not recommend trying to “test” the waterproofing capabilities of a backpack by dipping it into a swimming pool of some sorts.
7. Shoulder Straps
Most people do not even worry to look at the shoulder straps. It is important to have wider shoulder straps that will spread most of the weight across a larger surface area to reduce pressure in order to make it more comfortable.
What is also important are shoulder straps that are attached to each other through a chest strap.
This will make sure that the shoulder straps won’t slip off your shoulders when you are moving more rapidly.
8. Ventilation and comfort
If you are planning to walk long distances with your backpack that is also fully packed, then you might just as well get one that is at least comfortable enough.
If you are looking for the most comfortable backpack that also provides the most ventilation then you should look at the Direct Action backpack. Also, keep in mind that this backpack comes at a price.
Last but definitely not least, let us talk about the price. The pricing of the backpacks ranges from around $27 up to $130 which most people might consider a massive jump.
The least expensive of all the backpacks is the CVLIFE which is under $50.
The main factor that will influence the price is the craftsmanship which entails the stiching and how the backpack was put together.
Other factors such as volume, additional compartments and materials used will also play a role.
#1 R4 Explorer (Top Pick)
If you are the type of person that likes to keep everything organized and would like to have a lot of options on where to put what, then this backpack is for you.
This backpack can be expensive for some people, but the quality makes up for it as it has many compartments.
This backpack also has 3 colors available which include Black, Coyote Tan, and OD Green. For the purpose of this article, I am going to choose the colors black.
The volume of this backpack is also around 45 liters.
More on the features:
- Made out of quality material. This backpack is made out of 600D H.D. nylon material and with a double thickness thread. This type of material is very durable and somewhat water resistant. No need to worry about a backpack that is going to tear after a handful of uses.
- Has a water bladder compartment. This compartment is used to store a water bladder that can then be used for hydration purposes. A small pipe will then be connected to the water bladder which will then provide the user access to the water. (Water bladder not included).
- Can keep 5 handguns & magazines. When you open the side flap you will reveal 5 internal “handgun and magazine” storage rooms for each one.
- Has 4 extra exterior pockets. You will also get 4 extra zipped exterior pockets where you can put handguns other items as well.
- Has adjustable compartments. The very first noticeable benefit of this backpack is that it has adjustable compartments. If you are the type of person that would like to have a designated compartment for each item, then this is for you. This will also reduce the change of items smashing against each other which will result in breaking.
- Has 2 adjustable shoulder straps with carrying handle. These shoulder straps can easily be adjusted to enable a perfect fit. The carrying handle is used to pick the backpack up.
Compartment setup in minutes
The compartment setup is extremely easy to implement. You will get 8 adjustable and removable dividers with a velcro opening at both ends.
There is a small lightweight wooden board that you will have to put at the bottom of the bag for the foundation. Then you will also get a divider that you can put in the middle of the bag so that you can put 4 dividers in the bottom and 4 at the top.
What we liked
- Good quality material.
- 3 Colors available.
What We Didn’t Like
#2 CVLIFE (Least Expensive)
If you would like a tactical backpack that has the basic features and do not want to spend that much money, then the CVLIFE tactical backpack is for you.
This backpack is also the least expensive one of them all.
This backpack comes in 3 colors which are ACU, Black, and CP. The total volume of this backpack is also 30L which is not that bad.
Some extra features to consider:
- The backpack is durable. The type of material used is 600D Nylon material which is very durable and tough and also has some waterproofing capabilities (not 100% waterproof).
- Has 2 large compartments. The 2 compartments will also be zippable and are best used for larget items such as clothes and shoes etc. Inside the 2 main compartments, you will also find other subcompartments that are zippable and made out of mesh.
- Also has 2 smaller pouches on the outside. Nead the back of the backpack, you will also get 2 more pouches where the one below is larger than the one above. These pouches are also zippable.
- Has 2 wide shoulder straps. The shoulder straps are nice and wide so that they do not put a lot of pressure on your shoulders. You will also get a chest strap that will attach these 2 larger shoulder straps. This will ensure that the shoulder straps won’t slip off your shoulders.
- Also has molle system. At the outside surface area of the backpack, you will find molle that can be used to attach other items.
Overall, I think this is a decent backpack with the right amount of features to feel like you actually have a tactical backpack.
The price is also not that bad either.
What we liked
- Has the basic features.
- Good quality material.
What We Didn’t Like
#3 5.11 Tactical RUSH24
If you want a backpack that is of superior quality and has a large list of features than this backpack is for you. There are basically 3 different sizes of these backpacks. You get the Rush12, Rush24 and finally the Rush74.
The volume of this backpack is 2275 cubic inch or in other words 37 liters if you want to use that numeric term.
In this review, we are going to the Rush24 which can also be called the one day backpack. Have a look at the video if I have missed anything.
- Dark Earth
- Double Tap
Let us start with some of the awesome features:
- Good quality material. This bag is made of durable 1050D nylon which is very durable and strong. This type of material is used in many tactical gears.
- Somewhat water resistant. It comes with a water-repellent coating that will make this bag somewhat water resistant against rain and water spills. However, I would not dip this bag into a swimming pool in order to test the water-resistant capabilities.
- Has molle straps on the surface. There is also noticeable molle straps on the surface of the bag for if you want to attach other items as well. These straps will make it easy if you want to attach other detachable pouches or larger type accessories.
- Pockets also located inside the bag. It has a mesh pocket on the inside and another small pocket in front of the mesh that has a nice tension system. There is also another zipper compartment inside.
- Can also safely carry your sunglasses. You will also get an addition pouch just to put your sunglasses that are located at the top of your bag. The material is also suitable not to scratch lenses of your glasses. This is very useful for when you do not want to carry your glasses on you anymore.
- More pouches for custom storage. You will also find pouches at the back and sides of the backpack. At the front you will have a pouch you will have 3 pockets. Two of the pouches will be made out of mesh and the other one will be Nylon. You will also get a side pouch where you can store a water bottle or magazine clips. This is especially useful for when you want to organize all of your items inside of your backpack.
- Wider shoulder straps. The shoulder straps are wide enough so that it does not hurt your shoulders. You will also have a chest attachment that will connect the shoulder straps so that one does not slip off your shoulder.
- Will also allow ventilation. The material that rests against your back will also allow for ventilation and will also reduce friction.
For who is the Rush 24?
This backpack is the best all-around bag in this review. It has a lot of small little compartments and pockets and it can be hard to explain all of them.
If you like the best that tactical backpacks can offer, then this backpack is for you.
What we liked
- Has a lot of compartments.
- Contains Molle.
- Has 6 colors to choose from.
What We Didn’t Like
#4 Case Club
If you saw the 4 pistols, then you will probably know what I am talking about when I say that this backpack is for those hardcore pistol lovers that are not afraid to show it.
There is only one color available and it is black and has a total volume of 50L which is not that bad.
This backpack is also more on the expensive side of things as well.
Some other features worth mentioning:
- Durable and rugged material. This backpack is made out of Nylon which is a very durable and rugged material which will add years to this backpack’s lifetime.
- Main pistol compartment. You cannot get a more pistol adapted backpack than this. The main compartment which can also be called the “Case Club” has a foam cradle designed to hold 4 handguns.
- Is also lockable. You also get a numeric lock that will “lock” the 2 zippers to each other so nobody will be able to unzip the bag without knowing the code first.
- Has other compartments as well. You also get 2 twin side pockets that will store 6 extra magazines as well. You will also find 3 extra pouches on the outside for whatever you want to put in.
- Has a rain cover. This bag also contains a pull-out rain cover to protect your bag and gear for when it starts to rain.
- Has a molle system. The molle allows you to strap knives, flashlights, canteens, holsters and other materials on it. You can also attach other pouches to this molle as well.
- Has 2 shoulders straps. The bag also has 2 shoulders straps and a strap across the chest so that it stays in place. The chest strap will ensure that the shoulder straps will not slip out of place.
For who is the Case club backpack?
If you are the type of guy or gal that likes to take protection with you whenever you go camping to the next level, then this backpack is for you.
What we liked
- Lot of extra pouches.
- Great molle system for extra attachments.
What We Didn’t Like
- Can be a bit too expensive for most people.
#5 Unigear 900D – Best For Hydration
If you are someone that likes tactical backpacks and drinks a lot of water, then this backpack is for you.
This backpack is not so weapon intensive as the previous ones but is more focused on hydration which in some cases can be more important than firepower.
This backpack is also in the same price class as the G4Free backpack. This bag contains a 2.5-liter replaceable water “bladder” and the total volume estimation is between 7-10L.
This backpack also comes in 4 colors which include: ACU, Black, CP-New, and Tan.
Other features available:
- Material used. This backpack makes the use of 900D Polyester which is a very thick threaded material that is both tough and durable.
- Has 2 front pockets. This backpack does not have all of the other fancy extra pouches but only have 2 pockets. These pockets are located on the front side of the bag where you can put simple things such as your wallet, keys, phone and a handgun.
- Has hydration system in place. This bag contains a 2.5-liter replaceable water “bladder” that are only 22 ounces in weight. There will also be a small and flexible hose connected at the bottom of the bag where the water will come from.
- Has a nice water connection pipe. The end of the pipe has a dust sealing switch and also prevents water leakage. Let’s not forget that it is also a bite valve that when you bite, water will flow out.
For who is the Unigear 900D?
If you love hiking, cycling, running where you want a lot of water, but also the capacity to protect yourself, then this is the bag for you. The small water pipe makes it almost effortless to drink water hands-free.
What we liked
- Water pipe makes it hands free.
What We Didn’t Like
#6 Monkey Paks
If you liked the Unigear 900D, but you would like to have a backpack that is both larger and has a water bladder, then the Monkey Paks backpack is for you.
This backpack comes in 4 colors which include: Black, Multi Camo, OD Green and Tan.
The volume of the bladder is 2.5 LITER while the volume of the whole backpack is around 35L (It can be more because I have not added the volume of the extra pouches)
More features to brag about:
- Made to be tough. This backpack is made out of the material 600D strong nylon which is very tough and has some waterproofing qualities as well. The zippers are also heavy-duty as well.
- Has 3 extra attachments. You will also get 3 extra zippable attachments that can be attached to the molle of this backpack. The first 2 attachments can easily be attached to the sides of this backpack while the 3rd one can be attached near the base of this backpack.
- The main compartment. The main compartment of this backpack is around 35L and is also zippable. The main compartment can be used to put in larger objects as well.
- Has molle on all sides. If the 3 attachments are not enough for you, then you can always attach more because of all the extra molle webbing available.
- The water bladder is included. You will also get a 2.5 Liter BPA free leak-proof water bladder that also has a pipe connected to it. The end of the pipe that you will use to drink from will also be leak and dust proof. Now you do not need to constantly take out your water bottle to have a sip.
- Has 2 large shoulder straps. This backpack also has 2 large shoulder straps that will not hurt your shoulder if you carry a lot of weight. You will also get a chest strap that can be used to connect the 2 shoulder straps and it ensures that the 2 shoulder straps will not slip off.
Overall. I think this is a great backpack because of all the features and the water bladder which is also included. The price might be a bit hefty for some people but it is a good deal for what you get.
What we liked
- Very good quality.
- Has a lot of extra attachments.
What We Didn’t Like
If you would like a tactical backpack that is huge and when I say huge I mean 70L worth of capacity.
This backpack also has most of the other features available as some of the others mentioned in this article and it also has a hefty price tag that comes with it all.
It also only comes in the color black.
Let us delve into some of the features:
- Made out of good quality materials. This backpack is made out of Anti-Scratch 900D Oxford which has a thicker thread than most other types of material. Personally, I would have preferred nylon as Oxford is not as tough and durable as Nylon. If it was not for the 900D thickness thread, then I would not have recommended this backpack.
- Waterproof. The nice thing about this backpack is that it has a waterproof rain cover at the bottom, which can easily be extracted and pulled over the backpack to protect it from the rain or water splashes.
- The main container. The main container is zippable and can be opened like a laptop does. It has a capacity of 70L which is a lot of you ask me. In the inside of the main container, you will also find other smaller containers that are either made of mesh or is zippable. This container is ideal for larger items such as laptops and clothes.
- Has 3 other pockets worth mentioning. It has 1 top pocket, 1 front pocket that is zippable and also one bottom pocket/compartment for shoes etc. These pockets are mainly used for smaller accessories such as cell phones, car keys, and wallets.
- Has 2 net side pockets. These pockets are breathable and also drainable because they are made out of mesh material. They are mainly used to contain 2 water bottles.
- Has a CR Carrying System. You can easily adjust your shoulder straps according to the weight of the bag. It has 3 sizes which include Small(S), Medium(M) and Large(L).
- Good for ventilation. This backpack has a high elasticity sponge on the back area that has airflow channels that will help to keep your back cool and dry.
- Molle system. This backpack also has a molle system that can be used to attach other pouches to it. If you are not satisfied with the number of attachments then you can always add more with the help of the molle.
If you are the type of person that likes to go on long trips and you want a backpack that can carry all of your gear (Maybe your partner’s as well), then this backpack is for you.
What we liked
- Has a waterproof cover.
- Has a large variety of other features as well.
What We Didn’t Like
#8 ALPS OutdoorZ Commander
If you are a hunter and you would like to have a backpack that does not only carry your backpack but also has a freighter frame that can be used to haul meat or the head of the buck that you want to keep as a trophy, then this backpack is for you.
This backpack only comes in one color which is Charcoal and has a volume of 85 Liters.
Keep in mind that this monster of a backpack will come at a price and will not be less than $100 per backpack.
Some awesome features to consider:
- Long lasting material. This backpack is made out of Nylon Ripstop fabric that is both durable, long-lasting and will endure in the harshest weather conditions.
- Main compartment. The main compartment does not open all the way such as the Gonex backpack. Instead, it is a top loading type compartment. Here you can put in clothes and other larger type items that will not fit in the smaller compartments.
- Has 2 pockets on the right-hand side. You will also find 2 side accessory hinged pockets that can be used to carry smaller items and accessories. These pockets are also zippable.
- Has 1 spotting scope pocket on the left-hand side. On the adjacent side of the 2 smaller pockets, you will find the spotting scope pocket. Now you can easily carry an additional scope that will be used to spot your game.
- Has 1 front pocket. Near the front area of the backpack, you will also find another pocket. This pocket is larger than the 2 smaller pockets and is also zippable.
- Has another pocket at the bottom. Near the bottom of the backpack, you will find another pocket provides lower door access. This pocket can easily be used to store your shoes.
- Also comes with rifle holder. The rifle can easily be kept under the 2 pockets that are located on the right-hand side. The stock of the rifle can easily slip into the adjustable pocket which will make sure that it does not slip out of your backpack.
- Good for hydration. Near the top of the backpack, you will find the hydration pocket which will also provide a port which will make this backpack hydration compatible. (I doubt that this backpack comes with a water bladder).
- Has lashing points. You can easily hook other items and gear onto the lashing points provided at the back of this backpack.
- Has clip-style holster. This holster is attached to the backpack and will provide a lot of comforts as it can easily be unclipped. This holster also has 2 smaller pockets on each side for smaller items. You can also attach your handgun to this holster as well.
- Comes with a freighter frame. This frame can easily be attached or removed from the backpack. This frame is mainly used to carry or haul out meat or the head of the buck that you want to keep as a trophy.
This is a perfect backpack for those that love to hunt and has the largest variety of features available in this article. It is also on the more expensive side as well.
What we liked
- Is hydration compatible.
- Large variety of pockets.
- Comes with rifle holster.
What We Didn’t Like
If you are new to tactical gear and you want a tactical backpack but do not want to pay an arm or a leg for it, then I would recommend the G4Free tactical backpack.
There was nothing really spectacular that stood out about this bag except for the fact that you can buy them from under $30 per bag which makes this bag one of the least expensive bags in this review.
This bag is also 40L which is not bad. The colors available are tan, black, army green and ACU camouflage.
Some features that should not be ignored:
- Made out of good quality material. This backpack is made out of 600D Nylon fabric which is a rugged and tough type of material that will not easily tear.
- Has 2 main compartments. This bag has 2 main compartments and when you zip them open you can also expect to find mesh and nylon pockets for further sorting.
- One compartment near the back area. The area of the back that rests against your back will also have a compartment of its own that is made out of mesh.
- Has 2 smaller zipper pockets. You will also find 2 smaller zipper pockets located on the front of the bag to put in even more stuff. These pockets are used best to put in items that you might need quick access to.
- Has 2 wide shoulder straps. The shoulder straps are adjustable and wide to reduce the tension on your shoulders. The shoulder straps also have a chest attachment which will allow them to connect. This works great if you love to climb and you do not want the straps to slip off.
- The bag also has some molle. The 2 smaller zipper pockets also have a molle surface for when you want to attach other items as well. This molle works great for other smaller pouches or items.
This backpack is really not that bad and works best for those that are short on a budget.
What we liked
- Has Molle system.
- Comes in 3 colors.
What We Didn’t Like
#10 Direct Action
If you plan to go on a trip that is not longer than 24 hours and you need an exceptionally well make backpack that is not too bulky then the Direct Action tactical backpack is for you.
This backpack is much smaller than most of the other backpacks reviewed in this article and has a volume of around 20 liters.
This backpack also comes in 8 colors which is good if you would like to have a variety to choose from. It is also important to keep in mind that this backpack can be somewhat expensive as it goes past the $100 mark.
More important features to mention:
- Good quality material. This backpack is made out of Cordura 500D material which is much better than nylon. It is very tough and rigid and will not tear that easily.
- Somewhat water resistant. The material from which this backpack is made from is also DWR coated which makes it water resistant. This does not mean that you can now dip this backpack into a swimming pool, but it will be helpful against rain and splashes of water.
- Has 1 main compartment. This compartment is the one that is closest to your back and is also zippable. This compartment is mainly used for larger items and can also contain a laptop. Inside the main compartment, there will also be smaller sub-compartments as well.
- Has 1 large front pocket. This pocket is located just behind the main compartment and is also zippable. This front pocket is ideal for when you want to organize a lot of stuff. It has a lot of smaller compartments, lashing points and also a net container. In this compartment, you can keep important items such as pens, medical aid kits, flashlights, etc.
- Has 2 smaller side pockets. These pockets can be found on each side of the backpack. These side pockets can easily be expanded and opened for when you need quick access.
- Works great for ventilation. The side of the backpack that rests against your back has a combat vent system. This is a vent system that uses a combination of mesh and contouring that will help with ventilation.
- Is also molle compatible. This backpack has molle on the back which makes it easy to attach molle compatible pouches to the backpack. This works great for when you want to add additional storage to this backpack.
- Comfortable shoulder straps. This backpack has S-profiled shoulder straps and an internal stiffener in the back which will dramatically add to the comfort of this backpack. These shoulder straps can also be attached to each other through a chest strap so that they would not slip off your shoulder.
- Has a waist strap. The waist strap is especially useful for stability and will make sure that the backpack will stay securely on your back.
Overall I believe this is a very good quality backpack as it is made out of the best materials possible. The craftsmanship is also superb.
If you want the best possible backpack for a 1-day trip, then this one is for you.
What we liked
- Works great for organizing.
- Brings the best comfort.
What We Didn’t Like
Tactical Backpacks Comparison
|1. Explorer (Top Pick)||45L||600D H.D. nylon|
|2. CVLIFE (Least Expensive)||30L||600D Nylon|
|3. 5.11 Tactical RUSH24||37L||1050D nylon|
|4. Case Club (Best For Carrying Pistols)||50L||Nylon|
|5. Unigear (Best For Hydration)||7-10L||900D Polyester|
|6. Monkey Paks(Has Water Bladder)||35L||600D nylon|
|7. Gonex||70L||900D Oxford|
|8. ALPS OutdoorZ Commander (Best for Hunting)||85L||Nylon Ripstop fabric|
|9. G4Free ||40L||600D Nylon|
|10. Direct Action||20L||Cordura 500D|
And there you have it, folks. There was a lot to cover and I hope this article has made it at least a bit easier for you to make an informed decision.
If you still could not decide which backpack is for you, then I would personally recommend the R4 Explorer. This was by far my personal favorite as I like to put everything in compartments.
Please leave a comment below and tell us what was your favorite tactical backpack 🙂 Learn more about our other related reviews by visiting our tactical accessories page.
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I thank you for such an awesome review on the tactical backpacks available, I am partial to the explorer tactical backpack simply because it seems to be the best buy for my money even though it might be more of a backpack than I really need I always like to be prepared when I am out on the trails.
The Explorer is one of the best backpacks that you can buy if you want to have a more tactical appeal and functionality. Thanks for the comment.
You talked about materials above however I wonder about one specific retail. I wonder which material’s stitching is more solid? Corduro or polyester?
I am a newbie and choosing my first bag so I want to be careful as much as possible. Do you have experiences with both of these materials?
For me, the cordura is better. But it also depends on the denier as well.
Tyler Redlev says
Tactical backpacks are a passion for me. I can’t look at them every day, all the day… I have one, but it’s not an ultra professional one, a standard army type.
Case Club and Tactical Rush are the most eye appealing ones, in my opinion. I think I will consider getting one of them. Thank for the great information that you provided!!