Originally designed for military use, the best tactical backpacks have a combination of versatility, durability, and comfort that make them an indispensable piece of gear for hikers, law enforcement, military, gun owners, and commuters alike. Our buyer’s guide will help you find the best tactical backpack for guns, hiking, daily use, and bug out.
What Makes a Backpack Tactical?
Tactical backpacks were designed with military use in mind. As a result they are durable and can be worn comfortably for long periods of time. They can carry heavy loads and usually have larger-than-average capacity. They usually have a variety of compartments including some for specialized uses such as optics, guns, and ammunition. Perhaps the defining feature of modern tactical backpacks is the modular MOLLE system that keeps important items handy and allows for additional storage and customization.
What is MOLLE and How Does it Work?
MOLLE, abbreviation for Modular light-weight load-carrying equipment, is a system that allows you to attach your outdoor accessories, tools and even pouches to your backpack. In simpler terms, MOLLE is an accessory attachment system. MOLLE systems use a threading system where allowing you to secure accessories by weaving it through straps that are integrated on the backpack. For secure holding, you can weave through 2 or three straps, depending on the pouch strap length.
This system allows users nearly unlimited customization. Accessories can be almost anything from holsters to first aid kits to ammunition pouches and more.
You need to choose a bag that will fit all your gear, so consider how you will use it, the length of your trek, and what gear and guns you will be carrying. Day packs have a capacity of between 20- 35 liters. Many have compartments that can easily be used for laptops and other every-day items so they can double for urban use. They multi-task well and make good bug-out bags.
Packs designed for overnight and multi-day rucks will range from 40 liter to 60 liters so that they have room for extra supplies such as ammunition, sleeping bags, cooking utensils, and shelters.
Out top pick have a variety of features. Not all features will be important to you. Consider how you will use the pack as you make your choice. Some features to consider include
Main compartment size and ease of access
Concealed Carry Compartment or Integrated Holster
Mesh pockets for easy access items
Compression Straps for securing clothing or large items like tents – vertical and horizontal
There are four primary materials used in tactical packs: Cordura and ballistic nylon are extremely tough materials used in a variety of military applications. Polyester is not as durable, but is extremely light weight. Ripstop, sometimes made of polyester, can be an excellent compromise. It is tougher than regular polyester, but lighter than ballistic nylon or cordura.
You’ll want to look for ample padding in the should straps. Since tactical backpacks are meant to carry heavy loads, they feature comfort enhancement features such as thick padded and breathable straps. They are also padded on the surface that is in contact with your back.
In addition, you may want to look for a pack with a sternum strap to keep it from shifting during high-intensity activities. Larger packs often have hip belts to help distribute the weight more evenly on your body. This is highly recommended for packs you intend to use with heavy loads or long distances.
The 24BattlePack is nothing short of amazing. It has a 40l capacity, which is enough space to fit 1- 3 days of supplies. If you are out for a shorter period, maybe a day, the backpack allows you to collapse the comfort-padded straps to achieve a smaller backpack size, while a sternum strap and hip belt help evenly distribute large loads. This backpack also features a waterproof lining and is made of rugged durable material to keep your items safe and hold up to long rucks and heavy use.
This backpack comes with a built-in universal holster to house your pistol along with lots of versatile compartments, compression straps, and a MOLLE system. This pack is great for treks of all lengths.
This tactical backpack is suitable for hunting, hiking and camping adventures. With a 32 liters of capacity, it is not too bulky, but has enough space for a day trip or overnight excursion. The padded should straps with sternum strap and hip belt allow you to comfortably carry up to 50 pounds.
The Hannibal Tactical Assault backpack is the definition of versatility. It features a total of 5 compartments, 2 main, 1 at the back and two small to help you organize your accessories. It also has front and side MOLLE systems and Velcro panels, and and side and top compression straps, and a hydration compartment.
This backpack is a combination of all the best features you’ll find in tactical backpacks. The 5.11 military pack makes an excellent assault pack and ruck for shorter forays into the wilderness. With a relatively small 24 liter capacity it is also a stand-out for urban and every-day use, making it a top pick as a bug out bag.
One outstanding feature is 16 compartments, so you don’t have to keep looking for small devices and accessories. It has front and side Slick Stick MOLLE system. You’ll also find a fleece-lined compartment to store your eyewear such as sunglasses.
Made of 1050D nylon, you can rest assured that your valuables will remain safe from rainwater. The YKK zippers are also super-convenient when wearing gloves and are self repairing.