Your 2019 Guide To The Best Tactical Backpacks For Hiking And Other Outdoor Activities

Whether you are looking for a backpack for your everyday activities, such as hiking, camping or fishing, or you need a pack in case of an emergency, you want a pack you can rely on. The best type of backpack for either of these scenarios is the tactical backpack.

Tactical backpacks are designed for their durability and feature numerous compartments to help you maximize the space inside your pack. These packs are perfect for packing supplies to last you for several days.

When it comes to tactical backpack there is a range of options to choose from. You want a bag that you can depend on. Nothing is worse than a backpack that tears or a zipper that gives out while you are out hiking, fishing or camping.

Although your budget can affect the quality and durability of your backpack, there are several bargains available when you know what to look for in a tactical backpack.

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The 2019 Tactical Backpack Buyer’s Guide – The Introduction

Finding the perfect tactical backpack is not easy. You need to find a pack that will fulfill your needs. There is no reason to buy a high-volume backpack that is heavy if you are not going to need that much space. The higher the volume the more it will weigh. So, you want a backpack that will hold your gear, yet one you are able to carry when it is packed.


Tactical backpacks are designed for heavy usage; however, this does not mean they should not be comfortable. When you are carrying your pack, you want that is comfortable and easy to carry.

One of the best ways to determine whether a back is comfortable is to read online reviews on some of these military backpacks. These reviews are posted by people just like you who have used the backpack. Additionally, a backpack that has a waist strap and a sternum strap will help distribute the weight of the backpack to increase your comfort level. Choose a backpack with air channels and wide straps to ensure you are comfortable.

One of the biggest downsides to a comfortable pack is that they are normally expensive; however, most dedicated backpackers will tell you that it makes sense to spend the extra money for the extra comfort.

Backpack Capacity

The backpack’s capacity determines the amount of gear you can carry. The capacity is affected by the shape and number of compartments of the backpack.

Bigger is not always better in a tactical backpack. The larger the volume, the heavier your military pack will be when it is full. Therefore, you need to determine the volume you need. You can refer to the EDC backpack buyer’s guide to help you determine the approximate size pack you need. Additionally, the type of activity you will be doing and the length of your trip will affect the amount of volume that will be needed.

Most 30 liter packs are the best choice for day trips. If you will be using the backpack for multiple days, you should choose a tactical pack with at least 40 liters.


The backpack you choose should meet your requirements. Consider the type of items you will be carrying and choose a backpack with compartments to match your gear. The best backpack will contain multiple compartments of varying sizes. These compartments allow you to organize and access your gear quickly.

Material and Durability

The material of the tactical backpack affects its strength and durability. Each type of material has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The most common materials are:

1. Nylon

This material is strong and quickly dries. Additionally, nylon can be waterproofed quite easily.

2. Rip-Stop Nylon

Rip-stop nylon is stronger than traditional nylon and is less likely to rip than standard nylon.

3. Polyester

This material takes longer to dry if it gets wet and isn’t as strong as nylon; however, it does provide more UV protection.

4. Canvas

Canvas has been used for years; however, it is quite heavy. This material is durable and resists most rips and tears.

Other Things to Consider

1. Color

The color of your tactical backpack is a personal choice. Many military backpackers prefer camouflage; however, there are numerous other colors available. Hikers often prefer a bright color to alert hunters that they are in the area. If you are using the bag for survival in an event of a crisis, you should avoid a camouflage because it can alert others that you are carrying supplies.

2. Additional Features

Other features that you may want to consider if you will be using your tactical backpack on long trips include a foam back panel and a rain hood. Another useful feature in tactical backpacks is a hydration system. This allows you to easily carry enough water for your trip.

Loading Types Backpacks can be either front loading or top loading. Front loading backpacks allow for easy access to your gear and feature numerous compartments. This type of backpack is often used for day trips. For longer trips, a top loading backpack is often preferred. These are lightweight with fewer compartments; however, the volume capacity is usually larger.

3. Budget

Your budget will help determine the type of backpack you will buy; however, it is important to realize that in the long run a high-quality backpack will save you money because it will last longer and fulfill your needs.

A backpack with numerous compartments helps you keep your gear organized and easy to get to should a dangerous situation arise. Tactical backpacks allow you to organize your gear and allow for easy access.

As you can see, there are numerous things to consider when choosing a tactical backpack. We have narrowed down the list of the best tactical backpacks to the four listed below. Use the information we have provided to help you choose the best one based on your needs.

What a Consumer Needs to Know to Choose the Best Tactical, Military Backpack – The Nitty Gritty Details

When choosing a backpack, you want one that looks great, is the right sizes and has enough capacity to fill all of your needs. When choosing a backpack, consider what you will primarily be using the backpack for. For example, if you will be using your backpack for outdoor activities, such as hiking, you will need a separate compartment for your food and water. This will protect your other equipment should a leak or spill occur.

Front Load Vs. Top Load Backpacks

Front loading backpacks are great for day packs. These backpacks allow for easy access. With these backpacks, you will not struggle to locate an item that has slipped to the bottom of the backpack. Front loading backpacks often have numerous compartments which allow you to keep your gear separated. Additionally, these backpacks often feature multiple side pockets to help keep you organized.

Most people think of large multi-day backpacks when top loading backpacks are mentioned. However, there are many smaller top loading backpacks available. Top loading backpacks are often lighter than front loading backpacks. These backpacks often do not contain as many compartments as a front loading backpack. This means there are fewer straps, buckles, and materials. Another benefit of a top loading backpack is the ability to strap down gear on the top of the backpack. Finally, compression straps often work better with a top loading backpack because the backpack has less material.

When choosing between the two types of backpacks, you need to consider how much organization you need. If you need a backpack that is well organized, a front loading backpack may be the best option for you. If on the other hand, you need more capacity, a top loading backpack is in order.

Backpack Capacity

The best size for day packs and tactical backpacks is about 30 liters. This size will provide you with the space you need for your gear, food, and water. If you will be carrying more supplies, a larger day pack of around 40 liters should suffice. If you require more space than 40 liters, a multi-day backpack may be in order. There are numerous large capacity backpacks to fulfill your needs.


Most day packs are a one-size fits all. This is because they are adjustable and smaller than the larger multi-day packs. These packs will be fine unless you have a longer than normal or shorter than normal torso. Most torsos range between 15.5 and 20 inches. To help determine the length of your torso, measure from the base of your neck and the top of the hip bone.

When you adjust the shoulder straps on a backpack, you want it nice and snug. However, it should not cut off your circulation. Additionally, do not wear a backpack loose. Although it may seem comfortable in the beginning, over time it will cause strain and fatigue.

Other Things to Consider

1. Sternum Strap

A high-quality backpack will have a strap that runs from one shoulder to the other across your sternum. A sternum strap helps take the pressure off your shoulders and distributes the load more evenly.

2. Lumbar Support

The lumbar support belt helps take the weight of the pack’s contents off your shoulders and transfers it to your hips. The waist strap should fit firmly around your waist for maximum support.

3. Foam Back Panel

A foam back panel contours to your back and allows air to travel between you and your backpack. This foam panel provides comfort and helps keep you cool.

4. Backpack Material

The material used to construct your backpack will affect how durable the backpack is, whether it is waterproof and the weight of the pack. The following table will help you determine the type of material you need for your tactical backpack.

Nylon is a synthetic material that is strong, light and resists tears. Additionally, nylon can be waterproofed easily.

Rip-Stop Nylon is a new fabric that features a square pattern in the material. The fabric is more resistant to tears than normal rayon because larger threads are woven with normal nylon threads to add strength and durability to the fabric.

Cordura Nylon is the most popular fabrics used in day packs. The fabric is light and strong. This material features a looser weave; however, it can be difficult to waterproof.

Canvas backpacks have been around for more than a century. Although they are less common today, they are extremely durable. The material is heavier than synthetic material and waterproofing can be difficult.


Hypalon Patches

If you puncture your backpack or it begins to tear, a Hypalon patch can prevent a tear or a hole from growing. Hypalon is a synthetic rubber that can quickly and easily fix a rip or tear in your ackpack.

Use the information in this article when you go shopping for a day pack or a multi-day pack. By determining how big of a backpack you need, the features you require and the material best suited for your backpack, you can choose a backpack that you will be happy with for years to come.

2019 Military, Tactical Backpack Reviews For Hiking Outdoors

1. The Rush 72 Backpack

This tactical backpack is considered a 3-day backpack, a travel pack (it meets the airline’s size requirements), a bug-out bag or an everyday backpack. This backpack has the following features:


This backpack features a main compartment, a top pocket, two side pockets, a front compartment and numerous internal and external pockets sure to provide you with the space you need. The front compartment features a mesh bottom and the straps can be loosened to create a large pocket. This compartment can be made large enough to carry all of your climbing gear or a helmet. The main compartment features several zippered and mesh internal pockets to help keep your supplies organized. On the front side of the pack, you will find a compartment designed to hold your maps and pens.

The side pockets can hold your water bottles and other items you need to be able to act quickly. The main compartment features a clam shell design which allows for fast and easy access to all of you supplies.

The backpack features a hydration compartment with a port on each side of the backpack for the water tube. A bladder can be placed in the hydration compartment. At the top of the main compartment, there is a fleece lined pocket to hold and protect your cell phone or sunglasses.

This backpack features numerous pockets to help you divide your gear and access it quickly should the need arise. The backpack is MOLLE/PALS compatible. Because of its 1 inch thick webbing that covers the sides and front of the backpack, you can add extra pouches should you need more compartments. The bottom of the pack has four attachment areas which allow you to carry a tent or sleeping bag underneath your backpack.


This backpack is made of 1000D nylon that is tightly sewn with solid threading. Each zipper is designed with a backpacker in mind. The material, although water-repellant is not completely waterproof. If you will be in the drenching rain, you will need a cover foil to protect your gear. Overall, this backpack is well made and will last for many years.

Comfort Features

The bag is quite comfortable; however, the yoke can take some time to get used to. The back ahs four padded areas, which improves airflow. The pack features a sternum and waist strap to help equalize the weight of the pack and transfer the majority of the weight to your hips. The waist and sternum straps are adjustable, ensuring a comfortable fit. The wide shoulder straps are adjustable and feature instant discharge strips. These clips allow you to quickly remove the backpack in an emergency situation. The Rush 72 can hold 60 pounds of supplies; however, most people prefer carrying around 45 pounds.


The Rush 72 has a sleek body. The side pockets do not protrude from the backpack. Additionally, the bag features compression straps to shrink the size of the backpack when it is not full. This feature makes the backpack perfect whether in the city or in the country. The Rush 72 features an adjustable plastic backplate with an aluminum band. This allows you to customize the backpack to your back.

If you need a smaller backpack, look at the 5.11 Rush 24 or Rush 12 backpacks. These backpacks feature many of the same benefits as the larger Rush 72.

2. The Condor 3-Day Backpack

Another wonderful 3-day backpack is the Condor. This robust tactical backpack features 7 total compartments with numerous pouches and pockets to keep all of your gear organized. The pack can hold up to 50 liters of gear. The Condor is made with 1000D water-resistant nylon that is double stitched for strength. The pack has cover flaps to help divert the rain away from your gear.


This backpack has 3 main compartments. The rearmost compartment features a large pocket where 2 3-liter hydration bladders can be stores. this compartment has velcro straps for your hydration tube and is made of mesh. This compartment can also store other handy items such as a laptop. The middle compartment has four net pockets with zippers. The front compartment features 2 zippered pockets and 2 open air pockets.

The main compartment features dual zippers which allow the compartment to be fully opened. The volume of the main compartment is 40 liters. The size of the main compartment is 13 inches by 20 inches by 10 inches (2,600 cubic inches). The Condor’s main compartment has straps and tie downs to help keep your gear in place. This backpack is not waterproof; therefore, your clothing should be stored in a 3 mil bag to keep them dry. The side pockets feature double zippers and can hold a 1-liter water bottle. The Condor backpack can be compressed using the three tie down straps.


Comfort is a major concern to most backpackers, especially those in a survival or tactical situation. Theis backpack will contour to your back and has shoulder and hip straps to help distribute the weight to your hips. The back areas of the 3-day Condor is padded with a quarter of an inch of soft padding. Additionally, four strategic areas on the backpack have an additional 3/8 inch padding. The Condor offers lumbar support. Owners often say that the hip belt system is one of the most comfortable systems they have ever used. The 3 1/2 inch wide 3/4 inch thick shoulder straps provide stability and comfort. Each padded area is covered with nylon to help it stay dry. Finally, the padding helps improve airflow around the back to quickly dry perspiration.

The shoulder straps and hip belt are adjustable. The hip strap will fit waists ranging from 26 inches to 54 inches. The sternum strap on the backpack can be adjusted vertically and horizontally. The straps feature Velcro tie-ups to help prevent strap ends from getting caught in bushes or trees.


Expansion of the Condor 3-Day backpack is easy. Molle webbing covers the front of the backpack and the shoulder straps, which allows you to attach extra gear or pouches. The bottom of the back features 4 ballistic straps for even more gear. This area is the perfect place to attach a sleeping bag or tent.

The Condor 3-Day Assualt Pack has been carefully designed to ensure you a comfortable fit. The bag features durable materials and high-quality craftsmanship. This bag is great for recreational activities as well as tactical operations. This pack can hold a ton of supplies and because of its design is comfortable when full. The bag can be used by people 5 foot 2 inches tall up to 6 foot 6 inches tall because of designs. This is one of the best 3-day backpacks available. It is highly customizable and features dozens of pockets and Molle webbing to ensure you can carry everything you need.

3. Maxpedition Falcon II

This medium-sized backpack has a 5 liter or 150 cubic inch capacity. It is a very versatile backpack and can hold a large amount of gear. It features a layered design and comes with three storage compartments that have mesh pockets on the inside, in addition to a hydration bladder pocket (the bladder is not included). It makes an excellent day pack for use outdoor, the ideal travel companion (can fit under a larger airliner’s seat) or fits a 15-inch laptop along with some textbooks perfectly well.

It is made out of wear-and-tear resistant 1050-Denier nylon material that has a Teflon coating to increase stain and water protection. The bottom of the pack on most models is abrasion-resistant cordura and coated plastic, with the exception of the “digital foligage camo” model which isn’t abrasion-resistant. When new the pack might feel stiff. However it quickly softens up. This backpack is very robust and weighs 2.5 pounds, which feel exactly right.

In use. The pack is able to keep water off for a couple of hours of continuous rain, however the teflon coating will eventually become wet. Therefore, you will need to carry a rain cover. The bottom does not have any drain holes, with the exception of the hydro pack compartment, which means that if the pack lands in a puddle the insides won’t get soaked.

The backpack has breathing and padded shoulder straps, that also come equipped with different loops. The carrying system offers an ergonomic cut shape, which provides great comfort even with heavy loads. You feel practically no pressure on your shoulders, thanks to the backrest’s design and comfortable carrier.

Even when the pack is completely loaded, more gear can still be attached to the PALS webbing, including magazine pouches, carabiners, hatchet, shovel, cord, knives, mat or tent. A jack can be stored in the Y-strap. You can either expand or compress the three storage compartments using the straps that are located on the side. This makes the pack maintain its rectangular shape and stay compact. This pack’s design overall is an open invitation for the hard-core survivalists to be as creative as they want to be.

A useful tip: You can also comfortably carry the Falcon II on your chest while you are carrying something else on your back. This leaves plenty of room for your head and arms to move freely.

4. Spec Ops T.H.E Pack – The Ideal-Sized Travel Backpack

This 2500 cubic inch or 40 liter backpack is ideal for as a travel bag, the 2/3 day hike or even for every day use. It is available in camo color or in black, which is the choice of color for those wanting to use their tactical backpack as a travel pack and every day carry pack. The size of the pack is 19” x 13”x 12,” meaning that it fits into a plane’s overhead compartment perfectly. This is the backpack that I carry around when I am traveling, and also for day hikes and anyplace else I happen to be going.

For those who are searching for a good travel backpack, this is what you have most likely been searching for. The dimensions of this pack are spot-on. The Spec Ops T.H.E. is ideal for travels of one to two weeks (or if you are a minimalist even longer), since there is plenty of room to allow you to bring all of the necessary items with you without needing to have an extra duffel bag.

T.H.E. is short for “Tactical Holds Everything.” The manufacturer has introduced the marketing gimmick to help it appeal to people who like having “tactical” in just about everything. However, it is definitely an all-purpose, high quality pack.

Lots of stuff can fit into a 40 liter pack. It provides you with plenty of space for you to hold everything you need for a 2 to 3 week vacation without any hassles. The space for the Spec Ops T.H.E. is divided between two front pockets, and the main compartment. The bottom pocket is the larger of the two.

The backpack is covered with Molle webbing. It is on the bottom, all of the sides and on the two pockets in the front. If you are taking it to the backwoods or outdoors, you can strap a sleeping bag, a tarp or a tent onto the bottom webbing.

In the pack’s top pocket, I like carrying my emergency kit and my fanny bag containing a whistle, pocket knife, CD for signalling, flash light, compass, head lamp and a couple of other items. I carry the bag with me everyplace I go. In the top pocket, I also have a sleeve that has business cards and pens it, along with an Orange Circle notebook that I really like.

The bottom pocket is where I carry my electronics: another head lamp, GPS, camera, and digital voice recorder. In addition I carry a kit containing some work gloves, a tarp and some other random items.

The bottom pocket is 10” x 12” x 3.5” and the top pocket is 8” x 10” x 2.5”. These pockets have plenty of space in them. The main compartment unzips two thirds down, starting from the top and to the sides. It isn’t a clamshell opening. Instead, it is a trap-door or partial one. I keep my medical kit, Snugpak liner and sleeping bag, cordage kit (with some bungee cords, chargers, wires and plugs), another bag holding miscellaneous items such as gloves, a towel, cap and socks. There is still plenty of space, apart from these, for clothes.

A yellow material lines the inner part of the main compartment to provide contrast and make it easier to find things. It is roomy the way a suitcase is, and when it is on your back, and the straps are properly adjusted, it feels very snug. There is rubber padding on the back part of the compartment, for the comfort of your back, it isn’t too thin or too thick. There is a mesh pocket as well, but it is a solid and stiff kind of mesh that won’t get a hole in it if you place your keys inside it.

When this pack is used for everyday use, you can place books and a laptop inside and they will fit perfectly fine. The pack stays firm, even when it isn’t completely loaded. The Spec Ops T.H.E. is an excellent backpack for any kind of use. For even better load balance, you may want to check out the Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack Frame.

5. Camelbak Motherlode Hydration Pack

Camelbak is the industry-leading name in backpacks with integrated hydration features, and their Motherlode Hydration Pack shows just how the company has earned its sterling reputation. Take a closer look at the Motherlode and you’ll be able to see the quality.

The Motherlode is a daypack that offers 2580 cubic inches of usable space. Its overall external dimensions are 20″ by 14″ by 13.5″. This new version of the Motherlode is sewn from 500-denier nylon where previous editions used 1000-denier material. This translates into a 35 percent savings in weight without sacrificing much in the way of durability.

The pack is covered with MOLLE webbing on the front face and sides. There are four more loops on the bottom of the pack. If you’re not already familiar with the MOLLE system, it’s an incredibly versatile and reliable way to hook your gear together. The Motherlode allows you to extend its capacity by attaching a virtually endless array of accessory pouches and other equipment. There are Velcro strips allowing the addition of patches, too.

The bag’s main compartment features a clamshell-type opening, allowing you near-instant access to all of its contents. The interior of the motherlode isn’t a single yawning pit, though; there are tons of internal organization features. The rear of the bag offers you three layered pockets while the front has a zippered mesh bag. The bag has a reinforced bottom, too. The first rear pocket features a bunch of little subdivisions that are perfect for holding electronics like your phone, GPS, and so forth. This pocket even has a hooked lanyard to secure your most vital gear. The other rear pockets are sized to hold documents. There’s ample space in the front pocket for storing all sorts of gear, such as gloves, hats, rope, first aid kits, ration packs, or other small but important items. The mesh construction gives you a lot of flexibility; you’ll be surprised by just how much you can fit in here.

The pocket in the pack’s “roof” is secured with a two-way zip. The interior of this pocket is fleece-lined, making it a perfect home for relatively delicate gear like glasses. (It’s also great for electronics that might get scratched up in other parts of the bag!)

If you head back to the Motherlode’s main compartment, you’ll find more two-way zippers doing closure duty. It also has compression straps on the sides. The space is subdivided with another mesh pocket with reinforced seams. Bear in mind that since this is a hydration bag you’ll probably want to use a dry bag to protect your gear in the main compartment. (The Motherlode also has drainage holes in the bottom, meaning it definitely isn’t watertight.)

You can really fit a lot of gear in this compartment. Take a look at the loadout I was able to fit into my Motherlode: a Jetboil cooking system, a Snugpak Stratosphere bivvy, an air mattress, and my Snugpak sleeping bag. This didn’t fill the bag up completely; I had space left over. As you’d expect in a Camelbak bag, there’s a drinking bladder in its own separate pocket. This one fits a three liter (100 oz.) bladder. Both the bladder and its drinking tube come with the bag.

The Motherlode makes a great every day carry (EDC) pack when you’re in the city. Without the hydration bladder, you’ll find that the pocket for it is a terrific place to stash a 15″ laptop. There’s even a Velcro patch included for covering the drinking tube port. If you’re getting creative with the bag in the field, though, you can use the port for other applications, like running out a radio antenna.

The specific model of bladder used in the Motherlode is the Antidote. This is Camelbak’s latest and greatest, and it reflects a lot of customer input. Its cap comes off with a simple quarter turn instead of the laborious unscrewing required on earlier bladders. The bladder can be filled while it’s in the bag; you can do this either through the main compartment or from a separate zippered opening in the top of the bladder compartment.

The bag’s fitted with a pair of comfy shoulder straps and a sternum strap that can be adjusted both vertically and horizontally. The back panel has padding where you need it and plenty of air circulation space in between. The Motherlode’s hip belt is adjustable as well, and you can even take it off entirely. It’s secured by a pair of side buckles and some sturdy Velcro under its lumbar pad.

As noted above, the pack has some great compression straps that keep it from getting too bulky even when it’s fully loaded. The ride on your back and shoulders is extremely comfy. Overall, the Motherlode has great ergonomics.

The closest comparable pack to Camelbak’s Motherlode is the 5.11 Rush 24. The Motherlode doesn’t have as many pockets, but you may actually prefer that if you want rapid access to your gear. The detail work on the pack is superb, and it seems the workmanship will be just as durable as the tough fabric. Camelbak has really outdone itself with this pack, and choosing to use the Motherlode will likely take care of your daypack needs for many years to come.

Author Biography

This page was authored by , who represents the Boot Bomb. Brian is backed up by an expert team, made up of experienced family and friends, all of which are knowledgeable in the ways of footwear and/or hiking. His ancestors used to own a shoe store for almost a century. He has lived and breathed footwear for as long as he can remember.

This page was last updated on .


  1. you left out the biggest problem of all in backpacks – the frickin’ zippers. I bought a LIFETIME GUARANTEE backpack from and a zipper broke within 2 months. Oooooooops….. Sorry, we don’t warranty the zippers, you’ll have to buy a new pack.

    no pictures of the packs you’re describing in this article is also quite excellent. no need for links either – thanks.

    • Hi Tharpa,

      Sorry to hear about the zipper problem you experienced.

      This page is a page I once started and due to unforeseen circumstances never finished. I never should’ve published it.

      I will make sure to finish this page soon. I insulted my own website by publishing it in its current state.

      Thanks for pointing this problem out to me. I wish all my fans were as engaged and direct as you are!



  2. These are all great recommendations! Personally, I prefer those with a lot of organizational dividers and pockets so it’s much easier to store away my things, but overall, this is a wonderful article. thanks for sharing!

    • Hi James,

      I hear you… I’ve had many hikes and am always coming up short of pockets to put my stuff in. It was worse way back in the day when I was still a newbie. I’m more picky about my bags nowadays. But when I have more bags, I want to bring along more stuff. And then I run out of pockets again!

      But then again, I suppose a hikers’ life was never meant to be easy. 🙂



  3. Hi, I want to buy a tactical backpack. I’m looking at the 5.11 AMP24, Hazard 4 second front and Tripleaughtdesign Fast Pack EDC, which is of better quality, and better in terms of operation.

    • Hi Jose,

      I haven’t reviewed those backpacks, so I wouldn’t know. But if I were you, I’d search them on Amazon and let the reviews and the ratings tell me the story.



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