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The Best Tactical Backpacks of 2024

Whether you’re looking for a bag for day hiking or everyday use, the best tactical backpack should offer a perfect combination of ample storage, practical features, and all-day comfort.
best tactical backpacks
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It’s simple. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time wearing a backpack, choose a reliable one. Unlike many other backpack categories, tactical backpacks offer lots of utility for a wide variety of activities including long hikes, military deployment, traveling, and cycling.

Good tactical backpacks have numerous pockets, compartments, and clever features. Features to look for include external ports for nozzles and cables, hydration bladder compatibility, two-way radio holders, compartments for medical supplies, and more.

Exactly what makes a backpack “tactical” is open for interpretation. Unlike other packs that are geared toward ultralight outdoor use or daily trips to the office, tactical backpacks aim for versatility above all else. Oh, and they tend to feature camo patterns, heavy-duty materials, and tons of external lash points.

For both professional and recreational applications, tactical backpacks offer carefully structured layouts that carry comfortably and keep gear secure — even when packed with heavy loads.

We’ve examined and reviewed options from across the tactical backpack market and determined which packs rank among the best in 2024. While coming up with this list of recommendations, we pored over lists of specs and features to identify the packs worth testing in person. Folks on the GearJunkie team regularly test and deploy tactical backpacks in the field — as first aid bags, hunting packs, everyday laptop haulers, and more.

Scroll through our list to view our top picks. If you need help deciding, refer to our buyer’s guide and FAQ below for more tips on how to choose the best tactical backpacks for your needs. For a quick look at specs and prices side-by-side, check out our comparison chart.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article on November 15, 2023, to include one new product and lots of new detailed buying advice.

The Best Tactical Backpacks of 2024

Best Overall Tactical Backpack

Mystery Ranch 2 Day Assault Pack


  • Capacity 27 L
  • Weight 3 lbs.
  • Carry-on size Yes
  • Hydration bladder compatible Yes
Product Badge The Best Tactical Backpacks of 2024


  • Durable materials
  • Highly versatile for overnight adventures or everyday use
  • Easy-to-use three-zip opening
  • Lightweight


  • Not fully waterproof
Best Budget Tactical Backpack

REEBOW Gear Tactical Backpack


  • Capacity 40 L
  • Weight N/A
  • Carry-on size Yes
  • Hydration bladder compatible Yes
The Best Tactical Backpacks of 2024


  • Affordable
  • Good capacity for 2- or 3-night trips
  • Durable for the price
  • Hip and sternum straps for heavy loads


  • Waist belt not large enough for some users
Best Large Capacity Tactical Backpack

5.11 RUSH100


  • Capacity 60 L
  • Weight 5.74 lbs.
  • Carry-on size No
  • Hydration bladder compatible Yes
The Best Tactical Backpacks of 2024


  • Lots of pockets for ease of organization
  • Heavy-duty fabrics and zippers
  • Many options for modular customization of storage systems
  • Adjustable torso strap includes quick release and load lifters
  • Main compartment opens all the way for convenient packing and unpacking


  • Not very water-resistant
  • Not the most comfortable waist strap
Best Medical Pack

Mystery Ranch Mole Pouch


  • Capacity 22 L
  • Weight 4.9 lbs.
  • Carry-on size Yes
  • Hydration bladder compatible No
The Best Tactical Backpacks of 2024


  • Highly configurable
  • Lots of tactical features for military personnel or medical professionals
  • Internal main pocket is easily customizable
  • Designed with quick access to essential medical equipment in mind
  • Heavy duty and compact


  • Expensive compared to other similarly sized packs
  • Specific function that does not offer versatility outside of medical applications
Most Comfortable

Kelty Redwing


  • Capacity 30, 44, 50 L
  • Weight 2.75 lbs. (30 L)
  • Carry-on size Yes (30 and 44 L)
  • Hydration bladder compatible Yes
The Best Tactical Backpacks of 2024


  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Versatile hybrid-loading U-zipper design
  • Well cushioned shoulder and hip straps


  • A little heavy for its size
Best of the Rest

SOG Ninja


  • Capacity 24.2 L
  • Weight 1.6 lbs.
  • Carry-on size Yes
  • Hydration bladder compatible Yes
The Best Tactical Backpacks of 2024


  • Affordable
  • Water-resistant
  • Integrated laptop sleeve
  • Multiple hydration hose ports
  • Breathable mesh helps prevent sweating


  • No waist strap

Monoki Military 3-Day Assault Pack


  • Capacity 35 L or 42 L
  • Weight N/A
  • Carry-on size Yes
  • Hydration bladder compatible No
The Best Tactical Backpacks of 2024


  • Breathable back panel
  • Included sternum and waist straps for heavy loads
  • Ergonomic design
  • MOLLE webbing system for exterior storage


  • Waist strap is not padded

24 BattlePack


  • Capacity Up to 40 L
  • Weight 2.7 lbs.
  • Carry-on size Yes
  • Hydration bladder compatible Yes
The Best Tactical Backpacks of 2024


  • Collapsible and expandable design
  • Internal features include a concealed carry holster and laptop storage
  • Waterproof lining and rugged metal zippers


  • Short straps are not ideal for taller users

5.11 Tactical AMP12 Backpack


  • Capacity 25 L
  • Weight 2.9 lbs.
  • Carry-on size Yes
  • Hydration bladder compatible Yes
The Best Tactical Backpacks of 2024


  • Lightweight and durable
  • Compatible with 5.11 gear sets
  • Full clamshell zipper for easy packing and unpacking
  • Hydration and laptop-compatible
  • Heavy-duty and water-resistant 500-denier outer material
  • Fleece-lined eyewear/media pocket


  • More expensive than other bags of its size

Tactical Backpacks Comparison Chart

Tactical BackpackPriceCapacityWeightCarry-on SizeHydration Bladder Compatible
Mystery Ranch 2-Day Assault Pack$22927 L3 lbs.YesYes
REEBOW Gear Tactical Backpack$5127 LN/AYesYes
Kelty Redwing$12030, 44, 50 L2.75 oz.Yes (30 and 44 L)Yes
SOG Ninja$42-6024.2 L1.6 lbs.YesYes
5.11 RUSH 100$25560 L5.74 lbs.NoYes
Monoki Military 3-Day Assault Pack$32-4035 – 42 LN/AYesNo
24 BattlePack$6040 L2.7 lbs.YesYes
5.11 Tactical AMP12 Backpack$15025 L2.9 lbs.YesYes
Mystery Ranch Mole Pouch$61522 L4.9 lbs.YesNo
The Kelty Redwing makes a great everyday in-town pack — but it’s built for rugged use too; (photo/Austin Beck-Doss)

How We Tested Tactical Backpacks

Between quick-hit weekend trips and everyday carry, the GearJunkie team is constantly testing and using tactical backpacks. We’ve used tactical backpacks as medical kits, hunting gear haulers, and travel bags. The recommended products on this list result from many years of testing.

When testing packs, we pay careful attention to ease of use, long-term durability, comfort, and overall value. Impressive-sounding features might look good on paper, but they don’t always translate to actual performance. Our testing aims to determine a pack’s true utility.

The definition of “tactical pack” is up for interpretation. When selecting packs to consider for this list, we sought out models with traditional military styling and features such as MOLLE webbing systems and concealed carry compartments.

As design updates and new products roll out across the market, we’ll make sure to keep our fingers on the pulse of the tactical backpacks and test out any new styles that have the potential to stand out. This list of recommendations is always in flux — it includes the best tactical backpacks on the market at any given time.

Buyers Guide: How to Choose a Tactical Backpack

mystery ranch urban assault
Every pack on this list is durable and versatile — the subtle differences come in the form of unique features; (photo/Mystery Ranch)

There are many high-quality tactical backpacks on the market in 2024. These packs come in various sizes, styles, brands, and colors, and it can be difficult to figure out which one best meets your needs.

It’s important to understand which features you most need from a tactical backpack before purchasing one. Some backpacks on this list are made for specific purposes, like field medics and military personnel. Others are more versatile and would be suitable for both professional and recreational use.

If you’re looking for a compact and low-profile bag for quick day missions, you don’t want a clunky 60L bag. Likewise, if you need a large backpack to store 3 days’ worth of camping supplies, avoid packs that are made for students on the go.

The purpose of this buyer’s guide is to help you determine the different characteristics and features available in the tactical backpack market and help you make an educated purchase. The essential considerations for purchasing the best tactical backpack for your needs include materials, budget, capacity, and extra features.

Materials and Durability

terraframe 50 3-zip
A Mystery Ranch pack alongside a behemoth barrel cactus; (photo/Peter Reese)

Most technical backpacks have an outer material made from abrasion-resistant polyester, nylon, or oxford. These materials typically come with a denier rating, which basically rates how thick and sturdy the material is overall. While denier rating can be a clue, we don’t view the number as the end-all-be-all marker of durability. In general, shoot for a denier rating of at least 500.

Tactical backpacks are made to be more durable than “regular” backpacks. Ideally, your next pack will last a lifetime. On this list, the Mystery Ranch 2 Day Assault Pack and Kelty Redwing offer unmatched durability.

If you are concerned with waterproofing, make sure you buy a pack with a water-resistant coating. A good coating will force water to bead on the surface instead of absorbing into and soaking your bag.

Common wear points on tactical backpacks include zippers, straps, and buckles. We believe all of the packs on this list use quality components. Still, the 5.11 Tactical AMP12 stands out for its hardiness and attention to detail.


Tactical backpacks on this list range in price from around $35 to over $600. First, decide what your actual backpack budget is, and then try to find the highest-quality option within your range. If you’re seeking the best possible value for the lowest investment, we think the REEBOW Gear Tactical Backpack offers supreme bang for your buck.

Sometimes, paying more money means additional features like padded waist straps and insulated hydration sleeves. But other times, prices are simply tied to brand recognition. At the top end of our list, the $615 Mystery Ranch Mole Pouch is a specialized medical kit with tons of purpose-built compartments for field medics and wilderness medicine providers.

Reliable tactical backpacks don’t have to cost $250+; (photo/Austin Beck-Doss)

Capacity and MOLLE

Liters denote the volume of a pack’s carrying capacity. While every bag on this list has an efficient design that is meant to maximize the available storage, the total volume varies greatly. The greater the backpack’s volume, the more gear it can haul.

Everyday-use backpacks usually range in size from 10 to 35 L. This volume is great for day trips, school, carry-on luggage, and work. On this list, the 30 L Kelty Redwing is a stellar and versatile day pack.

Multiday packs — sometimes known as assault packs — hover around 40-60 L. This larger capacity allows you to store enough gear for a single or double overnight trip. The 5.11 Rush100 sports plenty of space and padding for carrying lots of gear for multiple days (and nights).

Assault packs are often specifically designed to store sleeping bags, cookware, water, food, weapons, and tents. Usually, packs of this size also include a built-in hydration system and a port for a drinking tube that can be accessed on the go.

In 2024, all tactical backpacks utilize hardy zippers and organizational compartments. On the outside or the front panel, many packs also have a MOLLE webbing system for custom and modular exterior storage.

MOLLE is an acronym for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. MOLLE backpacks have a series of fixed points sewn into the pack’s fabric. Small pouches can easily be attached to these fixed points, or you can simply attach gear directly to the MOLLE with carabiners.

Extra Features

Interior mesh pouches can help organize your pack’s contents; (photo/ Pete Reese)

In addition to the basic ability to carry gear, tactical backpacks come with a whole host of extra features. These features vary in their application and purpose, so look for features that will have actual value in your life.

Common features include hydration bladder capability, laptop storage, MOLLE, specialized compartments, integrated concealed carry holsters, and more. Need a pack for long hikes in the summer sun? Look for plentiful water storage. Packing for a military deployment? Choose a pack that suits your mission.

Some packs, like the Mystery Ranch Mole, have many features that are specifically meant for medical applications. This is great if you’re a medical professional, but fairly useless if you aren’t. Features and their layout differentiate one tactical backpack from the next.


Well-padded hip and shoulder straps are tough to find on a tactical pack. The Kelty Redwing is a welcome exception; (photo/Austin Beck-Doss)
What are tactical backpacks for?

Tactical backpacks offer several different applications and purposes. Simply put, a tactical backpack is a specialized backpack that is durable, modular, and packed with useful features.

Some tactical backpacks focus on hunting, with field medics using others. Tactical backpacks take after designs originating in the military, but not all tactical backpacks are for military personnel.

Who should carry a tactical backpack?

In short, anyone who wants a reliable and heavy-duty backpack. While tactical backpacks look different than recreation-focused backpacks, they are often great options for camping and backpacking trips.

Many people choose to utilize tactical backpacks in their professional lives. Tactical bags are popular among law enforcement, medical professionals, and military personnel. Many people use tactical backpacks as go bags — bags that are packed and ready to go in the event of an emergency or evacuation.

What kind of backpack does the military use?

The military uses a variety of backpacks depending on the branch and the specific application. Many military rucksacks are very similar to the options featured on this list.

What should I pack in my tactical backpack?

Anything you want! Just like a normal backpack, a tactical backpack will hold any gear you choose to stuff into it.

However, many tactical backpacks are specifically designed to hold certain kinds of gear. Some options on this list hold camping gear, while others are better suited for carrying medical supplies.

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