There’s just something badass about carrying everything you need to survive on your back.
It’s a feeling of intense satisfaction.
Armed to the teeth and prepared to deal with whatever comes your way.
And it’s something all survival backpacks (and tactical backpacks in particular) make possible.
Having a tactical backpack packed and stacked in your home ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. Or you can use them more often for hikes, camping, hunting, or fishing adventures.
Heck, I even use one to carry my stuff between home and the office, because they make great Get Home Bags.
The point is –
The diversity of their utility is endless.
But, there’s a problem…
In the past, there were only 1 or 2 tactical backpacks on the market to choose from. But nowadays, we’re confronted with a massive variety. Hundreds of brands, styles, sizes, and shapes will quickly jangle one’s sense of clarity.
- How big of a tactical backpack do I need?
- What shade of camo?
- Is “hydration pack compatible” important – what’s it mean?
- What is MOLLE?
- What features should I look for?!
So many questions – it’s overwhelming.
Fear not, though, Skilled Survival has your back.
We’ve done the dirty work, sifting, sorting, researching the world of tactical backpacks, specifically:
- What Is A “Tactical Backpack?”
- Key Features Found In A Quality Tactical Backpack
- 7 Best Tactical Backpacks On The Market Today
**Note: If you just want our top recommendations, feel free to SKIP AHEAD HERE.
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WHAT IS A “TACTICAL BACKPACK?”
I am glad you asked.
They are designed for (as their name implies) intensive tactical purposes.
Tactical backpacks set themselves apart and above other backpacks in every way imaginable. They are a major upgrade to your regular run-of-the-mill Jan-sports back-sack.
Because there are some very important distinctions between these and regular backpacks
Like many of the best survival tools, tactical backpacks were designed originally for the military.
They were (and still are) part of the standard-issue gear that soldiers receive.
These packs are designed to hold the rest of their survival gear and tactical equipment.
In the military, as in the wilderness, your backpack becomes your best friend.
This is why tactical backpacks were engineered to withstand the harshest environments.
The worst abuse you can think of.
These packs need to be reliable – which is why it’s worth spending a little extra cash on a great one.
You want quality when it comes to tactical backpacks.
Which, is exactly what makes them so great for survivalists.
I know plenty of people who use tactical backpacks as their bug-out bags.
I see them on the trails when I’m out hiking, folks using them as an outdoor daypack too.
I’ve also seen them in coffee shops, being used to carry computers, books, and notes.
Yes, tactical backpacks have come a long way from the battlefront.
And it’s only a testament to their utility, to their versatility and practicality.
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KEY FEATURES FOUND IN A QUALITY TACTICAL BACKPACK
The easiest way to look for the right tactical backpack is to learn what makes a good backpack a great one.
Here is the thing, though: a lot of these qualities are subjective. Meaning, from one person to another they might be different.
For example, the decision of what size backpack to get will hinge upon your needs.
The color or type of camouflage you choose should depend on what kind of environment you will be using the pack in.
So always keeping in mind:
“What my situation? What are my needs? How do I intend to use it?”
That being said, here are some general features to look for:
Any backpack used for tactical, survival, or adventures must be tough.
It should be able to withstand the worst-case conditions.
The buckles need to be strong. The straps need to be thick. The zippers need to be of high quality. The seams need to be double stitched… you get the picture.
Seek strength and craftsmanship over extremely low prices or aesthetics.
Of course, you’re going to be carrying this thing on your back (usually packed with gear and supplies).
So naturally, you should look for the lightest-weight bag (assuming high quality).
With that said – Never sacrifice durability for weight.
There is a fine line here. A point at which you start to diminish the resilience of the product as you go super lightweight.
So, keep weight in mind but do not make this priority number one.
Includes A MOLLE System
Pronounced “Molly,” this acronym stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment.
Molle is rows of high-durability nylon straps. They are fixed to the outside of the pack.
This allows users to attach a large variety of Molle-compatible attachments.
Side Note: These attachments are called “PALS”; Pouch Attachment Ladder System.
This allows you to customize your pack for different adventures. It also makes it so you can expand the gear you carry over time.
Multi-compartmets = better organization.
Lots of compartments help you keep similar items together for faster retrieval.
You can separate food items from tools and daily use items, or even keep water in some of them.
I like having lots and lots of separate compartments for my tactical backpacks.
Hydration Pack Compatible
Many packs have a special compartment, hook, and side/top hole for a hydration bladder insert.
I can not overstate the usefulness of this feature.
With a hydration pack, you can drink water from a tube that extends from the bladder on your pack.
Hydration literally hangs over your shoulder on a strap.
You can stay hydrated AND stay on the move.
No need to stop and pull out the water bottle, unscrew, drink, re-screw-repack, and get going again.
Nope. Just sip as you walk, or run, or whatever.
This is important if you intend on carrying your laptop in your tactical backpack.
Now lugging around a laptop in a tactical situation is not the best idea.
However, maybe you want to use your tactical backpack as an everyday carry pack as well.
If you’re going to take it around town with a laptop, then this compartment is an essential feature for you.
But, a laptop compartment doesn’t have to just hold laptops either.
Laptop compartments are used to keep any sensitive electronics safe in tactical environments.
The padding helps keep your electronic gear safe such as:
These compartments are usually sized to fit a small computer perfectly.
The best ones are lined with extra padding to protect delicate electronics. Some even come with a waterproof zipper to protect them from water damage.
The Right Color
Many of these packs come in camo.
It is essential to think about your own environment, and what color will best suit it best.
If you live in Moab, Utah, where everything is red, brown, orange, and rusty, don’t buy a blue-tinted camo pack.
You might want a black one if you travel often at night.
If you’re going to be using it to hunt in the winter, buy a white and blue-tinted camo pack.
Consider yourself, and your own needs before just buying one that looks cool.
It’s an important skill called situational awareness.
Having a backpack that blends into its natural surroundings is desirable in most tactical situations.
This not only helps you evade enemies when it’s on your back – but also keeps them hidden if you need to ditch it.
If your pack is bright pink or hunter orange, well, good luck trying to conceal that neon sign.
Can You Add Plates?
If you want the ultimate tactical backpack, then you’ll want it to be able to carry body armor plates!
They call these types of backpacks – plate carrier backpacks. And they provide some protection to your vitals if bullets happen to be flying in your direction.
Check Out our article about tactical plate carriers – if you want to know about carrying plates for protection.
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BEST TACTICAL BACKPACKS ON THE MARKET TODAY
Some manufacturers make better products than others. And this is no exception when it comes to tactical backpacks.
There are cheap ones, and there are reliable ones.
So here are a few best tactical backpacks on the market today.
The EVATAC™ Combat Bag is a badass bug out bag and an ideal pack for anyone serious about putting together a legit tactical backpack.
It’s the pack that our founder (“Just In Case” Jack) personally owns.
It’s constructed of 600D Polyester which makes it tough as nails.
The Combat Bag’s zipper and clips are heavy-duty and long-lasting.
The padded shoulder straps make carrying this bug out bag very comfortable and there is a chest strap that can sinch this bag down tight to keep it in place if/when you need to run.
There are a total of 10 compartments that can help keep you and your survival gear organized. By the way, these compartments are waterproofed to keep your gear dry.
There’s even a padded compartment that can fit a laptop or other sensitive gear.
The best news is that, at the time of writing, this tactical backpack sells for a fraction of the price of similar bags.
Interested? Check out my detailed review of The Combat Bag by EVATAC:
The Rush72 is a large tactical pack with insanely high Amazon reviews.
It comes in a variety of different colors and includes:
- dual-zippered compartments with YKK zippers
- an organization pouch for pens, maps or documents
- hydration pack compatible
- an extensive MOLLE system
It’s an excellent tactical backpack but you also have to pay a bit more for it.
Reebow Gear wants to bring fans of military gear, the best equipment possible.
All their gear is a standard of high-performance military and tactical gear.
This camouflaged pack comes in black camo or woodland camo colors.
It’s a 34-liter pack, made of high-density, water-resistant nylon fabric.
- side and front-load compression system
- a Molle system, ventilated mesh shoulder strap padding
- a compartment for a hydration pack
You can get this tactical pack at a budget-friendly price point.
LA Police Gear specializes in military and police gear.
This American company is synonymous with high-quality tactical, camping, survival, and everyday gear.
This pack is made from 600D Polyester with PVC coating making it extremely durable.
Available in three colors (black, green, and tan).
This pack has three mesh compartments inside the main compartment.
It also has radio ports and is hydration pack compatible.
At this price, it’s a reliable, high-quality option at a fair price.
The single strap, sling-design of this bag means it can be used as a chest bag, backpack, or shoulder bag.
- multi-compartmental organization
- mesh compartments
- high-quality zippers
- upgraded stitching for enhanced durability
This is the ideal choice if you’re looking for a small tactical backpack.
Something to stash some key gear at the lowest weight possible.
This tactical pack is designed specifically for hunting or shooting purposes.
With compartments designed for holding pistols, targets, ammunition, and other firearm-related gear.
The pistol compartments are padded and lined with a soft material so as not to scratch your firearms.
Perhaps the best part of this pack, though, is its lifetime warranty.
If it ever breaks down or gets ruined due to a defect, you can send it back and Explorer will either refund or replace it.
This 60-liter pack is larger than most.
It’s lightweight, durable, and can comfortably fit several days’ worth of survival supplies.
The Molle system allows for extra external add-ons. This helps you expand and increase the size/carrying capacity of the pack.
This pack comes with a year-long warranty. Giving you peace of mind with the promise of refund or replacement if there is any damage.
Black is the only available color.
THE FINAL WORD
When it comes to choosing a backpack for survival, look no further than a tactical pack.
They are light, they are durable, and can last a lifetime. So much more of an investment compared to standard packs.
Plus, they can be used as:
- go bags
- medical bags
- hunting bags
- shooting bags
- hiking bags
- get home bags
- survival bags
- go bags
- or even just everyday use bags
It’s the reason these packs have become so popular in recent years: they just plain work.
Tactical backpacks are a necessity for any serious survivalist, outdoorsman, prepper, or hunter.
If you need a pack, something that’s going to last a long time and serve you well; get yourself a tactical one.
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