Combat Carriers: 15 Best Tactical Backpacks

For most city folk and/or college students, a pretty basic everyday backpack is enough to get by. For others – those who take a rockier path, be that in the desert, woods, winter tundra, or wherever else – a bit more toughness and functionality can be an absolute necessity. Especially if you’re hoping for that backpack to survive whatever gauntlet through which you plan to put it.

For those of us who need a carry solution that’s capable, rugged, and perhaps even modular and expandable, there are tactical bags. But slapping the word ‘tactical’ onto the name of a product does not make it so – earning the title requires a bit more gumption. Which is why we put together this list of tactical backpacks that deserve being called the best there is. Whether hoofing it through the mountains on a long hunting trip or just hauling some of your best everyday carry gear, these are the bags to get you through it.

SOG Opord Tactical Day Pack

SOG was born in the military industry, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that this brand – known best, perhaps, for making superb knives – has one of the best tactical bags on the market. What might surprise you, however, is exactly how budget-friendly this pack is. With MOLLE webbing and a Durable Water Repellant coating, it’s surprisingly durable and functional, but at a fraction of the cost. Keep in mind, though, that $34 is still $34 and you shouldn’t expect this bag to go to the ends of the earth – not, at least, more than once.

Size: 39.1L
Material: Polyester

Purchase: $34+

Seibertron Falcon Tactical Backpack

With a brand name that sounds like it’s out of a sci-fi movie, you might expect Seibertron to produce fashion-forward technical bags. You’d be wrong, of course, as they’re actually responsible for making this very military-styled tactical backpack. Made from high-denier waterproof nylon, this MOLLE-ready pack can take a beating and keep right on going. Plus, it features a trio of zippered pouches to help with keeping your gear organized. An important note: despite the photos on the listing, this bag does not have a dedicated hydration pouch, so keep that in mind if you’re considering this one.

Size: 37L
Material: 900D Waterproof Nylon

Purchase: $50

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack

A brilliant balance of capacity, organization, simplicity, and affordability – Condor’s 3 Day Assault Pack is one of the strongest contenders for the best bang-for-your-buck tactical bag. It has a massive main compartment, a hydration pouch that can fit both 2L and 3L bladders, has a foam back panel for increased comfort and ventilation, and even comes with a sternum strap and waist belt (both removable) for extra stability on long hikes. Really, it would be hard to find anything wrong with this bag.

Size: 50L
Material: 1000D Nylon

Purchase: $75+

HAZARD 4 Plan-B Sling Pack

For some folks, mobility is a bit more important than capacity – and a bag with fewer liters of carry space can mean a much easier time getting from point A to point B as fast as possible. If you fall into that category, then the Hazard 4 Plan-B sling is probably for you. With over 17 liters of storage, it’s still big enough to haul a good amount of gear, but it’s much sleeker than beefier full-on backpacks. It also features a pouch that can fit up to a 2.5L hydration pack; has a wide padded sling strap for secure, easy, and stable carry; and is MOLLE-ready for additional modular pouches.

Size: 17.7L
Material: 1000D Cordura Nylon

Purchase: $81+

CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack

Yes, from a hauling standpoint, the CamelBak M.U.L.E. is the smallest on our list. But you have to consider the reason for that: it houses a 3L hydration pack while managing to have one of the slimmest profiles of any other bag, measuring up at just 3 inches deep. Besides, isn’t that exactly what the MOLLE grid on the outside of the pack is for – expanding your carry. If you’re looking for an outdoor-centric tactical bag that won’t weigh you down while out on the trails, this one might be your best bet. Besides, it’s a lot easier than carrying a water bottle by hand.

Size: 8L
Material: 100% Nylon

Purchase: $110+

5.11 Tactical RUSH72 Backpack

If there’s anything that 5.11 Tactical does impressively, it’s – well – tactical gear. So the fact that their RUSH72 backpack is on our list should seem like a given. But don’t let the fact that it’s the obvious choice fool you, because it’s obvious for some very good reasons. For instance, this bag can hold a whopping 55 liters of gear, and that’s without any added modular packs. Plus, while it is constructed of super-durable nylon, that nylon is also water-repellant thanks to a PUx2 coating. The internal pockets are also PUx2 coated, for good measure, plus it has a padded hydration pouch to keep you hydrated at all times. In this case, obvious is very good.

Size: 55L
Material: PUx2-Coated 1050D Nylon

Purchase: $125+

Grey Ghost Gear Assault Backpack

Designed specifically to meet Special Ops weight requirements, this lightweight tactical backpack is made from super sturdy nylon, is done up with MOLLE webbing from front to back (and on the sides), has padded shoulder straps that are also stowable, and features a 3L hydration pouch – so you can stay hydrated on the go. And while it sounds like it’s comparable to just about all the other bags on this list, it’s also around 30% lighter than bags of similar features and size, giving it a serious leg up on the competition.

Size: 19.2L
Material: 500D Cordura Nylon

Purchase: $125

Spec-Ops T.H.E. Pack, Tactical

If you’re going to be bold enough to call your brand “Spec Ops,” you’d better be able to back it up with some really exceptional gear. And as anyone who has gotten their hands on T.H.E. Pack, Tactical can tell you, they certainly have. While it’s not loaded with technical features, this bag has a hefty capacity, is made from extremely durable nylon, features a wealth of MOLLE attachment webbing (if its volume isn’t already enough), and features compression straps to keep everything tight and stable. And it certainly helps that this bag is made in the USA and has a lifetime guarantee.

Size: 42L
Material: 1000D Cordura Nylon

Purchase: $198

T.A.D. FAST Pack Litespeed

Regarded by some as the greatest backpack in existence, Triple Aught Design’s FAST Pack Litespeed is put up on a pedestal in the everyday carry and tactical worlds. But, it also has the features to back up its standing – and then some. For starters, it’s made from Cordura nylon – which is just one of the best materials out there. But it also features Hypalon rubber reinforcements, high-tech foam padding, moisture wicking mesh, and more. Oh yeah, and it’s also made in the USA. It’s also worth noting – the all black version is actually 500D nylon, as opposed to 1000D for the rest of the options.

Size: 22L
Material: 1000D Cordura Nylon

Purchase: $245+

P.D.W. S.H.A.D.O. Pack

To clarify, S.H.A.D.O. stands for suspension, haul, access, durability, and organized – which sums up the whopping number of strengths this bag has pretty well. It helps, too, that it was built entirely in California from the ground up. A bit more stylish than most of the other bags on our list, this pack is still loaded with features from dual clamshell compartments, to a hydration pouch with dual tube ports, to a wealth of internal organizational pockets, and so much more. Sure, it’s lacking MOLLE webbing (and, therefore, modularity), but it makes up for it with the sheer number of other impressive features.

Size: 28L
Material: 500D Cordura Nylon

Purchase: $260

Mystery Ranch ASAP Assault Pack

While we love Mystery Ranch’s Urban Assault Pack – with its unique 3-zipper quick-access opening – we found that it was lacking some of the tactical functionality we like in similar assault-style bags. Of course, that was a symptom of it’s purpose as a city-dwelling everyday carry pack. They fixed that issue, however, with their ASAP – which offers all the same great features as the UAP, but also equips the outside of the bag with PALS webbing for modular attachments. And while the quick-access and storage options certainly put this bag in the conversation for best tactical pack, it’s bolstered even further by the fact that it has both Teflon and PU coatings for added durability and weatherproofing.

Size: 20L
Material: Teflon & PU-Coated 500D Cordura Nylon

Purchase: $275

GoRuck GR1 Tactical Backpack

No, the GR1 does not have PALS webbing across its entire facade. But, let’s be honest, who is actually using all of that webbing, anyway? At most, people only need an extra pouch or two of expanded carry capacity – which means that the GR1 has more than enough. Even if you think the lack of webbing is a drawback, this bag more than compensates with something few other bags can claim: bombproofing. No, the entire bag isn’t bombproof, but it does have a bombproof laptop sleeve. And yes, that means it can literally survive an explosion. And that’s just one of the things that makes this one of the best bags ever built.

Size: 21-40L
Material: 1000D Cordura Nylon

Purchase: $295

Eberlestock FAC Track Pack

If you’re going on a long-haul trek, the most important thing to have on you is water. And while most tactical bags offer a single pocket for a hydration pack, Eberlestock’s FAC Track Pack actually has 5 different compatible pouches. That means you can carry up to 15 liters of water with you at any given time. And if you don’t use all that space for H2O, you can load it with other gear. It’s also covered in MOLLE webbing from head to toe, has a huge clamshell opening on the main compartment (which has even more MOLLE webbing inside), and is waterproof.

Size: 31L
Material: 500D Waterproof Cordura Nylon

Purchase: $299

Kifaru X-Ray Tactical Bag

Probably the closest thing to a traditional mil-spec rucksack on our list, Kifaru’s X-Ray tactical backpack has got all your bases covered, even in the harshest of terrains. It’s covered in PALS webbing, has a flip top main compartment for a little extra elemental protection, has compression straps to keep everything tight and secure (or you can remove them if you aren’t using them), and has a hydration pocket that doubles as a laptop pouch. While it certainly has a more aggressive appearance than most EDC bags, it works great both in the city or in the wilderness.

Size: 32.7L
Material: 500D Cordura Nylon

Purchase: $376

Arc’teryx Assault Pack

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without something from the master craftsmen at Canadian outdoor gear manufacturer, Arc’teryx. And, as you’d expect from the technical brand, their tactical Assault bag looks a lot sleeker than other similar bags on the market. Sure, that’s not going to appeal to the military crowd, but for those who want similar features in a more contemporary package, this bag can’t be beat. 45 liters of storage, modular attachment points, a compression strap grid, a hydration pouch, and more – this is definitely a top tier tactical bag.

Size: 45L
Material: 500D HT Cordura Nylon

Purchase: $499

The Ultimate Guide To Mil-Spec Outdoor Gear

While it’s a term that gets tossed around a lot, ‘military specification’ actually has a pretty specific meaning. Find out what that is and how it applies in our ultimate guide to mil-spec outdoor gear.

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