How To Choose The Best Tactical Backpack For Preppers

If you’re in a hurry and want to know which is the overall best tactical backpack we found, check out the 5.11 Tactical RUSH 24 Backpack.

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Choosing the best tactical backpack is not easy. 

There are many important variables including durability, storage, comfort, and versatility.

So we thought it would be helpful if we did the legwork and found some options for you with these variables in mind.

In this article we will review the following tactical backpacks:

Whether it be for your next everyday carry bag, or your total survival bug out get home bag, we hope you find these options useful to find the best tactical backpack for you. 

If you would like to read each of the reviews on how we came to our decision, you can jump to them using the table of contents below.

Or read on to understand how you can determine which is the best tactical backpack for yourself.

Why A Tactical Backpack May Be Right For You

If you’re tired of having to dig to the bottom of your bag to find that thing you need most. 

Or if never being able to find anything frustrates you to all hell. 

A tactical backpack may be the answer to organizing that jumbled mess of a bag into a systematized and accessible utility. 

It doesn’t do you any good to have a bunch of gear if you can’t find it when you need it most. 

What To Look For In A Tactical Backpack

If you think all tactical backpacks are the same, you may be right. 

A lot of what’s out there comes from the same manufacturers in China and branded for resale in the US. 

Yet, there are important differences that will make one bag better than another. 

The first thing you will want to check on whether your bag is going to hold up. 

Check the fiber thickness (also known as denier) of the individual threads that make up the fabric used to build the bag.

The average denier range for most tactical bags is between 600D and 1000D, the ‘D’ being for denier. 

The next thing is the material itself. 

The material used in tactical gear is either high-density nylon, like CORDURA nylon fabric, polyester, or canvas. 

In general, thread thickness kept equal, nylon will be stronger than polyester, and polyester stronger than canvas. 

Nylon is often a better option when durability is of the utmost importance. 

Heavier fabrics will have a higher resistance to tearing, but will, of course, weigh more. 

So, you should decide what’s more important when choosing a material. Weight or durability? 

Next is how much space you need. Get a bag that’s too big, and you will fill it with stuff you don’t need. Carrying excess weight will hold you back when you need to be quick. 

Get a bag that’s too small, and you run the risk of leaving behind tools that can be critical to your survival. 

It’s best to know what you’re packing before you buy so you know what volume your bag needs to have. 

Avoid the unwelcome surprise of ordering a bag that looks good only to find you can’t get all your gear to fit in it. 

Identify if it’s MOLLE compatible. It will help you feel better knowing that you can always add on purpose-built pouches later in the event you forget something.

Finally, the most important thing and the hardest to determine is comfort. 

Does the bag have enough padding in the right places to keep you comfortable? Will it protect your cargo when you’re on the move and inevitably drop your bag? 

Does it come with compression straps in the right places to distribute the weight on your back? 

This all may seem trivial, but planning ahead and getting the right bag for the right job will make all the difference. 

What Color Is Right For Your Tactical Backpack? 

There tends to be a little controversy about choosing a color for your tactical backpack. 

Some love the drab olive and khaki camo patched ensemble. 

While others go for the classic gray or chic black. 

But the reality is, there is only one right answer.

The color you choose should be right for the job. 

In all scenarios, you don’t want to stand out. 

If you’re in an urban environment, the camo will make you stand out more than blend in. 

The same goes for a black or gray in a rural environment.

The aim is to not paint a target on your back. 

So before you pick your favorite color, take a moment to think about the environment where you will use the bag.

If you plan to be in many different environments… then get one in every color! 

How To Pack Your Tactical Backpack

More Questions About Tactical Backpacks

What Does MOLLE Compatible Mean? 

MOLLE is an acronym for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. It is a web of rows made of heavy-duty nylon stitched on to your bag. It allows you to attach compatible pouches and accessories so that you can carry more tools that will not fit in your pack. 

What Is A Reasonable Budget For The Best Tactical Backpack?

You will find the market price for a tactical backpack will range anywhere from $29.99 to $399.99 or more. A high price doesn’t mean the highest quality, but, higher quality does tend to come with a higher price. 

What Is The Best Size For A Tactical Backpack?

The best size for you will depend on how much stuff you intend to carry. Don’t get a bag that looks good, and then come to realize it doesn’t have enough room to carry all your gear and blame the bag. Sounds obvious. But it’s surprising how many people buy something that looks good, only to find it’s half the size they expected. 

What Is The Difference Between A Sling And A Double Strap Tactical Backpack?

A tactical backpack with a sling strap is a singular strap that goes across the chest or over a single shoulder. It allows you to swing it around with ease. Where a double strap is your classic style that hangs fixed over both shoulders. Using one over the other comes down to personal preference. Ask yourself how easily you want to be able to get into your bag without having to take it off to help you decide.

What Is The Best Tactical Backpack For A Woman?

Generally, all tactical backpacks are unisex. There are some who advertise tactical backpacks for women. But, the only difference is they are stereotypical feminine colors. We don’t recommend getting a bright colored bag when your goal is to blend in.

What Are The Best Tactical Backpack Sizes For Kids Or Dogs?

Depending on their age (or size) most bags will fit children. The thing to pay attention to is volume. You don’t want to overload your young prepper with a 60L pack that weighs more than they do. As for Fido, yes, there are tactical carry harnesses for them as well. No free rides! 

Our Best Tactical Backpack Choices

The Best Military Tactical Backpack

5.11 Tactical RUSH 24 Backpack

best tactical backpack Rush 24
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5.11 is a brand known for top-of-the-line tactical gear. They do not disappoint with the latest survival bag in the RUSH series — a collection of ideal bags for active duty military, hunting, or getting home. 

It is on the pricier end of the spectrum. But it comes with the highest quality 1000D nylon material, reinforced handles, and self-repairing YKK zippers. 

It has 29 individual compartments, including a separate pocket for hydration.

The separate pocket avoids getting your stuff wet from the inside. Its water-repellent coating keeps your stuff dry from the outside. 

If any water does get in, the twin drainage grommets will make sure it doesn’t stay that way for long. 

It boasts a 37L (2275 cubic inches) of total storage space that will invite you to fill every crevice. The main compartment itself is 33L. But, if you do need more room, it comes in a larger size. 

It is also compatible with the 5.11 Tier System. A system of clips that allows you to clip on extension packs. This can give you more space when you need it if you want to avoid having an extra-large bag all the time. 

If you want to carry something specific it is MOLLE compatible on three sides. Add whatever other purpose-built pouches you need to get the job done.

While it’s heavy, it is our pick as the most durable tactical backpack due to its superior construction and quality material. 

  • Many individual compartments to keep you organized and provide easy access
  • Stores your everyday carry items during the week and your hiking and shooting gear on the weekends. 
  • Large and roomy main compartment. 
  • Comes with a stuff-it pocket to hold awkward or bulky items
  • Durable high-quality nylon, double stitching, and YKK zippers.
  • MOLLE webbing for add-ons
  • Extension strap system for adding more room when you need it.
  • No waist belt to get in your way, but does have the ability to add one of your own if you need it.
  • Does not expand for oversized items. 
  • Heavy. Empty weight is 4.2lbs.
  • Higher Price

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The Best EDC Tactical Backpack

Hannibal Tactical 36L

best tactical backpack Hannibal tactical 36L

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Hannibal has a line of tactical bags from lightweight assault bags, to more resistant rucksacks. We found the middle ground with the Hannibal Tactical 36L backpack to be our pick. 

The most appealing attribute has to be the price! For the size and quality, we couldn’t find a better option on the market.

We especially like the ability to open the main compartment to full width. The zipper wraps around the bottom and allows you to open it like a suitcase or a brief-case. 

This is great for light travel needs or getting to your gear without having to empty your sack and repack it. 

It comes with all the standard features you would expect in a tactical backpack. You have organizational compartments, hydration pocket, three-sided MOLLE compatibility, and water-resistant material. 

Overall it makes for a great tactical backpack for almost every situation and any budget. 

  • Wide enough to fit a full-sized laptop or 3-Ring Binder (if you still use those)
  • Thick mesh padding in the shoulder and back pads for comfort
  • Full open main compartment for easy access to your gear
  • The ergonomic design maintains airflow and reduces sweating
  • Pocket for up to 3L Hydration pack
  • High quality to price ratio
  • Reduced-weight material leads to less durability for long-term needs
  • MOLLE holes seem smaller than standard.

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The Best Spacious Tactical Backpack

REEBOW GEAR 40L Tactical Assault Backpack

best tactical backpack Reebow gear 40L

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REEBOW GEAR has produced a range of packs to compete on price and quality with some of the bigger name brands. We found the 40L to be the most spacious.

Its 40L of total storage fulfills all your basic everyday carry and organizational needs. It will also hold anything extra you need to get you home in an emergency.

We found it can hold a change of clothes for up to two people, first aid kit, food for up to three days, stove, cookware, and water bottles and purifiers without a problem. 

Works great as a range bag, holding up to three full-sized pistols. You can also get your eye and ear protection. Up to 1000 rounds of varying caliber ammo. And still have room to spare for your lunch. 

It uses staggered compression straps for maximum compactness so you can keep it high and tight.

If you do manage to fill it, the MOLLE webbing on three sides will let you add on anything else you need to carry. 

The main compartment also opens to full width if you need to dig something out of the bottom and avoid having to take everything out. 

  • 40L of total storage gives you the space you need to carry more and fit larger items.
  • Organizational compartments provide easy access and make things easy to find.
  • High quality to price ratio
  • Standard MOLLE system
  • Water-resistant
  • Zipper pulls made from paracord to avoid jingle
  • High-density and water repellent polyester. 
  • Lightweight. Under 2lbs. 
  • Lacks padding in shoulders and waist straps.
  • Reduced-weight material leads to less durability for long-term needs

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The Best Small Tactical Backpack

REEBOW GEAR Shoulder Sling Tactical BackPack

best tactical backpack Reebow gear shoulder sling

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This is our second bag from REEBOW GEAR. The first was our favorite for the amount of space you get. Our second choice is because of the amount of space you don’t get. 

Sometimes having too much space can be a bad thing. So we wanted to provide you with an option for just the essentials. 

This is not an assault bag. This is not a one or three day pack. This is not a bug out bag. 

This is a small ultralight bag that you can stuff your EDC and a few clips, a flashlight, a multitool, first aid essentials, and maybe an iPad mini. 

If you do need to carry a few extra things and want to keep your hands free it is MOLLE compatible on three sides. Clip on any other gear that doesn’t fit in the compartments. 

Don’t get this bag and then be surprised by how small it is. It is a SMALL tactical sling backpack for a few essential items. 

Did we say it was small? 

  • Stays out of your way. 
  • It’s light. 
  • High quality to price ratio
  • Standard MOLLE system
  • Water-resistant
  • Zipper pulls made from paracord to avoid jingle
  • Lacks padding in shoulders and waist straps. But being it won’t carry much, you’re not going to need padding for carrying heavy loads
  • Reduced-weight material leads to less durability for long-term needs

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The Best Tactical Laptop Backpack

Matein Anti-Theft Urban Survivalist Backpack

best tactical backpack Matein anti-theft

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For you urban survivalists running through airports more often than the woods, we have a tactical backpack for you too. 

The Matein Urban Survivalist sports two sizes 27L and a 35L of total storage. They divided the space among three separate compartments for optimal organization. 

You’re not going to get a lot of “survival” gear into the 27L. But it will allow you enough space to get your work items in and still have enough room for some essential gear. 

But, if you know you’re going to need more gear than others to get home, then the 35L option will do the trick. 

It comes with a “secret” external back pocket that allows you to hide your valuables. It can also serve as a place to put a smaller concealed carry (CCW), i.e. a knife. It will keep it out of sight, but still, maintain quick access. 

The extra padding in this pocket will also help keep your CCW from digging into your back. 

It’s designed to open to a full 180-degrees for easy access. This is especially useful for airplane travel. 

When you need to get out your electronics you can avoid dumping everything. Then having to suffer to repack it again on the other side of security. 

The extra sponge padding in the shoulder straps and ergonomic design to disperse the weight across your back. 

It does a great job to relieve the stress from your neck and shoulders when standing in long lines with a full pack. 

Finally, the USB port gives you a convenient way to charge your devices without having to attach yourself to a wall. (Power pack not included). 

One thing we do want to mention is that if you are going to put a laptop in this, be sure to have a padded case for your computer. 

The bottom of the bag lacks cushion to protect your electronics from a dropped bag or rough handling. 

Overall, the Matein is a great tactical laptop backpack for the urban warrior. If you’re willing to sacrifice the MOLLE for a more discreet tactical backpack appropriate for the office this could be right for you.

  • Opens to a full 180 degrees to allow for access without emptying
  • Extra cushioned straps and back pads for optimal comfort. 
  • Secret pocket in the back for concealed carry or protection of valuables.
  • A built-in luggage strap to attach to a roller bag. 
  • Various pockets for optimal organization
  • Elastic external pockets for irregular-sized containers
  • Not MOLLE compatible if you want to add on purpose-built pouches. 
  • The division of total storage among three main compartments can make it difficult to carry bulkier items. 
  • Lacks padding at the bottom to protect your electronics from falls. 

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Honorable Mention

5.11 Tactical Rush Delivery Bag

best tactical backpack rush delivery bag

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We thought to include the 5.11 Rush Delivery bag. This is an option if you need to get into your bag often and don’t want to have to take it off. 

The 5.11 Rush Delivery bag comes in various sizes, so make sure you get the right size for your needs. The smallest version is Mike (6L). The sizes then increase to Lima (12L), and X-ray (25L). 

We find the Lima size does a good job to fit your laptop and still have enough room left over for multitools or small CCWs. 

It comes with a velcro pad inside if you want to mount a pistol holster. The velcro/zipper combo is great when you are carrying. Keep the zipper open and you have quick velcro rip and grab access to your sidearm.

Like it’s big brother the 5.11 Rush Tactical Backpack, it’s made with high-density 1050D nylon to give you the highest durability rating. 

With that said, it does push the price up to the higher end of the spectrum. 

Give it a try and let us know what you think. 

  • Water-resistant 1050D nylon for a highest durability rating
  • Lightweight. Empty weight under 3.0lbs
  • MOLLE and TacTec System Compatible
  • Non-slip crossbody stability strap
  • Padded laptop sleeve
  • YKK self-healing zippers
  • Durable Duraflex hardware
  • Side pocket expands to fit up to a 1-liter bottle. 
  • Velcro and zip closures
  • Tapered bottle holders make some bottles a snug fit and have a way of working loose.
  • Higher price
  • Dark Interior makes it difficult to find smaller loose items .

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So, there you have it. Our top five choices plus a little extra that we hope will help you decide which tactical backpack is right for you. 

We know it can be difficult to predict an emergency situation. So choosing a bag that will be useful in any situation is typical. 

In that case, we have to say the 5.11 Tactical RUSH 24 Backpack would be the best overall tactical backpack. 

It gives you enough storage, while not being too big like the REEBOW GEAR 40L. Or too small like the REEBOW GEAR Sling Pack. 

It also gives you the option to add on more packs when you need it with the 5.11 Tier system.

The Hannibal is also 36L, but the 5.11 has a much higher rated 1050d nylon material that will outlast most polyester fabrics. 

With that said, the price tag is higher than Hannibal. If you’re looking for the same function, but are willing to sacrifice the quality of the material, then Hannibal might be the better choice for you.

The 5.11 is also sleek enough to carry in an urban environment. Unlike the Matein, you do not need to sacrifice the advantage of having MOLLE compatible webbing to blend in.

We hope you found this article helpful. Please drop any questions or insights you have down below in the comments section.

We would love to hear from you. We always appreciate the value our community adds to our conversation. 

–Team AppliedSurvial

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