A military backpack is ideal for camping, trekking, military deployment, and other extended outdoor trips that require you to carry a lot of items. It’s got a tough construction to ensure extreme durability and can hold more items than a regular backpack.
While separating a military backpack from a regular backpack is easy enough, shopping for the best one on the market can be difficult due to the sheer number of options. You could easily end up with a product far less durable and smaller than what you expected. But with this guide to the best military backpacks, you get to choose from an already curated list of products. Note that the products are arranged according to price in ascending order, so you can easily see the ones that fit your budget.
It has extra sternum and waist support to make the heavy load more forgiving for your back. It has multiple compartments and pockets, including space for a couple of 3-liter hydration bladders and dedicated document pockets. With the large external pockets and the webbing system, the Condor Outdoor 3-Day Assault Pack gives you a lot of options for carrying your items. It has a strap-equipped main compartment to secure particularly large objects and comes with sufficient padding on the shoulder straps for comfort.
Equipped with a sternum strap and a removable waist belt, this tactical backpack has a spacious main compartment and a large external pocket with a slanted opening. It has D-rings on the shoulder straps, comes with a hydration bladder compartment, and has individual paddings on the back panel for more breathability.
The Blackhawk! 3-Day Assault Pack is made of 1000D nylon, making it an extremely durable and wear-resistant backpack that you can count on to hold up for years. But unlike most other backpacks suitable for military use, this product doesn’t come with a PALS webbing, which may disappoint some people.
While not as large as the other products on this list, the Falcon-II can still accommodate a bunch of items, featuring well-secured main and secondary compartments. It has a couple of external front pockets secured by an adjustable strap and a compartment for a hydration bladder. It’s got external PALS webbing on the front and sides, allowing you to quickly access small essentials while on the move.
The Falcon-II is also suitable for short-term trips in which you don’t need to carry a lot of items. It has compression straps that you can easily adjust based on the load on the main compartment. This backpack is built to last for a long time, featuring a 1050D nylon construction, with good water and abrasion resistance.
A MOLLE-compatible unit, this tactical backpack has three exterior pockets and, as the product name suggests, can carry a hydration bladder. It comes with an organizer in the lower pocket and has a noticeably slimmer profile than most military backpacks. It has sternum and waist straps for more support and features a back panel designed for better ventilation, all of which improve the overall comfort.
Unlike with the Maxpedition Falcon-II, you don’t get a lot of color options with this product. It’s only available in three options: Coyote, Black, and camo, with black being the most suitable for everyday use. While this backpack has relatively limited applications due to its capacity, it’s still an excellent tactical backpack, boasting a durable and wear-resistant construction and well-designed compartments.
This medium-sized tactical backpack offers multiple external pockets, including a velour-lined pocket dedicated for glasses and mobile phones. It has a sleeve for a 15-inch laptop, along with a couple of expandable side pockets meant for water containers. It’s got the same low-profile, snag-free, MOLLE-compatible PALS webbing seen on CamelBak’s tactical backpack and features an extremely sturdy braided top handle. It has D-rings on both the shoulder straps and the top handle.
Intended for both military and civilian use, this durable backpack is made of 500D Cordura material. It’s a water-resistant, outdoor optimized backpack with a superb ventilation system on the back panel. Unlike CamelBak’s slim backpack, this one is being offered in more colors, including Olive Green and Shadow Grey.
Available in more than five colors, the RUSH 72 has several external pockets, including a fleece-lined top pocket for your glasses and smartphones. It has a large front pocket with an organizer, a main compartment separated into three zippered sections, a hydration port, and an expandable quick-access compartment between the main compartment and the front pocket.
In addition, the RUSH 72 also features an all-around webbing system that includes the shoulder and waist straps, making it a highly recommended tactical backpack for law enforcement and military personnel. Considering everything it brings to the table, it’s not surprising this product is often heralded as one of the best military backpacks on the market.
With the T.H.E. Tactical Pack, the company delivers on that promise, offering a rugged tactical backpack that you can always count on for heavy outdoor use. It’s made in the US, a big plus for many consumers, and boasts a durable and sturdy construction. It has comfortable shoulder straps and a webbing system to give you quick access to small essentials such as a tactical knife and a flashlight.
While not as popular as the RUSH 72, the T.H.E. Tactical Pack is an excellent option for those who want an all-business military backpack that prioritizes function and comfort over cosmetics. It has a spacious main compartment and a couple of large front pockets, with dual compression straps on the sides.
Concerning pockets and compartments, the FAST Pack Litespeed is not as generous as other military backpacks, only featuring a single external front pocket a couple of internal zippered pockets. But like the 5.11 Tactical RUSH 72, it has an expandable unzippered compartment that can hold a helmet, a small box, and even a rifle. It has dual compression straps on both sides and a D-ring on the expandable storage’s front flap.
Built for military use and civilian use, this tactical backpack is made of 1000D Cordura nylon. It’s built to withstand harsh weather conditions and comes with a PALS webbing for MOLLE compatibility. The only reason you may want to give this product a pass is the price – it sells for over $200, with the price depending on the color.
It’s an expensive backpack with a rather unusual appearance compared to the other products on this list, selling for almost $400. It has a Y-shaped zipper system on the main compartment, with both side flaps featuring internal pockets. It has a max gear capacity of 30 liters, though it appears it can hold more than that based on its main compartment design.
A made-in-the-US product, this military backpack has a sleeve that can fit a 17-inch laptop. The internal sleeve can also be used as a hydration bladder compartment. It features a webbing system on the sides, along with vertical fabric chains on the front for load expansion. The mesh back panel, thick shoulder straps, sternum strap, and waist belt all make Mystery Ranch’s 72-hour tactical backpack comfortable to carry for long stretches even with a full load.
The GR1 has a more minimalist and understated exterior compared to other military backpacks, making it suitable for everyday use. It has a spacious zippered front pocket with a slanted opening and features a main compartment that opens flat, which gives you quick access to the contents. It has a bombproof laptop compartment, a hydration port, and a false bottom. On the exterior, it has a MOLLE-compatible webbing, which allows you to extend its capacity.
When it comes to durability and toughness, the GR1 is top-class. It’s made of 1000D Cordura fabric and is rainproof. It also offers superb comfort, with the padded shoulder straps and back panel making it more bearable to carry a full load. If you can afford to spend around $400 on a military backpack, the GR1 is definitely one of the first products you should check out.
When shopping for a military backpack or tactical backpack, you need to consider several aspects before you click on the order button. Here are the most important ones to consider:
Obviously, this refers to how much load the backpack can carry. While a military backpack is designed to carry a lot of items, not all products come with the same capacity. Some are built to hold supplies enough to last for a week while others are more suitable for a short outdoor trip. Choose the product best suited for the load you plan to carry.
This one refers to the number of pockets on the backpack – both external and internal. Some products come with a bunch of pockets and compartments. Others are more conservative and offer a minimalist profile, at least for a tactical backpack. If you’re going to carry a lot of small items or items that you want to have quick access to, go for a product that’s in the former camp.
When accessing the construction quality, look for the material used. A quick way to judge wear resistance and durability is to check the fiber thickness of individual threads, measured in denier (D). A higher number essentially means a stronger construction. For example, a backpack with a material rating of 1000D is more durable than a backpack with a 600D rating.
Since you’ll be carrying a bunch of items, you need to make sure the backpack offers enough comfort. Unfortunately, online shopping deprives you of the chance to give the product a quick road test before you make the purchase. And the only way to scout the comfort level of a specific product is to read customer feedback. The good news is that we already got you covered on that front. All the backpacks included in this guide are noted for their comfortability.
This refers to the color and overall design of the backpack. Although their name might suggest otherwise, military backpacks don’t always come with a military-themed aesthetic. Some are also available in an unassuming design with regular colors, allowing you to rock them for everyday use without looking like you’re off to battle. But unlike with regular EDC backpacks, you don’t get a lot of options, so don’t expect too much. When choosing the design, keep in mind what you’re going to use the backpack for. If you’re going to use it primarily for school or office work rather than demanding outdoor activities, a backpack outfitted with a regular color and a non-camo design is more suitable for you.
Military backpacks often come with features designed to add more convenience and functionality. Some come with a false bottom and a hydration bladder. Others offer an expandable, unzippered external compartment that can hold a helmet.
The most common feature seen on military backpacks is a Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS), a webbing system that allows you to attach various items around the backpack – like a carabiner, a knife, a flashlight, a rope, and even a clip-on portable wireless speaker. A backpack with a PALS webbing is compatible with the Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) system, although most people use PALS and MOLLE interchangeably.