So, you’ve been diligent on fulfilling the task of collecting all the essential survival gear. Across your room – a sprawling spectacle of the gear you found on the Bear Grylls official survival checklist (just kidding.) There is only one problem – you do not have a backpack to put all this stuff in. More specifically, you do not have a tactical backpack to put all this stuff in. Did you think all this was going in the Jansport bag you’ve had since freshman year of High school? Not if you’re serious about busting out of a full blown SHTF situation.
Read this post for an in depth bug out bag checklist.
What is a tactical backpack?
Tactical is a term to used to represent gear that has a functional or practical use in specific situations – usually military or high intensity situations where the gear you have must hold up to pressure. Tactical backpacks are backpacks designed with heavy use in mind. They are extremely durable and have features you typically don’t see on normal backpacks – external Molle for example. Molle is external webbing designed by the military to add extra storage space to the pack. It’s been a standard on tactical backpacks for a long time. When you buy a tactical backpack you can be damn sure the thing is going to hold up to whatever you put it through. For this reason, they make great bug out bags.
Let’s crack into the packs.
Direct Action Ghost Tactical Backpack
This is a 31.5 liter that packs in serious versatility. The Ghost tactical backpack features a main storage compartment as well as a detachable external pouch. 500D cordura materials makes this pack extremely durable. One thing I really love about this pack is the slimmer/taller profile than most tactical backpacks. The entire pack looks super clean – especially with laser cut Molle running the exterior of both the main compartment and the detachable pouch. Deeply padded in all the areas that matter, primarily the back plate and the shoulder straps. The Ghost also has a 2.5L hydration bladder pouch built straight into the main compartment. I could see the Ghost tactical backpack being a great SHTF backpack and a competent pack you could take out hiking or backpacking.
Spec Ops Ultimate Assault Pack
Another extremely durable pack boasting unique design features you won’t find in other packs. For one, the High-Vis material lining the inside of the pack is actually quite nice. The sharp contrasted background allows you to easily locate items in your pack visually. The zippers and buckles on the Spec Ops are hands down the strongest I’ve ever seen on a pack. They are seriously well built. Thick zippers and thick buckles are crucial to having a functional pack for years to come. But what about pack space? This tactical backpack features 3 main cargo areas and a hydration pouch giving you 40L of raw storage capacity. That’s a good amount of space. I find that 30L is not enough but 50L is too much. 40L hits the sweet spot. 1000D nylon makes this pack virtually bombproof. This pack also has a unique blend of both traditional and laser-cut Molle on the externals of the pack.
Monkey Paks Tactical Backpack
Don’t let the name detract you from thinking this is not a serious pack. This is a full blown tactical backpack in a smaller profile. It’s one of the smaller packs on this list but it packs in massive punches in a few key areas. One, this pack is going to be a lot lighter than most. This is crucial for those who value speed and efficiency over all else. Bulky packs will slow you down and you probably don’t need half the gear you packed in it anyways. The Monkey Paks tactical backpack comes with 5 pouches including a hydration pouch – and best of all, the hydration bladder is actually included with this one! Everything from the zippers to the waterproof 600D nylon material is just as rugged as the other contenders on this list. At $40 USD, you can’t go wrong.
Protector Plus Military Tactical Backpack
Do you want to go full blown pack mule status? I know many guys who go balls to the wall no matter what they do. If SHTF, you know they’re going to have every single survival widget packed and ready to rock. The Protector Plus tactical backpack features a ton of space – up to 80L. That’s more than enough room to pack for 2 – 3 people including yourself. All of this space is sectioned out between the main rucksack and 3 external pockets. You have one zippered pouch on the front and 2 side pockets – all of them generous in size. This pack is waterproof and completely solid. You have Molle on the externals so you could load it down even more with extra Molle compatible pouches.
Arcenciel 40L Tactical backpack
Storage pockets…storage pockets everywhere! One thing I see people discuss on forums is the lack of storage pockets on tactical backpacks. Many packs are rucksack style and designed only with raw storage capacity in mind. The Arcenciel 40L tactical backpack breaks this trend and delivers extreme storage organization in a sturdy, military grade profile. You will find yourself discovering new pockets all the time. This pack has plenty of space to store all your critical gear and enough Molle to add more if need be. Lots of design options too. Rainfly included.
USMC Assault Pack
Yes, the same pack they use in the United States Marines Core. It goes without saying that this pack is well built and absolutely bombproof. You could throw this thing through a wood chipper and still use it to bug out. This pack features an internal frame and detachable top lid. In total there is 70 Liters of internal space. You will find it easy to lash gear to the externals of the pack with the many buckles and Molle webbings. Definitely the most well built, bombpoof pack on this list.
5.11 Tactical Rush 72
If you’re an avid reader of this blog you know how much I talk about the 5.11 tactical Rush 72. It’s one of my favorite packs and for lots of reasons. Tactical backpacks tend to look very military. I like packs that can keep the durability of a military pack while looking somewhat civilian. The 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 delivers. 1050D nylon makes this pack one of the strongest on this list – damn near waterproof with an extra layer of water resistant coating. Lots of meshed pockets too including a fleece lined top pocket for scratchable pieces of gear. You’re still going to want to keep your smartphone scratch free in an SHTF situation right?
Condor 3 day assault pack
This is a simple and durable pack. There is nothing fancy about this tactical backpack and that’s a good thing. For those of you that just want a pack that’s going to last, this is your pack. The Condor 3 day assault pack is a no frills, practical bug out bag. It has a number of pockets including space in the main pouch for two 3L hydration pouches. This is a really solid backpack with nothing that over complicates the process of bugging out.
Kelty Eagle 7850
Kelty is a traditional backpack manufacturer but they over delivered with the Eagle. This is a true to the word tactical backpack built for serious MOUNTAIN OPS. This is a stuff and go pack. Definitely not for the type of person who demands that everything be neatly organized. The Kelty Eagle 7850 features a large 66L “dump and go” style cargo sack and a detachable lid pouch that can be used as a fanny pack or shoulder sling. Simple yet versatile. The front zipper you see opens up to the main compartment of the pack giving you easy access to your gear. I have to admit, I’m starting to prefer ruckstack style backpacks over the traditional clam shell style. It’s easier to get to gear and easier to load up at a moments notice. Don’t overlook the Kelty Eagle if you’re in the market for a tactical backpack.
Camelbak, the leading manufacturer of fine hydration packs has entered the tactical market with a strong competitor. The Camelbak Motherlode is a surprisingly capable tactical backpack. On the front you have the traditional Molle webbing that comes standard with any solid tactical backpack. Also on the front you have an admin pocket with generous storage space and all kinds of pockets to stay organized. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Camelbak if it didn’t come with a top of the line hydration bladder. The more I take my Camelbak out the more I appreciate the convenience of having a hydration bladder readily accessible. Pair a pack like this with a portable water filter and we’re talking serious versatility when it comes time to bug out. One thing to note is just how comfortable the Camelbak Motherlode is. It’s got thick padding where it counts. If you’ve done any amount of hiking or backpacking you know the last thing you want is a shoestring backpack strap digging into your traps the whole time.
NPUSA Tactical Daypack
I’m including this one here because of the raw value. For $40 the NPUSA daypack can’t be beat. And don’t let the name fool you either – this pack is more than capable of going full pack mule status with 32 Liters of storage. Of course, the external Molle adds to the functionality and what you can carry. 600D nylon material gives this pack the strength and durability required to blow through any survival situation without busting halfway in between. Lots of value here that can’t be passed up.
Pinty 600D Tactical backpack
If you really want to go total value mode then this is your pack. It’s an overall solid pack with only a few cons. For the price though you really can’t complain. I wouldn’t have this pack on the list if it wasn’t fully capable of handling the roughest conditions. It’s built durable like the other packs but with a smaller profile. It’s a 20L pack which is significantly smaller than the other ones. You’re going to have to pack smart – you definitely won’t be taking any bulky tents with you in this one.
Which to choose?
I know this is a massive list of tactical backpacks. It’s hard to make a choice with so many options available to you. If I had to boil it down to the absolute best pack on this list I got to go with the 5.11 Rush 72. It’s such a quality pack and heavily tested. You won’t find too many people who have problems with the 5.11 line of products. Simply the best in the business. If price is an issue the NPUSA tactical daypack is the obvious choice. It’s durable and large enough to carry all your essential gear.
With that said, don’t wait until its too late to snatch one of these packs up. You never know when the shit is going to hit the fan!