Top 7 Tactical Backpacks for Preppers

Everyone loves a good backpack, myself included!  When I find a great backpack, I tend to keep it and use it until it wears out completely.  In our search for the best tactical backpacks for Preppers, many different uses and applications were considered:

  • Best 3 Day Tactical Backpack
  • Best Tactical Laptop Backpack
  • Best Urban Tactical Backpack
  • Best Budget Friendly Tactical Backpack
  • Best Waterproof Tactical Backpack
  • Best Small Tactical Backpack
  • Best Tactical Hiking Backpack

Our search was exhaustive and our top picks are below for each specific application. 


Best Overall Tactical Backpack

5.11 RUSH 72 Backpack

5.11 RUSH 72 Backpack - The team at 5.11 really went above and beyond with their 72 hour bug out bag!  The features included in the RUSH 72 really show attention to detail including: internal hydration compartment, multiple organizational pockets, water-repellant nylon, fleece-lined electronics pocket, and storage for maps/pens/etc.  The internal organization is top of the line, with tons of internal mesh pockets for storage with additional storage pockets on the side of the pack ideal for storing water bottles.  Total capacity for the bag is a whopping 55 liters so it can absolutely hold all your things for a 72 hour trip.  Anything much longer however will require more of a hiking backpack.  The shoulder and waist straps are comfortable and made from a high grade compression material.  Built in compression straps mean that fully stuffed (and compressed) most people are able to check the pack on a flight and avoid bag fees!

Ideal Uses:

  • Bug out bag
  • Weekend travel (2-3 days)
  • Hiking / Hunting

Pros:

  • High Quality –The 5.11 RUSH 72 is a high quality product designed with the prepper / survivalist in mind.  It is the perfect size for a bug out bag and made of high quality materials, ideal for emergency preparedness.
  • Great Organization – The internal organization of the bag really adds a lot of value.  Being able to store the wide variety of gear that a bug out bag requires in separate pockets helps to keeps things organizes and in their place when you open and close.  The internal hydration compartment is another smart feature helpful for a tactical backpack.

Cons:

  • Comfort – While the RUSH 72 is a great tactical bag, there are better choices if you really wanted to do some serious hiking or camping.  The pack is a bit heavier than the standard hiking backpack and is not as good at spreading weight with the smaller waist straps.

Best Tactical Laptop Backpack

5.11 Tactical COVRT18 Backpack

​5.11 Tactical COVRT18 Backpack - For those looking to appear subtle and inconspicuous, the 5.11 COVRT 18 is a full-sized covert pack that provides tactical functionality and efficiency while also accommodating things like laptops.  Given the size (perfect for everyday use) and the superior quality and functionality, the 5.11 Tactical COVRT 18 shines as the best tactical laptop backpack.  Key design features include: accessory straps on the shoulder that work with other 5.11 tactical gear, a padded sunglass pocket for eyewear, a main compartment provides a padded laptop sleeve and roomy main and secondary storage areas, adjustable yoke shoulders, compression straps, and a reinforced grab handle.  As a bonus feature for those interested, the pack is also designed for off duty CCW use.  The COVRT 18 features a Backup Belt System compatible hidden pistol pocket and a concealed R.A.C. (Roll-down Assault Compartment) that can house a full sized firearm.  These features may not appeal to everyone and that is fine, just enjoy the backpack for its superior laptop design!

Ideal Uses:

  • Everyday use
  • Bug out bag designed specifically for a laptop computer
  • CCW backpack (for those interested)

Pros:

  • Padded Laptop Sleeve – Finding a true tactical bag designed specifically for laptops is what truly makes this bag shine.  
  • High Quality – As with all 5.11 products, the Tactical COVRT 18 is a high quality product designed with the prepper / survivalist in mind.  It is made of high quality materials, ideal for emergency preparedness.
  • Subtle Design – The Tactical COVRT 18 blends in with the crowd with its very humble appearance.  Not loaded with tons of external tactical features, one can blend in with the crowd carrying a bag like this.  In an emergency or survival situation, the last thing you want is to stand out!  High marks for the COVRT 18.

Cons:

  • Laptop Size – Every laptop varies in size.  As a guiding rule, this backpack is ideal for laptops less than 17”, anything that size or bigger you will need to measure and decide for yourself if it will fit (19” H x 12.25” L x 6.5” D main compartment).

Best Urban Tactical Backpack

Direct Action Dust Tactical Backpack

Direct Action Dust Tactical Backpack - Are you looking for an urban tactical backpack that blends in but also provides all the bells and whistles?  Then look no further than the Direct Action Dust Tactical Backpack.  Initially designed for Military and Law Enforcement operators, this heavy duty backpack is ideal for your laptop, tablet, iPad, hydration bladder, etc.  With a 20+ liter capacity, this backpack works great for everyday use and has enough capacity for 24 hour situation - great for both patrol and advanced tactical duties.  

Direct Action built in a unique ventilation system to provide increased comfort and breathability.   Specially designed contoured foam profiles with multiple air channels combined with airy mesh keeps the pack off the users back and enhances comfort.  The enhanced air flow helps prevent heat build-up and sweating during long trips or even everyday use.  The backpack comes with specially designed pockets on the front and side to hold things such as flashlights, electronics, writing utensils and other small essentials, plus a clear vinyl pocket for maps and documents.  The side pockets can carry small items, however when they are unzipped the side pockets will fit a standard U.S. canteen or Nalgene. A final additional feature of the backpack is the ability to store the straps.  Direct Action designed the shoulder and waist straps to be stowed away in the back panel, turning this backpack into a slim, no-snag piece of hand luggage.  Side note, for urban applications I would advise a black or grey backpack to keep a lower profile.

Ideal Uses:

  • Everyday use
  • Urban environment (blends in well)
  • Also another great tactical backpack designed to hold a laptop

Pros:

  • Storage Options – All tactical backpacks will have great storage options.  However, this Direct Action Dust Tactical Backpack has a few that are a bit unique.  First, the front pocket is fold down with one side that includes multiple storage options for small gear and gadgets and the other side has a clear plastic pocket ideal for documents like maps, papers, etc.  Additionally, there is a small pocket underneath the front webbing that is great to hold things that you may need to get to quickly (or for more recreational purposes you could also put in a Bluetooth speaker)!
  •  Subtle Design – For an everyday carry tactical backpack, the design of the Direct Action can be quite subtle.  With superior tactical features, combined with a lower profile design, the Direct Action Tactical Backpack is ideal for urban situations.
  • MOLLE Webbing - For those looking to expand the storage options of your tactical backpack, the Direct Action Dust includes a nice mix of front and side MOLLE webbing options.  

Cons:

  • Size – This backpack is perfect for everyday use and can accommodate a laptop, lots of small gear, and food and clothing for maybe 24-48 hours.  If you need anything more, this is not the right bag for you.

Best Budget Friendly Tactical Backpack

Orca Tactical SALISH 40L MOLLE

The Orca Tactical SALISH 40L MOLLE Military Style Backpack is the best budget friendly tactical backpack on the market right now!  Made from durable 600D polyester material, the backpack has a special Water Resistant and Scratch Proof coating to give it extra durability to withstand any harsh environment or emergency situation.  The Orca Tactical SALISH 40L is specifically designed for us as a survival Bug Out Bag, hiking Rucksack, School Backpack, or Assault Pack to carry into the field.

This tactical backpack features 2 padded large compartments and 2 smaller compartments on the front.  The 2 front pouches contain internal pockets perfect for holding small accessories, tactical gear, or personal items.  The backpack is also designed to be MOLLE compatible, with webbing located 1 inch apart on the front and sides.  This provides the ideal attachment points for any type of MOLLE compatible tactical gear you may wish to employ.  Finally, the pack includes a storage pocket for a 2.5L water bladder (not included) or 17" laptop.

Ideal Uses:

  • Everyday use
  • Bug out bag

Pros:

  • Price – When comparing prices on tactical bug out bags, the Orca provides a great entry level price point for any would be prepper / survivalist.  The tactical features are good and provides a great option for those working with a tight budget.

Cons:

  • Quality / Features – This backpack by no means has inferior quality or features compared to other budget friendly tactical backpacks (matter of fact, I think it is the best).  It should be pointed out that a budget friendly backpack versus a higher prices option has differences.  Storage options, overall material feel and quality, zipper durability, etc. will be a level down given the price point.  However if your budget is limited and you are looking for a good option, this is the backpack for you!

Best Waterproof Tactical Backpack

Sak Gear BackSak

Sak Gear BackSak - In emergency situations or out in the field, nothing can be worse for a fully packed tactical bag than heavy rain, or worse – being dropped in a body of water!  The BackSak Dry Bag is the perfect solution to wet and soggy conditions.  Made of vinyl-coated woven polyester, the BackSak Dry Bag is 100% waterproof – even when submerged for brief periods!  With 35 liters of capacity, the BackSak provides preppers with padded back and cushioned shoulder straps for comfort, inner zip pocket to keep dry stuff separate from wet, splash-proof zippered outer pocket for small things, 2 secure closing options via top and side clips, and D-rings at the side to hold water bottles and other small objects. 

In addition to tactical situations, the BackSak Dry Bag doubles as a great outdoors bag for hiking (in the rain of course), kayaking, surfing, sailing, skiing, snowboarding, and camping as it protects gear from sand, dirt, mud & dust.  SkogAKust provides all customers with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects, and lifetime customer service. 

Ideal Uses:

  • Any outdoor activity that involves water or dirt
  • Any situation where protection from water is critical (think electronic devices)
  • Riding your bike to work (commuters who contend with rain)

Pros:

  • Waterproof – When they say waterproof, they really mean water proof.  Many tactical bags out there will make claims about water protection.  Unless they are made from vinyl-coated woven polyester, don’t believe the hype.  The BackSak Dry Bag is field tested, 100% waterproof, even if you drop the bag in the water.  Additionally, since the bag is waterproof, it will float when dropped into water (unless you loaded it with rocks)!

Cons:

  • Storage – In order to be 100% waterproof the bag has minimal seams which could cause leakage.  Therefore, storage and organizational pockets are minimal to non-existent in this bag.  There is the external pocket to hold small gadgets, plus an additional inside pocket.  However relative to other tactical bags, the BackSak Dry Bag is really lacking on organizational capabilities.
  • Reflectors – The BackSak Dry Bag was primarily intended for outdoor activities that involve water.  The bag was designed to possibly fall into water and be easy to retrieve – that means it floats on water, and it also has side reflectors.  From a tactical perspective the reflectors are not the best.  However given the waterproof capabilities I am willing to overlook that point considering you can get a black or a pretty awesome dig-camo print bag.

Best Small Tactical Backpack

5.11 Rush MOAB 6 Backpack

​5.11 Rush MOAB 6 Backpack - A true grab and go bag, the 5.11 Rush MOAB 6 bag provides users with the superior functionality and quality of a 5.11 bag, in a much smaller profile.  With 1 strap instead of 2, the MOAB 6 bag is best worn over one shoulder and across the body.  Made of water resistant nylon, the MOAB 6 bag is packed with tons of storage pockets to hold food, water, gadgets, electronic devices, and any other smaller item you want in a grab and go bag.  The front panel has a nice compartment perfect for things like pens, maps, flashlights, etc.  Adjustable straps make wearing the bag comfortably for all body types a breeze.  Additionally, the outside of the bag is covered in a MOLLE platform to add on any additional clips and gear that you may desire.  All around this bag is perfect for the prepper looking for a quick grab and go bag to hold essentials.

Ideal Uses:

  • Daily use (though not big enough for things like laptops)
  • Grab and go emergency bag
  • Day trips

Pros:

  • Size + Functionality – The size of the Rush MOAB 6 is perfect to store anything you may need in a grab and go situation.  Tons of smart storage options in a compact size really make the bag stand out from its peers.  For those looking for a small tactical bag, this bag certainly checks all of the boxes.

Cons:

  • Movement – With only one strap, and designed for wearing the bag across your back, there is an opportunity for the bag to shift while doing things besides walking/jogging.  Any type of bending over (like riding a bike), or activity that requires up and down movement will cause the bag to shift on your back.  This can be a small frustration, but it comes with the territory for an over the shoulder type bag.

Best Tactical Hiking Backpack

TETON Sports Grand 5500 Backpack

​TETON Sports Grand 5500 Backpack - When looking for the best hiking tactical backpack, we searched for a reasonably priced hiking backpack with solid tactical features.  The TETON Sports Grand 5500 Backpack met all of our criteria and stood out as the best.  The bag is the largest capacity internal frame backpack made by TETON with a whopping 90 liter capacity.  Developed specifically for rugged backpackers, the Grand 5500 can carry all the backpacking gear you need for weeks in the backcountry or in a survival situation.  The pack is equipped for hauling large equipment like tents, poles, large gear, skis, snowboard, or snowshoes, etc.  The bag obviously comes with tons of internal storage pockets and options and includes oversized zipper pulls on the exterior pockets and main compartment zipper are easy to use, even with gloved fingers.

The Grand 5500 provides the user with tension adjustments at the shoulders, chest, and torso to maximize comfort while carrying such a large load.  The waist belt has a wishbone construction to sit comfortably on the hips and helps to take the weight of the pack off your back.  The padded lumbar area adds to the lower back support and comfort.  Thick should pads with air channels help to maximize circulation on your back and improve overall comfort.  The final features that provide a ton of value include a hydration hang tab, room enough for a 3 liter bladder, an external zip pouch that doubles as a quick day pack, mesh pockets for water bottles, compression straps, and extra handles.

Ideal Uses:

  • Bug out bag for extended trips
  • Outdoor adventures
  • Other travel options where a bag with wheels is impractical (international destinations)

Pros:

  • Tarp Poncho – It may sound silly to get so excited about this, but the tarp poncho that comes with this bag is perfect for any prepper!  It doubles as a rain poncho but with the added straps on the corners, can be used as a make shift tent if the situation should arise.  Very smart addition to the bag, and with its own pocket, really helped this bag separate from the pack.
  • Price – Relative to other hiking backpacks, this one provides exceptional value. 

Cons:

  •  Fit – If you have a small waist, then some users have had issues getting the waist strap tight enough.  These users had a 28 inch waist, so not the average Prepper.