Choosing the Best Tactical Backpack with Military, Police Utility

tactical backpack outdoors

Backpacks are a dime a dozen and you can pick one up for very cheap, but when your needs are more specialized you demand a certain type of bag that's cut out for the job. You'll hear a lot of terms getting thrown around for these more heavy duty packs: tactical backpack, police backpack, military backpack, rucksack, etc. So what do they all mean and how do they differ? In many cases there will be some overlap, as the needs of soldiers, police, "survival preppers" and those engaging in extreme mountaineering or other outdoor adventures are similar. Backpacks for any of these people will need to be durable so as to be able to handle tough conditions.

Key Features of a Tactical Backpack

The ideal backpack can depend on your particular situation, but there are a couple of important characteristics that you'll want to look for. First, a good tactical backpack needs to provide easy access to your gear and capacity to hold a lot of it without weighing you down unnecessarily. You need a number of different pockets, both inside and outside of the bag, so you can organize your items in a logical manner. If you're on the job or in the military, you might have just a split second to grab a particular piece of gear in your bag, and having to fish around for it in a sea of other stuff could put you in serious danger. But at the same time, you don't want endless compartments and pockets and zippers that frustrate you, or too small an opening for easy retrieval of an item. The best tactical backpacks achieve this balance effectively.

Police or military backpacks also are lighter so you can maneuver with less trouble. Comfortable since you'll be carrying it a lot and likely for long periods of time. The padding should fit you well when wearing the pack, and "the backpanel should provide ventilation" which can cut down on the risk of overheating. Finally, make sure the straps are comfortable as well as functional. You need straps to keep the backpack in place, but not so many that they might catch onto tree branches or other stray impediments. With that said let's take a look at a few specific backpacks.

Many departments have a standard issue duffel bag for their officers' gear, but many forgo that in favor of a backpack to benefit from the added organization, comfort and easy of use it can bring. Another particularly popular benefit is that it will keep your hands free.​

Top Choices for a Tactical Backpack

1. Oakley Kitchen Sink Backpack

This backpack is the choice of many officers for the best backpack for law enforcement, and there are several reasons why this is the case. The material is a combo of 59% Nylon and 25% polyester (16% other fibers) and measures in at 21" tall and 16" wide.

A favorite features are the front organizer panel and mesh optics pocket, and the padded access sleeve which fits a 15" laptop perfectly. It has convenient lid style opening and two side pockets that can accommodate almost anything you'd want to lug around. All in all, a great backpack for police officers or others who can benefit from its versatile features.

2. Shelure Military Tactical Backpack

Many of the best tactical backpacks are on the more expensive end, but that's not the case with all. There are some very good deals to be had for a product that still delivers the goods. This is a nice choice if you're looking to save money, as it's made of 600D Oxford Nylon material and molle webbing for extra expansion. Its durable straps on the shoulders, waist, and sternum allow for custom fitting to your body and maximum comfort. All in all, this pack will provide a lot of bang for your buck.

3. Paratus 3 Day Operator's Pack

This pack employs a modular design that basically gives you 3 backpacks in 1, including additional Molle pouches on each side. It gives you enough room to fit just about anything but its measurements stay just under the requirements for an airline carry-on bag. It also boasts a multitude of customization options including D-rings, carry handles, compression straps, and fasten points. A great pack for multi-day adventure or survival needs, or as a companion on a military mission. 

4. 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 Backpack

This backpack offers a total of 16 compartments and is extremely versatile, with adjustable shoulder straps and external compression straps for customization and a centered sternum strap to ensure it stays stable and balanced even with a heavy load. Other features include a 60 oz hydration pocket, a sunglasses pocket lined with fleece and water resistant construction.

5. Eberlestock Gunslinger II Hunting Pack

This is a mid-sized pack with the capacity to easily carry a large weapon. The full-width scabbard allows you to accommodate a large weapon either butt-up or down. Beyond that, a favorite feature is the Intex II, a built-in frame exclusive to Eberlestock that gives you the best of both external and internal frames. All in all, a great choice for military use or an extended hunting trip.

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