Top Features to Consider When Buying a Tactical Backpack

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As an avid lover of the great outdoors, I know the importance of having a reliable tactical backpack. Unlike regular backpacks, tactical ones are designed with the needs of outdoor enthusiasts in mind. They are the Swiss Army knife of backpacks – versatile, durable, and always ready for action. But with so many options out there, what should you look for when choosing your trail companion? Let’s dive into the essential features and factors to consider when you’re planning to make a purchase.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Tactical Backpack

Now, this is where things get interesting. There’s a lot to consider when buying a tactical backpack, and it’s not just about picking the one that looks the coolest (although that’s important, too!). There are three main factors you should always consider when purchasing a tactical backpack.

Purpose and Usage

First off, what’s your game plan? Are you planning on using this backpack for hiking and camping, or is it for your job in law enforcement or the military? Perhaps it’s a bit of everything? Identifying the purpose and usage is crucial as different packs are designed with different features to accommodate specific needs. For example, I have different backpacks for different occasions, such as hiking, everyday carry, and emergency. From my experience, it’s best to categorize them like that as it avoids overusing certain backpacks.

Size and Capacity

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Size does matter! Whether you’re packing for a day trip or a week-long adventure, you’ll need to choose a tactical backpack that can comfortably fit all your gear. But remember, bigger isn’t always better. You want to balance capacity with comfort and maneuverability.


Tactical backpacks should be tough – they’re made to endure. Look for materials like Cordura or high-denier polyester. These materials are designed to resist tears, abrasions, and harsh weather. The last thing you want is your bag ripping or leaking in the middle of a downpour. Read our article on evaluating the pros and cons of common tactical backpack materials here. Polyester is definitely my ultimate go-to material.

Key Features of Tactical Backpacks

1. Material

When you’re out exploring Mother Nature’s vast playground, durability is key. A robust, high-quality tactical backpack can withstand harsh conditions, from rugged trails to unexpected downpours. Look for backpacks made from tough, tear-resistant materials like nylon or polyester with a high denier count. These fabrics are known for their strength and longevity.

Another crucial factor is the backpack’s resistance to water. Nobody wants their gear soaked after an encounter with a rain shower or a river crossing. Hence, a water-resistant or even waterproof backpack is a must. This feature protects your gear and ensures your backpack remains undamaged by moisture over time.

2. Comfort and Fit

Let’s face it; even the most durable backpack can be a pain in the back if it’s uncomfortable. When you’re out on a long hike or a multi-day camping trip, comfort is king. A well-fitting tactical backpack can make the difference between an enjoyable adventure and a torturous journey.

Look for a backpack with a well-designed harness system. Adjustable, padded shoulder straps, a sternum strap, and a waist belt will help distribute the load evenly, relieving pressure on your shoulders and back. Plus, a padded and ventilated back panel is a blessing; it prevents your back from turning into a sweaty mess.

Always remember to try the backpack on before buying, if possible. We all have different body shapes, and what might be comfortable for one person could be uncomfortable for another. Your tactical backpack is going to be your constant companion on your adventures, so make sure it fits like a glove.

3. Compartmentalization and Organization

The next feature on our list is all about convenience. When you’re on the move, you want to be able to access your gear quickly and easily. This is where compartmentalization comes into play.

A tactical backpack should have multiple compartments and pockets for effective gear organization. Look for ones with a mix of large compartments for bulkier items like clothing and smaller pockets for items you’ll need to grab on the go, such as maps, a compass, or snacks.

One feature I’ve found particularly useful is a hydration bladder pocket. Staying hydrated is vital on any outdoor expedition, and having a dedicated place for your water source is a major plus. Trust me, once you’ve experienced the convenience of sipping water from a hydration bladder while on the move, you’ll never want to go back to rummaging for a water bottle.

4. MOLLE Compatibility

Last but not least, we have MOLLE compatibility. Ever played with Legos? Do you know how you can stick on a bunch of different parts to build whatever you want? Well, that’s exactly how MOLLE – that’s Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment – works for us hikers.

I’ve been out in the wild plenty, and I’ve come to realize just how handy this MOLLE thing can be. You can stick all kinds of stuff onto your backpack. Let me give you an example from one of my hikes. I was out for a really long trek in the mountains, so I decided to attach a first aid kit to my MOLLE-friendly backpack. Good thing, too, because I tripped on a sneaky tree root and scraped my knee, and my first aid kit came to the rescue. It’s like having your own customizable adventure buddy on your back! You can read everything about MOLLE compatibility from here.

Additional Considerations for Tactical Backpacks

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You’re almost a tactical backpack guru now with the information you’ve read so far! But before you rush off to make your purchase, there are a few more things to keep in mind. These considerations are not must-have or essential factors like the ones I’ve mentioned above. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a waterproof backpack that’s from a reputable brand in a nice color and style? When you’ve already checked off the must-have factors, look into these additional considerations.

1. Weather Resistance

Mother Nature can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to choose a tactical backpack with good weather resistance. Look for packs with a waterproof or water-resistant rating, and consider ones with rain covers for added protection. After all, a dry pack is a happy pack!

2. Color and Camouflage Options

The color of your backpack might seem like a minor detail, but it can actually be quite important, depending on your use. If you’re using your pack for hunting or military purposes, you might want to opt for camouflage or earth tones. If you’re using it for daily urban use, black or grey can be more suitable. Remember, the goal is to blend in with your environment.

3. Price and Brand Reputation

Last but not least, consider the price and the reputation of the brand. Tactical backpacks come in a wide range of prices, and while you often get what you pay for, there are still fantastic budget-friendly options out there. Also, check out reviews and do your research to make sure you’re buying from a reputable brand as they tend to offer more high-quality products.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, finding the perfect tactical backpack can enhance your outdoor experiences immensely. By focusing on the essential features and factors, you will surely find your outdoor companion. But also remember that choosing a tactical backpack is a personal journey. What works for one outdoor lover might not work for another. These features provide a solid starting point but always consider your unique needs and preferences. You can read our comprehensive guide on finding the right tactical backpack for you article for more detailed information.

We hope this guide helps you in your quest for the perfect tactical backpack. As always, we’d love to hear from you. Do you have any additional tips or a favorite backpack brand? Share in the comments below. And don’t forget to pass this post along to your fellow outdoor enthusiasts who might be on the hunt for their next tactical backpack. Happy trails!