Topics surrounding the military backpack interest many people, especially those who aren’t related to the area. If you’ve also wondered what soldiers carry in their backpacks, we’re writing to provide you with a simple, yet definite answer.

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What is a Military Backpack?

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It’s not difficult to understand what is a military backpack. But people are confused between two general types of military backpacks. One is a tactical backpack intended for outdoor use. The only difference is that this kind of military backpack is built with military-inspired utility in mind, but for daily use.

The other one is the typical military backpack a soldier carries. They are specifically built to meet the various needs of an army soldier on a mission – initially designed to adjust the amount of equipment a soldier carries.

What do Soldiers carry in their backpacks?

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What soldiers carry in their backpacks depends on the location of the soldier, the length of the assignment, and the mission. The modern US Army has specific guidelines for the size, shape, and qualities of the backpack. But the general items in a soldier’s backpack rarely change. Following is the general content of a military backpack:

Hydration pack

The hydration pack is usually carried to provide the soldier with hydration for up to 72 hours. According to the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, the hydration pack does not filter out water contaminated with chemical or biological hazards, but the Army is working on one that will be safe in any condition.

The hydration pack is a bladder with a tube attached so the soldier can drink while moving. The pack can carry up to 2 liters of water.


Soldiers carry MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat) in their backpacks. It also provides enough space to provide the soldier for up to 72 hours.

Aside from the MREs, soldiers also pack snacks and power bars. Plus, most foods have self-heating elements so starting a fire is not required.

Survival Essentials

Survival essentials include a first aid kit, sunscreen, medications, fire kits, compass, night vision gear, sleeping bag, signal mirror, tactical knives, etc. The U.S. Army provides these survival essentials in case the soldier needs to survive in the wilderness for 72 hours.


This is an obvious one, but the importance of ammunition shouldn’t be underestimated. Soldiers carry at least seven 30-round magazines for an M4 rifle according to Police Magazine.

Personal items

In addition to essential survival items, soldiers also carry their personal items. Those normally include a notebook, pen, a small book, photographs, an MP3 player, and so on.

Read more on this topic: How Heavy are Military Backpacks?

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