What does the soldier, navy seal, law enforcement, security, special forces, hikers, and long-distance traveler all have in common? The backpack. Whether you call it MOLLE, a rucksack, or a tactical backpack, to protect and carry your gear, you need the rugged backpack made to tackle the specific challenges you face.

Here, we'll try and create the perfect tactical backpack buying guide to ensure the one you choose will be exactly what you need. From materials to features, we'll assist you in making an informed decision you won't regret.

What Makes a Tactical Backpack Different?

Compared to more standard designs of backpacks, a tactical backpack offers a broader range of possible uses. They come with features and unique aspects that you won't find in typical use backpacks. Some of those unique aspects, for example, that make a tactical backpack stand out:


Tactical backpack designs will offer larger compartments than other models. Larger compartments with unconventional dimensions allow for the accommodation of luggage, tactical equipment, and gear that more common models wouldn't be able to accommodate easily. In some cases, tactical backpacks will provide concealed carry, stretch mesh options, and adjustable compartments to create a unique inner space to adapt to many of the user's needs at any time.


While most typical backpacks offer various inside and outer pockets, these pockets aren't designed for special instances. Whether in the field, on a mission, or at a critically tricky part of a hike—most often, you'll need access to pockets easily and quickly, without having to remove the entire backpack and rummage around. Many excellent tactical backpacks will come with front panel external zip pockets that can be accessed quickly, easily, and without removal of the pack.

Other Unique Features

Some tactical backpacks will also feature hydration packs, depending on what you need. Instead of having to struggle to access a water bottle, some tactical backpacks feature a hydration bladder built-in with a drinking tube or an expandable side pocket specifically designed for a hydration bladder with an opening for the tube.

What Material Should You Look For?

If you're looking to replace your old tactical backpack or brand new to buying one, the first and most important consideration is the material in which the backpack uses. Most military-grade models should be made from extremely tough, durable fabric. However, each type of fabric may perform or be used for different environments and purposes. It's recommended that you take a little time to do some quick research on each material used in a tactical backpack you are considering purchasing before making a decision.

Several types of fabrics are used, but there are some you'll find used most. Canvas

Canvas was the go-to material for rugged, durable construction for more than a century. However, it should be noted that it is more difficult to find a tactical backpack created from canvas these days as canvas is a heavy material and is much harder to waterproof. You may still run into a few made from this material, but note that when it comes to a tactical backpack, you may very well want a light material so as not to add unnecessary carry weight along with all the items you will be packing.


You'll find that nylon is one of the most common materials used in tactical backpacks because it is a highly durable material. Nylon is also very lightweight while being rugged and tear-resistant and especially easy to waterproof, making it perfect for all kinds of weather and environments.

Cordura Nylon

Possibly even more popular than nylon. While being light and durable, Cordura nylon isn't as smooth or as comfortable as nylon. It's also not woven as tight as regular nylon, so waterproofing is more complicated.

Rip-Stop Nylon

Rip-Stop nylon uses thicker, reinforced nylon yarns interwoven at regular intervals in a crosshatch pattern. Rip-Stop is even more rigid and tear-resistant than other nylons due to this pattern and its reinforced nylon.

Which Tactical Backpack to Choose?

Of course, which kind of tactical backpack you choose all comes down to what you will be using it for.


Suppose you know you need lightweight more than other features and aren't heading into environments that will be rough on your backpacks or not worried about waterproofing. In that case, a nylon tactical backpack is probably the best choice for you.

For Tough Terrain

For those hikers, special OPS, soldiers, and extreme sports hobbyists that know they're going to be in rough, rocky terrain with unpredictable weather and faced with challenging obstacles, typical nylon isn't going to work for you. You'll need waterproofing and material as tough as the environment you're in—for that, you'll probably want the Rip-Stop nylon to ensure your tactical backpack never disappoints.

When you factor in how much weight you can carry, what material you need, and what uses the pack will see, you're ready to make an informed decision on which tactical backpack is perfect for you.

We hope our tactical backpack buying guide has helped you make finding the suitable one for you easier and ensure that your next one outlasts and outperforms.

Bold Commerce Collaborator