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Many everyday carry essentials (EDC) have roots in the military, and it’s not hard to see why. Military attire, protective equipment and tools are all designed to be utilitarian and hardwearing, and there’s an undeniable toughness that makes these items so appealing for civilians. Consider apparel like aviator sunglasses and bomber jackets, whose names indicate their military origins. But even things like t-shirts, wristwatches and khakis were popularized thanks to their military uses. That’s why if you’re looking for a backpack, it’s worth looking into tactical bags.
The best tactical backpacks are used or inspired by the armed forces. These tactical bags are designed to handle pretty tough conditions, so they’ll be able to tackle your morning commute or red-eye flight with ease. Unlike two-pocket school bags, these backpacks have ample pockets and compartments to conveniently stow away everything you need. They also typically have various loops and straps for attaching gear to the outside.
Whether you need a bag for hardcore camping or just something that’ll get you to class, these tactical backpacks and bags have your back. The best tactical bags are constructed with durable materials and feature plenty of compartments of various sizes. Most importantly, they’re built to withstand a lot of wear and tear.
This list includes traditional backpacks, sling bags and messenger bags, so you can find the bag that’s right for you. Keep reading to find the best tactical bags for your needs.
1. 5.11 Tactical RUSH24 Military Backpack
5.11 is one of the most trusted names in military-style tactical gear, and the brand’s RUSH24 backpack is consistently one of its most popular products. Clothing made by 5.11 is used by the FBI, and this tough tactical backpack will be able to handle whatever you put it through. It has a water-repellent coating and side buckles for compression. A variety of pockets and internal pouches make it easy to stay organized and keep your EDC essentials close at hand. The backpack is available in 6 different colors.
Pros: Made by one of the top names in tactical gear, has a water-repellent coating, and is made of high-quality nylon. Storage compartment for water bladders.
Cons: One of the more expensive tactical bags.
2. REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack
This military-style backpack comes in black and tan, and it has a total capacity of 40L. There are various straps on the side for compressing the bag to a more compact size, and nylon webbing on the front allows you to attach additional gear. The main compartment opens completely, making it easy to find things without having to dig through the bag.
Pros: Main compartment completely opens for easy access, has ample pockets, affordable military-inspired bag.
Cons: Not as durable as some more expensive options. Very boxy design.
3. G4Free Tactical Sling Backpack
Shoulderbags and crossbody bags have become a trend in men’s clothing, and it’s the kind of trend whose inherent practicality gives it longevity. If you’re looking to carry more than you can keep in your pockets but less than a full backpack, this shoulder bag has enough storage for your tech devices and EDC items. It has a designated slot capable of holding a tablet. Despite its small size, it has several pockets and pouches.
Pros: Compact shoulder-bag design that’s large enough for daily essentials including tablets. Has numerous pockets and comes in several colors.
Cons: Shoulder strap is not well padded.
4. SOG Ninja Tactical Day Pack
If you’re looking for an affordable backpack that boasts tactical features, then consider this option from SOG. Like all of the best tactical backpacks, it has hook and loop fasteners on the front as well as webbing straps for clipping gear. The side of the bag has plastic buckles for compressing the bag. There are multiple exterior pockets and pouches as well as handy internal organizers. Multiple colors are available, including various camo options and muted black and gray bags.
Pros: Affordable bag with tactical features like webbing straps and compression buckles. Internal and external organizers. Available in various colors.
Cons: Zippers could be better.
5. REEBOW GEAR Tactical Sling Bag
If you’re looking for a bag to carry daily essentials that won’t fit in your pockets or a jacket, this sling bag from Reebow is a great option. It’s designed to go over your shoulder and across your chest, and it can be used to transport small tablets, notebooks, water bottles and other EDC gear. It’s available in tan or black. The front of the bag has webbing straps that can be used to clip gear securely in place.
Pros: Compact bag that can carry small devices like tablets. Ample pockets and webbing straps.
Cons: May be too small for some purposes. Single-strap design may be awkward for those used to backpack-style bags.
6. 5.11 Tactical Rush Delivery Lima Bag
If you like the storage and durability of the best tactical bags but prefer the maneuverability of a sling or crossbody bag, then this messenger bag from 5.11 is a good compromise. It has hook and loop fasteners on the front of the bag for attaching patches, and there are two external zippered pockets for storing small essentials you want easy access to. There’s also an external pouch for storing water bottles, including wider bottles. Internal organizers make it easy to carry your laptop, pens, notebooks and chargers.
Pros: Convenient messenger bag for daily essentials including small laptops. External water bottle pouch. Water-resistant nylon.
Cons: Interior compartments are somewhat thin and could be better organized. While 5.11 says this fits 15″ laptops, thicker laptops don’t fit inside the main compartment.
7. Novemkada Tactical Shoulder Bag
If you’re looking for an affordable sling bag for just your essentials, then consider this small bag. It’s available in plenty of colors. For example, you can lean into the tactical inspirations with a camo bag or go minimalist with a more neutral black. The main compartment can fit a small tablet or large smartphone, and there are numerous external pockets and internal organizers. Webbing straps across the front can be used for attaching gear.
Pros: Extremely affordable bag that comes in various colors. Internal organizers and external pockets. Adjustable strap length.
Cons: This purse-sized tactical bag will be too small for some tastes. Zippers come undone too easily with rough handling.