The 10 Best Tactical Backpacks for EDC in 2023

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The purpose is in the name: tactical backpacks are designed to be a cut above the rest, and to offer superior durability and functionality for any mission and environment. They’re popular for EDC because their design and construction put them a step above your run of the mill bookbags. Unlike most casual bags, tactical packs are built to last through the most demanding use cases, usually for military, law enforcement, or emergency applications.

Luckily for you and your EDC, you can find tactical-style bags with the same focus on high performance and long-term durability in a wide variety of styles, from small day packs to large volume carriers. This guide covers all you need to consider when choosing a tactical backpack and offers 10 of the best tactical backpacks on the market to make it easier for you to choose. 

Our Top Picks

The Best Overall Tactical Backpack: GORUCK GR2 [Buy]

The Best Tactical Backpack on a Budget: Kelty Redwing [Buy]

The Best Tactical Backpack for EDC: The Brown Buffalo Conceal 21L [Buy]

The Best Tactical Backpack for Heavy Loads: Kifaru Stryker XL [Buy]

The Most Modular Tactical Backpack: Prometheus Design Werx S.H.A.D.O. Pack [Buy]

The Best Overall Tactical Backpack🏆The Best Tactical Backpack on a BudgetThe Best Tactical Backpack for EDCThe Best Tactical Backpack for Heavy LoadsThe Most Modular Tactical Backpack
GORUCK GR2Kelty RedwingThe Brown Buffalo ConcealKifaru Stryker XLPrometheus Design Werx S.H.A.D.O. Pack
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Blade Steel:Blade Steel:Blade Steel:Blade Steel:Blade Steel:
Recycled Swedish stainless steelD21095 Carbon SteelLC200NS35VN
Handle Materials:Handle Materials:Handle Materials:Handle Materials:Handle Materials:
Everyday Carry

The Best Overall Tactical Backpack: GORUCK GR2

GORUCK’s GR2 is arguably one of the toughest EDC bags out there, and if you need a bag to travel the world with, it’s hard to go wrong with this tried-and-true pick. The design of this ruck follows the same heavy-duty construction and layout GORUCK is known for, and the rugged laptop compartment, clamshell-opening design, and TSA carry-on compliance of this pack make it easily one of our favorite go-to EDC bags for any mission.

As an upgrade to the GR1, the GR2 comes with an extra 1L front section that integrates a field pouch and a couple more zip pockets, giving you more room and organization if the main compartment is packed out. As of this year, GORUCK bags also now sport a redesigned, less abrasive back panel and shoulder straps made from 210D CORDURA nylon. That means you don’t have to worry about the material of the backpack damaging your clothes or being too rough on your skin, no matter how delicate.

How to Choose a Tactical Backpack

While the main purpose and functionality of a tactical backpack lean more towards durability and rugged performance, there are details you can look out for when picking the best one for your needs.

Size and Capacity

It’s important to get the size of the tactical pack right because if it’s too big, you end up with unnecessary weight, and if it’s too small, you don’t get enough space for your gear. A 12–24L tactical backpack usually suffices for daily carry, but that can differ from person to person depending on your torso length and the volume of your EDC loadout. To get it right, estimate the weight of your EDC loadout in liters or cubic inches and choose a backpack within your estimated range. Also, try comparing your measurements with any models wearing the bag to get an idea of how it would fit you.

Materials and Durability

Durability is one of the most important features of a tactical backpack, and it’s dependent on the material the bag is made from. The best tactical backpacks are usually made from high-density, water-resistant materials like CORDURA ballistic nylon, ripstop nylon, and other technical materials like X-Pac. As a general rule, the higher the number in the fabric designation, like denier for nylon or the VX code on X-Pac, the thicker and more durable it’s rated. You want to ensure that you’re getting a bag that can stand up to the rigors of everyday use, keep your essentials protected, and still last a long time.

Zippers and Stitching

Zippers are equally as important as the material the backpack is made from. A high-quality, waterproof bag may not protect your essentials adequately if the zippers are fragile and the seams are not properly sealed. So, you need to ensure the zippers are sturdy and the seams and needle holes are properly sealed to prevent water from getting into the bag. Look out for things like YKK AquaGuard zippers or storm flaps over zipper tracks (especially for compartments you’ll be carrying tech in) if you’re looking for better weather protection.


One of the reasons tactical backpacks are so popular for EDC is the level of organization they offer. If you’ve ever rummaged through a bag for something you’re sure you put there but just couldn’t find, you’ll understand why organization is important. In choosing the best tactical bag, choose one with the level of organization that matches your needs. Tactical backpacks typically have a primary and a secondary compartment (with either having a full clamshell opening), supplemented by modular internal and external sections. Some of these compartments are also specialized to hold specific gear—like dedicated pen slots, tech sleeves, side pockets for bottles, helmet storage, and other mission-critical gear.

Comfort and Fit

If a bag doesn’t fit or wear well, it will only cause discomfort down the road, inevitably leading to not using the pack. You want to choose a backpack that fits snugly (“high and tight”) but comfortably. Look for bags padded shoulder straps and back panels. The padding helps reduce pressure and strain on your muscles, especially if you are carrying a backpack with a heavy load for a long time. Sternum, waist, and hip belts also help to distribute the weight of your backpack evenly across your back and midsection, so you don’t feel like the entire weight is on your neck and back. Load lifters and other advanced harness adjustments also help fine-tune the perfect fit for the pack. Also, consider the back panel and shoulder straps of each backpack. Some materials will cause you to sweat more than others or can be abrasive to your skin or clothes


Tactical packs are not all the same; some are more specific for certain uses than others. You should choose a tactical backpack with features that meet your needs. Check for features like MOLLE webbing, hydration bladder, specialized compartments, and quick-access pockets.

Best Tactical Backpack FAQs

What kind of backpack do Navy SEALs use?

The kind of backpack usually varies based on the mission, kind, and volume of gear required, but the Navy SEALs often use tactical backpacks.

What backpack does the US military use?

The US military uses lightweight, heavy-duty tactical backpacks with one or two compartments, supplemental attachment points, and MOLLE webbing for attaching extra gear.

What is the best military rucksack?

The MOLLE II rucksack is the best military rucksack and has been a mainstay for many years.

What backpacks do Marines use?

Marines use the military issue ILBE (Improved Load Bearing Equipment) rucksack system, with the MARPAT camouflage pattern printed onto it.

How We Picked

Decades of experience and deep connections in the everyday carry industry give us a unique viewpoint on the market to inform our product recommendations. We have the depth of information for thousands of products that have come before and an extensive eye on the market to see what’s new and trending for each piece of gear. The result is a buying guide that we feel is informative and useful for EDCers of every trade, industry, and budget.

What is Everyday Carry?

Everyday Carry is both the concept of what people carry in their pockets and the process of picking out gear that thoughtfully considers what one wants or needs in their daily lives. It encompasses everything from style to preparedness to utility, meaning an entire industry full of valuable tools and essentials to choose from.

Why you should trust us

Our team has decades of combined experience in all aspects of everyday men’s essentials, from wallets to pens to bags and everything in between, and we know where to find great gear ideas that you may not come across at your local stores or when shopping online. Our expertise with the industry and familiarity in design, materials, and usability help you make more informed choices when it comes to picking up your next piece of gear.

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