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The 15 Best Tactical Backpacks and Slings for Travel in 2024

Amar Hussain's image
Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

774 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Tactical backpacks can be stuffed to the almost bursting point without breaking and offer a practical and durable alternative to regular carry bags.

Made from strong and durable material and featuring camouflage designs, external webbing, and oodles of extra pockets and pouches to hold all your gear, these military-style backpacks and slings are perfect for short trips away and weekend adventures.

The Benefits of Tactical Backpacks and Slings

It is the super-tough design of these backpacks that really sets them apart from the competition. Made from tear-resistant waterproof material, they are constructed using high tensile fibers to ensure that they are able to withstand many miles of adventures.

With military precision and utilitarian practicality, these bags wouldn’t look out of place on tactical maneuvers while still being a user-friendly choice for hunting, fishing, hiking, and traveling. Designed to be able to cope with plenty of rough and tumble adventures, these backpacks feature reinforced seams and abrasion-resistant fabric to ensure that your belongings will stay safe and dry.

Rugged as they may be, these sharp-looking bits of gear come complete with compression straps to help them maintain a slimline silhouette, while the numerous external pockets and pouches offer extra space without making them too bulky and cumbersome to be comfortable.

With the ability to carry anywhere up to 60 liters of your most essential items, they are spacious and capable, offering enough room to keep you going for 2 or 3 days. With their iconic MOLLE webbing systems, you can add even more items by attaching them to the Velcro straps, and with some even featuring bottom tie straps, you can even stash your tent or your sleeping bag on the bottom of your backpack.

If you prefer to travel that little bit lighter but still crave the uniform look and practicality of a tactical design, consider switching to a sling pack instead.

Bottom Line: Single-shouldered and perfect for hands-free travel, these crossbody sling bags offer all the benefits of a tactical backpack but with smaller capacities and more compact dimensions.

Things To Consider With Tactical Backpacks and Slings

Whether you want to head out into the wilds or would rather explore the concrete jungle, a tactical backpack or sling offers military-grade construction and enough space to hold all the gear you need for the duration of your trip.

Before you don your camo gear and start crawling through the undergrowth, think about the following:

Size and Capacity

Tactical Backpack
Tactical backpacks come in all shapes and sizes. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Tactical backpacks offer lots of useable packing space. A similar length to most large-size daypacks or sports backpacks, they offer lots of additional pockets and pouches that allow the bulk of your gear to be distributed evenly for a more comfortable carry.

Sling backpacks are smaller, both in terms of physical dimensions and interior capacity, but still feature main compartments that are big enough to hold a small laptop, notebook, iPad mini, or Kindle, as well as additional pockets that allow you to keep smaller items closer.

Featuring a MOLLE webbing system that tactical packs are so famous for, you can easily attach further pouches or accessories, and these unique load-bearing features give both backpack and sling bags that iconic military styling.

As a rough guide, backpacks can offer up to 60 liters of storage space, while their more compact sling-style contemporaries usually have around 7 to 10 liters of storage space. Before you commit, ensure that the backpack or sling you choose has the capacity you need to hold all your gear.

Material and Durability

Tactical Backpack Material
Military backpacks are usually made from high-density nylon. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Military slings and backpacks need to be made from super-tough, water-resistant fabric to ensure that they are durable enough to go the distance.

High denier nylon material is the most popular choice for both backpacks and slings as it offers excellent resistance to water, is hardy enough to protect your gear from damage, and is still lightweight enough to be easy to carry.

Leave the leather bags back at home, and keep your canvas bags for use when commuting. Heavy-duty synthetic material is the only way to go when it comes to tactical adventures in the great outdoors.

Comfort

Tactical Backpack Comfort
Look for a bag with padded and adjustable straps for comfort. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

With the ability to haul your gear over your shoulders or across your body, both backpacks and sling packs are an excellent choice for activities where you need to keep your hands completely free.

To ensure that they remain comfortable no matter how much gear you intend to take with you, look for padded and adjustable shoulder straps that can be made to perfectly fit the size and shape of your body. For even greater levels of comfort and support, larger capacity backpacks come complete with chest or waist straps to help even out the load.

Hot Tip: If you opt for a tactical sling pack, the ones that offer detachable straps are more convenient as they can be worn on either the right or left side of your body to suit your own personal preference.

Compartments and Organization

Tactical Backpack Compartments
Lots of pockets and compartments will keep your gear organized. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

In a backpack, the large main compartment will give you the room you need to stash your clothes, toiletries, and even your laptop. Padded dividers will keep your tech safe, and interior zipper pockets and pouches will allow you to keep all of your belongings well-organized.

Sling packs also offer spacious main storage areas, although they will, of course, be much smaller. One of the biggest benefits of choosing a tactical bag over a regular one will be the amount of additional storage they offer.

Front zipper pockets allow easy access and hidden rear pockets offer protection against theft. With the awesome MOLLE webbing that allows you to attach as many extra pouches as you need, tactical backpacks and sling bags offer a versatile and extremely spacious way to carry your gear with you in the wild.

The 8 Best Tactical Backpacks

While many tactical backpacks have similar styling, they are not all the same on the inside. Here are some of the best we’ve found:

1. The Best Big Tactical Backpack

PANS Large Military Backpack

This awesome multi-purpose backpack comes in a variety of camo designs and is the perfect choice for trekking, hunting, hiking, and other outdoor activities. With a walkie-talkie pouch on the backstrap of the bag, you can easily keep in touch with your fellow adventurers, and the zipper expansion system offers up to 64 liters of useable packing space.

Suitable for use on trips lasting as many as 3 to 5 days, this pack features 4 main front-loading compartments, a mesh bottle pocket on the side, and further smaller pockets. The MOLLE system can be used to attach extra pouches, and the mountaineering hook can be used for hanging smaller items to keep them within easy reach.

With an adjustable chest belt and padded shoulder straps, this backpack is designed to evenly disperse your belongings’ weight, and the side buckle straps help compress the backpack to give it a streamlined appearance even when full.

What We Like

  • Lots of pockets to keep organized

What We Don’t Like

  • Quite a heavy bag

2. The Best for Everyday Adventures

REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack

This tactical backpack is made from high-density fabric that is incredibly durable and highly water-resistant. With a 40-liter capacity, it offers all the space you need for 3-day trips, and being hydration bladder-compatible, this backpack will keep you well-hydrated.

Featuring a MOLLE webbing system, you can easily attach additional tactical pouches. The side and front load compression system helps the pack stay streamlined and compact, even when full. With a large main compartment and plenty of additional pockets, this backpack enables excellent organization, even in the wild.

The ventilated mesh padded back area allows the air to circulate, and the padded and adjustable shoulder straps help to distribute the weight of the pack evenly as you walk. With heavy-duty zippers and durable double seams, this pack is strong and sturdy enough to handle anything you can throw at it.

What We Like

  • MOLLE webbing to attach different pouches

What We Don’t Like

  • The zippers can sometimes catch

3. The Best Backpack for Water Resistance

Hannibal Tactical MOLLE Assault Pack

With a practical 36-liter capacity, this solid tactical backpack is made from durable and water-resistant 600 x 600 density fabric. With space to house a 3-liter hydration pack (not included) and enough storage space for 2 or 3 days away, this is an excellent choice for wilderness adventures.

Featuring 2 main compartments and 2 smaller front compartments, you can easily organize your gear on the go. The back panel is designed to keep your water bladder safe and secure, and the 2-way zipper pulls allow you to open the backpack up fully for easy packing and unpacking.

On the outside, the large front and side MOLLE system can be used to attach additional pouches, and the Y strap and buckle will hold rolled-up coats and sweatshirts. With additional straps at the bottom that can be used to hold your tent or sleeping bag, you can save space in the main compartment for your most valuable possessions.

Thickly padded shoulder straps make for a comfortable carry, and the mesh area on the back adds excellent breathability to keep you feeling cool.

With an additional waist strap to help distribute your belongings’ weight, this is an excellent tactical backpack for all kinds of outdoor adventures.

What We Like

  • Has a waist and sternum strap for extra support

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t stand up by itself

4. Versatile Backpack and Removable Fanny Pack

CVLIFE Tactical Backpack

Made from water-resistant 600D fabric, this tactical backpack is strong and durable. Designed to be used in a variety of settings, it can expand to offer between 50 and 60 liters of useable storage space, and with plenty of additional pockets and pouches, this is an awesome choice for 2- or 3-day camping, hiking, and hunting trips.

Designed to offer incredible versatility, this backpack has 1 large main compartment and a further detachable bag on the front that can be used as a tactical fanny pack when you need to travel light. With additional accessory pouches and compression buckles for a streamlined feel, this bag offers all the storage space you need for your next adventure.

With dual-density ventilated mesh shoulder straps, you won’t be working up a sweat when carrying your gear, and the cinching waist straps help relieve the weight from your shoulders. The MOLLE system allows you to easily attach extra pouches and your sleeping bag, and the camouflage design makes this a brilliant choice for use in the backcountry.

What We Like

  • Has 3 detachable pouches

What We Don’t Like

  • The shoulder straps could be more padded

Hot Tip: Don’t miss our guides to the top essentials to bring on your next camping or hiking adventure!

5. The Best Laptop-compatible Tactical Backpack

Check on Walmart

24BattlePack Tactical Backpack

Designed by real-life soldiers, this military tactical backpack is rugged, durable, and perfect for fishing, hiking, and hunting trips. Made from heavy-duty water-resistant material, this backpack can expand to offer between 20 to 40 liters of storage space, and the design is strong enough to carry up to 100 pounds of clothing and other outdoor essentials.

This backpack features a large padded laptop compartment that can comfortably house devices measuring up to 17 inches. With a separate insulated compartment and hanging clips, you can add your own hydration bladder, and the additional zipper pockets offer easy organization.

The breathable mesh construction helps to prevent the build-up of sweat against your back, and the padded and adjustable shoulder straps make it easy to find the right length to suit your size. With a MOLLE front, you can easily attach further pouches and equipment. The multiple compression buckles help keep everything secure no matter how rough the terrain is ahead of you.

What We Like

  • Fits up to a 17-inch laptop

What We Don’t Like

  • The backpack straps are quite thin

6. Tactical Backpack for Every Kind of Adventure

Check on Oakley

Oakley Men’s Kitchen Sink Backpack

With futuristic good looks and acres of storage space, this innovative tactical backpack offers up to 34 liters of seriously versatile storage space. Made from tough and durable, abrasion-resistant fabric, this backpack offers lots of high-end features and is suitable for use in almost all conditions.

On the inside, the 17-inch laptop compartment and hard media-player compartment allow you to keep your tech close at hand, and with a well-placed headphone port, you can enjoy listening to your favorite tunes on the go.

With a compression-molded top storage compartment, lockable cable zippers, a mid-body access flap with interior organizer, and a bottom compartment with a drainage port for wet and soiled items, this seriously impressive backpack really does have everything taken care of.

The well-padded shoulder straps make light work of supporting the backpack even when full, and the additional chest and waist straps ensure that the weight of your gear is evenly distributed as you walk. Uniquely designed to maximize your packing power on outdoor adventures, this bag really does offer enough space to pack everything you need, with or without the kitchen sink!

What We Like

  • Has a protective top pocket for sunglasses or other delicate items

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t stand up straight on the floor

7. Compact Tactical Backpack

Armycamo Small Military Backpack

Perfect for everyday use, this compact military backpack offers 30 liters of storage space and would be a great choice for school or college, as well as day trips and outdoor adventures. Versatile enough to carry everything you need when you are away from home, it even comes complete with a 3-liter hydration compartment (bladder not included).

With enough space to hold a few changes of clothing, toiletries, and other essentials, this is a solid multifunctional backpack that offers excellent resistance to water while still being lightweight and compact enough to carry on your back all day long.

Made from high-grade polyester fabric, it features reversible zippers that are designed to protect your gear from dirt and dust, superstrong seams, and a variety of pockets and compartments that make it easy to organize your gear on the go.

The mesh padding area on the back will remain comfortable for long periods of time, and the wide padded straps can be easily adjusted to suit your size and shape while helping to even out the weight of your backpack for a more comfortable carry.

What We Like

  • Available in a range of colors

What We Don’t Like

  • Quite a small backpack

8. One of the Toughest Tactical Backpacks Out There

EMDMAK Military Tactical Backpack

This 42-liter capacity pack is large enough to carry up to 3 days worth of clothing and tactical gear and is made from high-density double-stitched 900D oxford and nylon fabric. With subtle good looks and lots of useful storage features, this backpack would work as well on your daily commute as it would on outdoor adventures.

Offering a multitude of different compartments, this bag has 2 main storage areas that are easy to access, 2 smaller compartments on the front, and a single back compartment for keeping valuable items safely tucked away from prying eyes.

With a MOLLE webbing system on the front of the backpack, you can easily attach additional pouches to hold even more of your belongings, and the straps on the bottom of the bag can be used to secure your tent or sleeping bag. This awesome tactical backpack also features a water bottle pouch, an 18-inch paracord lanyard keychain, and 4 multi-purpose D-rings with a locking system.

With ventilated mesh on the back panel, this model offers excellent airflow, and the padded shoulder straps are designed to offer incredible comfort, even when the backpack is full. Side and bottom load compression straps also feature to ensure that you can keep your gear well-secured for increased agility.

What We Like

  • Hip pockets for quick access

What We Don’t Like

  • The shoulder straps are a bit short for larger people

The 7 Best Tactical Backpack Slings

Travel light with a sling pack that offers all the benefits of tactical styling without the weight of a full-size backpack.

1. The Best Crossbody Tactical Bag for Everyday Use

LBlanco Tactical Single Shoulder Bag

This brilliant single-strap tactical shoulder bag is compact yet highly practical and offers enough space for all of your everyday essentials. Made from high-quality wear-resistant, waterproof, and anti-tear nylon material, this bag is durable and designed to last a distance.

On the inside, the large main pocket with a divider is roomy enough to carry your iPad, wallet, cell phone, and other essentials, while the 2 front pockets and hidden back pocket are perfect for keeping your most used items neatly tucked away. Easy to reach while cycling, hiking, walking, or traveling, this is a great lightweight daypack that comes in a choice of 4 different designs and colorways.

The sling strap is padded and easy to adjust to fit your body’s size and shape, and you can wear it on your back to keep it out of the way or on your front to help protect your most valuable items in crowded spaces.

Practical, compact, and on-trend, this is an excellent bag for modern-day commuters and outdoor adventurers.

What We Like

  • Made from durable, anti-rip fabric

What We Don’t Like

  • The interior lining rips easily

2. The Best for Protection Against the Elements

Hopopower Tactical Sling Bag

Made from high-density waterproof nylon fabric, this brilliant tactical sling bag is the perfect companion for hunting, trekking, hiking, fishing, cycling, and even on inner-city commutes. With plenty of storage space for your day-to-day essentials, the unique crossbody, single-strap design makes it easy to travel hands-free and unencumbered.

With a good-size main compartment and a selection of additional pockets and pouches, you can easily keep all of your belongings neatly organized. Compression straps help the bag to retain its shape even when full, and the MOLLE webbing on both sides of the bag can be used to attach additional pouches, water bottles, and other outdoor accessories.

Designed to be incredibly comfortable to carry, this sling bag features a thick mesh sponge to help reduce the burden on your shoulder and to absorb shock while you walk, ride, or cycle. Made from a breathable material, it reduces the build-up of sweat no matter how vigorously you exercise, and the adjustable strap with a wide shoulder panel helps to distribute the weight over your shoulder evenly.

What We Like

  • Has a breathable back panel

What We Don’t Like

  • Quite a small sling bag

3. The Best Compact Carry Bag

Denlix EDC Military Shoulder Bag

Lightweight and reliable, this single-shoulder tactical sling bag offers a compact but practical 7-liter main compartment with enough space to carry your everyday essentials. Comfortable to carry, this bag can be used as a shoulder bag, a chest bag, a side backpack, or even a hand-carry bag, making it a compact and versatile alternative to a small-size backpack.

The main compartment comes with a strong and sturdy zipper to keep your items well-protected, and the further front zippered pocket, internal pouches, and padded back pocket offer lots of additional space to keep your gear well-organized. Spacious enough to carry your tablet or e-reader, as well as your cell phone, wallet, keys, and other personal belongings, this is the perfect compact sling bag for everyday use.

On the outside, the front and side MOLLE system can be used to attach additional pouches and accessories, and the reversible padded and adjustable shoulder strap can be clipped on either side of the bag to suit your needs.

What We Like

  • Can be worn in multiple ways

What We Don’t Like

  • The zipper can sometimes snag

4. The Best Big Sling Bag

Red Rock Large Sling Pack

Made from strong and durable polyester material, this large tactical sling pack has plenty of storage space and lots of high-end features. Designed to be worn across the body, this single-strap shoulder pack allows you to hike, walk, cycle, or travel completely hands-free.

With a large main compartment, you can carry your iPad or 13-inch laptop around with you, and the touch-fastener slip pockets offer additional space for smaller items. The 2 zippered front pockets allow for easy access for your most used items, and the MOLLE webbing on the front and shoulder strap can be used to attach extra gear and additional pouches.

Designed to be worn on either the right or left side of your body, the padded strap features a quick-release buckle that can be adjusted in an instant, and with 13 liters of total storage, this is one of the most capacious tactical sling bags out there.

What We Like

  • 9 external pockets for quick access

What We Don’t Like

  • The compartments are quite small

5. The Best Sling Bag for Organized Travelers

ANTARCTICA Tactical Sling Bag

Available in a choice of colors and designs, this tactical sling bag is made from 1050 water-resistant, high-density nylon fabric, which is lightweight while still being incredibly durable. Offering 7 liters of storage space, this bag comes with double-stitching, heavy-duty zippers, and utility-style cord pulls.

With the main zipper bag that is large enough to house your everyday essentials, the internal divider helps to keep your gear organized, and the further zipper and mesh pockets will keep your smaller items safe. With a large front zipper pocket and a discrete back pocket, this sling pack offers easy access to all of your belongings.

With external MOLLE webbing, you can also attach further items and pouches, and the adjustable and super comfortable shoulder strap allows you to wear the pack as a crossbody bag or worn flat against your chest for increased security.

What We Like

  • Has a strong top-carrying handle

What We Don’t Like

  • The zippers are noisy

6. The Strongest of Sling Bags

QT&QY Tactical Sling Bag

Offering multiple storage compartments, this tactical sling bag is just the right size for use when camping, fishing, hiking, or hunting and would also make a great choice for urban explorers. With enough space to carry your 10-inch tablet in the padded compartment, water bottle, and plenty of other everyday essentials, this military sling bag comes in a variety of colors and designs.

With a large main compartment, you can easily access your gear on the go, and the multiple internal slip pockets and zipper pouches offer a safe space for all of your smaller items. On the outside, the MOLLE webbing system can be used to attach additional pouches and other accessories, and the double-stitched stress points ensure that this bag remains strong and sturdy no matter how much gear you fill it with.

The padded straps and back panel offer increased comfort and ventilation, and all of the different compartments come with 2-way openings for easy access.

What We Like

  • Can be worn over the left or right shoulder

What We Don’t Like

  • The strap is a little short for larger people

7. Slimline Sling Bag

LIVIQILY Crossbody Bag

Subtle and discreet, this awesome chest pack is made from 8000D material that is super soft to the touch while still being water-resistant and incredibly durable. Compact enough to be concealed underneath your clothing, this is a brilliant choice for safe and reliable storage while you are traveling.

The main pocket is large enough to carry your iPad mini or Kindle, along with your wallet, cell phone, flashlight, charger, keys, and other essentials. There are also 2 further pockets on the front of the pack and a convenient smaller pocket on the top. Perfect for use in crowded areas or on busy commutes, you can hide your valuables safely against your body on the move.

With a padded crossbody strap that can be adjusted in length to suit your body’s size and shape, this pack doesn’t come with MOLLE webbing but still offers useful storage space and a streamlined, fashionable design.

What We Like

  • Small and compact

What We Don’t Like

  • Only holds small items

Final Thoughts

From large-size backpacks that offer acres of additional storage options to discreet and compact sling bags, the tactical design of these bags is a big hit with dedicated adventurers.

With enough space to carry your clothing, a water bladder, your snacks, GPS, cell phone, and a ton of other essentials, a tactical backpack makes light work of a few days away.

While sling bags may be smaller in size, they still offer incredible versatility and military styling, making them an excellent choice for days when you want to travel a little bit lighter.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a backpack tactical?

Tactical backpacks are designed to be more durable and hardwearing due to the conditions that they will be used in. The heavy-duty materials used in their construction can withstand more than regular backpacks.

What kind of backpack does the military use?

The military uses tactical backpacks that are highly durable and offer various storage compartments with easy access. Tactical backpacks come in various sizes and designs, but all are designed for rugged outdoor use.

What are military backpacks called?

Military backpacks were originally referred to as rucksacks and used as early as the American Civil War. The term tactical backpack has been used in more recent years.

What does MOLLE stand for?

MOLLE stands for modular lightweight load-carrying equipment. It is the current system used in tactical gear for attaching extra equipment. It is in use by the U.S. military and other NATO forces.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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