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Although military backpacks are designed for military assignments, they’re popular among adventurous hikers and campers because of their practicality.
Choosing the best military backpack for hiking can be difficult, though, due to the sheer amount of choices available to you these days.
We’ll try to make this decision easier for you by reviewing five military backpacks to assess their suitability for your next hiking adventure.
5.11 Tactical Military Backpack
Reebow Gear Military Tactical Backpack
SOG Opord Tactical Day Pack
RUPUMPACK Military Tactical Backpack
Direct Action Dragon Egg Mk II Tactical Backpack
The first backpack we reviewed comes from 5.11 Tactical, a company dedicated to helping you be prepared for whatever the day might throw at you.
Their motto is “Always be ready” and they have been supplying tactical clothing and gear to the FBI training academy, law enforcement, and public health professionals since 1992.
This is a 24-liter backpack suitable for a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking. It can also serve as a good bug out bag or survival backpack.
The 5.11 Tactical Rush12 Military Backpack is built to last since it’s made of durable 1050D nylon with reliable, self-repairing YKK zippers.
The material is also water-resistant, like all of our packs here, which will help the contents of your bag stay dry if you get caught in the rain.
The bag measures 18 x 11 x 8.25 inches and weighs about 2.6 pounds, which is pretty good considering its heavy-duty construction.
When it comes to organization, this is a fantastic backpack since it features a total of 16 different compartments.
Some of the compartments you’ll find include a roomy main pocket, dedicated 60oz hydration storage, and a multi-slot admin compartment.
It also has a fleece-lined pocket for easy and safe storage of your sunglasses, making sure that they don’t get scratched when they’re not in use.
We love the glove-friendly pull tabs featured on the 5.11 Tactical Rush12 Military Backpack.
It also has hook and loop nametape and flag patches.
Its adjustable shoulder and sternum straps make the pack comfortable to wear for most body sizes.
It’s also MOLLE system compatible with the wraparound MOLLE webbing and SlickStick-compatible web platform.
Our second contender for the best military backpack for hikers is more budget-friendly and comes from the Chinese manufacturer, Reebow.
Reebow is committed to providing high quality, stylish military-style clothing and equipment to military enthusiasts and fans everywhere.
This backpack has a similar style to the backpack from 5.11, but with a 34 liter-capacity.
Hence, it’s considerably larger, making it more suitable for longer hiking trips.
Despite the extra 10 liters, the Reebow Gear Military Tactical Backpack measures just 18 x 11 x 12 inches.
As such, you can enjoy the larger capacity but still within a very manageably sized backpack.
You don’t have a choice of colors as you do with the 5.11 since it’s only available in hunting brown.
Still, there are many other similarities to the first pack.
The Reebow Gear Military Tactical Backpack features the MOLLE system and has identically placed nametape and flag patches on the bag’s front.
Following suit to the 5.11 backpack, this one from Reebow features plenty of pockets to help organize your gear.
It includes a large main compartment and a dedicated hydration pocket designed to carry a larger 2.5L bladder.
The Reebow Gear Military Tactical Backpack is designed for thoughtful packing, helping you find exactly what you need at a moment’s notice.
It’s durable with high density, water-resistant fabric, and features zipper closures with utility-style cord pulls.
It’s also comfortable to wear thanks to its padded back area and straps you can adjust to fit your body size.
Our third backpack stays at the more affordable end of the spectrum and features a different style than the previous two.
It’s made by SOG, a company manufacturing essential, high-quality gear designed to last a lifetime.
The SOG Opord Tactical Day Pack has a less boxy design but has more capacity towards the bag’s lower end.
Measuring 22 x 12.7 x 7 inches, we were surprised to find out that this backpack has a huge 39.1L capacity, as it didn’t look like it when it’s empty!
The material used is 5000 polyester, which is still lightweight and water-resistant.
Although it’s not as soft or strong as nylon, it is faster drying and abrasion-resistant.
The SOG Opord Tactical Day Pack features MOLLE webbing, a hook-and-loop section for nameplates or flag patches.
It is comfortable to wear with its adjustable shoulder, torso, and waist straps.
The SOG Opord Tactical Day Pack also has an adjustable sternum slider.
As such, you can comfortably carry the backpack by dispersing the weight of the load.
This is a great feature to see on a larger capacity pack, and you’ll be grateful for it when it comes to longer hikes.
Unlike the other two bags, the SOG Opord Tactical Day Pack has fewer pockets with a roomy main compartment, front accessory pocket, two zippered side pockets, and a stash pocket.
If you prefer to keep your gear more organized without using any packing cubes, this may not be the best option for you.
Unlike the other packs, this backpack from SOG comes with a lifetime guarantee against manufacturer defects.
This makes this backpack a superb lifetime investment, and we feel the quality and price of this pack makes up for the lack of pockets.
The SOG Opord Tactical Day Pack also features hydration storage.
It caters to both left and right tubing ports for your water bladder, which is a nice touch.
This is another entry from a Chinese manufacturer that produces quality packs for adventurous people.
Their products are well designed and have an unbeatable price attached to them.
As the most affordable backpack on our list, this backpack from RUPUMPACK is closer in design to our list’s first two packs.
It has a 33-liter capacity and features a lot of pockets for organizing your gear.
A couple of thoughtful extras include an insulated hydration pocket, which will keep your water cold for up to four hours.
A smartphone pocket on the waist strap allows effortless access to your device with just one hand while you’re on the move.
The RUPUMPACK Military Tactical Backpack also has built-in safety reflectors on the shoulder straps to keep you safer while hiking at night.
Measuring 18.5 x 10.5 x 11 inches, the backpack feels extremely durable since it’s made of heavy-duty, water-resistant material with double stitching.
It also has great heavy-duty zippers with utility cords attached, making them easier to pull open and closed.
The RUPUMPACK Military Tactical Backpack also comes in a choice of four different colors.
Our final contender for the best military backpack for hiking comes from Direct Action.
Direct Action is a reputable brand that uses high-quality materials and endless innovation to provide the market’s very best gear.
The Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack is considerably more expensive than all of the other backpacks on this list.
However, the superior quality shines through, making it ideal for more high-end users.
The bag is named after the slight egg shape it adopts, somewhere between the classical boxy-style military backpack and a regular pack.
This allows you to blend into civilian situations more easily, making it ideal for use as a day pack and a hiking pack.
The material used for construction is 100% Cordura 500D, which is the industry-leading material for performance in particularly demanding environments.
The water-resistant coating further complements the rugged build of the Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack.
Some of the designs are even NIR treated, helping to prevent detection from night-vision lenses.
The patented Combat Vent System offers the user greater comfort and airflow over longer distances and hiking trips.
The unique vent system will help you stay cool and dryer when working up a sweat.
The Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack also features a unique laser-cut, low profile MOLLE system, which is less prone to snagging.
The pack also has plenty of pockets for organizing all your hiking gear and has a 25L capacity.
There are a total of 14 colors and prints to choose from, so you can be camouflaged within almost any terrain really well.
Both the US and British Army use backpacks that incorporate the MOLLE system for their functionality and customization.
Tactical backpacks are commonly used for combat situations and simulations, but you’ll also see a lot of regular rucksacks in the military for rucking.
If you’re looking to purchase a backpack used by the military, look for one that incorporates MOLLE webbing.
Military backpacks can be great for hiking, but those with lower stamina may be better off avoiding them.
That’s because they are usually heavier due to the more durable construction.
Still, MOLLE backpacks can make ideal hiking backpacks since you can customize them to carry exactly what you need for the day.
Military backpacks are also designed to be highly functional and are worn close to the body to allow better freedom of movement, even when running and jumping.
Therefore, they’re usually better suited to more adventurous hikers.
If you’re physically fit and you like to jump and climb, this style will be perfect for you.
There is no one backpack issued by the SAS since it will vary depending on the team and mission’s needs.
But ALICE packs (All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) tend to be very popular among special forces and the military.
Most military-style backpacks offer a certain level of water resistance, but they’re not completely waterproof.
They’re usually made of very heavy-duty, rugged materials with double stitching, which offers some natural water resistance.
Many of the higher-end packs will also be coated to increase their ability to repel water.
After much consideration, we executed an “about turn,” so to speak, and chose the SOG Opord Tactical Day Pack!
The manufacturer’s lifetime guarantee is what swung us on this one since any design or manufacturer faults will be fixed or replaced for free, without questions.
Although not everyone would need such a large capacity, when you’re not using the bag’s full capacity, it looks and feels smaller.
If you enjoy longer hiking excursions and camping out overnight, the SOG pack’s extra capacity will be more suitable for packing everything you need.
This bag also doesn’t have as many pockets as the others, but the number of pockets is decent enough for most hikers unless you actually need them.
If you have the money to spend, the Direct Action bag is the higher quality option, but the RUPUMPACK is still incredibly durable and offers some great extras.