If you’ve been out fighting through torrential downpours, stuck in a muddy spot, laid down because of the weather, or bugging out for an extended period like I have, then you’ll agree that most important part is that you’re carrying the right equipment.

I sincerely believe that out of all the technology in the military, nothing is as important as a tight, wearable, durable military pack.

US Military in a Mission

Since their inception, armed forces all over the world have customized and developed packs that fit their specific needs and wants. That’s why modern bags come with attachable need bags that help supply any extra gear that you might have to carry.

Military bags come in a wide variety of capacities to match the amount of time you’re going to bug-out. Of course, your overall weight and size contribute to how much you can carry, as does the gear that you’re carrying and the distance that you’re traveling. Another huge consideration is the way that the backpack fits. It should be about as long as your torso (no longer). Otherwise, you run the risk of back injury, imbalances, or tripping.

Identifying the Qualifications of a Military Backpack:

The explanation of what qualifies as a top military backpack is pretty straightforward. There are two basic qualifiers:

-It’s the official gear that the armed forces carry in duty
-The specifications and build of the backpack match the same specifications of a military pack

Because of the extreme quality, it’s fairly understandable for the public interest in some of the essential pieces of gear. These days, you could just search on amazon to find a military pack, but it’s still hard to choose the best military backpack.

While there are numerous things that I could mention that I love about specific packs, the best military backpacks have the following 5 characteristics:

Internal Capacity

Spacious Military Backpack
A military backpack should have enough space to accommodate all the necessary items.

The internal capacity of a backpack varies depending on the cubic inches that it can carry. Most are between 1,220 and 3,000, but if you’re bugging out for extended periods of time, you can get packs that provide over 5,000 cubic inches of space (but they aren’t likely military backpacks). In general, MOLLE model is the biggest models of the army backpack that you can get, and they’re specially designed to carry massive amounts of equipment for long-range missions.

Hydration Options

All military bags should have a choice for hydration packs that fit inside your bag. These days, the military doesn’t use canteen types of hydration canisters. Now, CamelBak provides the equipment for most military backpacks (and it should come standard). These hydration packs are essential to surviving, so you should carefully consider how long you’re outside, how much you are moving, and how much water you’re supposed to drink in a day. We suggest 3.5 liters a day, especially if you’re in the heat or exerting yourself.


Military backpacks aren’t necessarily “comfy” but they don’t have to hurt your back. You’ll find padding options, straps, panels, and other accessories to make wearing your backpack less of an endeavor. You’ll find that the best military backpacks are weatherproof, but not where your back contacts it. You should also think about your closure system that distributes the weight on your body. Another consideration is ventilation. More often than not, the best packs are ones that include “chimneys” to let out heat.

Overall Size

Unlike other analogies out there, the size of the pack does make a difference. No matter how impressive military backpacks might look, only get one that fits your body size. You should still be able to get the same capacities, but they’re designed to hold the weight on your body differently. Most vary in size but are easy enough to adjust. There are military backpacks designed to be women-specific, designed to carry weight differently on the body.

Pack Access, Pockets, and Attachment Points

Some people might not think about the finer aspects of a military pack, but they end up leaving gear out that could have been secured to their bag with a little forethought. Good military backpacks have daisy-chaining options to hook around the outside of a pack, a reinforced crampon pouch to hold things that might poke you (like stakes or knives), and gear loops on the belt or hip to clip more gear to our torso. Consider whether you want a pack that only has one opening or one that opens up all over, or has pockets. Having options for extra space in a pinch is nice.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, picking the best military backpack can be tough. There are a wide variety of things to consider when you make your purchase; which is why it’s so important to do your research. In many situations, your pack is your best chance of survival, so don’t take your choice lightly. There’s been more than one time I’ve been saved by my backpack- just because I had room to pack everything I needed.


My name is John Winger, I was born and raised in Virginia. I spent a good part of my early adult life in the US military, namely the Army and served in Iraq. I saw my fair share of combat missions and thanks to that experience I have a better understanding and appreciate for what my country means to me and the world.

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