Carrying a backpack when you’re a soldier is essential. Not only do you need personal items with you if you’re facing combat, you’ll also be traveling all over the world. Just heading home for a few days of R&R will require you take a few items with you and a military backpack is a great way to use a carryon and have what you need with your during your flight and your visit.

How do you know what to look for in a military backpack?

There are several different types of military backpacks available. They work well for soldiers but are also great if you just want a sturdy, efficient pack for carrying your stuff.

Military backpacks are serious backpacks. They should be made from good quality materials and shouldn’t be flimsy or too small. In some cases, a military backpack for soldiers is going to be Government Issue from whatever branch of service you’re in, but sometimes you want to upgrade or replace your pack.

What makes a military backpack different than other backpacks?

Military backpacks have a lot of strength and usually more capacity than other packs. They also have several special features like MOLLE webbing, padded shoulder straps or compression straps, and possibly even a hydration pack, not found on most run-of-the-mill tactical backpacks. They’re ideal for traveling long distances, by foot, plane, or other vehicle, and they can be used as “bug out” bags if you’re in a survival situation.

What should you consider when shopping for a military backpack?

Appearance of the Bag

Though it might not seem like a big deal as long as the backpack is high-quality, the look of the pack can actually be functional. For instance, many soldiers opt for a camouflage bag because it can be easily disguised in certain situations.

Camouflage comes in a variety of options, so you’ll want to make sure the pattern you choose is real camouflage. Some of the most common authentic camo patterns include Multicam, Pencott, Kryptek, and Marpat.

Capacity of the Bag

Another thing you’ll want to consider when looking for the best military backpack is the capacity of the pack. Sizes range from small, which are considered one-day packs, to huge haulers with a large container of several cubic inches and a number of easy access pouches or MOLLE webbing, which can be used for extended trips and contain everything you need to survive for days, weeks, or months at a time, including a hydration pack.

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In most cases, bags have internal compartments that keep it easy to organize your items. This is especially important for larger capacity bags but can make things easier even if you’re carrying a smaller bag.

Obviously, the most important factor concerning capacity is that the bag can carry everything you need to haul. Plan out the items you’ll need to carry and err on the side of caution by choosing a bag just a bit larger than you think you’ll need.

Bag’s Weight

In addition to the bag’s capacity, you’ll want to think about the weight of the bag. You could be carrying the bag for long hauls and the last thing you want is unnecessary weight.

Most military backpacks are made from durable, lightweight fabric. It’s a blend of sturdiness and keeping it easy to carry, and not all backpacks get this balance right.

Another way to deal with the weight of the pack is to look for a bag that has a good frame and straps. These features can go a long way in preventing damage to your shoulders and back, even when you’re carrying a bag that’s weighed down with a lot of equipment.

The straps of a good military backpack should be strong and designed properly to avoid extra strain. They should also be padded, as this cuts down on a lot of wear and tear on your body.

Features of the Bag

Many military backpacks come with special features that make the bags more functional and more convenient. There might be added components designed for specific items or they might feature webbed pockets or waterproofing. Some offer extra straps or have a bedroll or place to store a sleeping bag.

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Think about a few of the features that might be important to you before you begin shopping and then see what’s available as you browse the various bags.

You’ll also want to take the time to compare a few of your options. There’s a lot out there and you’ll likely be surprised at the price variation among packs that are extremely similar. Having an idea in mind of what you want to spend and then shopping within a budget can help. But it’s also helpful to browse your options just to see if you can get the same bag for a lower price depending on where you buy or when you buy.

Comparison shopping is a great way to get to know what’s out there and narrow down your selection. Honestly, when you initially begin shopping you might feel overwhelmed, but if you have an idea of what you need, what you want, and what you want to spend, it can make the process run much more smoothly. They key is to get something high-quality and durable in your price range that has the features you need, and some extra features that will make your bag a pleasure to use.

Here are our picks for some of the best military backpacks for soldiers available:

Reebow Gear Military Tactical Backpack Large 3-Day Assault Pack Army Molle Bug Out Bag Backpacks

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This bag is spacious and features heavy-duty zippers and utility-style cord pulls. It has a side and front-load compression system, ventilated mesh padded back area, and padded shoulder straps.

Eyourlife Military Tactical Backpack Small Rucksacks Hiking Bag Outdoor Trekking Camping Tactical Molle Pack Men Tactical Combat Travel Bag 20L

eyourlife military tactical backpack image

This bag features plenty of roomy main storage, dual front pockets, and a breathable mesh back panel. It has a waterproof coating and comes with a water bottle bag and several pockets.

CVLIFE Outdoor Tactical Backpack Military Rucksacks for Camping Hiking and Trekking 30L

cvlife outdoor tactical backpack image

This bag features a 1.5-inch waist belt, padded adjustable straps, and two front pocks. It is made from waterproof nylon material and is great for carrying heavy loads.