Six Secrets to Packing a Tactical Backpack
Your tactical backpack is much more than a portable carrier. Originally designed to meet the needs of military and law enforcement personnel, this style of backpack is both comfortable and practical.
The best tactical backpacks will also contain side pockets and enable you to clip hydration and other items externally for easy access.
Suffice it to say that there is a great deal more involved in obtaining and using a tactical backpack than to simply choose the most rugged-looking model.
The consideration and knowledge that you devote to selecting the right one and packing it properly will contribute a great deal toward the ultimate success of your trip.
Take some time to consider these crucial, best-kept secrets. Along with your gear, this knowledge will be one of the most invaluable components that you include with you on any journey, regardless of its length or purpose.
UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF YOUR TACTICAL BACKPACK
Before you do anything else, it is important to consider the goals you want to accomplish with the help of your pack.
Will you be using your gear for a day trip, to hold survival items in the event of a disaster, for military purposes or perhaps to take with you on a long hike in the back country?
The reason that this question must be answered before all others is that your mission will determine both the tactical backpack you choose and, to some extent, the items you pack.
Whether your journey is slated to last a day or a fortnight, it only makes sense to carry the supplies you will need in a way that is as practical and comfortable as possible.
To illustrate this point, let’s look at the difference between two types of goals: evacuating in the event of a natural disaster versus venturing out on an overnight camping trip.
In the first case, you will require comprehensive supplies that will enable you to survive for at least 72 hours, and that means packing them in a bag constructed of durable, water-resistant materials that will withstand harsh conditions.
The best survival bags will also meet your needs for breathability and comfortable weight distribution for a long period of carrying in unpredictable conditions.
Depending on climate and other unique factors, you should consider including some form of the general items below in your bug out backpack:
• Shelter (warm clothing, tarp, sleeping bag, etc.)
• Hydration (at least 2-3 liters per day) Most good tactical backpacks will allow space for a hydration bladder for easy access;
• Water filtration system and/or filtration tablets;
• Nutrition (energy bars, freeze-dried meals);
• Sleeping (sleeping bag, tarp, tent, etc.)
• Tools, including Swiss army knife or another multi-tool. If you will be in a cold and snowy area, an entrenching tool is indispensable;
• Lighting (tactical flashlight and spare batteries)
• Medical supplies (a pre-made first aid kit is often sufficient, but you should add any prescription or specialty items as well).
On the other hand, an everyday carry backpack does not need to contain as many items since your stay away from home will be shorter.
As a result, you can generally choose a pack that has a lower capacity for easier carrying. In general, it also makes sense to decide on a discreet option, one that you can take with you anywhere you go in your daily life without making people suspicious.
It should be just large enough to hold your necessities with space for minimal overflow, be light and durable and easy to carry and ideally should contain several compartments and potential for expansion with external webbing.
THE SECRET OF THE PYRAMID
When you took geometry in high school, you may have wondered if you would ever have the opportunity to put any of what you learned to practical use.
If you have never had the chance to put Euclid’s principles into action in your daily life up to this point, your time has come.
That is because you should think of packing your tactical backpack in terms of a pyramid. At its base in the bottom of your pack will go items that you will not need to remove during the day: bedding, personal hygiene items and heavier tools.
In the middle layer will go paraphernalia that you will be using to set up camp, including your tarp or poncho shell as well as extra food and water.
Your top layer, the tip of the pyramid, will contain snacks, rain gear, a change of socks as well as items that you will need for navigation or self-defense.
When in doubt about whether you should place something on the top or middle layer, ask yourself if you will be likely to need to remove it while you are on the trail or if it will be necessary in an emergency.
If your answer to either question is “yes”, go for the easy accessibility of the top layer.
THE POWER OF THE LIST
Another principle you may have learned in school was the importance of writing things down. This could not be truer than when it comes to packing your tactical backpack.
Regardless of the nature of your mission, it is all too easy to get caught up in the chaos of preparation and forget something crucial.
Composing a list well ahead of time prevents this problem from happening since you will have plenty of additional opportunity to add things you may have forgotten.
If you are a neophyte hunter, hiker, weekend warrior or survivalist, you may only need to write a foundational list of must-have items one time. Then keep it on hand for easy reference on future trips.
Each person is different, and your goals may require modifications to this basic compilation. However, the following should give you a good start of necessities to include in your tactical backpack:
• Shelter and safety items
• First aid items
• Food and water
• Personal hygiene items
• Implements to make a fire
• Any mission-specific items
The final element on this list is personally customizable.
In other words, only you can determine any additional specialty devices, foods or equipment based on the nature of your mission or your individual health needs.
MILITARY-INSPIRED FEATURES MAKE A DIFFERENCE
When durability and portability are high priorities, there is no entity better than the military in designing and inspiring gear that will meet your needs.
As you are searching for the best tactical backpack, be sure that it includes the following army and marine-inspired features:
• Durable exterior webbing;
• Adjustable hip belt that can fit all sizes and help to distribute the weight for maximum comfort;
• Durable nylon fabric treated to be waterproof or water-resistant;
• Multiple outside pockets;
• Padded, adjustable shoulder straps;
• Radio pouch;
• Color appropriate to your mission. Options include everything from camouflage to blend into your surroundings to bright high-contrast shades for visibility.
When in doubt of what type of tactical backpack to choose, going with a military-style choice can help to ensure that you are getting a high-quality product at a reasonable size that is both durable and comfortable to carry for hours or days at a stretch.
That being said, do not assume that a product calling itself “genuine military surplus” is necessarily better.
That is because Uncle Sam generally buys gear in bulk with an eye toward saving money. Unfortunately, that means that soldiers are not always given the highest quality in spite of the ruggedness and urgency of their missions.
A good rule is to review any product on its own merits instead of accepting or rejecting items based on whether they are made in a certain country or are genuine military articles.
THE POWER IS IN THE MATERIALS
What separates a premium tactical backpack from a cheap imitation?
It does not depend on price or even the brand name of the manufacturer.
The most important set of factors involves the various material components that go into the construction of the pack.
After all, even the most carefully packed tactical backpack will be useless if it breaks. To that end, you should look for the following:
• 500D to 1200D nylon Cordura fabric for water resistance and durability;
• High-quality zippers and buckles;
• Well-built, with positive reviews and a warranty;
• Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE_ packs or webbing. These are designed to allow you to attach external gear and pouches. Other MOLLE packs may be contained inside the backpack to allow for expensive or less-used items.
Comfort. In order to test this, think about the length and scope of your mission.
Once you get the pack home, weigh it down as you would on your trip to see if it rests easily on your back and shoulders in such a way that the items are well-distributed and balanced.
• Easy access:
This is another aspect that comes down to personal preference, and tactical backpacks have been designed with different tastes in mind.
Styles include clamshell, tri-zip and rolltop, among others.
For light use such as trips of no more than three days, day hikes or walking around the city, an everyday carry (EDC) pack ranging between 15 and 26 liters in volume is sufficient.
For longer and more extensive trips of one to three weeks, shoot for a volume of 30 to 60 liters.
• Organizational structure:
Balance the number of pockets and compartments against having so many allocated spaces that you may forget where you have put important items.
One of the best solutions to implement in order to avoid this issue is using a pack with several differently-colored organizational pouches along with one or two larger sections for bulky items.
When you choose a pack that includes these military-inspired features, you can expect a product that is comfortable, practical and durable no matter what your mission might entail.
THE BEST OF THE BEST
The best kept secret of all when it comes to tactical backpacks is this: You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a premium pack that is big enough to meet your needs yet is compact and ergonomically balanced for the best carrying experience possible.
Look no further than Magforce’s Origin Pack tactical backpack, a flagship product from a company that keeps excellence and affordability as equally important priorities.
Why does the Magforce Origin pack surpass all of its competitors?
The list of its advantages is a long one. First, its 30-liter capacity works well for most short to medium-duration trips.
Constructed of 1050-denier nylon fabric, the pack is abrasion- and water-resistant. In addition to its many roomy compartments, it also includes numerous PALS attachment points for adding on peripherals.
Zippers are strong and multi-directional, allowing the pack to expand to accommodate even bulky camping gear and a 3-liter water bladder with ease.
Toting even a heavy burden through the woods is made easier thanks to padded shoulder straps and a sternum suspension belt.
Add to that the fact that stress points are double-stitched and the materials are extremely shock-resistant, and what you have is a fully functional, easy-to-carry pack that can provide all of the room and comfort you need for virtually any journey.
Now that you have learned some of the more esoteric secrets involved in choosing and packing a tactical bag, there is just one more crucial fact to keep in mind.
Once you choose your pack and get it home, you will quickly see that it has been flattened like a pancake for the purposes of economical shipping.
In fact, it may hardly resemble the display pack you saw in the store or the pictures you viewed on the internet. Never fear though: Getting your tactical backpack into shape for your first trip is easy.
The key is to give yourself some time, preferably overnight.
Expand the various pockets and compartments with your hands first, then fill all of them with either clean, balled-up socks or newspaper to plump out the entire pack.
If desired, give your pack a spray of fabric treatment to augment its water-resistant qualities. Then allow it to sit for a few hours. Remove all of the stuffing, and you will see that your pack is now ready for the road.
In a word, your tactical backpack can either be your best friend or your worst enemy when you go on a trip.
When you take the time to find one that meets your carrying needs with a little room to spare, makes everything easily accessible, is durable and easy to carry, it can be your companion on trips for years to come.