The Best Military Style Backpack

Rush 72 Military Style Backpack

     The number one Military Style Backpack in our opinion is the 5.11 RUSH 72 Tactical Backpack made by 5.11 Tactical. This company has been making tactical gear since 1992 by first supplying training pants for the FBI Academy. Now, 5.11 Tactical makes and supplies a variety of tactical gear to First Responders, Private Security, Fitness Enthusiasts, and bags/clothing for concealed carry. Many active duty military order items made from 5.11 Tactical. 

    The RUSH line of Military Style Tactical Backpacks include the RUSH 72, RUSH 24 and RUSH 12. The 72 in RUSH72 stands for 72 hours. You can stuff 72 hours (3 days) of clothing in this Military Style Backpack for your three day excursion. But others who travel for business or pleasure swear they can cram a weeks worth of clothing in this backpack. The Rush 72 is tough, made with 1050D Nylon. 1050D Nylon (also known as 1050 Denier) is one of the best performing fabric for rugged applications where durability and abrasion resistance are a high priority. Because of the rugged material, a Rush 72 Tactical Backpack weighs 4.8 lbs empty.


     The total capacity of the RUSH72, including all pockets, is 55 liters or 3,342 cubic inches and really can store 55 liters of stuff. This is a Huge Backpack. Although the Backpack is not waterproof, the  RUSH 72 has a PUX2 water resistant coating on the main body and 210D 118T PUX2 water resistant coating on the inside pocket flaps and pockets. Thus you can use this Backpack in the mountains, beach, river banks or anyplace there is damp moisture in the air. It would be nice if this Backpack came with a full length rain cover but 5.11 Tactical does not make a rain cover for this Backpack. Some other Backpacks include a rain cover so that the rain just beads off. So if you are going to be using this Backpack mainly outdoors, then invest in a raincover. I can not suggest a rain cover. You need to measure this Backpack after you load it with your normal load. Then search on Amazon for a backpack rain cover that fits close to those dimensions.

Zipper Pockets in the Admin Compartment (Front Pocket)

    There are a variety of zipped pockets, including mesh pockets throughout the Rush 72 Backpack. All external Zippers have pulltaps which allow you to tie them off to help keep the zippers from sliding open. The stitching with the zippers are solid! The outside zippers have “rain flaps” that overlap the zippers of the main, admin pocket and the side pockets which keeps rain from dripping in. On the very bottom are four loops to attach a sleeping roll. Also on the bottom are two large integrated metal grommet drainage holes on bottom of this Backpack.

Molle Webbing Everywhere

    Molle, pronounced “Molly”, webbing everywhere. It is really PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System) webbing. PALS webbing is a horizontal grid of repeating fabric webbing strips spaced 1 inch apart, and sewn to the backing at 1.5-inch intervals. So in Military Style Backpacks it is really PALS webbing that is MOLLE-compatible. But everyone in the industry calls it Molle webbing. Molle is an acronym for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. Molle is the stuff you attach to the PALS webbing. Molle is usually various size and type of pouches. Pouches for ammo, pouches for first aid, pouches for knives, pouches for water bottles, and pouches made for your type of smartphone. The PALS or Molle webbing on this Backpack is super durable and hold up to everyday use.

Compartments and Pockets

Outside Front Compartment

    The Outside Front Pocket is 15.5” x 11.5” x 2”. This is your outside admin organizational pocket for storing maps, notebooks, pens, documents, etc. On the outside surface of this pocket are a Velcro Name Tag Holder and a Velcro Flag Holder (or Organization Patch Holder). Inside the admin organizational pocket are 10 smaller pockets in various sizes and some of those pockets have mesh webbing which allow you to see into those pockets.




 Main Compartment- The dimensions of the Main Compartment is 23”  x 13.5” x 8.5”. The Main Compartment zippers go nearly down to the bottom of the bag, allowing for clam shell opening. The main compartment has three zippered mesh pouches of varying sizes, one zippered nylon pouch, and one open pouch in the very bottom with a drawstring closure. The drawstring closure pouch measures about 14” x 9.5”. You can easily place three days of pants and shirts in the bottom of the Backpack and a medium jacket on top of the pants and shirts. Put socks and boxers in the mesh pouches, and put your valuables like chargers, watches, etc in the nylon pouch since it zips shut and almost disappears in the bottom.  

 Shove It Pocket- Between the Front Pocket and the Main compartment is a Shove It Pocket. The Shove It Pocket is an external pocket used to shove things like jackets, rain coats, etc. Undo the top compression straps to gain access to the Shove It Pocket. But be careful, the Shove It Pocket is kind of a open pocket and things you put in there may fall out. Thus, put larger items in it, such as extra layers of clothing such as shirts and jackets. Smaller layers of clothing, such as gloves and hats, should be placed elsewhere in this Backpack. The lower bottom sides of the Shove It Pocket has mesh webbing, so do not put sharp objects in the Shove It Pocket. It may be better to use the the Shove It Pocket for clothing only. However, at times the Shove It Pocket is awkward, it may also be better to use this pocket to place a flat hard object.




Side Pockets- The Left and Right Side Pockets are 16.5” x 6” x 1.75”. Thus, the Side Pockets are large enough to store bigger items that need to be easily accessed, like water bottles. Inside each Side Pocket are two additional small organization pockets.  A Side Pocket can hold a 2.0 Liter Water Bottle. Gortex pants can fit in a side pocket also. However, when the Main Compartment is stuff to the hilt, the side pockets do loose some capacity.

  Hydration Pocket – There is a Hydration Pocket in the back of the Backpack (against your back), the Hydration Pocket is 21” x 13.5”.  A Hydration Pocket is a place to put a Hydration Bladder (sold separately) with drinking tube into the Backpack. The Hydration Pocket in the Rush 72 comes with a hanging tab to hang (or attach the Hydration Bladder) and then you can tread the drinking tube out to the main compartment (there is a hole for that) and then from the main compartment you can tread the drinking tube out of the top left or top right of the Backpack (there are covered velcro strap holes for that). One problem I see when the tube goes through the main compartment is that if your tube has a leak in the part that passes through the main compartment, then your stuff in the main compartment may get wet. You can put a regular Army issue 100 ounce/3 Liter hydration pack bladder in the Hydration Pocket but it will be a tight squeeze. However, you may want to get a smaller 2 liter hydration bladder. I recommend this one on Amazon.  This bladder has a Handle and Hanging Notches. Or you can use the Hydration Pocket to place a small 15” laptop. However, if you do this you should get a cutting board and place it in the main compartment against the laptop in the Hydration Pocket to help protect the laptop from stuff in the main compartment.

    Sunglasses Compartment- There is a non-scratching fleece lined Sunglasses Compartment on the very top of the Backpack to place your sunglasses and they will not get scratched. However, if you have large sunglasses they may not fit in this compartment. The compartment size is about 7 inches wide by about 3.5 inches tall, just a little bit bigger than the average size of an eyeglasses case. I recommend if you place your glasses in this compartment, then use an eyeglasses case. Because the contents of this compartment may be pressed against what is in the Main Compartment. You can also use this compartment to place your cell phone or GPS. Another problem with the Sunglasses Compartment is that if you have a Hydration Bladder in the Hydration Pocket, the tube of the Hydration Bladder presses against the Sunglasses Compartment. Thus, pressing against the contents of the Sunglasses Compartment.

Sunglasses Pouch


Straps- There is a Grab and Go handle on the top of the Backpack and it is solid and will hold no matter what you stuff into this Backpack. A contour yoke system with a wide yoke and thick shoulder straps. The ergogenic shoulder straps are adjustable and have dual density closed-cell foam. The shoulder straps fit well for short, medium and above normal height people, however, for very tall people the shoulder straps may not adjust very well. These shoulder straps spread the load well and contain a breathable layer even for hot days or cold days. There is also Molle webbing of the shoulder straps.

     There is an adjustable Sternum Strap that attaches to the Shoulder Straps with C Clips. You can clip off the C Clips and move the Sternum Strap up or down on the Shoulder Straps.  

    Compression straps on either side, a pair up top and a pair on the bottom. By tightening down on the compression straps, you squeeze the contents in the main compartment and help make the volume of the Backpack smaller. This will help make the Backpack fit in the overhead compartment in a larger aircraft.     

    A cinching padded waist strap with Molle webbing on the waist straps. If you prefer not to use the waist straps, then these waist straps can be rolled up and tucked away in the sides of the pack. However, this creates a little bulge that may be uncomfortable to you. Some believe that the waist belt is not rigid enough.

    With a webbing platform on the upper left and right side that allows for you to attached another 5.11 Tactical product, such as a smaller Backpack or The 5.11 Rush Moab 10 pack which is a single strap sling pack.


Padding and Support- The padding and support structure designed in the back of the Rush 72 is well designed. The support structure of the Backpack allows for a very comfortable experience and avoids much of the back/neck strain that you would encounter with many other Backpacks. There are four zones of padding in the back. The main support is provided by a removable rigid plastic plate. But I do not recommend removing this plate because it is difficult to remove from its pocket and more difficult to place back in its pocket (This pocket may be another great place to put flat documents if your outside admin organizational pocket is full). The plastic plate is curved to the average spine. What gives the curve shape of the plate is a removable flat aluminum bar. The aluminum bar is in a pouch attached to the plastic plate. I do not recommend removing this aluminum bar because it is difficult to remove and more difficult to place back into its pouch. However, this aluminum bar is adjustable and you may want to remove it and adjust it to the curve of your back. But try first to adjust the aluminum bar while it is still in its pouch attached to the plastic plate. Or you can remove the aluminum bar completely and see how the Backpack performs for you with just the plastic plate or also remove the plastic plate and see how the Backpack performs without either the plastic plate nor aluminum bar.

Colors- There are 7 colors for this Backpack: Black, Double Tap, Flat Dark Earth, Multicam, Sandstone, Storm (Gray), and TAC OD (Green). Double Tap is a dark gray, but the Molle webbing on it is black, giving it a 2 tone colorway. The Sandstone is also a 2 tone colorway because the Molle on it is a different color. Sometime you want a military style Backpack that is not a color of a military style Backpack. For urban and business, black is the color to choose. Some believe that Storm or Double Tap is the way to go when you don’t want that Military Color look.  Although there are 7 different colors, it might be difficult to find some of these colors for sale. Some of the colors always seem to be out of stock. 


As an Airline Travel Bag- You can carry this bag on any airline. No one has had any issues with TSA agents with this Backpack. You can fully stuffed this Backpack with clothes and gear but thanks to the compression straps (two on each side for a total of four compression straps) this Backpack can fit in the overhead compartment in larger aircraft. However, if you are on a small commuter plane, this Backpack may not fit in the overhead compartment (depending on how much stuff you packed in the Backpack). With the well-stitched robust Grab and Go handle on top of the Backpack, throwing the backpack in overhead compartment is easier.  A note about TSA approved: TSA approved means a bag that has a laptop compartment that can open up flat and the part of the bag with the laptop is not block by other items in the bag. Thus, you do not have to take out the laptop of a TSA approved bag. Although the Rush 72 and other military style backpacks are not TSA approved, you will have not problems with this bag going through airport TSA security and on the airplane.

Cons- I tried to mention most of the cons during the detail description of the Backpack. Here are some additional cons. Not CCW ready. CCW, Carrying a Concealed Weapon. There is no pouch that is made specifically to place a pistol that is both concealed and easy to take out.  The part of the shoulder strap that is close to the neck is close to 4 inches wide. Depending on the size and musculature of your neck, this part of the shoulder strap may rub against your neck.

Final-  The price of RUSH 72 may give you sticker shock, but many agree that the price is well worth it. You can buy the Rush 72 on Amazon here.