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The Best Small Tactical Backpacks (Compact and lightweight)

best small tactical backpack

Whether you’re planning to go to the woods or range, a tactical backpack comes in handy. My friend introduced me to this military-grade bag in one of our camping trips, and I was amazed by its great capacity.

The best small tactical backpack can help you bring the important items for long-distance hiking, military deployment, and other outdoor activities without bogging you down.

Buying the right tactical backpack can be tricky because these bags look almost identical. They have plenty of compartments and straps with a Molle system that can fit some extra gear or pouch. For a quick guide, here are some essential things to consider.

  • Material: The durability of the backpack depends on the materials used. The common fabric materials for tactical backpacks are polyester and nylon because they can endure the elements. Look at the denier count and choose a higher number, which usually entails higher durability.
  • Capacity: Small tactical backpacks offer various capacities, ranging from seven liters to 60 liters. To choose the right capacity, think about how many items you’re planning to bring in the field. Your goal is to fit all of them in the backpack without breaking the stress points.
  • Compartments And Pockets: Some small tactical backpacks look deceiving because they look small but can fit plenty of items inside. These backpacks have plenty of compartments and pockets to store items securely. Also, look for a strong Molle webbing to hang extra gear and pouches.

Those are just a few things to remember when shopping for the perfect small tactical backpack. Learn more about small tactical backpacks in the buying guide below. Also, check ten of my favorite tactical backpacks in the market today.

Top 10 Small Tactical Backpack Reviews

1. REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack

This small military backpack from REEBOW offers 40 liters of capacity to store all our essentials for a 3-day adventure. There’s plenty of room for a first aid kit, stove, cookware, clothes, etc.

I think the amount of pockets is just right to keep things organized and remember where they are. Additionally, the molle webbing is secure enough to attach extra tactical gear or pouches to make a reliable small assault pack.

The best part is that we can load the bag, even with a 2.5-liter hydration bladder, and still can pass it as a carry-on during flights.

The construction is quite hefty on this one. Everything is double-stitched, and the zippers seem heavy-duty because they still remain intact after pulling them harshly. The material is sort of a high-density fabric that resists water and stains.

This low profile tactical backpack comes with a USA flag patch that we can stick at the front pocket. Thankfully, the patch is velcro-style, so I can replace it with my favorite patches. I feel comfortable wearing this small army backpack because the back and shoulder straps are padded and ventilated with a mesh material.

 Heads-up:  The only thing I dislike is the unpleasant odor that I smell from the package. The odor did fade after several washes.

 Pros: 
  • Offers 40 liters of capacity, plus hydration compatibility
  • Molle webbing can hook extra pouches and gear
  • Can still pass plane regulations as a carry-on
  • Seems to be made with water-resistant fabric and heavy-duty zippers
  • Comfortable to wear with the ventilated mesh
  • Includes a velcro patch for customization
 Cons: 
  • May have an unpleasant smell at first
 Bottom Line:  Overall, I enjoy the REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack because it’s durable, roomy, and comfortable. This small Molle backpack can load up to 40 liters of items without making our shoulders and back sweat.

2. G4Free Outdoor Tactical Bag Backpack

This G4Free small tactical pack comes in a sling bag style, which is perfect for when I want less burden on my shoulder. The capacity is at about seven liters, which is enough to carry a few necessities for everyday carry.

What I love best is the versatility of this small EDC bag. We can carry it as a chest bag, cross body pack, handbag, or even a diaper bag. Two clips on both sides make it interchangeable between the right or left-hand side, while the strap on top makes it convenient as a handbag.

I found many internal pockets that can hold essentials securely, like smartphones, wallets, and documents. The largest front pocket fits my 9-inch tablet, and it’s zippered for safety. I’m glad that I can stick my favorite patches on the front for a little customization.

At first glance, this slim tactical backpack looks sturdy. I feel that the 600D polyester fabric can hold up well against constant abuse. The zippers are also well-made, especially that they come with a three-month warranty.

 Heads-up:  However, the strap gets a little uncomfortable when we put a lot of weight on the bag. Only bring the important stuff if we plan to bring this bag for outdoor activities.

 Pros: 
  • Versatile to wear in any style- handbag, chest bag, sling bag, etc.
  • Has plenty of compartments to hold items, like smartphones and documents
  • Front pocket can fit a 9-inch tablet securely
  • Offers a velcro patch area for personalization
  • 600D polyester feels sturdy against constant use
  • Offers a three-month warranty to cover any zipper problems
 Cons: 
  • Gets a little uncomfortable with extra weight
 Bottom Line:  All in all, the G4Free Tactical Bag is a nice-looking compact tactical backpack that provides secure storage for our important items. This extra small tactical backpack can be worn in different ways- handbag, crossbody bag, or chest bag.

3. 5.11 Tactical RUSH24 Military Backpack

The 5.11 RUSH24 is a 37-liter military backpack that features a large main storage area, side pockets, and a Molle web platform. It’s perfect for any outdoor activity because it’s extremely durable and comfortable to wear.

The RUSH24 is huge but not obnoxious. I can fit plenty of stuff, like my 13-inch laptop with charger, a few books, meals, and still get a decent amount of space left. We can even add a few Molle pouches at the sides and expand the organizational pockets fully.

I can fit two gallons of milk on the bottom half of the main compartment and still have a sufficient amount of area available above.

I’m fully satisfied with the durability of this 5.11 tactical backpack. The material is 1050D nylon, which seems to be rugged and water-resistant. At the bottom, there are holes to keep our stuff safe from water accumulation.

The YKK zippers, one of my favorite features, seem to be very durable. I’m also delighted with the loop panels because I like to put morale patches on my bag. The shoulder straps are well-padded, so the bag is still comfortable to wear even when it’s pretty loaded.

 Heads-up:  However, this bag tends to be a cat hair magnet, so keep this bag away from our feline friends.

 Pros: 
  • Features a large main compartment area
  • Compatible with Molle pouches and bags
  • Feels very durable with its 1050D nylon fabric
  • YKK zippers won’t get damaged easily
  • Has drainage holes to keep water out from the bag
  • Comfortable to wear, thanks to the padded shoulder straps
 Cons: 
  • A cat hair attractor
 Bottom Line:  Altogether, RUSH24 provides a large amount of room for all our essentials. This backpack also boasts durable zippers and heavy-duty nylon fabric to withstand the harsh environment outside.

4. Huntvp 10L/20L Tactical Backpack

Huntvp is a small tactical backpack 10L capacity with a buckle closure and nylon lining. This mini tactical backpack is complete with Molle external expansion system, plus multiple pockets to carry everything we need for a short trip.

I found that the main pocket can fit my 10-inch tablet while the side pockets can carry my 500-ml water bottle. The side front pocket is secure enough to keep my phone and cards safe, plus it comes with a Velcro slot to fit any morale patch.

I love the zippered interlayer pocket because it comes in handy for keeping important stuff, like keys and a wallet.

The nylon material seems tough because it was able to handle the rain quite well. The buckle has the same color as the fabric, so it looks nice. It’s also pretty strong since it won’t crack and deform easily.

Since this bag is small, it’s very comfortable to wear all day long. A breathable netting pad is designed on the back and shoulder straps, making this bag comfortable even on hot days. Moreover, the chest straps adjust quickly to achieve a comfortable state.

 Heads-up:  However, the zippers aren’t as durable as expected. They easily wear out when handled harshly.

 Pros: 
  • Compact and lightweight to carry around
  • Comfortable, thanks to the breathable netted pad and adjustable chest straps
  • Has plenty of compartments to store items securely
  • Designed with a Molle system to expand the capacity
  • Nylon material and buckle feel durable and water-resistant
  • Has a velcro spot to attach any morale patch
 Cons: 
  • The zippers’ durability needs improvement
 Bottom Line:  Overall, this Huntvp Mini Daypack comes in handy when hiking or doing other outdoor activities for a day or two. This bag might look small, but it can fit a lot of stuff inside.

5. Samurai Tactical Wakizashi Tactical Backpack

The Samurai Tactical Wakizashi is one of my favorites because of its great capacity and versatility. It has a 24-liter load capacity and a strong Molle webbing throughout for extra gear.

I think this bag can hold just about anything. Two top pockets are perfect for holding electronics, especially the soft-lined one, while a huge main dump pocket can fit a laptop and other things. The side part comes with a secure pouch that can fit most water bottles.

The fit can also be customized, thanks to the side compression straps. We can’t feel the weight of the bag because the yoke-style shoulder straps balance the load while the sternum strap disperses the weight. With the padded mesh back, there’s no need to worry about sweaty backs.

The material is 100% polyester, which is extremely lightweight and durable. The bag is easy to clean because the fabric seems resistant to stains. Also, water dries quickly, making this bag perfect for outdoor adventure.

 Heads-up:  My only dislike is the string that’s connected to the zipper. The string feels thin, so I’m afraid that it’s going to rip off when I pull the zipper hard enough.

 Pros: 
  • Has a large capacity for its size
  • Constructed with Molle webbing all throughout to carry extra pouches
  • Side compression straps can customize the fit
  • Sternum strap and yoke-style shoulder straps ease the burden
  • Padded mesh back adds extra comfort
  • Polyester fabric is easy to clean, durable, and water-resistant
 Cons: 
  • String attached to the zipper feels a little thin
 Bottom Line:  All in all, the Samurai Tactical Wakizashi Tactical Backpack has a large capacity despite its compact size. It’s got plenty of compartments that can fit almost anything, from laptops to water bottles.

6. SOG Specialty Knives & Tools SOG Ninja Tactical Daypack Backpack

This SOG backpack is a dependable pack that can load up to 24.2 liters in capacity. This small molle pack contains plenty of attachments and compartments to keep things organized.

I love the molle and buckle straps all around the bag. It makes it simple to add other items, like a bedroll or sleeping bag in several orientations. My favorite is the soft-lined pocket which keeps my electronic gadgets and eyeglasses safe.

This Ninja bag can hold up well against any environment- car, house, and even in the woods. The zippers feel pretty solid, and the canvas material won’t get torn easily. I like the fact that there are drainage holes at the bottom to keep the contents inside dry.

The padded back and yoke-style shoulder straps feel comfortable. The back has many air channels to keep my back well-ventilated, while the shoulder straps allow me to steady the load easily. Not to mention the zippers because they’re tough but easy to open and close.

 Heads-up:  However, the hydration bladder’s hose won’t stay in place. I hoped there was a real hose clamp, but we can add our own hose holder or use the existing straps.

 Pros: 
  • Offers many compartments to organize items
  • Easy to attach items on the Molle webbing
  • A soft-lined pocket can store vulnerable items securely
  • Canvas material and zippers can hold up well against any condition
  • Drainage holes keep the bag free from water
  • Comfortable to wear with the yoke shoulder straps and padded back
 Cons: 
  • Bladder hose won’t stay in place
 Bottom Line:  Altogether, the Sog Ninja Daypack is perfect for camping or any outdoor activity, given its durable constructions and multiple compartments. It seems to hold up well against any environment.

7. Monoki Tactical Sling Backpack

This Monoki Tactical Sling Backpack is very versatile as it can be used as a range bag, hunting backpack, or a small EDC backpack. It got all essential features, like multiple pockets, compartments, and a Molle system.

The best part of this backpack is that it comes with many free gifts, like an American flag patch, a 500-ml water bottle pouch, and a paracord lanyard. It also includes four D-rings, which I found useful in attaching items to the Molle webbing.

I think the bag is well-designed. There are a few hidden pockets with a pocket flap to conceal items, like a holster. The back part is breathable enough to keep us ventilated, plus another hidden pocket to store straps. Best of all, the bottom has a velcro strap to adjust the size.

Unlike backpacks with dual straps, this single strap satchel type makes things more accessible as it spins forward easily. I like that the shoulder strap is well-padded, so it doesn’t pierce through the bones under heavy duty. In addition, every compartment contains a mesh or zipper pocket to organize items neatly.

 Heads-up:  However, the backpack smells like plastic out of the box. Make sure to air out the bag before putting items inside, or else they’ll smell the same.

 Pros: 
  • Compact, but contains plenty of pockets to store items
  • Includes plenty of freebies, like a water bottle pouch and D-rings
  • Well-designed pockets keep items concealed and safe
  • Breathable back and well-padded shoulder add comfort
  • Adjustable velcro strap at the bottom customizes the fit
  • Single-strap design makes items easily accessible on the front
 Cons: 
  • Smells like plastic for the first few uses
 Bottom Line:  All in all, the Monoki Sling Backpack does what it was designed to do, and that’s to carry important items securely. I like that this bag makes things easily accessible and offers ample space for everything we need for a day.

8. CVLIFE Tactical Backpack

The CVLIFE Tactical Backpack is the largest one found in this list, with its estimated capacity of 50-60 liters. This bag comes with three detachable bags, a hand carry strap, a chest belt, and a shoulder strap.

I like to put my first aid supplies in the two side detachable bags. The detachable front bag is bigger, so it can be used as a fanny pack or a shoulder bag separately. We can even add more gear or pouches onto the Molle system, like a bedroll or something.

Thankfully, there’s a bladder hose clip to keep the hose in place. I found more stitches on the stress points, so I’m confident that this bag will hold up really well. The ends of the straps are even folded and sewn to prevent the threads from fraying.

The 600D polyester fabric was more robust than I expected. It can withstand any condition, even dries out quickly after getting wet in the rain. There are plenty of compartments to fit items inside, and for the price, that’s a great deal.

 Heads-up:  However, the plastic buckles feel a bit flimsy, so time will tell if they can last long.

 Pros: 
  • Has a large capacity, about 50-60 liters, with plenty of compartments
  • Includes three extra pouches with straps to store more items
  • Built with the bladder hose clip to keep it in place
  • Stitched at the stress points and sewn at each strap’s end for durability
  • Made of sturdy and heavy-duty 600D polyester fabric
  • Has a very reasonable price
 Cons: 
  • Plastic buckles feel a little flimsy
 Bottom Line:  Overall, the CVLIFE Tactical Backpack provides the largest capacity at a compact size. This backpack includes three additional pouches to carry more items on our hunting or camping trip.

9. Mardingtop Tactical Backpack

This backpack offers a 25-liter capacity with a hydration compartment and numerous Molle loops for extra gear. I’m surprised that it’s comfortable to carry this around, considering its rugged design.

There are plenty of buckled straps to distribute the weight of the load evenly. There’s a hip belt, sternum strap, and well-padded shoulder straps. Most importantly, the back part is padded and well-ventilated to keep our back cool even when the day is hot.

My favorite is the two-liter hydration bladder capacity because it’s larger than most small military style backpacks. This amount was enough to keep me hydrated for a two-day hike in the mountains. Also, there’s a bunch of pockets to keep other essentials, like sunscreen and food supplies.

The 600D polyester feels rugged for outdoor use, and the YKK zippers are the best. These zippers move very smoothly without a sound. I also like the small hook on the smallest compartment because it can hold my car keys very nicely.

 Heads-up:  However, the Molle webbing isn’t the best on this one. I don’t hook heavier items onto the backpack because I’m afraid that it’s going to snap.

 Pros: 
  • Designed with a large hydration bladder capacity, about two liters
  • Contains plenty of straps to help ease the burden on shoulders
  • Well-padded around the shoulders and back for comfort
  • Keep a good airflow along our back
  • YKK zippers work smoothly, while 600D polyester feels rugged
  • Has a special hook that’s suitable for car keys
 Cons: 
  • Has a slightly thin Molle webbing
 Bottom Line:  All in all, the Mardingtop Tactical Backpack is a promising medium-duty bag for camping or hiking. It boasts a large capacity and hydration bladder, which can keep us going for two days at least.

10. VooDoo Tactical Men’s Deluxe Professional Special Ops Field Medical Pack

This Voodoo tactical backpack is perfect for outdoor adventure with its panel layout and durable construction. We can fit numerous supplies and instruments with a large number of pockets.

The main compartment fits my first aid kit, and each pocket offers some extra room for something else. I’m delighted to fit my survival gear on the second half of the pack. I also enjoy the two additional bags that come with this bag because they’re suitable for my hygiene essentials and other tools.

The design of this bag is more than I expected. The Molle system in the front allows users to add more items in the pack for personalization. Also, there are special spots for the camelback water bladder and hose to keep them accessible. I found so many storage separations that it makes it easy to organize items inside the bag.

As for the construction, I feel that this pack can go the distance. The cloth looks rugged and seems strong to endure the harsh elements outside. The seams also look neat, while the padded shoulder straps feel comfortable.

 Heads-up:  However, the zippers came slightly stiff, but a little amount of zipper wax should do the trick.

 Pros: 
  • Plenty of pockets and compartments to store medical supplies
  • Lots of separation to make items easy accessible
  • Comes with two additional bags and a Molle system to expand the capacity
  • Has special areas for hydration bladder and hose
  • Has a rugged construction with neat seams
  • Padded shoulder straps add comfort for a long day of use
 Cons: 
  • Zippers feel a bit stiff
 Bottom Line:  Altogether, the VooDoo Deluxe Medical Pack looks more than enough to carry all medical supplies and instruments. It’s designed with a lot of separation and compartments to make items easy to access.

What to Look for When Buying Small Tactical Backpacks

small-tactical-bag

Choosing the right tactical backpack is significant for the comfort of your travel. You want something small that can carry all your important stuff in the field or any outdoor activity. I know it’s a bit overwhelming to find the right backpack without the proper knowledge.

For your convenience, I have enumerated the important factors to consider when shopping for a small tactical backpack.

Materials

Tactical backpacks are typically durable, so they’re made of tough materials, like Cordura, nylon, and polyester.

Cordura is a strong fabric that’s resistant to tears, scrapes, and scratches. Nylon, especially the ballistic type, is incredibly tough and water-resistant. Polyester won’t offer a similar level of durability as Cordura and ballistic nylon, but it’s exceptionally lightweight.

Another sign for a durable fabric is the denier count. The higher the denier count, the more durable the fabric is expected to be.

Capacity (Liters)

Though you’re looking for something small, the volume may vary. Choose a size that you think can fit all your essential gear for a day or more.

If you’re planning for a 12-hour hike or travel, an EDC bag with a capacity of 5-35 liters is enough to hold only the important items. For a 24-hour trip, look for a larger capacity between 30 to 40 liters. Any bag with a volume of 40-65 liters is ideal for a three-day trip.

Straps

The comfort of your tactical backpack depends on the strap designs. Shoulder straps play a vital role in carrying your backpack. You’ll want something that’s adjustable and well-padded for a comfortable fit.

As you put weight on your backpack, a sternum strap helps in offering more stability as it disperses the weight across your shoulders and chest. If your pack weighs above 20lbs, look for a hip belt to move the weight from your back to your hips.

It’s always beneficial to carry weight near your body, and compression straps help increase balance and manage the load. Look for a rear-loading strap if you plan to fit large items like a blanket to your bag. A side-loading strap offers even more benefits to hang gear out of your backpack.

Opening Style

How to access your gear inside the bag is just as important as capacity and comfort.

For quick access, a splayed opening is ideal as it allows the compartments to fan out when you unfasten the zipper. The clamshell access style features organizational pockets and channels to prevent the main pocket from getting chaotic. On the other hand, top access openings help the gear to remain securely packed while retrieving items from the top down.

A Y-access opening also provides efficient access to items, while front access offers compartmentalized access to particular sets of items. When the weather is a problem, a roll-top can be ideal with its handy top flap.

Pockets

Pockets are important in organizing items. Generally, a tactical backpack contains a main compartment, secondary compartment, and mesh pockets. The main compartment is the biggest portion of the pack that holds the essential stuff, while the second one is typically in front to carry the lighter gear.

Mesh pockets can be found outside and inside the bag to store smaller items. Look for a CCW compartment if you want discreet storage for your gun and ammo. Some of the best brands also offer a glasses pouch for eyewear and a special sleeve for the laptop.

Special Features

One of the key features of a tactical backpack is Molle webbing. This system of loops is sewn outside the backpack to carry extra pouches and gear. These pouches offer quick access to items you may need immediately, like flashlights and radios.

When traveling outdoors, it’s always important to keep hydrated. This is where a hydration bladder comes into play. This rubber reservoir can hold several liters of water and comes with a hose to guide the water into your mouth.

What Defines a Small Tactical Backpack

small-tactical-pack

Durability is one of the defining qualities of a tactical backpack. Most of these backpacks are made of tough materials, like ballistic nylon and Cordura. A small backpack has a capacity to hold 6-10 liters of load, while daypacks can go as much as 30 liters.

What is a Small Tactical Backpack for

A small tactical backpack is used for a 12-24 hour trip. Others can even be used for a three-day trip, as long as you only carry a few essential items. Anyone can use this backpack, whether you’re military personnel or civilian.

What Do You Carry in a Small Tactical Bag

You can fit a lot of stuff inside a small tactical bag. Examples are medical kits, water bottles, and radio. The smaller pockets can carry smaller items, like keys and tools, while other bags offer special slots for laptops and eyewear.

In the Molle webbing and straps outside, you can carry extra gear like a bedroll or a pouch for hygiene products.

Conclusion

Getting the best small tactical backpack really does wonders for the comfort of your travel, whether on the range, mountains, or woods. My favorite is from REEBOW GEAR, which can pack up to 40 liters of load. This tactical backpack also impresses me with its durable fabric and zippers, plus a hydration bladder compatibility.

If you want to carry a few things, the G4Free Tactical Bag might be a good alternative. The 5.11 Tactical RUSH24 seems to be the most durable in this list with its YKK zippers and 1050D nylon fabric construction.

5/5 - (2 votes)