Best 15 Backpacks for Rucking Reviewed

The best rucksacks for rucking and ruck marching are:

1.GORUCK GR3 Rucksack
2.GORUCK GR1 Rucksack
3.MT Military ALICE Rucksack with Frame
4.US Military Molle II Large Rucksack
5.US Military Molle II Medium Rucksack
6.5.11 Tactical RUSH 72 Military Backpack
7.5.11 Tactical RUSH 24 Military Backpack
8.5.11 Tactical RUSH 12 Military Backpack
9.Molle II (ACU) Large Rucksack
10.Molle II (ACU) Large Rucksack
11.Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack
12.Direct Action Ghost Tactical Backpack
13.Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack
14.ALICE Pack Military Surplus Army Survival Pack
15.US Military Surplus Molle II Standard Pack

What To Consider When Buying A Rucking Backpack

1- Padding

Padding on the shoulder straps and the back side of the backpack is important to look out for. This will provide much needed comfort will come in handy when you’re miles deep into your ruck session. Furthermore, different backpacks or rucksacks will have padding in the back side of the backpack to help with breathability and prevent the classic base of the back sweats.

The wider the straps, the better job it will do at distributing the weight across your shoulder. The more the weight is distributed on your shoulders, the easier it will feel to carry the backpack.

2- Strong Reinforcement

Whether you’re rucking for an event or in the military, the weight can get heavy and owning a sturdy rucksack is key. Durability in a rucking backpack comes from proper stitching of the shoulder straps to the backpack itself. This also applies to the hip belt (if the backpack comes with a hip belt).

3- MOLLE Backpacks Are Key To Customization

What are MOLLE backpacks and why should you care about it?

MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment. In plain english, this just means that a MOLLE backpack has several rows and columsn of webbing. This allows you to customize the backpack in any way you want and to fit your needs (source).

The biggest advantage of a MOLLE backpack is that it allows you to access your gear very quickly. It also allows you to do things like hang your external pouches and other rucking accessories on the outside of the backpack.

With that said, if a rucksack is not MOLLE it doesn’t mean it’s a bad rucksack. However, if you’re priority is easy access to your gear and customizing your backpack, then you may want to look into a MOLLE backpack.

4- Proper Zippers

There is nothing more annoying than having an entirely good backpack but the zipper breaks. At that point, you dont want to get rid of the entire backpack but it definitely feels like a burden having to open and close it.

If that has happened to you in the past, then you may want to look into a backpack with a high quality zipper. Some of them will have a heavy duty zippers along with a strap tied to the zipper to make it even easier to move the zippers.

5- Cordura Material

Cordura is a common fabric that is used to make backpacks and other luggage. It’s unit of measurement is Denier. The typical range of a good quality backpack ranges from 330D – 1,000D.

It’s a common fabric choice because it also has other advantages such as:

  • Water repellant or water choice (depends on the backpack)
  • Rugged
  • Durable

1. GORUCK GR3 Rucksack

The GR3 rucksack is made from the most known rucksack company in the world, GORUCK.

The TSA carry-on compliant rucksack has an ergonomic design of the rucksack includes lumbar padding to support the natural curvature of your back with a new type of fabric that allows you to wear this rucksack shirtless with no friction burns!

The interior includes 2 large mesh zipped interior pockets, as well as a 1 small go-to zippered pocked, and an external pocket so that you can easily access your small items (like phone, key etc)

The GoRuck GR3 rucksack includes a hydration tube exit port making it easy to fit in your hydration bladder. Speaking of water, this backpack is highly water resistant, perfect for those rainy days

Comfortable45L may be too spacious for some
2 compression straps to help you maintain proper form
6 External MOLLE webbing
Hip Belt Included
Water Resistant
Interest free Instalment payments available
Scars Lifetime Guarantee

Check out the Rucker 3.0 rucksack at GORUCK (link to

2- GORUCK GR1 – USA Rucksack

GORUCK GR1 - USA Rucksack

The GORUCK GR1 rucksack opens flat allowing you to pack and organize your things easily. Since this rucksack is spacious, GORUCK added extra padding in the shoulder straps to make it more comfortable.

The GR1 rucksack includes a laptop compartment (or a perfpect spot for a ruck plate – learn more about how to choose the right ruck plate in our latest guide). The laptop compartment has a false bottom with extra reinforcement so if you place the rucksack down, your laptop won’t feel a thing!

The interior is simple yet effective with 3 large compartments. 1 large elastic pocket, 1 large mesh zippered pocket, and 1 small go-to pocket.

Opens FlatHip Belt not included (but can be added to it)
Rainproof / water resistant
21 liter & 26 Liter Size Options
TSA Compliant – Travel Friendly Rucksack
Laptop Compartment – Multi-use backpack
Interest free Instalment payments available
Scars Lifetime Guarantee

If the GORUCK GR1 is not exactly what you’re looking for, check out our top 13 GORUCK backpack alternatives for similar options to check out.

Check out the GORUCK GR1 rucksack at GORUCK (link to

3. MT Military ALICE Rucksack with Frame

LightweightWould be more comfortable with thicker shoulder pads
Large Capacity
Strong Material
Water Resistant
Used by US Military Corps & some US Army National Guard

The ALICE rucksack is one of the most recognizable military packs out there. It was issued to US soldiers for many decades. It is made of high-density polyester that is thick enough to repel water. The double layers and stitching make it a great choice for rucking in wet weather.

This rucksack has one interior compartment, two side pockets and three front sections. There’s plenty of room to carry ruck weights and supplies.

One of our favorite features is the handy drop clasp. It takes less than a second to unfasten the clasp and drop the rucksack to the ground. Great for an emergency.

If you’re unclear on the difference between an ALICE pack vs a MOLLE pack, check out our recent post: ALICE vs MOLLE packs to find out which options is best for you.

If you’re interested, check it out on Amazon (link to Amazon).

4. US Military Molle II Large Rucksack

Spacious (4000 cubic inch capacity)May be too big for everyday non-military users
Lots of Additional Features (pouches, hip belts, straps etc)
Great for Military personnel

The MOLLE II is the newest iteration of the ALICE pack. It is now used by US soldiers in place of the older rucksack. It has a flex frame that bends beneath its own weight to increase load bearing comfort for the wearer.

This feature increases the users’ range of motion by enabling them to twist their chest and torso, as opposed to moving their entire body when they want to turn with the rucksack on their back.

The MOLLE II comes with a large capacity sleep system for carrying sleeping bags, air mattresses or other overnight equipment. We liked this particular feature because, it makes it useful for other outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and more.

If you’re interested, check it out on Amazon (link to Amazon)

5. US Military Molle II Medium Rucksack

Durability (Made from 1,000D Nylon)Not the lightest rucksack on the list.
Water Resistant
Quick Release Buckle
Great for Military personnel
Hydration Tube Exit Holes

This rucksack is comfortable to wear because of the adjustable shoulder and sternum straps.

The nylon webbing on both sides of the rucksack is very useful. We love the tough oversized zippers on the MOLLE II. There’s nothing more annoying than breaking a zipper while rucking. The ‘alligator’ teeth on these zips are extremely durable.

If you’re interested, here’s a link to Amazon.

6. 5.11 Tactical RUSH 72 Military Backpack

Large storage capacityNot Military Compliant
Water Repellant
Durable (made from 1,000D Nylon)
Internal dividers in compartments to keep your belongings organized
Can also be used for other outdoor activities

The Rush 72 is the largest in the Rush range of military style rucksacks. It is designed to allow you to pack for a three day journey. Firstly, we’ve got to mention the superb fleece lined pouch on the rucksack’s interior. It’s an uncommon and very useful feature.

The compartments and pockets are well designed, it even has a soft pouch for your smartphone. While it isn’t as lightweight as the other rival rucksacks, there’s actually a mini pack that detaches from the larger unit to bring down the weight. It’s also great for outdoor activities other than rucking.

Learn more about the difference between 5.11 vs GORUCK backpacks.

Here’s a link to Amazon if you’re interested.

7. 5.11 Tactical RUSH 24 Military Backpack

Spacious storage capacityNo Hip Belt
Water Repellant
29 Compartments
Can also be used for other outdoor activities

It’s made out of 1050D nylon with PUx2 for super water resistance. The use of such high quality materials makes it very strong, highly waterproof and resistant to all kinds of wear and tear. The stitching is impeccable and, after throwing this rucksack around for a few hours, we didnt see a single scuff or frayed edge.

Unsure which 5.11 backpack to buy? Check out our full breakdown and difference between the 5.11 Rush 12 vs. 24 vs. 72.

Here’s a link to Amazon if you’re interested.

8. 5.11 Tactical RUSH 12 Military Backpack

Minimal straps for clean, tidy aestheticSmaller Storage Capacity than the RUSH 72 & Rush 24
Water Resistant
16 Compartments
Durable Material & Zippers

What we love about the Tactical Rush 12 Backpack is its versatility. This neat little rucksack is compact enough to be used for everyday functions, like carrying school or work essentials. Yet, it’s also durable enough for prolonged, intensive rucks. The body of the rucksack is made from 1050D nylon so you can trust it on extended rucks.

The long zipper on the main compartment is a useful addition. It opens the rucksack all the way to the base at the back. The well padded shoulder straps focus on comfort.

The straps are widely spaced to distribute weight evenly and make heavier loads more tolerable.

Check it out on Amazon (link to Amazon) if you’re interested.

9. Molle II (ACU) Large Rucksack

Official US Military IssueFrame Not Included
Great Storage Capacity (3000 Cubic Inches)
Can Carry up to 60 lbs of weight

This MOLLE pack has undergone rigorous combat testing and assault training. It’s got a semi rigid frame to allow for flexible movement and integrated compression straps for even weight distribution.

This MOLLE is a reliable three day assault style pack that’s ideal for rucking, camping, hiking and other outdoor pursuits. 

If you’re interested, here’s a link to Amazon

10. Molle II (ACU) Large Rucksack

Made from US Government ManufacturerFrame Not Included
Poly stiffener fully functional.
Water Resistant

If you want the authentic military ruck experience, you need a genuine US military surplus rucksack. These rucksacks are real military leftovers. This MOLLE pack has undergone rigorous combat testing and assault training.

Check it out on Amazon (link to Amazon) if you’re interested.

11. Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack

The Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack is smaller than some of the rucksacks on our list and it weighs 3lbs, yet, it packs like a much larger rucksack. The volume of the storage capacity is 1520 cubic inches (thats more than enough for a casual ruck). The egg shaped shell – broad bottom, thinner top – is filled with loops, pockets and hooks for extra gear.

It’s also worth mentioning the Dragon Egg’s superior load positioning and distribution. The adjustable cinch straps are a delight. They provide a smooth, snag free cinch in seconds to pull the load tight against your back. It’s great for weight distribution.

Check out the Direct Action Dragon Egg Backpack on Amazon (Link to Amazon)

12. Direct Action Ghost Tactical Backpack

Durable (Made from 500D Cordura)Fewer pockets than other Direct Action packs
Comes with Hip Belt
Water Resistant
PALS webbing for attaching extra gear

Check out our latest post, Direct Action Ghost vs Dragon Egg, to learn more about the difference between the Direct Action Ghost and Dragon Egg backpack (11th backpack on this list)

Check it out on Amazon (Link to Amazon)

13. Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack

Adjustable back systemSide mesh pockets may get scuffed when on the ground
Unique side pocket attachment
Comes with Hip Belt
Includes load lifters

Check it out on Amazon (link to Amazon).

14. ALICE Pack Military Surplus Army Survival Pack

Complete Survival PackMay be too overwhelming for a casual rucker
Military Focused Rucksack
Comes with Hip Belt and other essential accessories
Durable (Made from 1000D High Density Polyester)

If it’s the full military experience you’re looking for, we’ve got to recommend this very comprehensive as it comes with a full ruck kit. It includes ten pieces (accessories). Among them are a sleek aluminium water container, a compact butt bag, a pair of yoke suspenders, a canvas duffle bag, a case for field dressings, green webbed belt, and more.

Check it out on Amazon (link to Amazon).

15. US Military Surplus Molle II Standard Pack

Heavy duty zippers and cord pullsBack ventilation is not optimal
Military Focused Rucksack
Quick release buckles
Waterproof flap protects against rain

This medium MOLLE rucksack provides up to 3000 cubic inches of volume in its interior. It is constructed of super strong cordura nylon and has been combat tested by the US military. In addition to the primary compartment, there is a top and bottom pocket. Both sections are secured with heavy duty cord pulls and zippers.

There are plenty of compartments, loops and pockets here for even the most ambitious ruckers. We liked the addition of a rainproof flap on the bag’s top to safeguard against wind and wet weather conditions.

If you’re looking for a strong, weather and combat tested rucksack that does its job simply, we’d recommend this sturdy rucksack.

Check out the Military Surplus MOLLE II Backpack on Amazon (Link to Amazon)

Common Features to Look For In a Rucksack

Adjustable StrapsAdjustable back systems allow wearers to increase or decrease the length of the straps to fit the length of their own body. This feature ensures that the rucksack fits you and helps you ruck with proper posture.
Back VentilationVentilation prevent the back of the rucksack (the surface pressing against the back) from becoming overly sweaty and uncomfortable. Some use a mesh insert to wick moisture away from the body. Other rucksacks have a rigid frame which creates space between the back of the rucksack and your back allowing for proper air circulation.
Hip BeltHip belts help you distribute the weight more evenly. It takes away pressure from your shoulders and distributes the weight evenly across your body. Typically recommended for larger rucksacks.
Chest StrapsThey are particularly helpful for balance when moving fast or across uneven terrain. They help keep the rucksack stay sturdy and prevent it from moving around when moving quickly.
Hydration SystemSome rucksacks have a hydration slot which allow for immediate access to water while on the ruck.

Depending on the size of the rucksack, some features will be more important than others. For example, a hip belt may not be necessary if the rucksack is small.

Adam Sheriff

Adam is an experienced rucker and has been in the game for the past 5 years. He competed in a local ruck challenge and was hooked ever since. He has been actively helping people get into rucking and has set up local ruck events to help spread the word and encourage more people to get in on the action. When he’s not out rucking or setting up ruck events in town, he manages

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