What Is a Tactical Bag And Why Are They So Popular?

Updated November 8, 2021

tactical bag

If you like carrying a lot of your personal gears always with you every day, then a tactical bag is probably the one best suited for your needs. People who use tactical bags love them for a reason. If you have not used one yet, just read on. This might be the type of bag you have been looking for all along for your EDC needs.

A tactical bag is a type of bag that has been designed keeping durability, functionality, modularity, and organization in mind. These types of bags were originally created for the armed forces but have found their way into mainstream use. You can find a ‘tactical’ version of almost any kind of bag nowadays, whether it is a backpack, daypack, duffle bag, sling bag, messenger bag, camera bag, or waist pack.

Why are Tactical Bags so Popular?

There is a reason why tactical bags are growing in popularity, with people replacing their standard bags with their tactical counterparts. These bags are built to last, can be stretched to their limits to carry a lot of load, have good organizational capabilities, and above all, look cool. Military-inspired design coupled with good functionality makes for a great combination.

You will only appreciate the advantages of having a tactical bag once you start using one. I initially avoided getting one for myself because it felt too army-like carrying one, and the rough outer appearance and military-inspired colors of tactical bags were not very appealing to me.

tactical bag

But I ultimately got a black colored one for myself just to find out whether it suits my needs.

I think black is the only color in tactical bags that does not instantly remind you of the military. Now I have become so accustomed to carrying around my gears in this bag that it has been my regular EDC daypack for the last couple of years.

Modularity and Possibility of Expansion

This is perhaps the most important feature why I considered a tactical bag in the first place. The MOLLE straps attached to the tactical bags make it possible to attach other gears to the exterior of the bags which are too large to fit inside. You can use carabiners to hang water bottles and other similar stuff to the sides of the bag. The best part is, you can attach other MOLLE compatible bags and pouches to the different sides of the bag thereby expanding its size, capacity, and organizational capability. 

MOLLE, short for ‘Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment’ was originally created for the backpacks used by the military. It is basically a design in which the exterior of the bag has rows of nylon straps stitched together in a form of webbing. This makes it possible to attach other MOLLE compatible bags and pouches strategically around various sides of the bag.

The modular design of tactical bags allowed the army to carry everything they need to survive along with them, including food, medicine, equipment for shelter, defense, and reconnaissance.

They could live off their tactical backpacks and perform their duties for days without any other means of support.

Do you know what is the best thing about MOLLE? Tactical bags have become so popular that every tactical bag maker follows the MOLLE standard worldwide. This means that if you have two tactical bags from different brands with MOLLE straps, you can probably attach them to each other. MOLLE straps can even be found on the interior of a bag, giving you the option of attaching something inside that you want to keep hidden or concealed. MOLLE attachment done right is very secure, and one bag just becomes a part of the other. 

This means that you can basically build your own bag based on your needs by combining different MOLLE compatible tactical bags and pouches. So you can create your ideal daypack, or a tools bag, a medical bag, or even a travel bag. Or maybe a bag that has a tools pouch, a medical kit, a lunch pouch, a pouch for electronics and accessories, a camera bag,  all neatly attached to the main backpack that will hold your laptop, clothes and other items. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, and of course by how much you are willing to carry along with you.

Organization: A Place for Everything

One of the main aims of a tactical bag design is organization. The army-man in the field do not have the time to hunt for his gear inside his backpack. He has to act as quickly as possible, and hence almost every item must be kept in a specific location inside the bag. Because of this, you will see a lot of pockets in a tactical bag. Most of the pockets will be secured either by zipper or velcro. 

Modern tactical backpacks have separate pouches or secured pockets for almost everything that you can think of carrying along with you. This may include padded compartments for laptops and tablets, smaller pockets for accessories like cables, power banks, mobile phones, thumb drives, pens, notebooks, etc., as well as separate holders for carrying items like a water bottle. All the more, since it has MOLLE straps on its body, you can hang extra items like your shoes, a wet umbrella, or a folded raincoat, that you cannot, or do not want to put inside the bag. 

This makes to so easy to organize everything while packing, as well as while taking out a specific item quickly when required. You can organize your tactical bag just the way you need, whether you are going for an outdoor trip, or to the office or workplace.

Durability: As Tough as it Gets

Since the primary goal of the tactical bag was to serve the armed forces, the focus was on strength and durability. Mostly, heavy-duty fabrics are used while making the bags, with good quality YKK zippers. Some are even made of water-resistant material. The stitching is also done well, giving the bag extra strength in terms of rough use. Most tactical backpacks have compression straps that help to keep the bag as compact or possible, which can be loosened up to pack more. 

The use of tough materials and heavy-duty construction ensures that the bag will stand up to constant use and resist wear and tear even when packed to the max. The premium construction does make tactical bags a bit heavier compared to normal bags of similar capacity, but the durability and longevity of tactical bags do make up for that inconvenience of carrying a slightly heavy bag. Also, all large tactical bags usually have well-padded shoulder straps for a comfortable carry.

Modern tactical bags are made of Cordura, Nylon, or Polyester. You may also find some made of Cotton Canvas. Cordura and Nylon (the Rip-Stop variety) are known to be tougher and more durable than the other options available. Polyester has better resistance to UV degradation and is also lighter. You may choose the fabric depending on the size of the bag and your usage pattern. I don’t know much about fabrics, but I will prefer something durable like Nylon or Cordura. 

Looks and Aesthetics

Some people like the look of a tactical bag because of the military look and feel. Especially, the presence of MOLLE straps on the body of any bag is a giveaway that it is a tactical bag. In addition to that, the colors that are available like grey, tan, Od Green, with camouflage patterns just make them as military as possible just by their looks. Of course, if you are not a fan of those colors, most tactical bags are also available in neutral colors like black, brown or beige.

If you are comfortable with the tactical look and feel of bags with MOLLE straps, you can probably find a color that suits you. For me, it is black. I haven’t yet seen a tactical bag that is not available in black. I think black became the color of choice once tactical bags became mainstream. Probably, people want all the advantages of a military bag without looking like a military man.

Final Thoughts

I have multiple tactical bags and pouches that I use as a portable multi-tool kit, medical kit, electronics accessories kit, and as a daypack. If you are on the lookout for a backpack or a daypack, or even a small organizer pouch, a tactical bag or pouch might be a good choice.

Once you have multiple tactical bags for different purposes, you can mix and match them and attach them to one another to create interesting combinations. A good tactical bag may very well be one of your most-used personal gears that will accompany you in many outdoor travel and adventures.

About Me

Deb is passionate about pocket tools, bags, and accessories, especially any type of everyday-use gear (or not so everyday-use gear) that makes life efficient, comfortable, and more enjoyable.

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