Throughout college I regularly relied on cheap backpacks to get me through each year. Sometimes I’d end up switching out packs two to three times due to them wearing out, and generally they were fairly bare bones and uncomfortable. Once my last backpack bit the dust, I went on an epic search for something better. I had a few requirements. Durability was king. I wanted something that would last for a good long time. Size was the next big requirement. I didn’t want it to look like I was carrying a bag for the apocalypse, but I still wanted something that could fit everything I needed for the day plus more. Comfort was a big deciding factor as well. I’m going to be carrying a bag every day, it may as well be something that fits well and holds up under load. Finally, it needed good organization. I didn’t want to just dump everything into a pocket like my older bags, and hope for the best.
Enter, the 5.11 Tactical Rush 12. This bag is a beast. It was definitely designed for active duty. Everything about the bag screams quality. From the nylon chosen to the stitching to the buckles and zippers, the thing is built to last. The overall capacity is about 21 liters, which is a really good size for me for a daily carry pack, or even a 2 day pack. The 12 does indicate that one can go 12 hours with this pack, but it’s longer for me for sure. The inside of the main compartment features 2 mesh zipper pouches on the front, along with a half height pouch on the back with an elastic drawstring. I tend to keep snacks, spare socks, and a packable water resistant jacket in the mesh pouches, and my small umbrella and some plastic bags in the nylon pouch at the back. The front features lots of MOLLE webbing and a couple of hook and loop patches for morale patches and name tapes. I’ve affixed mine with the Resistance logo and my current agent access level for Ingress.
The thing is covered with MOLLE webbing, and even though it’s a tactical thing, it doesn’t really draw any attention. You can see on the side here more MOLLE, along with a basic compression strap. Also shown here is the zipper compartment for the back plate and the water bladder compartment. Beside the handles on either side is a hidden port for a drinking tube to be passed through. I tend to use the back compartment for my tablet, however if needed, it can fit at least a liter sized bladder in there for hydration. Between the straps and the carrying handle is a felt lined sunglasses pouch, which I use to store my power bank. Zippers on both the main compartment and the admin pouch on the front go all the way to the bottom of the bag, allowing it to be opened entirely like a clam shell.
The back has slightly padded sections which definitely assist in relieving pressure on larger loads. You’ll see on the bottom padded sections two slightly rubberized patches which prevent the pack from shifting too much when in motion. The pack is also very comfortable due to the plastic backplate, which prevents things in the pack from digging into your back and causing discomfort. The straps are well padded and fully adjustable, and include more MOLLE webbing. You can also attach a chest strap here, which I don’t have attached unless I know my load is going to be very large and require the extra support. The chest strap prevents the pack from swaying side to side too much. You’ll also notice at the bottom is a drain hole, which is there in case of hydration badder leakage.
The front features two pouches, a small pouch near the top, and the larger admin pouch near the bottom. The admin pouch is definitely where the backpack shines. As you can see, there’s a lot of organization available in the admin pouch, which keeps things pretty secure and easy to access. The nylon is all very heavy weight, just like the main construction, and the pouches are well thought out. You’ll see two large pouches on the front, and a huge assortment of smaller pouches on the back, which makes it easy to sort things like pens, cables, medicine, and sunblock. There is also a zipper compartment at the top which is rather spacious, and two plastic clips on nylon leads, which are great for holding things like keys, or in my case, my Maglite Solitaire and Leatherman Squirt.
After carrying this bag for around 5 months, I can say I can openly recommend it to someone looking for good organization and build quality in a backpack. If the tactical looks turn you off, you’ll be happy to know most don’t notice it. The pack is great for light backpacking in a city for a few days, daily carry, or hiking. If the size is still too large for you, there’s also the 5.11 Tactical MOAB 10 and MOAB 6, which both offer a smaller size and a sling configuration. If you’re looking for larger, the Rush 24 or the Rush 72 are the big brothers to my current pack, and all carry similar features and the same build quality.
If you’re interested in purchasing the 5.11 Tactical Rush 12, it tends to go for about $120 on Amazon with free shipping. This might seem like a lot for a bag, but for something that is built as well as it is, and something that is going to last as long as it is, I believe it’s well worth the asking price. [Link]