Best Concealed Carry Backpacks for Handgun Transport

Tactical Backpack with Shotgun

I suppose you could also broaden the concept of a concealed carry backup to include any and all "tactical" or military-style backpacks, meaning you're going after something that's more functional than your average North Face option.

The best concealed carry backpack should have a few qualities that traditional backpacks don't typically have.

  • Hidden compartments for handgun concealement
  • Water-resistant (or at least somewhat resistent) material
  • Lightweight but still able to carry a lot of gear
  • Comfortable for long wear
  • Things like belt buckles and hydration compartments are nice bonuses

When choosing a tactical backup I'd recommend getting as many of these features as you can. Most of them are lightweight and have hidden compartments, enough that you might consider those "standard" features.

Some are also made to help you carry larger weapons, like rifles, but we won't worry about those since the context of this is carrying concealed weapons or smaller handguns. 

I'm recommending backpacks that grab as many of these top-tier features as possible for the lowest cost. Keep in mind, tactical backpacks, good ones at least, are not usually cheap. $175 to $200 is a fairly "par" price range, especially for the packs that are more of a military style.

The ones I'll focus on are a good bit cheaper, more so around the $50 mark, but don't be surprised if you see them go significantly higher.

Here's what I'll recommend:

Red Rock Sling Pack

The Red Rock Sling pack has a concealed carry compartment on the back panel and is setup with a shoulder style sling that makes accessing the compartments very quick.

5.11 RUSH24 Backpack

5.11 is one of the nicer brands in the tactical backpack business, and their RUSH24 has it all. Hydration pocket, 1050D nylon and plenty of compartments are just the beginning. 

Explorer Tactical Gun Backpack

This backpack is made specifically for carrying handguns while also boasting a lot of other top-tier features, including a hydration pocket, belt and plenty of additional compartments.

‚ÄčMilitary Assault 50L Rucksack

Military Backpack with Detachable Gear

Made by Trekking King, this backpack has several detachable compartments, a waist belt and is extremely spacious. It's weather-resistant, and also comes with a one-year warranty.

Which features matter the most?

When it comes to a backpack that you intend specifically for concealing and carrying a handgun, the most important features are almost always going to be standard with any tactical or military-style backpack.

Compartments that are small and hidden, yet easy to access are the most pertinent issue. All of the four backpacks I've listed here have several such compartments that could be used for a concealed weapon, assuming we're talking about a pistol of typical carrying size.

Other features will depend on the context of your use.

For example:

  • Are you going to also be using the backpack for hiking or outdoors?
  • Are you going to be using the backpack in a more urban environment where you won't be wearing it as long?
  • What else do you intend to transport?
  • Do you ride a bike or motorcycle often or as your primary means of transportation?

For example, some of the backpacks listed have compartments for laptops and mobile devices, which might matter more to you if you're going to be transporting those items along with your weapon.

If you're going to be using the backpack for wilderness or hiking ventures, the hydration compartment might become a larger priority.

Just think about the context in which you're buying before you decide on which pack is best for your situation.

What else could I fit in these backpacks?

In addition to a concealed carry backpack, some might be looking to setup a "go bag" like this fella:

Go Bag Example for a Tactical Backpack
Typical items you might want to include in your backpack. Flickr Commons Image courtesy of Patrick Breen

If you're trying to plan for a go bag like Patrick Breen did in the above photo, you'll need a backpack that can fit a lot, primarily the following items:

  • Extra Clothes
  • Knives
  • Blanket
  • Rope
  • Water (Canteen)
  • Extra Food
  • Batteries

All of the tactical backpacks I listed above should be roomy enough for this type of load, plus or minus a few goodies. 

What I would advise doing is making a quick list of what you might want to include in your go bag and then doing a spot check on the backpack you plan to buy, making sure it will all fit.

You can never be certain before purchasing, but most packs have the number of compartments listed and the approximate size of the interior, so you can approximate pretty closely.

Let's take a closer look at each backpack.

#1: Red Rock Sling Pack

PROS

  • Sling style feels light and easy to carry
  • Very affordable
  • Concealed compartment
  • Made in the USA (sometimes)

CONS

  • Definitely on the smaller side
  • No side pockets

Though very affordable, this is the smallest of the four backpacks I've recommended. In that regard, it's probably not the best choice for those trying to put together a stocked go bag.

However, it is a decent secondary bag, especially if you want something on the lighter side that is primarily designated for concealing a weapon. I also like this one a lot for mountain biking or folks who ride a motorcycle. Somehow the single strap is just easier to deal with quickly and feels less cumbersome. 

Other Features I Like

A few other perks include 600D polyester (not the best but it'll do) padded strap for easing weight on the shoulder and the snap closure concealed pocket.

Here are those plus a few other highlights:

  • Made in the United States (sometimes)
  • Snap enclosure concealed pocket
  • Four different compartments
  • Comfy shoulder strap
  • Plenty of styles to choose from

If you check the Amazon link there are several different styles to choose from, some of which are a bit more expensive then the original but still very affordable.

The ACU Color Scheme
Olive Drab and Red Combo
Tornado Blue Vibe

 

For those wanting to pickup a concealed carry backpack on a budget, this is a solid option where you'll only have drawbacks if you wanted to carry more gear than it can hold.

For light travelers, it's big winner.

#1: RUSH24 Tactical Backpack by 5.11PROS

5.11 Tactical RUSH24 Backpack
  • Tons of space
  • Well-made, weather-resistant
  • Hydration pocket
  • Easy to carry
  • Nearly impossible to find a negative review

CONS

  • On the pricier end of our range
  • No side pockets

As mentioned, 5.11 Outdoor is the real deal, and they make some excellent backpacks. 

This one has everything you could possibly want in a tactical backpack, providing everything from concealed compartments, to weather-resistant material, hydration and a slew of other helpful features.

The biggest plus here is that it's large and roomy, making it a good choice for those wanting to put together a Go Bag with lots of extra items. The back compartment alone is large enough for a blanket and a few extra clothes, while the compression straps are easy on your shoulders for long periods of wear.

Other Features Worth Mentioning

As the price would suggest (it's on the upper-tier of our range for this article), there are loads of other features.

Namely, the following:

  • Hydration pocket
  • Three mesh compartments
  • 1050D nylon
  • External compression straps
  • Twin drainage grommets

If money isn't an issue, just about anything you get from 5.11 Outdoors is going to be a reliable backpack, especially if you need something on the larger size.

The main compartment is a roomy 20" by 12.5" by 8", so you'll have plenty of room for extra odds and ends.

Even for those looking to stock a go bag, my guess is you'll have trouble filling it up.

#3: Explorer Tactical Gun Concealment Backpack

Explorer Tactical Gun Concealement Backpack

PROS

  • Perfect for carrying multiple handguns
  • Well-made, weather-resistant
  • Hydration pocket
  • Four side pockets
  • 600D Polyester

CONS

  • Imported
  • A bit bulky

This backpack is probably the most -gun-friendly option on this list, with two holster-style compartments on the sides that are ideal for handgun carrying.

There are also plenty of extra compartments that are concealed where you can hide guns, if need be. And while you pay for it in the sense that it's a somewhat bulkier pack, this product has a ton of different zippers and compartments for hiding and carrying different items.

In that regard, it's an ideal go bag just as much as it is an ideal concealed carry backpack.

It's imported, which is a bummer, but the functionality is over the top.

Other Features Worth Mentioning

A couple other features you might want to take note of, include the following:

  • Sunglasses and iPhone storage
  • Hydration compartment 
  • Full Velcro coverage for top and front pockets

If quick access to a weapon is your primary concern, this pack is far and away the best option on this list. 

And while it might be more backpack than you need (tons of compartments you may not use) the price is very affordable, but high enough that you don't feel like you're buying garbage.

It's a solid option in the proper context.

#4: Trekking King Tactical 50L Ruckscak Bug Out Bag

Military Backpack with Detachable Gear

PROS

  • Spacious
  • Detachable compartments
  • One Year Warranty
  • 1000D Nylon
  • Water Resistant
  • Affordable

CONS

  • None for the price

Trekking King does a great job of getting you a gun-friendly pack with military features and plenty of storage space, all at an extremely affordable price tag. The 50L Rucksack is an ideal bug out or go bag, just because of the massive amount of space alone.

A total 50L capacity (16" x 20" x 10", larger than the RUSH24) gives you plenty of space for everything on your go list, plus there are several detachable compartments.

If and when you need it for simpler functions, you can just remove the extra compartments and go with the base of the pack.

It's a great multi-functional option.

Other Features Worth Mentioning

Just FYI, when you read about the "Molle System" that's backpack lingo for the stuff that allows you to attach and detach certain compartments.

Here are a few other features I like:

  • Padded back surface area
  • Rain flaps
  • Full Velcro coverage for top and front pockets
  • Belt



How I Evaluated Each Backpack

While it's impossible to use each backpack to the extent that a "full-time" owner would use one, I've made my choices based on contextualization.

Thus, I've done the research into which concealed carry backpack works best in particular situations.

Here's some of the evaluation tactics I've used to break them down:

  1. Price and brand recognition: How much does it cost relative to other brands?
  2. Size and carrying capacity: How much can it carry? What situations are better-served by lighter or heavier backpack loads?
  3. Number of concealed compartments and ease of access: In regards to a concealed handgun, are there places to conceal it and, if so, are those places easy to access?
  4. Additional features that help contextualize: For example, a hydration pocket means it might be more ideal for hiking while carrying a concealed weapon (you can do that in national parks now).

Moreover, it's important to keep in mind that there is some subjectivity involved, as there would be with any purchase. Admittedly, these are the backpacks I would choose and have first or at least second hand experience with.

In other words, it's easy to recommend something you've at least seen or heard good things about.

And this is true when you talk to anybody about any product. You just want to know if someone can vouch for something.

So, don't assume that there aren't some other really good options out there.

These are the "best" in so far as they're what I have bought or would buy to fulfill the need of concealing a weapon.

Additional Thoughts About Buying a Concealed Carry Backpack

The most important thing to keep in mind when you're trying to pick out the best concealed carry backpack for you is what else you'll be using it for.

Because if we're honest, most any backpack can conceal a small weapon.

What matters more is whether you'll be hiking, traveling, hunting or engaging in some kind of other activity while also carrying a concealed handgun. 

Figure out what those activities are before you buy a backpack. As long as you stick with packs that fall under the "tactical" or "military-style" categories, you'll almost always have concealed compartments to work with.

Additional Issues and FAQ

Q: What is a "typical" main compartment size?
A: 12 x 20 x 10 is fairly common.

 

Q: Do they fit laptops?
A: Most of these backpacks can easily carry a laptop around 15" in size. 13 or 17 inches shouldn't matter much.

Q: Do they come with a hydration pouch?
A: Packs typically don't come with the actual pouch, but rather a compartment for holding one. The bladder or canteen is usually sold separately. 

Q: Does it matter much if the backpack isn't made in the USA?
A: In a word, no. 5.11 is hit or miss when it comes to production locale, and their backpacks are generally quite good. In the tactical pack context, it doesn't matter much.

Q: How adjustable are the backpacks? Can they fit larger or smaller people?
A: Within reason, all the backpacks I've listed here can be adjusted to a wide range of shoulder sizes and widths.

Flickr Commons Image courtesy of Mesa Tactical Photos