Goruck backpacks are well-made, extremely practical, and incredibly versatile. They’re also way too expensive to even be considered by most people – if that’s why you’re looking for an alternative to Goruck GR1 or GR2, you’re definitely in the right place.
The Goruck packs are supposed to be travel bags with military roots. Their features are characteristic of two backpack types – survival/tactical bags and carry-on travel backpacks. The Goruck alternatives featured in this detailed review include some of the best tactical and travel backpacks you can get your hands-on, and they’re all at least half the price of the GR2!
At A Glance: Best Goruck Alternatives
Read on to find the best Goruck alternative for you, whether you want a backpack for travel, outdoor adventures, or both!
Best Tactical Backpack
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Best Backpack For Travel
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Best Backpack For Everyday Carry
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Best Backpack For Day Hikes
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If you are looking to get a great tactical backpack, the Rush 24 is one of the best alternatives to the Goruck bags. It is an extremely durable backpack made from water-resistant 1050D nylon, with MOLLE panels all over the bag’s exterior. The only limit to the amount of stuff you can attach to this backpack is the weight you’re comfortable carrying.
The bag features YKK zippers throughout, it has a padded backpanel with ventilation channels and ergonomically designed shoulder straps. There’s no hip belt on the Rush 24, but that’s only because this is the smallest 5.11 backpack in this line – the larger bags that feature a greater capacity are equipped with a hip belt that helps support the weight.
The 24 in the name of the bag stands for 24-hours, meaning that this specific pack is designed to carry enough items for one day. But with a total capacity of 37-liters and 29 different compartments in the bag, I’m pretty sure you could easily pack for a weekend in the Rush 24 backpack.
This bag has everything from a hydration-compatible compartment to a conceal carry weapon pocket. There’s also a padded laptop sleeve, multiple smaller pockets for easy organization, and a generous main compartment. It works as an army backpack, an outdoor pack, and it can even pass as a travel bag since it is a TSA-friendly size. On top of all that, it’s only half the price of a Goruck backpack, so it’s easy to see why this is one of the best alternatives to the pricey tactical bags.
Tortuga backpacks are very popular for travel and the Setout is one of the best bags they ever made. It is a TSA-friendly backpack, but it utilizes every single millimeter of the TSA bag size allowances. If you want a carry-on that’s as big as you’re allowed to have, this is easily the best bag for you.
Also, the Setout is more than just a great travel bag – with a generous capacity, lots of different pockets, and a very comfortable backpanel, this bag is also great for everyday carry. This pack opens flat just like a suitcase, exposing a roomy main compartment that can easily fit enough clothes for a week. And with all the smaller accessory pockets, you’ll never have to empty the bag just to find that one stubborn cable that’s hiding at the bottom.
The backpanel is the main reason why this bag is great for more than just travel. It is heavily padded with two exceptionally comfortable shoulder straps that offer great ventilation and even better carrying comfort. There’s also a thick hip belt with zippered pockets, as well as a convenient sternum strap.
This backpack features DWR coating for great performance in any weather, it has lockable YKK zippers for excellent safety of your items, and it features a dedicated compartment for electronics that can fit even 17” MacBooks. Also, the front compartment can fit all the items you want easily accessible, making this backpack truly one of the best Goruck GR1 alternatives for anyone who is focused on travel!
The Mystery Ranch Urban Assault backpack features a military-inspired design with an exceptionally comfortable back system. There’s thick padding and breathable mesh all over the backpanel and shoulder straps, as well as a convenient sternum strap. Also, the shoulder straps feature several smaller attachment points, so you could keep some essentials within hand’s reach.
This bag has a unique, three-zip design of the main compartment. When you fully open it up, you can easily get to every single item inside the bag, so it’s great if one of your priorities is accessibility. The main compartment of the Urban Assault backpack has several smaller pockets, including a padded sleeve for electronics or documents.
Additionally, this bag has an external bottle pocket on the side, which is useful if you like having a water bottle easily accessible. But keep in mind that the pocket is not very stretchy, and items in it will protrude into the main compartment.
There’s also a dedicated laptop compartment in the back of the bag that’s roomier and features more padding. Whether you’re used to carrying two laptops or just want the extra space for other necessities, the Urban Assault backpack doesn’t disappoint. There’s even a small zippered pocket on the top of the bag that’s great for the smaller items like your phone or sunglasses.
This pack is made from 500D Cordura fabric, which is a very durable material with good water resistance. All the zippers on the bag are YKK with bungee cord pullers so you can easily use them even if you’re wearing gloves.
The Goruck backpacks are good options for hiking and outdoor adventures, thanks to the rugged materials and weather-resistant construction. But the same can be said about the Camelbak H.A.W.G. backpack, which features a military-inspired design with a dedicated hydration compartment.
One of the best things about this (and other CamelBak bags) is that you get one of their excellent hydration reservoirs when you buy their backpack. CamelBak hydration bladders are regarded as some of the best on the market, with the easily refillable design, hands-free hydration setup, and a hose that delivers uninterrupted sips without any leaks.
That’s one of the reasons why you should get this backpack if you’re looking for a Goruck alternative that’s good for day hikes. Another reason is the laser cut MOLLE on the front panel, which lets you attach whatever you want to the exterior of the bag.
There’s also the padded and ventilated backpanel, the spacious main compartment, and the room front compartment with multiple smaller pockets for easy organization. The padded back system ensures you stay comfortable even on longer hikes, while the convenient hip belt guarantees that you don’t suffer from sore shoulders because the backpack was too heavy.
In terms of compartment design, the Incase EO is very similar to the Goruck backpacks. It has a main compartment that opens flat, a dedicated (16”) laptop compartment in the back, and multiple smaller pockets and extra compartments all over the bag that let you keep all your stuff organized.
If you’re primarily looking for a good travel backpack, this is easily one of the best options for you. It is a TSA-friendly bag with expandable capacity and convenient compression straps on the sides. The pack is made from weather-resistant material that’s also very tough and durable, for excellent performance in any weather.
In addition to that, the Incase EO pack also has multiple organizations pockets in the front compartment, a hidden phone pocket with a scratch-free lining, and several external pockets for the items you want easily accessible. The backpanel is heavily padded and covered with breathable mesh for great ventilation, while the soft shoulder straps help you stay comfortable even when the pack is filled to capacity.
The main downside is that the Incase backpack lacks all the external attachment points of the GR1 and GR2, so it’s not quite as versatile. However, if you’re not looking for a tactical backpack specifically, that’s fine – the Incase EO is not supposed to be a tactical outdoor backpack, but rather a great carry-on pack with a TSA-friendly design. Also, there’s no hip belt, so if you’re packing anything extra heavy in the bag, you might not be that comfortable.
Direct Action Dragon Egg is a tactical backpack with a 25-liter capacity. It’s a good bag for day hikes, everyday carry, and any environment that requires you to have an exceptionally sturdy bag. The pack is made from Cordura 500D with a water-resistant coating, for superb performance in wet weather. There’s also Duraflex hardware on the bag, as well as tough YKK zippers.
This backpack features laser-cut MOLLE on the front panel, with additional webbing attachment points on the sides. There’s even MOLLE on the water bottle pockets, so there’s pretty much no limit to the number of things you can attach to the exterior of this bag.
The backpanel is heavily padded and covered with breathable mesh, for great ventilation and even better carrying comfort. The same can be said about the ergonomic shoulder straps that are held in place with a sternum strap. Also, the backpack features a wide webbing hip belt for better load distribution, ensuring you stay comfortable even if you manage to overfill the bag.
In terms of organization and capacity, the Dragon Egg pack doesn’t disappoint. There’s a spacious main compartment, a padded laptop compartment in the back, a smaller front compartment with lots of open pockets for organization, zippered pockets, and side water bottle pockets. Also, the pack has four compression straps on the sides, which help stabilize the load even more.
Pacsafe Venturesafe is an anti-theft carry-on backpack. It features puncture-resistant zippers, slash-proof fabric, and lockable zippers for ultimate security. If you travel a lot and you want a backpack that’s ultrasafe, this is easily one of the best options for you.
The bag features two lockable compartments – one is the main compartment that opens up suitcase style and the other is a smaller front compartment with organizational pockets. There are also two water bottle pockets on the sides of the bag, as well as a padded (15”) laptop sleeve in the front compartment.
The backpanel and shoulder straps are heavily padded, with a sternum strap and a hip belt that ensures the bag stays put on your back. Also, you can tuck away the shoulder straps and hip belt, which could come in handy if you’re checking the pack. Other features of the Venturesafe backpack include external attachment points and side compression straps for better load stabilization.
One more thing worth noting about this Pacsafe backpack is that it comes with a stainless-steel cable. You can use this to lock the backpack to something in case you ever need to leave it unattended for a little while. However, you’ll need a padlock to lock the bag and it’s not included in the purchase of the pack.
The Maxpedition Falcon III is a heavy-duty tactical backpack with a 35-liter capacity. It’s made from 1050D nylon with great water and abrasion resistance, for excellent performance in different conditions. Whether you’re going on a jungle expedition or preparing for a multi-day trek, the Falcon III backpack is certainly up to the task.
It’s a medium-sized bag with a lot of external attachment points, so it can work even on longer expeditions. And the extra weight won’t slow you down, thanks to the wide hip belt that does a great job at transferring the load onto your hips.
The backpanel is padded and covered with breathable mesh, just like the ergonomic shoulder straps. Also, the pack has a dedicated hydration sleeve for a reservoir, while the dual ports allow you to set up hands-free hydration if you just attach the hose to the shoulder strap.
There are MOLLE panels all over the exterior of the bag, so there’s plenty of space for those bulkier items that can’t fit inside the main compartment. And the quadruple side compression ensures the load is always stable, even if the backpack is only half full.
The Falcon III backpack has one spacious main compartment and three extra zippered compartments. The smaller two feature open and zippered pockets for easy organization and the largest one is empty, making it great for documents, books, or even electronics.
The Goruck GR1 and GR2 are both tactical backpacks by design, but they have a lot of extra features that make them much more versatile. In addition to being incredibly durable, the packs are also comfortable to wear, offer excellent organization capabilities thanks to a variety of compartments and pockets, and include a dedicated laptop section with space for accessories. These packs are popular for travel, hiking, and even everyday carry, in addition to being great for rugged environments.
So, what’s your priority? Do you just want a cheaper tactical backpack, or would you like something that’s just as versatile as the bags from Goruck? Maybe you’re prioritizing everyday carry and want a bag with lots of different pockets and compartments? Or are you looking for a great TSA-friendly backpack that’s just as good as the Goruck GR2?
No matter what exactly you are looking for, you have at least one great option above. I’ve included a variety of backpack types so that everyone could see something just right for their needs. But it’s essential to know exactly what type of backpack you’re looking for, and which features you’re willing to forego.
Both the GR1 and the GR2 are a TSA-friendly size, so I’m assuming you’d like the same from your alternatives. The upside is that, if you’re not specifically looking for a travel backpack, you could pick up something bigger.
Most backpacks featured here are TSA-friendly – some are the maximum size of a carry-on, and others are smaller since they’re designed as daypacks. If you want a travel backpack, it’s best to go with the bags that are designed as carry-ons, since they are made to give you the maximum amount of packing space that the TSA allows.
On the other hand, if you’re more interested in a daypack or a tactical backpack, it might be better to pick up something smaller. Carry-on backpacks usually have a capacity of around 40-45 liters, whereas daypacks tend to max out at 25-30 liters. Which sounds like a better option for you?
A 45-liter capacity is equivalent to that of a 21” suitcase – consider that if you’re thinking it might be good to get a bigger bag for hikes or everyday carry. With daypacks, it’s more important to consider additional features like the size of the laptop compartment or the number of external attachment points. In general, look for the features that you know you will use a lot, and try to avoid getting a backpack that looks good, but you know you wouldn’t be able to make the most of it.
One of the things that really sets the Goruck bags apart from their competitors is the excellent quality of the materials. Their packs are virtually indestructible, thanks to the high-quality weather-resistant materials. And if that’s exactly why like them, you should look for a bag that comes as close to their durability as possible.
All of the backpacks featured here are made from quality materials, but they don’t all have the same features. Some have better weather resistance while others are better suited for rugged environments. In any case, the construction qualities of the backpack are tied with its primary use, so don’t expect a bag designed for travel to be as durable as one that’s made for military use.
Not sure which of these Goruck alternatives you should get for yourself? Then just go with one of our top three picks, depending on the style of backpack you want!
If you want a pack mainly for travel, you will really like the Tortuga Setout. It’s one of the best carry-on-sized packs out there, with a comfortable back system, a roomy main compartment, and multiple accessory pockets for easy organization. Whether you’re packing for a weekend or an entire week, this travel backpack will not let you down!
In case you are looking for a proper tactical backpack, the 5.11 Rush 24 is easily the top option for you. It’s a high-quality tactical daypack with MOLLE panels, ergonomic shoulder straps, and a total of 29 different pockets and compartments. The bag is made from rugged materials, it has good water resistance, and it’s comfortable enough that you can wear it for 24 hours straight without your back or shoulders getting sore!
Perhaps you want a more versatile backpack that can easily be both a tactical and a travel bag? Then get the Mystery Ranch Urban Assault bag. It’s the most versatile pack in this review, with a durable exterior and spacious interior. There are loads of pockets inside the main compartment for easy organization, and the three-way zipper gives you some peace of mind about the security of your stuff. It’s a durable but comfortable bag, with just enough space inside to get you through the day.
Head over to Amazon to see the prices and more photos of all the tactical and travel backpacks featured in this review. And go check out our related posts, for ideas on other awesome Goruck alternatives you might like!