Tactical Backpack Review: 5.11 vs First Tactical

Single soldier walking in the woods with a backpack

Let’s switch gears for a moment. My last review was on large three day tactical backpacks. This review will center on smaller backpacks to carry your laptop, or use as your everyday bag. There are a lot of different gadgets and components with these backpacks, so I will on focus on my top two bags. This post concentrates and juxtaposes the 5.11 Rush12 Tactical Backpack with the First Tactical Specialist Half Day Backpack.

In my last review I talked about what makes a good tactical backpack and how to choose the right tactical backpack, so I will not go into those elements on this post. However, if you wish to read my last review, click here. That said, when choosing a true tactical backpack, one for life and death tactical missions, you need to ask yourself one very important question. More on that later.

5.11 Tactical Rush 12 Backpack

The 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 Backpack has tons of organized storage pockets for most people with the durability of what’s expected from a tactical backpack (without the bulky look you see in most backpacks). 5.11 is a very reputable brand and has garnered the respect from the tactical community because it takes pride in its products.

I have used this backpack in class and at work and no one really noticed it stand out aside from “cool backpack” type of comments. If I were to bring the typical type of tactical backpack to class or work, I’m sure I would have gotten other type of looks or stares like, “this guy thinks he’s still at war.”

The 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 Backpack is truly a multi-purpose bag, you don’t have to dig-it-out to go on a hike and throw it back in your closet after your done.

What I most like about the backpack is the look of the bag. Getting past the aesthetics, the backpack feels great, is very durable, has multi-purpose use, and is made by the must respected brands in the industry.

First Tactical Specialist Half Day Backpack

Let’s welcome First Tactical to the tactical community. I was pleasantly surprised by this product, for many reasons. Storage, ease of use, and comfort were some of the main standouts that really pushed this backpack above all the others.

The backpack has a great amount of storage space for its size. You are able to put small items such as cell phone, gps, flashlights and binos, while still having room for larger items like your laptop, food and survival gear.

Every bag has storage space but what really makes this bag standout is the compartments within the storage area. You don’t have to fish around the bottom of your bag to find something, there’s organized compartments that take you right to an item.

Another feature is the repositionable/replaceable compression straps. This is great because sometimes those straps get in your way, or needs to be repositioned to support other survival gear. This is great engineering and First Tactical should be applauded for their efforts.

First Tactical has also come-up with the Hook and Hang Thru system that unzips at the top and bottom of the backpack allowing specialized items like the First Tactical rifle sleeve or other survival gear to slide through and securely hook and hang in place.

Finally, the removable internal backboard can be used as a survival tool such as a shovel, splint, or paddle. This is an amazing feature that adds more credibility that the engineering and product development done at First Tactical is top-notch.


5.11 Tactical Rush12
Main Compartment: 18″ L x 11″ W x 6.5″ D
Front Pocket: 12″ L x 9″ W x 1.75″D
Hydration Pocket: 17″ x 11″
Total Capacity: 1,476 cubic inches / 24 liters
Price: $99.99
Website: https://www.511tactical.com/
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

First Tactical Specialist Half Day
Main Compartment: 17″ L x 11″ W x 6.5″ D
Front Pocket: 8.5″ L x 4″ W x 1″ D
Hydration Pocket: N/A
Total Capacity: 1,525 cubic inches / 25 liters
Price: $99.99
Website: https://www.firsttactical.com/
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Good and Bad

5.11 Tactical Rush12 – Pro

  1. Durable and water repellent
  2. Lots of pockets and storage room
  3. Can be used as an everyday bag or emergency
  4. Made from high quality material

5.11 Tactical Rush12 – Cons

  1. The backpack doesn’t have a padded sleeve for the laptop

To purchase the 5.11 Tactical Rush12 Backpack, click the image below

First Tactical Specialist Half Day – Pro

  1. Oversized velcro
  2. Removable/replaceable compression straps
  3. Compatible Molle system platform
  4. Multi-use internal backboard
  5. 4 Loops at the bottom of the bag for carrying additional equipment
  6. Uses YKK zippers Duraflex Stealth plastic buckles
  7. Adjustable sternum strap

First Tactical Specialist Half Day – Con

  1. No pocket for hydration bladder

To purchase the First Tactical Specialist Half Day Backpack, click the image below

My Final Opinion

As you know, I am very fond of the 5.11 Tactical Rush Backpacks. However, First Tactical has got a product that is very comparable, if not slightly better, than the 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 Backpack. Both backpacks make a great every day carry (EDC) bag for the daily commute, and has enough space for the weekend trips, hikes, or bug-out bag. Since both backpacks are priced the same, it shouldn’t be a factor when making your decision.

Both backpacks have more than enough compartments to work with to organize your gadgets well. The built-in pockets are made of a lighter material so it doesn’t add up to the weight of the bag. But it does give you enough vertical room to keep your things organized. Therefore, because both backpacks are comparable in storage compartments, it shouldn’t be a factor when making your decision.

That leaves durability as the deciding factor. Since 5.11 has a reputable brand name, and because they have a proven durable product, they are still my backpack of choice. However, because the First Tactical Specialist Half Day backpack is made of the same material, there is no doubt the durability factor will be similar to the 5.11 That said, because the durability factor has not been proven by me, I cannot recommend the First Tactical Specialist Half Day backpack. After a solid six-month use, I will update this post and give my final recommendation.

A tactical backpack is your constant companion on trips. You need one that is durable, comfortable, flexible, and capable of carrying all your gear without any problems. Backpacks with high-end accessories, such as these two backpacks, may come off as expensive but if your mission is life or death, you need to ask yourself one important question. How much would you pay for a dependable and durable tactical backpack?

If you used First Tactical and can confirm its durability, please leave a comment below and let me know.  Also, if you had any issues with your First Tactical Specialist Half Day Backpack, please describe your issue below.

Best Tactical Backpack Review: 5.11 vs. Reebow

soldier with tactical backpackI don’t think there are a lot of people who would disagree with me when I say, that the 5.11 Tactical Rush Backpacks are perhaps the best tactical backpacks for the outdoorsman/woman who enjoy hiking and hunting.

With so many tactical backpacks on the market, I have chosen to compare the 5.11 Tactical Rush72 Backpack with the new Reebow Gear Military Tactical Backpack Large Army 3 Day Assault Pack. However, before we compare the two, we should consider what makes a good tactical backpack.

What Makes a Good Tactical Backpack

As most outdoorsmen/women know, tactical backpacks are designed to be reliable and durable, even in the worst of conditions. They should also be comfortable and offer enough space to carry all your gear in an organized manner to include a wide range of pockets to store your gear. Because tactical backpacks are made for rough usage they are also usually made to be either waterproof or weather resistant.

Reinforced seams are also critical for tactical backpacks to make sure they have the longest possible life in the field. Also, proper padding on the shoulder straps is crucial to prevent chafing, irritation and unnecessary weight balance issues during a long hike.

How To Choose the Right Backpack

Choosing the right backpack comes down to choosing the right size backpack. If you just need a backpack to carry small items such as duck calls, fishing lures, arrow heads and other small items, than a small tactical backpack might be right for you. This can be a single strap tactical backpack, which is meant to be worn over one shoulder. Also, some small tactical backpacks offer interlocking capability, which means it can be attached to a full size backpack.

A large size tactical backpack is made to carry a bulk of your supplies. It can take most of your hunting/fishing gear, keeping your supplies dry, safe and organized.

Tactical backpacks also come in various styles and colors, which means you can customize your backpack based upon your needs. Depending on your specific excursion, making sure that your tactical backpack is camouflaged to your surroundings can be the difference between a quiet stalk, or scaring off game.

So, when it comes to picking out the right tactical backpack, you need to see what makes sense for you and how organized it needs to be. It can help when you need to choose from the wide range of tactical backpacks on the market today.


5.11 Tactical Rush72
Main Compartment: 23″ H x 13.5″ L x 8.5″ D
Front Pocket: 15.5″ H x 11.5″ L x 2″ D
Hydration Pocket: 21″ H x 13.5″ L
Left & Right Side Pocket: 16.5″ H x 6″ L x 1.75
Total Capacity: 3,342 cubic inch / 55 liter
Weight: 5.2 lbs
Price: $169.99
Website: https://www.511tactical.com/
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Reebow Gear
Main Compartment: 19.5″ H x 12.5″ L x 4″ D
Front Pocket: 15.5″ H x 9″ L x 2.5″ D
Hydration Pocket: 15″ H x 10.5″ L
Left & Right Side Pocket: N/A
Total Capacity: 1,482 cubic inch / 24 liter
Weight: 3.0 lbs
Price: $31.99
Website: http://www.reebowgear.com/
Overall Rating: 2 out of 5

The Good & the Bad

5.11 Tactical Rush – Pros

  1. Durable and water repellent
  2. Lots of pockets and storage room
  3. Can be used as an everyday bag or emergency
  4. Made from high quality material

5.11 Tactical Rush – Cons

  1. The backpack doesn’t have a padded laptop sleeve
  2. Too expensive

To purchase the 5.11 Tactical Rush72, click on the image below.

Reebow Gear – Pros

  1. Very affordable
  2. Accommodates a hydration bladder
  3. Lots of pockets and storage room
  4. Water repellent

Reebow Gear – Cons

  1. Although double stitched, the bag has proven not to be durable
  2. Can not be used for rugged conditions

To purchase the Reebow, click the image below.

My Final Opinion

My mother always said, “You get what you pay for” but I would not say to stay clear from Reebow Gear. If I was still in the military, I could not, in good conscience, recommend this tactical backpack. However, since I transitioned out of the military and I’m using this backpack for hikes or two to three day trips, the price point can’t be passed up. If you understand that the Reebow Gear “tactical” backpacks should not be used in rugged conditions, then you should be alright. That said, If you have the means, I would not hesitate getting any of the 5.11 Rush Tactical Backpacks.

The 5.11 Rush Tactical Backpacks are, in my opinion, the best tactical backpacks in the market today.

Casio Pro Trek Watch Review

Box of watchesWhen I first came into the Army, I was proud to own my Casio watch. However, now that I’m a civilian, I moved away from Casio into more “fashionable” watches, or no watches at all thanks to my iPhone. After wearing six different watches in three years, it was time I started to rethink my decision to move away from Casio watches.

Pro Trek

So, The price for this watch is $390. Unfortunately, Casio has many watches in its Pro Trek series. They use model numbers instead of individual names to identify the different types of watches in the series. The main face of the watch has analog hands, but it also has a small digital display that changes to show the different functions.

Click the image below to get a better look at the watch.

Casio PRO Trek watch

Pro Trek receives signals from radio broadcasts around the world, which is to say that it is multi-band atomic timekeeper. The watch syncs up with those signals up to six times per day. Like the typical Casio watch, the Pro Trek also has a small solar panels in the watch face, so you’ll never need to wind it or change batteries.

There are four function buttons around the outside edge to allow the user to get into the watch’s features. It is water-resistant down to 100 meters, but it also has some fascinating sensors.

Special Features

The Pro Trek has Triple Sensor Versions 3 technology, which includes a compass, altimeter-barometer and a thermometer. These are awesome features, however getting to them can prove to be a little cumbersome. The text is very small and remembering the right sequence of buttons to push takes some repetition. These features are ideal for the serious outdoors enthusiasts, to include hunting and fishing. The barometer is important for fishing, the thermometer and compass is important for hunting.

The compass is very useful, however it is a little odd to see the second hand swing into action pointing north as you move the watch around. The temperature display is cool, but it is best used when you are not wearing the watch to get an accurate reading. Casio says it can take up to 30 minutes for the reading to be accurate. For me, it only took a few minutes to show a more accurate reading after removing it from my wrist.

The altimeter has a range of 2,300 feet to 32,800 feet, and users can store up to 30 altitude measurements that are time and date stamped. The barometer has a range of 7.65 to 32.45 inches of mercury, and it can show you a tendency graph of whether pressure is rising or falling. The thermometer can display temperatures from 14 degrees to 140 degrees. Since these measurements are displayed on the LED screen, the watch hands will automatically move out of the way to let you see the readout. That is cool!

The Pro Trek watch has the customary stopwatch, countdown and calendar but the calendar is pre-programmed until the year 2099. The watch is accurate within 15 seconds if it can’t receive the radio signal. The solar-powered battery has a charge status indicator and a power saving function. When the battery is fully charged, it will run for six months without further exposure to light. The LED display can also show time in 29 different time zones and can display time in civilian or military format.

Dimensions and Functionability

The Pro Trek measures 51.6 mm by 51.5 mm by 13.6 mm and it weighs 2.75 ounces. It’s a big watch, built for the outdoors. It’s an easy watch to wear, but if you have an Apple Watch (like me), you will definitely notice the difference. The number of features and buttons around the watch will take a while to master. However, consulting the manual for a couple of weeks should be expected. That said, reading the manual is a must, if you want to utilize all the features of the watch.

The Good and the Bad

The Good:
Pro #1: Stylish.

Pro #2: Numerous features.
Pro #3: Sturdy and well-built.

The Bad:
Con #1: There is an expected learning curve to master the features.
Con #2: The watch is bulky and weighs more than smart watches.
Con #3: The manual text is tiny.
Con #4: Price may be too expensive for the average sportsman.

My Opinion

The Pro Trek PRW6600Y-2 is a good-looking watch which will last you many years. It has many features to keep an avid outdoor guy engaged to try to learn them all. Sure, you might be able to get all the features on your phone with numerous apps, but when you’re outdoors, and your battery is no longer charged, it’s nice to know that your watch may get you home.

The Casio Pro Trek is a quality watch, but it’s built for the more serious sportsman. If you normally don’t spend $400 on a watch, but you need a watch for the outdoors, I would recommend a lesser version of Casio’s Pro Trek. If you have the watch, I would be interested to hear your thoughts about Pro Trek, or Casio in general.