For serious adventure, you need a serious backpack.
Anyone who spends a lot of time in the outdoors is going to own a lot of gear that they are going to want to bring with them. The trouble is finding a backpack that is large enough to hold it all, while still staying comfortable enough for long hikes in the wilderness.
We may have found the perfect solution in the 5.11 Tactical Rush 100 backpack. Designed as a deployment bag, we have spent the last few months putting one of these bags to the test. Time and again it impressed us with its comfort and heavy-duty construction that makes it a breeze to slip on.
This bag has so many pockets, there are some I'm still discovering two months later as I have put this bag through the paces. Read on to find out more of what I thought of this serious piece of outdoor gear.
Construction and features.
From the moment I opened the box containing this new product, it was clear that 5.11 isn't messing around with this pack. It just feels solid and rugged from the get-go. This pack uses a 500D nylon for the main body and a 1050D nylon for the base. It's tough and it stood up to all the elements with ease. I had no worries about tossing this pack around or dropping it in the dirt or on rocks, logs, and other forest litter. The frame of this pack is made up of custom aluminum with fiberglass rods added for extra strength. It just feels solid every time you pick it up, and more importantly, it hugs your back like it was made for it.
I've owned many backpacks over the years, but none as comfortable as this one. Using the adjustable torso shoulder strap system, which 5.11 also refers to as "load lifters" and the adjustable sternum strap was a breeze and helped secure the pack to my frame nicely. The lower straps also adjust for an even better fit. The one complaint I've seen for the fit that others have made online about this pack is the waist buckle. It uses the same Duraflex autolock buckles used on the rest of the pack. However, they are quite small, only about one inch across. Some people have complained the smaller size buckle digs in uncomfortably when wearing the pack for extended periods of time. For what it is worth, I never had this problem, nor did I feel any part of the pack was uncomfortable during my testing. It is something to consider if you want this pack for longer hikes.
Much of the comfort in this pack comes from the nice padding across the back and in the removable padded waist belt. I had to do very few adjustments to get this pack to fit perfectly to my body. Speaking of that waist belt, it removes and re-attaches fast thanks to some quick release Velcro. As if the gear belt wasn't enough for extra features, 5.11 also made two completely removable side pouches. This means you can slim the pack size down when you don't need as much space, but you can also quickly convert them into a simple shoulder bag that would be handy for the gun range or light hikes in the local nature preserve. Essentially, you're getting a few different types of bags in one with with the Rush 100.
Of course, the most important part of any zippered pack is the main storage areas. This pack has a 3,661 cubic inch or 60-liter capacity. The main compartment is huge. It's a ton of storage space here and the Rush 100 uses it well. For this type of pack, I always like to pack it with heavier stuff than normal for torture testing. Things like heavy camp axes and other large items. The dual compression straps help lock everything in place nicely. I never felt those heavier loads move or shift the entire time I was testing the pack, even on uneven terrain.
In truth, I forgot I'd packed some items away in the bag until later when I opened it up. One of those items was my heavy DSLR digital camera. I had stuffed the whole camera bag into the lower compartment while I was hiking around checking my trail cameras in the warm summer heat and forgot about it until later when I couldn't find it. Consider me impressed.
Additional storage areas.
As I already mentioned, I've had this pack a few months, but it seems like I find new storage areas every time I open the zippers on this bag. For instance, I did not discover the small, fleece-padded eyewear pocket until this morning. The main areas will hold your clothing, cooking gear, tent, sleeping bag and more. Areas like the front admin compartment contain even more slip pockets, loop panels and other areas for your first aid kits, knives, flashlights, waterproof matches, food, and other essential survival gear.
This pack also has 5.11's signature loop panel external web MOLLE system. If you have never heard of it, it is a system of nylon web gear loops on the exterior of the pack that allow you to attach things like canteens, holsters, and other gear. While I didn't have any of the attachments to test this, the loops feel solid and it looks like a clever system to add even more storage space to a pack that already makes exceptional use of space.
Another feature I did not test because I didn't have a bladder with me was the hydration compatibility. However, I'm making plans to pick one up in the future. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I haven't gotten in my usual amount of camping this year, but I'm already thinking this pack would be ideal for a backpacking backcountry adventure. There is a place for every tiny piece of gear that I own in this pack.
The bottom line.
The Rush 100 was everything I have come to expect from 5.11 and more. I'll admit, I was already a huge fan of the brand through their pants, shorts and boots. They just make durable gear that somehow also manages to be some of the most comfortable stuff I've ever used.
This is a "deployment bag," and I readily admit, I'm not a U.S. armed forces service member, nor do I know exactly what our men and women and uniform would look for in a pack like this. However, for myself, an avid hunter, hiker and outdoorsman, this bag checks every box on my list of needs for camping, backpacking or even travel needs.
If you are looking for a pack that is extremely comfortable while also offering an unbelievable amount of storage space, the Rush 100 is the bag for you.
For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels.
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