To find the best tactical laptop bag for any style or person, we tested 14 bags over 6 months by using them for a variety of everyday tasks (like walking, commuting, & biking with them) during our daily routines.
While a tactical laptop bag won’t be as light or easy to use as a backpack or standard messenger-style laptop bag, they offer an unrivaled amount of storage, versatility, and support for carrying a firearm if need be.
While no one tactical bag will meet everyone’s criteria perfectly, we’ve covered enough ground in this buyer’s guide to provide a variety of looks, carrying needs, and budgets.
Why use a tactical laptop bag?
Tactical laptop bags offer a lot more capability than your standard laptop bag. If you need a lug around a laptop – but also require a more capable bag that can accommodate tools, a variety of gear, books, and possibly a firearm, these might be the ticket.
On the other side of the coin – if you want to travel light and need a single bag that will allow you to pack everything you’d need for a short trip, a tactical laptop bag can also be a great fit.
They’re a handy piece of gear that pairs a briefcase-sized bag with various storage and utility sections that expand the features of the bag well beyond just transporting a laptop.
Quick List: The 5 Best Tactical Laptop Bags:
- Best Overall: 5.11 RUSH Delivery MIKE Tactical Messenger Bag
- Runner-Up: VOODOO TACTICAL 40-0099 Discreet Pro-Ops Briefcase
- Also Great: Direct Action Messenger Tactical Bag 10
- Best Budget: Red Rock Outdoor Gear Navigator Laptop Bag
- Budget Runner-up: Tactical Military Briefcase
Our Top Pick (Best Overall):
Top down on the 5.11 RUSH bag
Our testers liked the ambidextrous design, which made any pocket easy-to-use and lots of offered storage regardless of which shoulder you tossed it over.
The concealed carry pocket is on the backside of the bag – again supporting ambidextrous use – and it seals securely with a well-engineered double zipper system.
Quality, water-resistant material
Also, the RUSH had plenty of space for other nice-to-haves – like the way a water bottle fit into the storage compartment on the side of the bag with ease.
The 1050D Nylon fabric construction kept the bag from bulging or altering shape – and makes the bag tough, water-resistant, and light. Coupled with the padded shoulder strap the RUSH is a bag you can carry for hours without much discomfort, even when loaded down.
The thick carry handle on the RUSH tactical laptop bag
An expandable system
One really smart aspect of the RUSH is the “wrap-around web platform” – which supports mounting accessories (like MOLLE webbing, 5.11 Slick Stick, and TacTec System add-ons).
These can expand the capabilities of the bag well beyond what you get out of the box by adding things like the 5.11 Tactical Compact MOLLE Med Pouch or magazine pouches for even more storage and functionality.
The wrap around web platform allow for accessory mounting
- Small and Compact
- Double zipper system
- Durable material
- Small front pocket flap
- No back padding
Do you spend a lot of time on the road or need a bag with a large variety of zipper compartments? If you need a briefcase designed with travel in mind the Voodoo Tactical Briefcase checks a lot of those boxes for our testers.
This briefcase offers a solid amount of durability – its Cordura-reinforced nylon also provides a nice amount of water-resistance – so don’t need to worry about your items getting wet or damaged.
The adjustable shoulder straps and handles make it easy to get the right fit and carry it any way you want. Our testers really liked the variety of compartments and the padded sides, which offered nice protection from scratches, shocks and bumps. The VOODOO bag also features a removable interior bag, so you can customize the configuration to suite your needs.
- Lots of pockets
- Padded front and back
- Smaller than other options
The Direct Action bag offers a more military-style look and feel. It features a buckle and velcro closure system which gives it an additional level of security.
A military-grade tactical bag
While it is designed for tactical and clearly military-inspired (its design says it all), the big velcro patch on the front flap gives you the opportunity to customize it with patches (much like one of our top range bag picks, the Orca Tactical).
This bag is an ideal heavy-duty tactical bag if you want to pair carrying a laptop, iPad or tablet with everything else in one easy package. Plus the Codura 5000 fabric is water-resistant, lightweight, and surprisingly durable.
The Direct Action Messenger Tactical Bag also features clear vinyl pockets on the inner side of the flap. Then there’s its elastic cord which reinforces the bottom and secures the content of the bag snugly.
On the top the bag also provides dedicated water bottle storage as well as a second zippered pocket, which are nice features and easy to get at.
In addition, the high-quality construction makes it perfect for heavy-duty use – and it had no trouble making the rounds from home, to the office, and the range – with little to no wear.
- High-quality stitching
- Lots of storage
- Many color & camo options
- Size left some testers wanting more
The Red Rock Outdoor Gear bag gives you more than just secure laptop storage – you get 12 storage compartments, which gives you an incredible amount of flexibility and choice for where you keep your items when on the move. Our testers loved that this bag paired an expandable structure with integrated molle webbing, which makes this one of the more flexible bags we tested. Carrying large laptops made no impact on our ability to pack lots of other things into the bag.
Lined with PVC, the Red Rock bag was rugged, design top-notch, and water-resistant as well. It was clear to our testers that this bag is designed to withstand the rigors of daily use while making it easy to carry everything you could want.
- Durable double stitching
- Integrated MOLLE webbing
- Water pocket is too small for larger containers
- Non-camo options are 50% more expensive
While the GES Tactical Briefcase isn’t something available at your local retailer (this is almost certainly one of a number of “made for Amazon” brands), if you need a sturdy bag with multiple pockets and are looking to spend under $50, this bag has a lot to offer. Featuring 10 pockets, you get the organizational flexibility of a true tactical bag, with dual front pockets that are sized perfectly for everyday items like a cellphone or laptop mouse.
This briefcase, with its internal anti-collision isolation pad, ensures your laptop will be transported safely away from dings and knocks – as well as the occasional downpour with its water-resistant fabric and double zipper closure.
For your comfort, this briefcase comes with a foldable velcro handle and also a shoulder strap, making it work well for travel, hiking, and other outdoor events where you need to carry lots of items but want to minimize weight & the number of straps pulling at your shoulders.
- Lacks durability
- Too small & narrow for some testers
Choosing the Best Tactical Laptop Bag
Whether it’s your first time or you’re shopping for a replacement, there are certain bag features you need to consider. Nonetheless, your choice will largely depend on what you need it for.
If you’re a student, you should be gunning for a heavy-duty, easy-to-carry bag. When choosing, you should focus on bags that have a laptop compartment as well as many side pockets.
Do you spend most of your time commuting? Then you need to choose your next bag based on storage space and other features that let you access the various bag compartments quickly.
Our reviewers often reported replacing their standard laptop bag with the tactical laptop bag testers as their go-to bag due to all the additional storage they provided – room for folders, a laptop, glasses, a phone, keys, and other accessories.
What are the Advantages of a Tactical Messenger Bag?
One of the main features of a tactical messenger bag is its many compartments & overall storage space. We used this as the primary criteria in our selection process
With a tactical messenger bag, there are different compartments for a variety of specific purposes. Things like a water bottle have a place right alongside your laptop or tablet – all with equally ample space for a wallet, magazines, or a pistol. We also looked for well-designed side pockets which were easy to access and offered storage for things like your writing instruments and or workout gear.
What’s the Best Way to Use Tactical Briefcases?
If you want to protect your laptop, among other valuables, you’ll want to look for a bag that is made from durable materials often high-count nylon – with some level of water-resistance. Think through how you’ll want to use the multiple pockets, which can help you organize your belongings, so you’ll have a sense for where you’ll items will eventually go – and ensure you’re buying the right amount of bag for your needs.
Also, consider your preferred carry style – if you shoulder carry, look for nice padded straps – or foldable handles if you prefer a hand-carry. Most tactical laptop bags come with both – which offers users flexibility.
Chances are you’ll fill your bag with various items – which can become bulky and possibly too heavy to use as a sling bag. This is where the handles come in. Whenever it gets too heavy for your back, you can simply carry it with its handle.
Backpacks vs Sling Bags
Which one is right for you?
You may have wrestled with the backpack vs should bar conundrum before – and you’re about to get a laptop, you’re probably considering which type of bag to choose.
One one hand – tactical backpack offer balance & distribute the weight of the bag’s contents across your shoulders evenly, meaning you can carry more overall weight. They’re also quick to load with their big top opening – so you can grab and go. Once a backpack is initially adjusted they’re generally set – and there’s no need for further adjustments. Research has shown that bicyclists tend to prefer backpacks to sling bags because of the stability – they don’t have to worry about their backpacks swinging forward while riding all while being hands-free.
Consider your use case
Most laptop bags come in the form of shoulder bags. While they feature handles (like tactical briefcases), they also feature straps. Straps can be a hassle for bikers, so unless that’s your primary mode of transport there are few reasons not to look for a tactical bag for your everyday needs.
Tactical messenger bags, like all laptop bags, don’t offer a hands-free experience. You’ll need to carry it with your hand, put its weight across your body (as a sling bag) or on one shoulder.
How much material are you carrying?
Depending on the total amount of product you’re carrying this single shoulder orientation can cause muscle tightness – especially in the neck and upper back. This is exacerbated if you’re carrying a large (17-inch or more) laptop on a day-to-day basis you might prefer a backpack for its weight distribution.
On the other hand, if you’re carrying lots of smaller items a tactical bag might be a better choice for the organizational features, making it easier & quicker to get at what you want.
Each of these tactical laptop bags offers firearms enthusiasts variety of different features but our top pick is the 5.11 RUSH Delivery MIKE Tactical Messenger Bag We really like how it’s designed, organized, and priced.
It also met the criteria for any range bag we’d recommend:
- Lots of compartments
- Easy to get at the firearm
- Well organized
- Durable & solidly water-resistant
There are quite a few options out in this category, but we hope this article steers you in the right direction. If you have any questions or feedback please drop us a line.