The Best Tactical Messenger Bags (Review & Buying Guide)

Tactical messenger bags are a type of briefcase-sized bags that can be used for various purposes. Nowadays, these bags come in different sizes and utility and are the best items for packing your gear for short exertions and action-packed journeys. The characteristic feature of the single strap or cross-body strap has made messenger bags an indispensable gear for both men and women.

The exact origin of the messenger bag is not confirmed. However, they have been around for a very long time. Before World War II, archive photography shows bicycle-riding messengers using simple designs of the messenger bag, which were larger than their modern tactical counterparts.

In the 1950s, De Martini Globe Canvas designed the first prototypes of the messenger bags for telecommunication workers. These bags had several compartments and all the tools of the trades could be accessed easily while the workers hung from dangerous heights.

By the 1970s, New York bike messengers each had such a bag. Since the 1980s, the messenger bag has experienced a spike in popularity and nowadays it is hard to imagine these stylish accessories were once simple, utilitarian gear.

Things to Consider When Buying Tactical Messenger Bags

Tactical messenger bags are extremely versatile and there are hundreds of versions on the market. But no matter what type you the buy, the best tactical messenger bags will have certain features that will ensure quality, durability, and utility.


Tactical messenger bags are made from a variety of material, ranging from canvas, denim, leather or any other rugged, sturdy and durable cloth that is suitable for outdoor activities and affords a high degree of mobility.

For tactical survivors, materials like strengthened canvas or hardy leather can be a great choice as they come with both style and durability. It is natural for your tactical messenger bag to show signs of wear and tear after some time but it will always remain a stylish accessory that is used for long-term.


One of the most important aspects of a tactical messenger bag is that it should be resistant to water. A waterproof messenger bag will protect your laptop and other gear from the elements. A tactical survivor is on the move constantly and has to travel through the wilderness. There is a good chance that you will encounter rains, streams and puddles and may accidentally set your bag in water. If you find yourself in these kinds of situations, having a waterproof messenger bag can be invaluable and will protect your gear from harm.


The best tactical messenger bags take into account your comfort. Originally, messenger bags had a rectangular design with only one strap that could be worn across the body. However, when you are deciding to go out in the middle of nowhere, you will need to take into account the load you will be carrying.

If you are carrying laptops or heavy gear, you will need a messenger bags with two thicker, strengthened and padded straps that will ensure even distribution of the weight and won’t leave marks on your chest.

The best tactical messenger bags will also have multiple compartments and pockets that can help you access your adventure gear with ease.


When buying a tactical messenger bag, you will also need to consider your height. The best tactical messenger bags come with adjustable straps that can be cinched or loosened to accommodate your height. This way, your bag won’t hang down or sit too high on your shoulders.


Before buying a tactical messenger bag, you need to determine where you will be using it and what types of gear you will store in it. You can ask yourself questions about whether the gear will consist of tools or weapons or electronic items. Depending on the function, you may need to buy a bag with multiple dividers in the main compartment.

Now that we have introduced you to some of the specifications, let’s talk about some of the best tactical messenger bags in the market in 2019:

UTG Multi-Functional Tactical Messenger Bag

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The UTG multi-functional tactical messenger bag is made of strong, durable polyester material. The bag features a drawstring-closed apartment that offers a lot of storage space. A large front pocket gives you a convenient excess to smaller objects.

The inside pocket is compartmentalized into individual sections with gives you the opportunity to separately store your things. A zipper-closed concealed back pocket helps to protect your tools, firearms or other accessories. It also comes with a built-in sidearm holster and firearm magazine pouches.

The interior is lined with nylon for added strength and prevention of moisture retention. With its adjustable and padded shoulder straps, the UTG multi-functional tactical messenger bag weighs just under 2 pounds, and is perfect for hunting and shooting expeditions.

Key Features

  • Roomy drawstring-closed compartment, which offers you a large amount of room.
  • Several compartments, plus a front pocket used to access equipment quickly and a concealed back pocket for protecting valuable items.
  • The shoulder straps are padded and can be adjusted to offer optimal ergonomics. The design helps take the weight off your shoulders and make the bag easy to carry.


  • Perfect for hunting, shooting and law enforcement operations
  • Extremely durable
  • Offers a large amount of storage space and versatility

5.11 Tactical Rush Delivery MIKE Messenger Bag

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The 5.11 Tactical Rush Delivery MIKE messenger bag is one of the most versatile and best tactical messenger bags in the market. The bag is created from water-resistant 1050D nylon and its hardware is made of strong duraflex material and YKK zipper.

The main storage compartment is roomy and comes with admin panels for quick access to your gear. It also has a padded laptop sleeve that can easily store a 15-inch laptop. The wrap-around web platforms on the front and sides are MOLLE compatible and accompanied with Slick Stick and Back-Up Belt System upgrades. The expandable webbed sides can be used to carry water bottles or any other equipment which require easy access.

The bag comes with a thickly padded cross-body strap which allows you to switch it easily from one shoulder to another. This is particularly useful for ambidextrous people. You can also store a sidearm, flashlight, and keys easily in the bag.

The 5.11 Tactical Rush Delivery MIKE messenger bag is great for people who are on the field or part of a tactical support staff. The bag is weather-resistant, very strong, and lightweight.

Key Features

  • Made from water-resistant 1050D nylon
  • Comes with a 15-inch laptop sleeve
  • MOLLE compliant and Slick Stick and Back-Up Belt System components


  • Very spacious and roomy
  • Highly organized and compartmentalized interior
  • Internal and external pockets with YKK zippers and Velcro closure
  • Offered in two colors: black and sandstone

Direct Action Messenger Tactical Bag

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The Direct Action messenger tactical bag is made of 100 percent Cordura 500D materials, which is the perfect design for military and law enforcement personnel. The low-profile design is laser-cut and water-resistant. It has a built-in non-slip material at the bottom and thick padding on the shoulder strap.

The roomy compartments in the bag allow you to carry a 13-inch laptop, iPad, tablets and other equipment with ease. The roomy pockets afford you convenience, personalization and customization. The first compartment in the bag is lined with Velcro and you can easily add holsters and magazine pouches to it. The inside consists of a transparent zippered compartment and a vinyl pocket.

The Direct Action messenger tactical bag also comes with a padded sleeve for laptop storage or protection of other electronic items. It is closed with a large flap with buckles and Velcro to keep the things inside safe. It also comes with a detachable shoulder and waist strap.

Key Features

  • Laser-cut MOLLE with superior stitching
  • Equipped with quick-release buckles on the shoulder straps
  • Compartment lined with Velcro for personalization
  • Can also carry it like a briefcase due to the addition of a comfortable handle.
  • Padded sleeves to carry a 13-inch laptop


  • 100 percent Cordura 500D water-resistant material
  • Heavy-duty YKK zippers which can easily be pulled with gloves
  • Comes in 12 different colors

Lifewit 17-Inch Men’s Military Laptop Messenger Bag

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Lifewit 17-Inch Men’s Military Laptop messenger bag is one of the best tactical messenger bags out there. This is an extra-large, heavy-duty, light-weight messenger bag that is not just great for military personnel and adventurers but is perfect for other activities as well.

The bag is constructed from durable nylon and is water-resistant, keeping the important equipment inside free from moisture. With an inside capacity of 17 inches, this is one of the largest tactical messenger bags in the market.

The main compartment consists of a 17.3-inch laptop pocket lined with anti-shock separation pads that protect the electronic device form breaking. You can also easily fit books, phones, and lunch boxes in the compartment.

It also consists of a dedicated file section and several accessory compartments which you can use to store important documents. The front of the bag zips down to offer even more organized space for other items.

The bag is equipped with large side pockets that can easily hold water bottles and the loops on the side give you space to hang your rackets or sunglasses. The other side comes with webbing that can hold pens, keychains, power banks or small gadgets for easy access.

The four front pockets in variable sizes can hold several items of different shapes and size. Zippers, Velcro and buckles all work together to keep the items secure.

The bag also has feet pads which prevent the nylon from being scratched. A shoulder strap, a luggage strap and two carry handles give you options to carry the bag in multiple ways. The shoulder strap is adjusted with a honeycomb pad that prevents stress.

Key Features

  • 3 inch main compartment that can hold two laptops
  • Water-repellant nylon construction
  • Anti-collision pad to protect laptops from impact
  • Feet pad to prevent the bag from being damaged when it is put on the ground


  • Lots of compartments and additional pockets
  • Multiple straps which allow you to carry the bag comfortably
  • Quite lightweight

RAPDOM Tactical Messenger Bag

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The RAPDOM tactical messenger bag is a compact bag and is the perfect size if you do not need to carry large items like laptops. The bag is exclusively designed to be used in the line of duty.

It is constructed with 1000D Codura water-repellant nylon with MOLLE attachments on its exterior. All in all, the bag is designed to withstand all kinds of rough treatment in harsh environments.

The bag features one large and two smaller compartments created with military-grade specs in mind. It also has two expandable pockets. It is very comfortable to carry as its reverse side is covered with Aerofoam padding that makes it quite cushy.

The shoulder straps are adjustable and are covered with padding so that you can carry the bag with maximum comfort.

Key Features

  • Military-grade specs that allow multiple storage options and expandable side pockets
  • Made of 1000 Codura nylon for use in extreme conditions
  • Aerofoam padding on the reverse side for added comfort


  • Military-grade quality
  • Extremely durable and offers lots of storage
  • Very comfortable to use

SHANGRI-LA Multi-functional Tactical Messenger Bag

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The SHANGRI-LA Multi-functional tactical messenger bag is one of the best looking messenger bags for military and tactical purposes. Made from 1000D nylon fabric, the bag is packed with MOLLE-compliant compartments and webbing.

The bag has a lot of room and comes equipped with several versatile compartments and pockets. It is attached with a sling-on strap that you can use to carry the bag in a cross-body style. A great addition is the waist strap that prevents the bag from shifting or bouncing around when you are bending over or running.

This is a beautiful, compact and lightweight bag that provides optimum function, durability, reliability and versatility.

Key Features

  • Constructed from 1000D nylon
  • MOLLE-compliant compartments and webbing
  • Equipped with high-quality zippers


  • Comes with a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Ergonomic shoulder strap and waist strap

VooDoo Tactical Messenger & Concealment Bag

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This sturdy bag from VooDoo Tactical features a tactical design, though it can also work great for everyday use.

The main compartment is covered by a flap and consists of several dividers. The inside is heavily cushioned and consists of three versatile and variably-sized lined and removable pockets. Each pocket consists of an elastic loop panel to attach to a hook. The pockets are detachable so it is up to you to use one, use all or remove all of them completely. The bag can easily accommodate a 15-inch laptop

There is also a mesh water bottle holder on the side for easy access. The back is equipped with a convenient zipper compartment for storing documents as well as a luggage handle sleeves.

Key Features

  • Each pocket is equipped with a hook-and-loop panel
  • A double magazine pouch is also added.
  • Three versatile, detachable pockets


  • All-in-one tactical military messenger bag
  • Highly dense fabric
  • Rear zippered compartment for additional storage space
  • Roomy compartment space with several dividers

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the benefit of a tactical messenger bag over a backpack?

A: A backpack is almost always larger than a tactical messenger bag and is used to carry heavier and bigger items. Tactical messenger bags, on the other hand, usually come in smaller designs and are light-weight. These bags are also designed to be opened, accessed, and closed while you are still wearing them, unlike a backpack which will require you to take it off if you need to access or put back the content inside. This means, that with a tactical messenger bag, you can more easily and conveniently use your gear. This allows you to keep moving without any downtime.

Q2. How much weight can a tactical messenger bag carry?

A: Tactical messenger bags are made of highly durable material and as such, can carry quite a bit of load, although the exact amount of is based on the size and varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. They also have shoulder straps which allow you to sling the bag across your body rather than let it hang to one side, thereby distributing the weight comfortably. To determine the exact amount of weight your particular brand of messenger bag can hold, take a look at your model’s specs.

Q3. Are tactical messenger bags waterproof?

A: Tactical messenger bags are more water-resistant than waterproof. This means they can endure quite well in damp climates or in the rain but would not be very effective if the entire bag is submerged inside a pond. One of the most commonly used materials in messenger bags is nylon which repels water. If you want to make sure your messenger bag can adequately keep out water, try testing it out in the shower.

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