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5.11 Rush 24 Review

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5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack Review

One of the most critical pieces of equipment in a backpacker’s gear closet is the overnight pack. Unlike a daypack or everyday carry (EDC), an overnight pack stores all the essentials for a night away from home. Whether that’s a night in the woods or a trip to visit family, you’ll need to carry a lot more than would typically go in a daypack.

A great overnight pack will be durable, easy to carry, and able to keep your gear organized and accessible.

What You Want in an Overnight Backpack

The features of an overnight backpack are similar to those of a daypack. However, carrying the load for an extended period of time magnifies the importance of each component.

Capacity

Unlike a daypack, an overnight backpack needs to hold things like a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cook stove, and more food. Even if you’re using it to travel instead of spend the night in the wilderness, it’ll have to hold more toiletries and personal effects than you need for a day trip. The difference between a daypack and an overnight pack is actually quite a bit larger than between an overnight bag and one designed for three days. While you can get away with a 15- to 20-liter bag for a daypack, you’ll probably want something double that size for an overnight bag.

Materials

If you’re going to spend the night off the grid, you’d better have a tough backpack. If a backpack’ has low-quality materials or substandard workmanship, those issues amplify the longer you're in the field. If a zipper breaks or a hole forms in one of the bag’s compartments, you’ll have to transfer everything to another part of the bag or figure out a DIY solution to the problem - both of which are a waste of time and energy.

Tactical backpacks are usually constructed of 500-1500 denier nylon, or its branded cousin, Cordura. These fabrics are highly abrasion resistant, which is incredibly important for durability. High quality zippers are also critical, as zippers are the most common failure point for backpacks. Japanese manufacturer YKK makes some of the best, and a good backpack will have zippers with strong slides and pulls on them.

Support

To carry overnight gear, you’re going to need more extensive support than what's found in a typical daypack. An overnight pack should have a wide hip belt that comfortably fits your torso, as well as padded wings to distribute the weight of the pack evenly over your hips and take the weight off of your shoulders. It should also have a sternum strap, which doesn’t support any weight but stops the pack from rocking side to side on each step.

Hydration

Whether you’re filling your hydration bladder from a tap or filtering water from a creek, you’re most likely going to be replenishing your water overnight. Most overnight bags only have one hydration bladder compartment, so if you’re traveling to a place where you won’t be able to get potable water, you’ll need to devote more of the backpack’s capacity to water bottles.

5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack Specifications

Size: 37 liters/2275 cubic inches capacity

Materials: 1050 denier nylon, YKK zippers

Straps: Wide shoulder straps equipped with MOLLE loops and an adjustable height sternum strap. Aftermarket hip belt are available for purchase separately, but are not available from 5.11 Tactical.

Compartments: 4

Main (20” x 12.5” x 8”)

Front (12.5” x 11” x 2”)

2L Hydration Pouch (18” x 12.5”)

Eyewear Pouch

Pros

Compression Straps

Compression straps are standard equipment on most hiking backpacks. They’re used to attach sleeping pads and tents, while also cinching the bag closer to the body and balancing the load more evenly. Surprisingly, they’re usually absent from tactical backpacks, perhaps because they’re usually made from thicker materials that give them a stronger internal structure. But the Rush 24 has a compression strap on each side of the bag. They’re not large enough for strapping anything down, but they do cinch the bag tight when it’s not completely loaded. This is an important feature because without it, your gear will be bouncing around in your half-filled pack. If you need to attach anything to the outside of the bag, the MOLLE loops are actually a better alternative to using compression straps.

Wide-Opening Main Compartment

On many backpacks, the main compartment uses a zipper that encircles the top half of the bag. This means gear at the bottom is only accessible by reaching in from the top and taking out anything that might be on top of it. But the Rush 24’s zipper goes along the top and both sides of the backpack, effectively making it a panel loader. You can lay the backpack on its face and open it like a suitcase to get at those items on the bottom, making it far more convenient to use.

Hydration/Laptop Compartment

A backpack’s versatility is critical; no one wants to buy five different backpacks for all their different activities. Fortunately, the Rush 24 is as comfortable for overnight camping trips or as it is for using as a carry-on bag. The rear hydration pouch, which can hold a 2-liter bladder, also serves as a padded laptop compartment capable of securing a 15” computer. The compartment also sports a drain grommet, so if your hydration bladder starts to leak, you’ll feel it dripping down your back and can rectify the problem immediately.

The back panel of the Hydration/Laptop Compartment also has four Hypalon patches, which reinforce the fabric and prevent any abrasive damage. Hypalon is the same material used to make whitewater rafts, so it’s plenty tough enough to protect your laptop.

Cons

Lacking a Hip Belt

The lack of a hip belt is completely unacceptable on a bag of this size. It’s not that the belt was completely forgotten, though, as there are buckles at the bottom for you to insert your own hip belt. It’s true that an aftermarket belt will be more comfortable and fit your needs better than a stock belt, but it seems wrong to sell a backpack with no belt at all. Some users will forgo buying one, which will make for a very uncomfortable experience.

Also, the buckles are 1.5 inches wide, while most aftermarket hip belts are larger than that at 1.75 inches. 5.11 Tactical should have made these a more standard size if they didn’t want to provide a stock belt.

So Many Organizational Pouches

Many users might prefer this, but you should configure a tactical backpack to your personal preferences. The Rush 24 has so many little pouches to hold pens, loose change, keys, etc., that it feels like the designers have already decided how you should be using the bag. It would have been preferable to keep the same number of pockets but put fewer organizations systems in each one. Then, users could buy aftermarket organizational pouches to the exact size and specifications needed.

The eyeglasses pocket is the perfect example; anyone could put their glasses in a case and store them in one of the other pockets on this pack, rather than have a dedicated space for them that will go unused if you don’t happen to wear glasses.

Weight and Size

With backpacks, greater durability almost always comes with more weight, and this is no less true than with the Rush 24. Unloaded, it weighs almost four pounds - not a good choice for ultralight backpackers. More importantly, even when it’s not full, it’s bulky. The compression straps will help, but it’s going to feel like more bag than you need if it’s half empty.

This is a great bag to have if you’ll have it packed full on most outings, but it will most likely feel cavernous if used as a daypack. This is a point of personal preference, though. Most tactical backpack users will appreciate its strength and durability.

Conclusion

Overall, the Rush 24 is a good choice for an overnight bag - it’s tough, it’s spacious, and it works as well for urban travel as it does for outdoor adventure. Regardless of what you fill it with, those things will be accessible and organized. This is important for overnight packs, which can become a cavernous dump that’s impossible to find anything in.

The biggest issue with this backpack is its lack of a hip belt. A bag of this size should not be without one, and the optional belts available for purchase feel like an afterthought. Whether you’re using this pack for hiking, hunting, or as a bug out bag, if you’re carrying it for more than a few hours, you’ll need to get a hip belt.

The Rush 24 is still a great pack to use on overnight expeditions, but try to keep it as light as possible if you’ll be carrying it for an extended period of time.

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