Field Notes: 5.11 Tactical RUSH 12 Backpack

Want a deeper look at my go to hunting day pack, the 5.11 Tactical RUSH 12 Backpack? Well, then come read my opinions on it and see how I organize it.

If you’ve kept up with all of the gear reviews this month, then you are aware that I’ve covered pretty much everything from the deer hunting load out that I carry on my person. Since I’ve also previously covered the rifle that I carry over my shoulder, I figured I’d start with the 5.11 Tactical RUSH 12 Backpack before getting into it’s contents.

Granted I’m not a survivalist who spends vast amounts of time in the wild nor an operator who carried out missions in hostile environments, yet I’ve managed to go through my fair share of packs as I lug around the computer and other bits to and from work everyday, go on business travel, and get outdoors every chance I get. I’m not the roughest with them, but I’m certainly not gentile. As such, I’ve spent some money on packs over the years and have to come to really like 5.11 packs over the past decade.

The first 5.11 pack I picked up (which I may cover in another review some other time) was to build a three day (or 72 hour) bug out bag. While it didn’t get as much use as other packs, I ended up taking out the bug out gear and filled it with stuff I needed when I went on a four month business trip to south east Asia a few years back. That 5.11 pack took a beating at airports, work activities, and outings as a tourist. It left me impressed. Not long after I returned I started using that pack for hunting trips, but it was a bit big and bulky. This led me to look at and eventually pick up the 5.11 Tactical RUSH 12 Backpack which is designed to be a day (or 12 hour) pack. It’s now seen its fair share of hunting trips and I’m also very impressed by it.

Working from front to back, the front pocket admin pocket has a bunch of different pockets and loops which make it easy to carry and organize things that one may need frequent or quick access to. In terms of the hunting load out, this is where I store the following things:

Right above the front pocket, still in front of the main compartment, is a small zipper pocket. This pocket is perfect for some odds and ends that are easy to reach. Here is stuffed away:

The main compartment has quite a bit of space and I used that for bulkier items or items needing less frequent access. The main compartment also has a couple of mesh zipper pouches and a “wet pouch” (with drainage grommets) that can be closed with a shock cord. This compartment housed:

Above the main compartment is a drag handle and under that is a fleece lined “delicate” items pouch where I stored my prescription sunglasses.

Behind the main compartment is a hydration pouch which holds a 2L CamelBak Reservoir. The insulated hose was easily routed from there over the yoke to the left shoulder strap and held in place by nylon webbing. The end of the hose and the bite valve were kept from flopping around threading them through the elastic on the adjustable sternum strap. I also wrapped the Petzl headlamp around the left shoulder strap when it wasn’t in use.

Last but not least, the wrap around MOLLE webbing was used to attach a few things including. On the right side, I attached the Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK). On the left side, I attached the Esee 6 fixed blade knife and the Leatherman MUT. Right in front of the small zipper pocket, above the admin pouch, I attached an Esee Izula using an Armatus Carry Architect sheath.

Goes without saying, I keep a lot of items in this pack. Given most of the hunting I do consists of short walks to and from a deer blind, weight hasn’t been an issue with this pack. If I was going to some longer hike in and pack out hunts, then I would probably lighten up the pack by taking out some of the redundant items (such as cutting implements and tools). While I can’t say for certain that this statement holds true for hike in and pack out hunts, I think this pack is well suited for just about any hunts that may last up to 12 hours or so. At the very least, it’s definitely the pack that I will continue to take with me until it either fails or I find something better.


  1. Good post, Zo!

    I carry a backpack to work and back every day. I have many of the same issues. I bought mine on Amazon and it’s been a workhorse. My biggest downsides that I didn’t see when I bought it was not enough MOLLE in the right places. I would rather have more on the inside as I carry a lot of small tools that I won’t risk on the outside. In addition, I have trouble keeping the weight right. I keep finding things I think I need in the pack and after a while, it’s too heavy. Then I have to decide.

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