5.11 Tactical Rush12 2.0 Backpack 24L Review
The amount of PALS webbing on the 5.11 Tactical Rush12 2.0 Backpack 24L may be too intense for some, but it’s compelling for those wanting to accessorize.
- Harness system comfortable and easy to adjust
- Lots of PALS webbing for your custom MOLLE accessories
- Has a variety of different types of pockets for organizing gear
- Shoulder straps can be unclipped, but storage is clunky
- Amount of webbing seems overkill, even for a tactical backpack
- Tricky access to laptop sleeve
3.15 lb (1.4 kg)
18 in x 11 in x 6.5 in (45.7 x 27.9 x 16.5 cm)
YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware, Nylon
Laptop Compartment Size
You may not like it, but the 5.11 Tactical Rush12 2.0 Backpack 24L may be peak modularity because of how much PALS webbing it has. It’s a bit too intense for us, but that doesn’t mean we don’t understand the appeal of its customizability with MOLLE attachments. Underneath all of those loops, though, is a daypack that’s quite suitable for day-to-day use. Complete with a well-appointed admin panel, secondary pockets, and padded laptop sleeve, you can comfortably use it around the city.
Our main issue lies with how tricky it can be to access the laptop sleeve within the main compartment. Otherwise, it’s mainly rough-around-the-edges cons, like the clunky stowage of the shoulder straps and the sheer amount of PALS webbing, which feels overkill for those who will only attach one or two accessories most of the time.
Since it’s a tactical backpack, you can expect the tough stuff. The fabric is a 1050-denier nylon, which sounds like a lot, and it is. The higher the number, the thicker the weave of the fabric, making it more abrasion-resistant. Of course, there’s more than one way to make a robust fabric (better materials, layers, etc), but a higher denier count is one of the more common ways we typically see.
Okay, the fabric is tough and all, but you’re probably wondering about the most prominent feature staring us in the face: the PALS webbing. Simply put, there are a lot of places for your MOLLE attachments, enough to cover most of the exterior, in fact. There are six rows at the front and sides, with six loops on each front row and four loops on the side rows. That’s a total of 84, but that’s not all since there are technically other kinds of attachment points on this backpack.
So, what does having all this PALS webbing mean in practical terms? For starters, it grants you the ability to accessorize. Think of it like a blank canvas made for the anti-minimalist, the sort of fellow who’s not afraid to attach as many MOLLE-compatible pouches as their heart desires (or as the space permits). For us, our first accessory would be one or two water bottle pockets at the sides. If we want to survive 12 hours with this pack, we gotta have water—yes, even in the city.
The amount of PALS webbing is also great if you’re the type who really values weight balance and accessory placement. Pouch making the bag too back-heavy? Stick them at the side instead. Want your spoon within easy reach? Again, stick ‘em at the side. Water bottle making your bag too wide for the overhead bin? Move it to the front, or take it to your seat!
There’s also a set of loops at the bottom. These are the kinds we’re more used to based on other bags. They’re there so you can attach accessory straps, which, in turn, you can use to hold something really long and bulky like a tripod, a yoga mat, or a shoe pouch.
But okay, in terms of looks, the Rush12 2.0 is kinda intense. There’s no question you mean business when someone sees you using one, and we’re not talking about the “meetings in the financial district” business kind, either. No, this is the sort of backpack that looks more at home outdoors, where it can really soak in the “ready for anything” vibe.
For what it’s worth, the Black colorway we’re sampling does a relatively good job muting the tactical look if you want something more subdued. Double Tap is not far off being stealthy either if sleek-looking is what you’re after. Otherwise, lean into the tactical look with Ranger Green, Kangaroo, and Multicam—they really mesh well with the rest of the bag’s design.
We added a touch of Pack Hacker by putting one of our patches on the 3-inch by 3-inch hook and loop tab. The top row of loops is also lined with hook and loop material, so you can stick a fair amount of logos if you can’t settle for just one. We dig it whenever brands offer this tiny bit of aesthetic customizability—even if it is on top of all the webbing.
Other features include the top handle, which is thick and folded over for that padding-like sensation. Plus, each side also gets a compression strap near the top. They’re angled down, but we wish they came in pairs so that the bottom gets cinched for a more balanced compression.
We have immediate apprehension about the collared design of the Rush12 2.0 harness system. Backpacks that have their shoulder straps connected around the neck area always give us pause. More often than not, they’ll feel too narrow, especially for those with larger frames, but that is fortunately not the case here.
The shoulder straps are as thickly padded as you’d like on a 24-liter backpack without feeling too stiff. You also get a bunch of PALS webbing on each strap in case you want MOLLE-compatible accessories immediately in front of you as well. More importantly, these loops also serve as the mounting points for the included sternum strap. Though it’s not as granular or fast to adjust versus a rail system, it’s simple and gets the job done anyway. Just set it to your preferred everyday setting, and you’ll probably never mess with it again.
Our only real complaint here is that despite the straps being able to unbuckle fairly easily, there’s no clean way to stow them. You can, technically, put them in the hydration bladder compartment, and the zippers for that compartment are reversed for that purpose. However, it doesn’t look or feel seamless like the way other brands have done it with their daypacks. Alternatively, you can use the PALS webbing at the side to stow the straps, but that’s not a very neat solution, either.
Why would you want to do this in the first place? In our case, we like traveling with backpacks around this size since they’re usually carry on compliant. Taking it on board with us, we’d put the bag in an overhead bin or under our seat. At the same time, we also want to avoid getting the straps tangled with other travelers’ gear. So, seamlessly stowable straps are something we particularly seek out and pay attention to.
Again, our chief concern with the Rush12 2.0’s shoulder straps is its connected collar-like design. Fortunately, we didn’t find a scenario where the straps felt like they were brushing too close to the neck or pressing the trap area too badly. The fit is overall comfortable, and it’s also fairly easy to set up and dial in out of the box, even with the clip-on sternum strap.
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that there are provisions for a waist strap. There isn’t one included, but that’s okay. At 24 liters, it doesn’t really get hefty enough to warrant the extra support unless you’re doing something strenuous like cycling or running. At most, you should cinch down the compression straps to control the bag’s load if you’re carrying a ton of gear.
Inside The Backpack
We’ve already touched on the hydration bladder compartment, so we’ll start with that. It’s located adjacent to the back panel for convenience, and inside is a tab where you can hang the actual bladder. There’s a corresponding pass-through where you can route your drinking tube (the rest can be channeled through the loops along the shoulder straps).
You also have direct access to the removable backboard through this pocket. If you find the backboard too stiff and want to replace it with your own, you can totally do that. In case you’re wondering, yes, you can technically store a 13-inch laptop here as well. There is a dedicated laptop sleeve within the main compartment, but this area is arguably easier to access than going through the rest of your gear.
At the top of the Rush12 2.0 is a sunglasses pocket lined appropriately with soft fabric to prevent scratches. One slight issue is that the pocket is situated over the main compartment’s laptop sleeve. With a laptop inside, you can easily bump your glasses into it, so you have to maneuver around it each time. Other quick-grab items can go in another top pocket nearer to the front. It has substantially more space, though the liner is neither soft nor bright for easy visibility.
The organization of smaller gear is mostly centered inside the admin panel at the front. There are pairs of liner pockets located across each other, two pen slots, plus a slightly wider slot for a multi-tool of some sort. At the back is a slip pocket for a small tablet or an ereader, followed by a zippered compartment for cables or other smaller gear you want to keep secure.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a 5.11 Tactical backpack without a CCW (concealed carry weapon) pocket. It’s relatively easy to access, just behind the admin panel’s compartment since it uses a VELCRO closure rather than something that could jam like zippers. Hey, even YKK zippers (which the Rush12 2.0 has) aren’t completely infallible despite the brand’s stellar reputation.
Now it’s time for the main compartment where we immediately have an issue, though not a big one. Remember those compression straps from earlier? They go over the main compartment’s opening. This means you must settle for a partial opening or undo the straps’ buckles for full access. Fortunately, they’re simple side-release buckles that are quick and easy to disengage.
Inside are smaller pockets, which you can use to organize gear. At the front side are two zippered mesh pockets that both have a fair amount of expansion for bulky items. We typically put smaller clothing accessories here, like a beanie, a buff, or a pair of winter gloves. You can also store some toiletries here if you don’t feel like using a toiletry pouch (although you should totally do so).
Towards the back is the laptop sleeve. It’s rated for up to a 15-inch device, though we can fit a 16-inch MacBook Pro just fine (screen size isn’t a 100% reliable way to gauge laptop sizes, just so we’re clear). Accessibility is tricky, though, because of two reasons. First, the sunglasses pocket from earlier hangs in the way. If you have anything remotely rigid or bulky in that pocket, it becomes tough to maneuver your laptop around it. Second, the sleeve is situated relatively far back in the main compartment, and you have to go around a substantial amount of overhead fabric to get your laptop out.
Apart from the organization, you are left with a fair amount of space to fill with clothing and other gear. It’s surprisingly not constrained, considering the Rush12 2.0 has a lot of smaller pockets and compartments already taking their share from the 24-liter capacity. Again, the interior uses an all-black fabric liner, though, so we recommend using organizers like pouches and packing cubes to avoid mix-ups. Since we have a penchant for black clothing, we’re definitely using them here.
- There’s a ton of PALS webbing from all the accessories, creating a very tactical look
- Straps are attached at the bag, meaning it’s less flexible—interested in how this translates to comfort
- A lot of great organization; curious to see how this is put to use
- Pack continues to be comfortable even with the connected straps
- Front admin pocket is good for organization, though it’s harder to find dark gear due to the black liner
- Difficult to get laptop in and out; extra fabric on the sides of the bag needs to be folded over to access the sleeve