5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack : A Great Multipurpose Travel Companion

Web: www.twitter.com/flyingwithfish — E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

14/09/2009 – 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack : A Great Multipurpose Travel Companion

For the past few months I have been traveling with a subtle, understated (except my pink tape) and deceptively small in appearance backpack, the 5.11 Tactical Rush 24.

The Rush 24 was originally designed for deployment by tactical law enforcement units, however as a travelling photographer and business traveller I found the design and functionality of this bag fantastic!

The Rush 24 has many features that make this bag a complete standout among all the ‘daily use’ backpacks I have used (and I currently 36 bags sitting on a shelf unit in my office). I am not even sure where to begin in describing the useful functions for packing the Rush 24. Since I don’t know where to begin, I guess I’ll start with the size-specifications of the bag.

The 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 is 20″h x 12″w x 7″d (39 linear inches), making the bag well under the legal carry on restrictions of virtually all airlines around the world. The small size, but excellent design, allows the bag to be packed to maximum capacity and avoid being weighed by most airlines (I am not however endorsing flying with a bag in excess of an airlines carry-on restrictions).

The rear of the backpack (side up against your back) has a protected ‘hydration pocket’ that is excellent for carrying up to a 17″ laptop or travelling with freshly pressed & folded shirts from the dry cleaner. I choose to place my laptop inside a neoprene protective sleeve while packing my laptop in the ‘hydration pocket,’ the pocket is quite durable and has a hardened wall that provides surprisingly good protection.

On the top of the Rush 24, beside the handle, is a fleece sunglass compartment. I know I hate tossing my glasses into my backpack for fear of them getting crushed, but this top compartment has served my pairs of Oakley glasses well. The pocket not only protects and separates glasses, but it provides an easy access pocket to grab them in a hurry.

…onto the main compartment of the Rush 24…the interior is separated by a rear-wall compartment and multiple mesh front-wall compartments. The rear compartment is open and allows users to stay organized while really stuffing the bag. The most common items you’ll find in this compartment in my Rush 24 backpack are magazines, a 13″ MacBook and 2 or 3 shirts folded from the dry-cleaner. The front larger mesh compartment easily holds two laptop power supplies (when flying with 2 laptops), or a power supply and a ton of travel accessories. The top mesh compartment tends to have smaller items

The beauty of he rear-wall compartment and the two front-wall mesh compartments is it leaves the main body of he backpack open to be significantly packed. Inside the main compartment I have managed to pack a pair of jeans, 3 pairs of boxer shorts, three pairs of socks, 2 under shirts, a full-size digital camera body, a spare zoom lens (Canon 28-70f2.8L) and other random travel essentials. All this was packed along with the 13″ MacBook and dry-cleaned shirts in the rear-wall compartment!

The exterior of the Rush 24 is just as functional as the main compartments. On the lower portion of the exterior is a large zippered compartment. In this compartment is a series of organizer slots. The slots are ideal for pens, notebooks, portable harddrives, etc. Inside this compartment is a ‘hidden’ zippered pocket. I often use the zippered pocket for basic travel documents

The upper exterior portion of the Rush 24 backpack has two small semi-padded pockets. I use one of these pockets for my back-up hard drive (it runs Time Machine to back up my primary laptop). The small fitted pocket is ideally sized for most small portable hard drives. The wall of the flap has a small mesh pocket to hold USB/Firewire/Power cords keeping the essentials all in one place.

The side compartments of the Rush 24 are fantastic for basic storage, especially for photographers! I use these side ‘slash’ pockets to hold essential items, such as my Canon 70-200f2.8 lens on one side and a 28-70f2.8 lens, with hood, on the other side. The side slash pockets are very well hidden and can be secured to reduce the chance of unwanted hands entering the pockets. When travelling fast and light I love being able to store one camera in the bag and additional lenses in thee side slash pockets. Using these pockets does not alter the visual profile of the bag, so it never comes under the scrutiny of the airline gate agents!

The exterior of the bag is covered with military grade MOLLE webbing, also known as Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. This webbing allows for various accessories to be added to the bag. On my front right shoulder strap I often use the 5.11 Tactical mobile phone holster (C4 Case) and on the rear of the bag I use the 5.11 Tactical 6.6 Pouch. These accessories lock securely to the bag via fitted MOLLE straps.

I use the 6.6 Pouch for airport security. As I enter the airport security line I empty my pockets of my wallet, iPhone, BlackBerry, pens, keys, and place them in this pouch. The pouch keeps my items secure for security, once I am through security I empty the pouch and travel with the pouch empty, flat and not adding to the bags physical dimensions.

The backpack straps of the 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 bag are unique. Rather than being single individually attached straps, they are a single unit, similar to a “yolk.” This design allows for even weight distribution and makes the bag comfortable to wear for hours, even with very heavy loads. I have worn my Rush 24 backpack, loaded to 41lbs, for eight hours while out photographing in the streets. While hauling 41lbs is never ideal for long periods of time, the bag was very comfortable and the design of the bag made it very easy to wear while shooting and having a camera on each shoulder.

While the 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack was designed for law enforcement and military use, it is a fantastic bag that make the life of a travelling photographer, or business traveller, much easier and more comfortable.

Below are 10 photos of my bag loaded while traveling with me through an airport while out photographing a project.

Happy Flying!
a black backpack with pink labels a black backpack with items in it

a laptop in a backpack

a black backpack with a red tag

a black backpack with a pocket

a close-up of a bag

a black backpack with a white tag and a white cord a close-up of a backpack

close-up of a black backpack a man with a backpack and a camera


  1. Hi,

    Do you happen to know a store which does ship to Europe (The Netherlands). I tried ordering this backpack, but can’t find any website that is able to ship for a reasonable price.


  2. Which shot shows the main compartment with the jeans, etc? Or is there one?

    I’m looking for something that I can carry clothes for a long weekend plus my photo gear – this looks VERY nice.


  3. Mark,

    That shot isn’t in the photo selection.

    For a larger selection of clothes, along with photo gear, you should check out 5.11 Tactical’s Rush 72 backpack.

    Happy Flying!


  4. Looks great except I wish it had a waistbelt to help transfer the load from one’s shoulders to one’s hips – even an optional waistbelt accommodation like the one the Think Tank Shape Shifter has would be fine.

  5. Michael,

    I know 5.11 Tactical is reading this post on Flying With Fish so maybe they’ll take this under advisement. Keep in mind that the Rush 24 backpack was never designed for photographers. The Rush 24 was designed for tactical deployment by law enforcement teams and the military.

    The larger Rush 72 backpack has a waist strap to transfer the loads, and the belt area also features he MOLLE webbing.

    Happy Flying!


  6. Hi Fish,

    I hope 5.11 will be answering your question! It’s strange that it isn’t sold to Europe, isn’t it? I only found one site which did, but they had shipping costs of about $ 60,- !! Thanks anyway!


  7. Hey Fish,
    Long time reader, first time commenter. I just wanted to offer a huge thanks for this review…I’m a sound engineer for theatre and concerts, both in NYC and touring, and the previous backpack I’d used to cart around all my tools and testers on daily work and service calls had reached retirement age. I was leaning towards a tactical messenger bag, but my back spoke up and said a backpack was the way to go, when I remembered seeing your post a few weeks earlier.

    A day of hunting later, I found the Responder 24 in stock at an Army Navy here in NY. (The responder is the EMS/Fire version of this bag, which just means it’s the same thing, but red with black hardware and a grey interior; the 5.11 website lists the same dimensions, but different volumes, so clearly somebody there is multiplying wrong, as they are definitely the same bag!)

    It’s perfect! Full access, and more than enough room for all my cra…tools. I almost wish they made a slightly smaller one, although I’m sure at some point I’m going to be glad to have the extra space 🙂

    I actually had intended to just window shop today, and scope it out for a co-worker who was also looking for a similar bag, but when they had it in and were willing to price match (initially they wanted $30 more than 5.11 sells it for direct), I bought one on the spot.

    Thanks again, both for the site and general, and specifically for helping solve my “what bag to buy” problem!


    P.S.-For those in NYC, Iceberg Army Navy on Broadway down in SoHo stocks both the Responder and the Rush, as well as the 72 models. They tag them higher than 5.11’s prices, but if you ask, they’ll price match once they confirm the price on 5.11’s site.

  8. Great review. I have a 5.11 Side Trip Briefcase and a Bail-Out Bag and will buy the Rush24 on my upcoming trip to the US, along with the DC Roller Bag and the Modular Platform Case, the latter to carry my laptop both in the briefcase or the backpack depending on other stuff that goes along with it. I am sure this will make great bag team.

    Niels, not sure if you bought one in the meantime or where you reside, you may want to check recon-company.de in Germany, they sell most 5.11 gear (same price as in the US, unfortunately in Euro instead of Dollars ,-)) and ship throughout Europe.

  9. Hi Klaus,

    Nope, was still waiting for an answer. Thanks a lot, I’ll look into that!

    Greetz, Niels

  10. Niels – a quick Google reveals no shortage of UK-based websites that sell this pack, so I’m surprised you’re having trouble sourcing it.

    Check the links via Google.co.uk and see if any of them will ship to Europe for you. It seems to sell for about £90 sterling

  11. Just bought this backpack after reading this review. This is a great travel photographer bag at a very reasonable price!

  12. Kelvin,

    Glad you like the bag. Mine is about to get packed up, with a Mountainsmith Kit Cube insert in it for a trip to Paris (I’ll only be in Paris for 4hrs on this trip), the design of the bag is ideal for my clothing, laptop, iPad, Sigma 120-300f2.8, Sigma 12-24f4.5-5.6 and a 5D MkII with grip.

    Happy Flying!


  13. I use a Rush 72 bag in addition to my Rush 24. The numbers in the bags indicate the length of time the bag is intended to be used. The Rush 24 is a day pack, while the rush 72 is intended to be a three day pack … and the new Rush 12 is a short use bag.

    Happy Flying!


  14. Hi
    I’ve been coveting this bag for a while as a replacement for my briefcase. May main question is about the MOLLE/PALS webbing.

    With the black version of the bag, does the webbing look discreet enough to use this in a professional setting? I’m talking about the same kind of setting where a traditional laptop backpack would be acceptable, but I’m worried this one might look too “military”. Other concern is looking too “military” when traveling internationally. I’d love to see a version of this bag with less webbing.

    Also, with the laptop stored in the hydration pouch underneath the “yoke”, is it a pain to get it in/out, especially at airport security?


  15. Do you have any trouble carrying your 70-200 2.8 in an outside pocket without padding? I’m specifically thinking about when it is in an upper storage bin on the plane.

    Thanks for all of your ideas…I just bought an iPhone partially because of your discussions about traveling and using the apps.


  16. Bill

    My 70-200f2.8 and 28-70f2.8 usually travel in the exterior unpadded pockets of the Rush 24 backpack. I have never had a problem. Its essentially like using an unpadded Domke bag or Domke pouches on a belt … or those photogs who load up their photo vest then toss the vest in the overhead bin.

    Hope the iPhone is treating you well!

    Happy Flying!


  17. Hi fish, very helpful review thanks, decided to get this bag and love it 🙂 You mention you also have the Rush 72, do you know if it fits within intl. carry on restrictions or if the 24 the largest one that does? As I generally travel with carry on only and am looking for something a bit bigger for extended trips alongside this great bag for short jobs. cheers 🙂

  18. Are you still using this bag, and has it lived up to its reputation in hardiness and durability?

    It seems like a well thought out bag!

  19. Adrian

    I use the 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 all the time. Its a fantastic bag, brilliantly thought out. The bag is very versatile and adaptable. Most bags show signs of wear with the kind of use I inflict upon them, the 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 takes all the abuse I throw at it, and barely shows a hint of its use.

    Happy Flying!


  20. Great review of this pack. I’m debating whether to get the 72 or the 24 but it looks like the 72 won’t make it as a carry-on although the room it has is awesome. I like how the padded 6×6 functions. I’ve actually been using the 6×10 from 5.11 and they are great.

  21. Howdy Kenni,

    My 5.11 Rush 72 bag just went to Frankfurt and back with me. In it I packed a rain coat, two button up shirts, two under shirts, 3 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs socks, an 11″ MacBook Air, iPad, two Canon EOS 5D bodies with BGE-4/BGE-6 grips attached, Sigma 12-24f4.5-5.6, Canon 16-35f2.8, Canon 28-70f2.8, Canon 70-200f2.8, Canon G11, random cords, chargers, accessories, winter hat, sun glasses, two Newswear pouches. a Domke belt, etc.

    The lenses were inside a Mountainsmith lens insert at the bottom of the main compartment.

    Once the 5D/Mk II cameras were out and on my shoulders, the bag was balanced well enough to wear while shooting.

    The Rush 24 and Rush 72 are two very different bags … and both fantastic!

    Happy Flying!


  22. Which Moutainsmith Cube are you looking at? There are quite a few, and some older ones are smaller than new ones, as well as the zip cubes from the old Mountainsmith Correspondent bag and the Mountainsmith lens insert (which is sort of a cube).

    The Mountainsmith Cubes from the Correspondent, and the lens insert “cube” can be placed in the bottom of the Rush 24 bag, with the rest of the contents of the bag being placed on top of it. I have done this when traveling in the past. I also use the Mountainsmith lens insert “cube” in the Rush 72 bag with some regularity.

    Happy Flying!


  23. Hi Fish,

    I am considering getting the Rush 24 and would love your input.

    I’m a college student so I would love a backpack for carrying multiple textbooks, binders, notebooks, and a 15inch laptop, among a few other small accessories. I go to college where it rains and snows so want something that can travel safely in those conditions. Is this bag up to all that?

    Secondly, I am an avid traveler and hiker and would love to use the same pack for trips. I am also a bit of a hobbyist photographer/filmmaker so when I go on trips I would want to carry equipment (not including school stuff of course).

    – one medium to small sized DSLR body (Canon Rebel or Panasonic GH2)
    – 24mm f1.4, 11-16mm f2.8, and 50-135mm f2.8 all in the same bag.
    – 15inch computer
    -charger for computer, camera, sd cards, nd filters, lens hoods, etc.
    – fairly small external hard drive
    – snacks, water bottle, sun glasses, bug repellant,
    – plastic bags, spare socks, tissues, other small miscellaneous items

    I want one pack that can do it all. In your honest opinion, do you think this bag can be used as a regular school backpack for school supplies + laptop?

    Also, should I go on a vacation or trip, can I use it to carry all my trip supplies + photo gear? Is the bag small enough or does it seem oversized for carrying it around town?

    Big things I’m worried about:

    1. Will a 15inch laptop fit in the water hydration pouch and is it protected? If I set the bag down on the ground or if the bag bangs a wall is there even a possibility that the laptop going to get damaged?

    2. How do I carry the bodies? Is there a compartment where I can safely put a camera body? Are the lenses safe in the side compartments? How much padding for both lenses and body in the bag?

    I am about to make a fairly expensive purchase and want to choose a bag that can last me several years so you can imagine I want get it right. If you take the time to read this entire post and give a detailed response I applaud you.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *