A quality backpack is important, regardless of whatever venture you are using it for.  The 5.11 Tactical Havoc 30 fits the bill for a quality backpack.  As 5.11 Tactical describes it, the Havoc 30 backpack is the low-profile and more aesthetic version of their Rush series of backpacks.  I am an owner of a 5.11 Rush 24, and while I was in the military I have used it many times when going out to the range or participating in a field exercise.  With how satisfied I was with their Rush packs, I was more than enthused to test out a different product of theirs.

While the Havoc 30 has less of “tactical” appearance, it still has the features to be used as one.  In fact, it is actually a great all-around pack you can customize for many different uses: the range, your workplace, campus, as a go-bag, and for outdoor adventures.  Here are some specifications for the Havoc 30 straight from 5.11 Tactical:

5.11 Tactical | Havoc 30 Backpack: A pack for any need
The author using his Havoc 30 as a day pack in the wilderness


  • Materials: 500D/1050D nylon construction
  • Overall dimensions: 21” H x 11.75” L x 9” W
  • Approximate volume: 1680 cubic inches/27.5L

Other Features:

  • 1.5” detachable waist strap
  • Hydration and armor plate pocket
  • Padded eyewear pocket
  • MOLLE platform
  • Imported

Breaking down the features: Pros and cons

Adjustable chest strap

These usually come standard nowadays for most packs, but there are packs that don’t.  No worries here. 


As I mentioned earlier, the Havoc 30 has a modest appearance and it wouldn’t strike the average person as a military or tactical-style backpack.  Even the Velcro and small amount of MOLLE webbing is subtle.  Drawing less attention to yourself is usually better in most situations.

Back panel

There is a built-in sleeve on the back panel with Velcro enclosures and looks conveniently built for body armor or a hydration bladder.  However, placing my hydration bladder (3L/100oz) in the sleeve ended up making the back panel too convex and uncomfortable, despite my hydration source being a wide/low-profile hydration bladder.  I instead placed the bladder inside in the laptop sleeve of the main compartment, but by doing so I was forced to feed the hose through an opening between the zippers of the main compartment.  A smaller hydration bladder would work better for the back panel, or you can opt to use the pack’s water bottle pockets.

Double AR magazine/water bottle pocket

There are two side compartments advertised for AR magazines or water bottles.  These side compartments are of decent size and make organization easier for the user.  I found these to be convenient for keeping small items together like fire-starting tools (ferrocerium rod, lighter, matches, tinder, etc.), sunscreen, insect repellent, medicine, or other items for easy access.

Padded eyewear pocket

This pocket is well padded and great for carrying sunglasses, a phone, GPS, or other items that would warrant reinforced padding.

Havoc 30 packed with gear. There is a lot more, but only half the contents are visible

Hook-and-loop closure (buckles)

5.11 Tactical advertises these hook-and-loop closures as being faster and easier to use.  I did not notice anything special or advantageous about this style of buckles than the traditional snap buckles, so I am indifferent.  Personally, I would have preferred the latter because why fix what already works.  With that being said, the four straps with these hook-and-loop buckles do a great job at cinching the entire backpack down so that everything is tight, secure, and nothing is loose or moving around inside the bag

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“Shove-it-area” compartment

This is a convenient place to carry a rain jacket, shoes, or anything you wouldn’t mind carrying on the outside of the pack.  I frequently used this area for my rain jacket for easy access and it secured it well. 

Wide main compartment

The bag has an overall volume of 27.5L and the main compartment has wide opening that allows you to open it flat.  This creates easier accessibility and packing as opposed to a top loading backpack.

The verdict

The 5.11 Tactical Havoc 30 is a solid performer that can serve plenty of different functions.  I was impressed with what it had to offer and will most likely be turning it into my dedicated go-bag because of its spacious main compartment and conveniently placed additional pockets.  The MSRP for the Havoc 30 runs for $139.00, but other retailers have listed it for less.  Whether you’re looking for a range bag, go-bag, or have something else in mind, the Havoc 30 is worth your consideration.

If you own the Havoc 30 or any other 5.11 Tactical products, tell us what you think and how you use them!

Author – Matt Shin is a former U.S. Army infantryman having served as a radio telephone operator, automatic rifleman, and fire team leader. Matt now resides in California where he is back in school studying sociology. In his newfound spare time he enjoys exploring the outdoors, camping, backpacking, shooting, and sports.