Free Shipping on orders over US$39.99 How to make these links

5.11 Cloudstryke Pack 18L Review

When I step outside my door, there are very few times where I don’t have some kind of pack involved. Recently, I added the 5.11 Cloudstryke Pack in its 18L size to try out as a combination everyday carry and day hiker. I’ll share what I’ve learned along the way and help you decide if this is a backpack that’s right for your work and play.


  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Highly versatile organization
  • Good airflow around your shoulders and back
  • Hydration system compatible
  • Excellent for everyday carry or as a day pack


Ready for Every Day with the 5.11 Cloudstryke Pack

Flight day! Everything fit and I still had more room on the exterior pockets.

What’s in a day pack? It depends on the day.

On a “normal” day (whatever that is), there’s any number of tools or outdoor power equipment I might be using in a variety of locations, so my primary needs are a change of clothes, foul weather gear, a towel, hydration, and a couple of protein bars for nutrition.

I’m also a certified commercial drone pilot. On flight days, I need my drone and all its gear, foul weather gear (if I’m hiking in), plus hydration and nutrition.

On the weekend, I’m fishing more often than not, and my boat has a dry box. But if I’m flyfishing a river on foot, there’s all the associated tackle, foul weather gear, hydration, and nutrition.

Mountain biking and day hiking have similar needs.

By now, you’re getting the picture. There are some similarities to what I need to carry, but each day has its own specific needs.

What do all these days have in common? The 5.11 Cloudstryke Pack is perfect for all of them.

5.11 Cloudstryke Capacity

5.11 Cloudstryke Pack 18L Review
Today’s Mission Pack: full drone loadout, full change of clothing, rain jacket, Maven B.7 binoculars, 2L of water in the bladder, electrolytes in the bottle, nutrition in the front pocket, and wallet in the rear zipper pocket.

Its 18L capacity can fit the gear I need for the day—all of it. Plus, it’s impossibly lightweight at just 2.3 pounds. Let’s look at a couple of examples from what I shared earlier.

For drone duties, I fly a DJI Air2S. It’s a smaller drone that’s capable of capturing professional-level imagery. The drone, chargers, three batteries, spare props, lens covers, and controller have a case they fit into that conveniently fits in Cloudstryke. There’s still room for my rain gear, snacks, a couple of water bottles, and even a small power supply for recharging.

On a typical Monday through Friday, I can easily fit a full change of clothes, rain gear, snacks, and water bottles with room to spare. I can even clip an extra pair of shoes to the loops on the outside with my Matador locking carabiners.


5.11 Cloudstryke with Hydration System

The Cloustryke can do more than just carry bulk gear, though. Most importantly for my lifestyle, it’s compatible with 5.11’s 2L hydration system. The blue Velcro strap on the interior sleeve holds the bladder up, and you can feed the hose along the shoulder strap through either the left or right sides.

Pockets Galore

There are tons of pockets and spaces to organize that gear, so you know exactly where everything is when you need it. The front straps even function like a hunting/flyfishing vest. Here’s the breakdown:


Exterior Storage
  • Left/right mesh pockets
  • Rear open pocket
  • Rear zippered pocket
  • Rear low-profile MOLLE attachment points
  • Front left zippered pocket
  • Front mesh pocket
  • Left/right front deep mesh pockets
  • Front low-profile MOLLE attachment points


Interior Pockets
  • Bulk compartment
  • Half-length zippered pocket
  • Half-length sleeve
  • Full-length sleeve

5.11 Cloudstryke Fit and Comfort

Wearing the 5.11 Cloustryke Pack

Compared to larger packs, there are a few things you won’t find. Primarily, you’re missing a hip strap and a structural frame. That’s not a mistake, though. You don’t need them on this size pack.

However, there are plenty of adjustments to dial in a correct fit and features to optimize your comfort.

To start fitting the pack, go ahead and load up some gear so you know how it’s going to sit with some weight in it. The first thing to check is the length of the shoulder straps. They may not look adjustable at first glance but peek inside the main compartment. Those loops at the top are additional clip points for the strap to attach to. Find the length that works for you.

Shoulder Strap Adjustment

From there, find the position that the two sternum straps feel best and adjust their lengths to where you feel secure.

Stermun Straps

Finally, adjust the straps that connect the bottom of the shoulder straps to the base of the main compartment.

As you’re working around the Cloudstryke to make your adjustments, notice how much mesh is around the shoulder straps and back. Combined with the ridged back pad, these allow for a ton of airflow and a higher level of comfort when you’re on the go.

5.11 Cloudstryke Pack Mesh

5.11 Cloudstryke Pack 18L Price

As I noted earlier, I’m using the 18L pack and the Green Sage color scheme. It’s also available in Volcanic (blade and grey). Either way, it’s $125. You can also add the 2L hydration system for $42.

If you like the idea, but prefer an even smaller pack, the Cloudstryke is available in a 10L size as well. That model is $100.

The Bottom Line

For the wide range of ways I spend my 365 each year, I couldn’t have designed a better backpack than the 5.11 Cloudstryke. Its combination of compact size, light weight, comfort, and ability to customize and organize whatever I need for nearly any day sets it apart from other packs I own. The truest testament to an everyday carry bag is being the one that you grab on your way out the door every day. For me, it’s the 5.11 Cloudstryke.