Air Force Backpack

Should you buy an ABU/Camo Pattern backpack?

If you want the backpack you can get it here:

This is a question I get several times a week and it isn't something I have ever addressed until recently in my tech school prep video. So here is a blog post to express into more detail my thoughts on the ABU pattern craze. 

First I want to just start off by saying, I don't recommend anyone buy anything ABU/camo pattern. Stick with black, it's going to be your best choice and here is why:

For BMT:
When preparing for BMT this is usually the first time this question comes up. Now I'm going to share some advice with you that my MTI taught me and has stuck with me. He said "If you have to ask if something is okay, it's probably not okay. So if you want to ask me if something is okay, don't ask me, and don't do it. Just do what you KNOW is okay" It's crazy how something like that sticks with you after 3 years. But he was completely right. Each day since I've realized this to be more an more true. If you ever think "Maybe this isn't a good idea" or "Maybe I should check to make sure this won't get me in trouble" Then it's usually not a good idea or it will get you in trouble. My MTI was smart with pushing this mentality to trainees. It taught us to govern ourselves when we had questions. You could figure out what is right and wrong simply by the fact that if you question what your doing at all, then you shouldn't be doing it. This is what buying an ABU pattern backpack reminds me of. Most people think it may get them in trouble but they want to ask to make sure. So with my MTI's advice if you wonder if you should buy ABU pattern items and if they will cause trouble for you later, you should just assume that it's not a good idea and you should go to an option that you know is safe.

Here is an example of an acceptable backpack for both Air Force BMT & Tech School. Link:

Here is an example of an acceptable backpack for both Air Force BMT & Tech School. Link:

Now it's not always going to get you in trouble or yelled at when you go to BMT. But, it will definitely make you stand out more among the other trainees at first. And that's the opposite of what you want to do. The best thing to do at BMT is to blend in as long as you can. So for the sake of BMT and yourself, it is in the best interest that you avoid buying a ABU pattern backpack. I know you may think it's awesome and cool (I'll get to that part later) but it's just better if you take items in colors that will not stand out.

For Tech School:
So in my experience with tech school in the Air Force. We were REQUIRED to have a solid black backpack to march to and from class. Some people showed up to tech school with ABU backpacks and they were not allowed to use them when in uniform at tech school (you can after tech school, I'll get into that later) So I'm not 100% if all tech schools operate the same but to my knowledge having an ABU backpack will not be as useful as a black backpack would be. So in the thought of saving money and stress choosing to not buy an ABU backpack and going with a military grade black backpack is going to be the best option for you. 

At your first base:
When you show up to your first duty station you are allowed to have an ABU backpack. The following is our guidelines for backpacks while in uniform:

"In accordance with Air Force Instruction 36-2903, "Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel," Airmen must ensure any backpacks worn while in uniform fit within certain parameters. 

Black backpacks may be worn with any uniform combination, but solid-color black backpacks are the only versions authorized while wearing any blue uniform. Airman battle uniform-patterned, olive drab or sage green backpacks may be worn with the ABU.

Small logos are authorized, but backpacks with ornamentation, a high gloss, designs or hanging or dangling objects are not approved to wear while in uniform. Backpacks may have small gold or silver clasps, but no chains.

Airmen may wear a backpack on their left shoulder, or on both shoulders, so as not to interfere with rendering a proper salute"

To sum this rule up. When wearing your dress blues black backpacks are all that is authorized. Black, ABU, and sage green are allowed when in your ABUs. So as you can see, Black is always authorized or your safest choice when it comes to backpacks in the Air Force. If you would like to have multiple backpacks that is up to you, but I suggest just having one black backpack to follow you through your Air Force career. 


To look cool or show you're in the Air Force:
This was something I saw A LOT in tech school mostly. It honestly looks more tacky then cool. People are extremely proud for becoming a new Airman so they wear their dog tags every where they go and try to have their shirt off as much as possible. When they are wearing a shirt the try to have it be Air Force related and anytime they go anywhere they make sure their ABU backpack is slung over their shoulder. I know many people want to be proud of becoming an Airman but that sometimes can be shown in a way that doesn't always reflect the best on us. What I mean by that is, we shouldn't be so proud of our service that we want to strut around and show off to everyone that we are in the Air Force. We shouldn't want people to think we are cool for serving our country. We shouldn't want to wear our dog tags as jewelry. They mean more than just a fashion statement. We all have our own personal reasons on why we joined the Air Force and want to serve. But we shouldn't let that pride turn into us looking like we think we are better than others. We should serve humbly. And that can boil down to simple things such as a backpack. Walking around in public is similar to BMT. We should want to blend in as much as possible and not make a scene of ourselves. So going out trying to show off your in the Air Force isn't the best look on us. Now sometimes our haircuts might give us away. But if you have the haircut, shirt, backpack, and dog tags on that's a little too much. After you arrive at your first duty station you will also undergo some training that teaches us to do our best to blend in with society and it isn't safe for us to try to stand out as US military. It's much easier to protect ourselves if we don't try to stand out as a target. 

This is why I suggest everyone start out their Air Force career with a black backpack. It's the best choice for the many reason stated above. Not only does it help you out by only needing one backpack your entire career, but it can also help you blend in at BMT and in the civilian world. 

If you are interested in a black backpack that I recommend click here:

I hope this blog post helps answer your questions or thoughts about the ABU backpack dilemma. If you guys have any other ideas for future blog posts be sure to leave a comment below and give this post a like/heart!

Best of luck with your future journey,

-Kyle Gott