Tuesday, 5 Feb 2008

ALICE Pack
Rating 2 of 5 stars
Design frameless rucksack
Size medium
Number of Pockets 3
Max. Load Carried 45 lb
Price Paid $18
Pack Weight 3.5 lbs
Total size 2484 cu inches

The medium ALICE Pack was my first ‘real’ camping backpack purchase. I bought it on eBay, after seeing one of my friends use his on a camping trip. The ALICE pack is a no nonsense, strong and cheap design from 1960s. There were several versions made for the US Army, medium ALICE and large ALICE. The medium pack can be worn without an external frame, the large pack has to have the external frame because of its size. I am not a big fan of external frames, so my pack does not have one. While a vast improvement over a school book-bag, the ALICE pack is not the most comfortable design out there. It is still one of my favorites because of our camping history, and because it is tough. I have strapped tents, gallons of water, firewood, all kinds of things onto it, and nothing ever broke The fabric is very durable, and the straps are extremely strong. I dislike the frameless design because the bag bows out, and sits on your back in an awkward way. The shoulder straps are not heavily padded, and there is no hip belt. With the external frame, you have to use a hip belt, so that may be an improvement in comfort and usability. The stock shoulder straps are about 2.5″ wide, and have less than 1/2″ of padding. When used without the hip belt, all of the weight rides on the shoulders, which makes even a short hikes extremely uncomfortable, and back-breaking. Both shoulder straps have old-school quick release buckles.

The main compartment is 18″ x 12″ x 9″. The front and side panels are not rectangles, so actual dimensions may be a little different. Inside there is a radio pouch. I usually stuff a towel there, to provide some sort of back padding, and to give the pack some shape. The main compartment is closed via a draw cord, and covered with a waterproof flap. The flap can be used a small pocket for snacks, keys, TP, whatever you need quick access to, without getting into the main compartment. All of the fabric is not waterproof, the Army used special nylon waterproof sacks to keep soldier’s clothes and equipment dry. There are two grommeted drain holes on the bottom. The ALICE pack lacks a carry handle, and the padded pocket in the back, that’s used for external frame fastening, rips off easily if used as a handle.

There are three pockets in the front. All are the same size, and measure 9″ x 5″ x 4″. The pockets use two metal snaps to keep the flap closed, and nothing else. There is no draw cord, or zipper to ensure nothing falls out if the rucksack was to hit the ground hard. Above the pockets, and on the sides, there are numerous ALICE webbing to clip on canteens, entrenching tool, anything that can be used with ALICE clips. On the bottom there is more ALICE webbing; I usually use cinch straps and tie my sleeping bag and pad there.

The ALICE pack can be modified by Tactical Tailor for a reasonable fee. You can add extra pockets, reinforce the seams, and vastly improve the suspension system by utilizing thicker fitted harness. I had another rucksack worked on at a local alterations shop. They patched up a few holes, and reinforced a seam. I believe if you have the design, almost any seamstress can make the mods. If you are buying a brand new ALICE pack with intention of modifying it at extra cost, don’t. The same money you spend overall, can be put to better use by purchasing a newer type mil-surp rucksack, or a “pseudo”-tactical backpack.


6 Responses to “ALICE Pack”

  1. CFP-90 Field Pack | CampingGearReview Says:

    […] CFP-90 was my second foray into US Army rucksacks. The medium ALICE Pack was not comfortable for even short(er) hikes, and I wanted something with an internal frame and a […]

  2. British DPM Camp Rucksack | CampingGearReview Says:

    […] attached with Velcro. For military rucksack of this age, this system is way better than the US ALICE Pack design. Check out the pictures to see what I […]

  3. Mike Warren Says:

    If you use a medium ALICE pack without the frame, try cutting a piece of closed-cell foam (e.g. USGI sleeping pad) the size of the radio pouch inside the pack and put it in the pouch. The foam will act as an internal frame and will give the pack a better shape when it is loaded with less than a full load. It will also help cushion your back.

  4. Ed Kennedy Says:

    Where or how can I purchase an alice pack like the one on this web site? please respond

  5. dmitry Says:

    ALICE packs and other ALICE compatible gear can be purchased at Army surplus stores, or online. eBay has a great number of military surplus gear.

  6. Richard Says:

    Love the large Alice pack with the frame & belt.. The med is great BUT YOU NEED the frame and kidney belt for it to be comfy for the long haul…

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