Tactical Fitness: What Type of Rucksack Should You Get for Training?
Do you have any recommendations for a good rucksack for training? I am not sure if I should be using an ALICE pack, frame or no frame, hip strap, chest strap etc. I hope you can share insight into what pack or features I should be looking for to train effectively.
When it comes to rucksacks, there are many options to prepare for Army, Ranger, Special Forces, SEAL, USMC, and other schools that require rucking as part of their training. The All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE) pack is primarily used in training programs of the USMC and some National Guard units. It is a pretty basic model that is useful, but not one of the most comfortable to choose from. You can easily find inexpensive surplus ALICE packs on eBay for relatively nothing with and without the frame.
ALICE packs have been replaced by Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) and MOLLE II packs. They are used by most Army, NATO, and British forces. The USMC flirted with the MOLLE but developed their own similar, larger version called the Improved Load Bearing Equipment or ILBE. Both the MOLLE and the IBLE are more expensive than the ALICE, but more comfortable and carry much more weight and equipment. You can find these online for good prices on eBay and tactical gear stores.
Depending on what service you are training for, you may see a few of these during your training pipeline. A final option is to get a weight vest at 40-50lbs and train with it to get used to rucking and walking with the added weight.
Personally, I am not a fan of the frame, but definitely prefer the waist and chest straps for stability. All the models are reasonably priced for what you are getting. I like the weight vest option for training but you will need to learn how to make your ruck fit you better by practicing your rucking. If you are going to spend several hours with 50+ lbs on your back, you need to get to know your pack.
Stew Smith works as a presenter / editorial board with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). There are also over 800 articles on Military.com Fitness Forum focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.
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