Submitted by Eric Daniel
When I finally said goodbye to my ancient LBE and started wearing the RACK, I needed a bail-out bag to carry all the stuff I used to carry in my butt pack, but couldn't anymore (namely because there's no "butt" on the RACK to put anything.)
This quest actually turned out to be more difficult than my original quest for an LBE replacement. There are a lot of "assault" style packs out there, with a lot of features, and they all come with price tags, so I wasn't about to go out and buy the whole lot and try them all.
After much observation, questioning, pulling, prodding, and stomping, the bag I settled on was the Camelbak Motherlode. The Motherlode is not the biggest bag out there, but that isn't what I wanted. Over the years I have seen folk walking around with some truly enormous "assault" packs. We're talking packs that would rival the CFP-90 infantry dumpster for shear portage capacity. But size wasn't what I wanted. I'd learned long ago that soldiers will expand to fill every nook and cranny of any allotted space. I wanted a pack that would carry some rations, some ammunition, some socks, and some water, in the event I had to run away to fight another day. The Motherlode is big enough that I can carry what I need, yet small enough that you can actually carry it. Since I'd quit carrying canteens (on my person that is) the 3-liter bladder in the Motherlode is nice (coupled with a 1 liter canteen (with cup and cooking stand) for cooking) and it is capable of accepting an additional bladder if you really want to load up on water.
One of the other nice features about the Motherlode is it collapses; there are side compression straps on it, which allow you to cinch down the pack so that it doesn't rattle or flop when it's not packed to the gills.
Finally, the pack comes equipped with cut outs for radio antennae. The pack will accept two transmitters (if you're using ASIP sized radios) or a single, full blown SINCGARS, in addition to the odds and ends I put in it.
The Motherlode may not be the best (and it's certainly not the biggest or the most expensive) but it does the trick for me.
P.S. For all you drink tube hydration system users - Suggest you get a length of 1.5" tubular nylon webbing of a suitable color and line your drink tubes with it. The nylon is not only more durable than the plastic tube (or its neoprene insulation sleeve) but it can also be easily replaced as it becomes worn over time.