One of our readers, Walter Young, sent over a photo he found showing a Marine in Afghanistan using a medium ALICE pack and frame. I have to say, I’m quite glad this piece of kit is still in our military’s inventory. In my opinion, the ALICE pack (Medium and Large) are some of the most rugged packs ever made. This is an example of something that’s not broken, so shouldn’t be fixed. I realize that the good old ALICE pack isn’t fancy and doesn’t look “cool guy”, but it’s a solid pack that has proven its worth.
When I got to Recon Bn in January of 1995, they had just started issuing the brand new CFP90. Wow, this thing was cool … internal frame, comfortable straps, bottom sleeping bag compartment!! It was cool until a couple of days later when we were doing some amphib training, and I realized it was a giant piece of trash. All of the extra compartments did nothing but hold water, those comfortable straps ripped off under any real weight, and that fancy internal frame ripped out of its “pockets”. Within a couple of weeks of issue, the entire Bn went back to supply and got our good old Mountain Rucks (Large ALICE Packs) back. About the only good thing about the CFP90 was the small day pack, which funny enough, all the CFP90’s turned in to supply were “missing” these day packs. Sometimes change isn’t so good.
I absolutely loved my Mountain Ruck (I can say that now, because I’m not patrolling with 100+ pounds in it for weeks at a time!), so much that I bought one after I got out. The simple design just works. Sure, there are tweaks that could be made… like combining the 3 small pouches in the top into one (since that’s what most guys end up doing anyway), replacing the ALICE Clip straps on the sides with some MOLLE, and putting a couple of beefier welds/rivets on the stress points of the frame … but other than these small changes, it’s solid. I did see some large ALICE packs on Discovery’s Surviving the Cut – Marine Recon, that looked like they had these changes, but I couldn’t confirm that. Though I did just have a conversation with a Recon Bn Bubba a few days back and he said that 2d Recon Bn is still issuing the Large ALICE pack.
Anyone who’s tried carrying a serious amount of weight with a 3 day pack and no frame knows that it’s just not set up for that. There’s definitely a place for all of the new fancy packs, but I think that you can’t go wrong with an ALICE pack and frame if you need to lug around some man weight. Glad to see and hear that the Marine Corps is still fielding this fine piece of kit.
Kit Up! contributor Bill Janson is a former Recon Marine and is the founder of Eleven 10, a tactical gear manufacturer.