ALICE Field Pack (Rucksack) Gear Recommendation

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If looking for a reliable, inexpensive, durable and convenient pack for carrying outdoor gear, a wise woodsman will do well to consider an ALICE LC-1 Field Pack.

ALICE, or All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment was the military’s standard method for service members to carry their combat gear.  It has since been replaced with newer and updated equipment.  However, the ALICE gear is still viable for outdoor use.

I’ve personally used the majority of the gear included in the ALICE system.  I’ve found some of it to be invaluable while other items have little practical use for the woodsman.  The LC-1 Field Pack or “rucksack” stands out as the best part of the ALICE system.

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The ALICE LC-1 Field Pack “Rucksack” is comfortable, durable, and able to hold a lot of gear.

Before I go into details about the field pack, let me explain that I have used a wide variety of outdoor backpacks.  I’ve enjoyed using a newer and nicer internal-frame pack from REI for the past several years.  It proved useful for most outdoor adventures.  I’ve used quite a few military-style backpacks from civilian manufacturers with varying degrees of enjoyment.  But I’ve spent more time with a rucksack strapped to my back than any of these other backpacks.

The field pack is available in large, medium and small.  The small pack is used without a frame.  The large and medium packs are typically used with an external aluminum frame.  The majority of the pack is made of water repellent nylon (NOTE:  water repellent is not the same as water proof) and will hold a large amount of gear.  The medium pack is sized well for long weekend adventures while the large pack is suitable for carrying enough gear and food for week or longer outings.

Some would argue that an ALICE pack isn’t the most comfortable backpack available.  Perhaps there are some packs that are less inconvenient to the shoulders and vertebrae.  However, I’ve personally found that if packed properly, ALICE packs are quite comfortable especially when considering how much gear and weight they are capable of carrying.

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ALICE LC-1 Field Packs “Rucksacks” can be purchased for a reasonable price on ebay or at military surplus stores.

In addition to the field pack’s comfort and carrying capacity, they are extremely durable.  I’ve seen them thrown into trucks, thrown out of trucks, thrown from one soldier to another, more often than not dropped from a soldier’s back, kicked, dragged and pulled, and remain serviceable.  They are definitely capable of taking a beating.  Of course, I don’t recommend treating your rucksack that way, but it’s nice to know that they can take it.

ALICE packs are also reasonably priced.  Where newer and “better” back packs may cost hundreds of dollars, a thrifty woodsman searching ebay can find ALICE packs around the fifty-dollar range.

If you are looking for a durable field pack that can carry a lot of gear and doesn’t critically damage your wallet, consider the ALICE LC-1 field pack.  I’m certain that you won’t be disappointed.

If you’ve ever strapped one of these on your back, whether required by Uncle Sam or by choice, I’d love to hear about it.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Many Uses of Parachute Cord and The Estwing Sportsman’s Axe – An Excellent Hatchet for the Outdoorsman.

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24 thoughts on “ALICE Field Pack (Rucksack) Gear Recommendation

  1. Love this post. It’s so true that mil-surp equipment is awesome for the outdoorsman. One they that they are for sure is tough, and you really can’t beat the price. A simple pack liner can quickly turn a water repellant pack, into a waterproof one. Thanks for posting!

  2. Alice Packs are fantastic. Time and time again whenever I try changing my bug out bags to something else; I always come back to the Alice Pack.

    • Thanks for the comment. I feel the same way. My last ruck was stolen and I’ve went a few years without. Of all the packs I’ve tried, none have been the same. I’m glad I finally picked up a new one – now its just a matter of packing it up and making it my own.

  3. I think having one good woman at my side should be sufficient without strapping another on my back… Ah, but I truly jest. It looks a useful and viable piece of gear.

    • Thanks a lot. I’ve used them for years but just got a new one a few months back. I’m anxious to take it out for an upcoming canoe/camping/fishing trip!

    • You can’t leave your straps dangling in the breeze. You just can’t! Thought about a subscribers fee for immediate family members only. Lol

      • I must recommend the 1606AC Frame and Mountaineering style pad set from Down East, Inc. though. I’ve used the TT MALICE frame and straps, the blackhawks, and the HSGI Ali-Pad and truthfully they’re all terrible compared to the DownEast, inc. It’s the only kit available that takes the ALICE modern (no affiliation just a happy customer)

  4. As a service member, I learned to love this piece of equipment. It is remarkably durable and versatile. I carried this ruck for approximately 200 miles over a period of 60 days at Ranger school with loads up to 100 lbs. Before and after ranger school, I have jumped this pack during airborne ops, carried it on multiple road marches and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with it. The army has issued “new and improved” rucksacks with plastic frames. These rucks are rubbish and the frames are notorious for breaking under heavy loads. The only other pack I would replace the alice with is the mystery ranch series packs (these were issued to us during my second tour to afghan). They are truly outstanding. However, for my personal needs (hiking, bug out) I will continue to rely on my alice. I recently sent mine to tactical tailor to get some external pouches sewn on and changed out the metal fasteners to fastex buckles. I enjoyed reading your article and am happy to contribute to your thread.

    James

    • Hey Jim! Thanks for the comment and all of the input. It definitely sounds like you’ve put them to the test. Like you, I am a big fan but I’m always open to trying out new items to see how they hold up. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with the USMC ILBE. I don’t expect that it will hold up or be as comfortable as the ALICE but I found one for a great deal so I figured that I’d give it a few test runs. As to the upgrades you did on yours, if you’ve gotten it back, how did you like their work? I’ve debated doing some upgrades as well but haven’t made any effort to do so yet. I’d love to hear about how it turns out!

  5. Hi! I bought Alice medium months ago, i’m going to do some mods, i think it’s a versatile and strong rucksack for bushcraft adventure! I like it because offers so many customization option…and is not expensive! Ciao Mattia

    • That’s fantastic! I’d love to see/hear what kind of mods you do. I’ve debated customizing mine, but even without mods, I think that it’s about the best backwoods backpack ever made.

      Thanks for visiting! Let me know how the modifications go!

      • Ciao!!! My mods are simple: first of all I’ll add non-mililtary patches.. 🙂
        Then i’ll add fastex buckles without damaging the original closure, a sternum strap, and I’ve to think and decide…
        Molle 2 shoulder strap (that i bought on ebay) these are more comfortable than the original, but I’m not a fan of camo (too war style!).
        As an option there is also a cargo support shelf …to carry woods as a mule! :).
        Personally I love too many surplus or new rucksack and backpack! My canvas Swedish LK35, is another reliable workhorse… My new Karrimor Sabre 45 (after reading and following Paul Kirtley Blog I bought it for my birthday ! )
        I know.. Is a backpack-rucksack collection! 🙂
        In my wishlist there are also a German Mountain Pack ( http://www.ravenlore.co.uk/assets/images/Arctic_Load.jpg – this is an example after mods of this great bushcrafter – http://www.ravenlore.co.uk/) .
        An Italian “Alpini” (=mountain troops) canvas rucksack https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/16/8c/d2/168cd2e8483dcd94ed25334695f2ce6c.jpg
        Stop of wishlist!
        …And at the end i must say that there are other great but too expensive rucksack (camo) like the NEW Ferrino Alpini Rucksack http://issuu.com/treknatura/docs/ferrino_military_2010 and others of other countries and brand… 😀 😀
        Excuse my long list!!!!
        Thank you And thanks for your Following!!!!
        Ciao Mattia

      • Wow! Thanks for the recommendations and the wishlist! I’m the same way about new (or slightly used) packs. I have a big pile of backpacks of varying shapes and sizes in my garage, and I’m always looking for something new.

        When I get a few free minutes, I’ll dig through the links you provided. Thanks again!

      • I don’t have one yet but have been debating it lately. If I ever do get around to creating one, I’ll let you know so that we can follow.

  6. Nice post, thank you for the info. I recently bought a large ALICE rucksack and am preparing for my first backpack adventure in 30 years with my two sons. I use the term backpack adventure somewhat loosely – we’re packing only 3 miles into the Loess Hills in western Iowa. My older son has a North Face Terra 65 and my younger son will use my vintage ’70’s hilary I. Wondered if you could elaborate one your comment, ” I’ve personally found that if packed properly,”. What guidelines could you provide for proper packing? Thanks much

    • Thanks for the comment! I’m glad to hear that you’re going old–school ALICE for your trip, and I’m glad you’re getting a trip with your sons.

      As to your question, first off, what a great idea for a post! When I get the opportunity, I will likely publish something about how to pack a ruck.

      The biggest things to remember when packing the ruck (or any backpack) is to keep the weight as low in the pack and as close to the body as possible. Pack your heaviest items first and keep them close to the frame. After your heavy items are loaded, you can add your lighter gear to balance out the weight and hold the heavier gear in place. You can use the straps to attach gear to the top or bottom of the ruck – just try not to attach heavy items to the outside. The pack will sway back and forth as you hike.

      I hope that helps!

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