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.
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.
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.
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