It’s not always easy to find the right pack for your personal needs. While there are many pack systems available and many different aspects to consider, the ALICE system can be the perfect option for many people. Here’s a look at the history, the different types issued by the United States government and a quick guide to choosing the right ALICE system based on individual needs.
The ALICE system – which stands for All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment – was developed through the latter half of the 1960s for use in United States military branches. The system was introduced in the early 1970s and is still in use in some branches today. The system components were developed to distinguish between combat loads and existence loads – that is, loads that are necessary for fighting, such as small arms and ammunition, and loads that are necessary for sustaining existence, such as a field pack for extra supplies. While the ALICE system has been replaced by the newer MOLLE system in many branches of the military, ALICE is still employed by the Navy and by the US Marine Corps for training.
There are several basic pieces that make up the ALICE system. These pieces can be used in different combinations. The most basic piece is the individual belt, which comes in sizes for waists measuring 30 inches or less and waists measuring more than 30 inches. The belt contains eyelets for attaching equipment pieces.
From the belt there are a wide variety of ALICE pack add ons that can make the pack a customized design. One common element is the suspender system, to which other pieces can be added. Other than accessories like small compartments that can be clipped onto the belt and suspenders, there is a pack frame that can be attached with the ALICE pack straps. Once the pack frame is installed, there are different pack options that can be attached to the frame.
Choosing The Right Pack
The many ALICE pack mods available make this system a great option for backpackers, campers and day hikers alike. Naturally, you will want to start with the basic belt piece and choose the additional pieces that fit your needs. A simple day hike probably won’t require much more than the canteen attachment, an extra ammunition pocket attachment for binoculars or snacks and the first aid kit attachment, or you can use a full ALICE pack for hiking if you like to be completely prepared or are training with extra weight.
Conversely, someone who is planning a long backpacking trip will want to consider the ALICE frame and appropriate pack. There is a medium pack size available as well as a large pack size, which come in different color options and with a few different features. The medium pack can be carried with or without the frame and can accommodate up to 50 pounds of equipment, while the large pack must be carried with the frame and can hold up to 70 pounds of equipment. Both packs can accommodate a bedroll strapped to the top or bottom of the pack. Long backpacking trips require careful planning in order to determine individual needs. If the load can be reduced down to 50 pounds or less, a smaller pack is always better than a larger one. Loading an ALICE pack appropriately can go a long way toward how comfortably a pack sits and can make all the difference on hiking excursions.
Albeit very different from MOLLE, the ALICE system is a versatile pack system that can be used by a wide range of individuals for a vast array of functions and needs. The different ALICE pack options make this system a useful and particularly functional addition to a backpacker’s or day hiker’s equipment.