Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guest Post - The MAlice Pack

Hello all,
Here's a guest post from my good friend Tim.. I hope you enjoy it.
Chris (N.E.V.)

ALICE.  Even the name sounds comfortable.  Like ordering your usual at the hometown diner on a Tuesday morning in November.   ALICE.  All purpose Lightweight Individual Carry Equipment.  Some say she was named Alice so the troops could call her unsavory things.  I disagree.
The Alice pack was designed in 1967 and is still in limited use with the US military today.  The Molle pack has definitely stolen Alice's thunder in recent years.  I am still a huge fan of ALICE gear.  It can be had for a fairly small investment.  It can be upgraded and modified cheaply.  Best of all, if you ruin your Alice, there are plenty of surplus outlets that are happy to send you another.  In other words, they're everywhere.
I purchased a large Alice pack with frame, kidney pad, and straps recently.  I bought this system with the naive expectation that I would be using it in it's stock form forever.  Not true.  I don't believe I have ever left anything that I have purchased in Its stock form- even my 1996 Geo Tracker - but that is a different, and much more embarrassing, post altogether.
I took my first trip with Alice and N.E.V. in August of last year.  She was good to me.  Not great, just good.
 I am a six foot four inch guy who doesn't mind weight on my shoulders.  I definitely felt Alice.  She felt top heavy and not so good on the shoulders even though i had a kidney pad and tried to pack her so the load would be felt on my lower back.  Having used other non-military backpacks before, all I wanted was a sternum strap.  This was not an option.  (ok, sure, EVERYTHING's an option when you have paracord, but it wasn't a pre-installed option.)  The kidney pad was quite inadequate for a guy of my size.  I knew the kidney pad was the first place to look for a comfort upgrade so I went  go out on a limb and ordered a much larger Molle kidney pad for Alice.
 Ok.  Again, it's honesty time.  I ordered this off eBay from a good seller with a badly described Molle kidney pad.  His description made it sound more like a patrol belt.  The pictures did not clearly show me, and the price was great.  I bought it with that intention.  Turns out it was a backpack kidney pad.  It was serendipity.  I installed it on my large Alice and loved it.  It was so much more supportive than the original.  All I had to do was remove the original, use the 2 straps per side on the Molle unit, and strap them to the Alice frame, as seen here in this picture.
 Piece of cake right?
I then started looking into Molle shoulder straps, as I found the smaller Alice units to allow the frame to dig into my back at the top.  I ordered a set of Molle straps from eBay, on purpose this time.  I figured there has to be a way to make them work.  They're only straps.  Besides, they are one unit where the Alice is two small pads.  The Molle unit allows sufficient coverage over the metal frame on the Alice.
After receiving them I removed the old straps from my frame and put these on like so:

The MAlice pack is born.  It's like giving a piggy back ride to a unicorn. yes. It's that much better.  I will need to modify the straps for the main flap so it's a quick release..  I don't like the stock design.
There's nothing new under the sun.  I am definitely not saying I'm the first guy to do this.  I know I am not.  This is just a quick description of how I went about modifying my Alice to work for me.  I hope this write up helps you if you are so inclined to go out into the woods with some ex-enlisted equipment.

Happy trails!

1 comment:

  1. It´s a pity that US Army got rid of ALICE and BDUs. What they have now is a waste of taypayers´ money. I like your improvement. I did similar to mine, but the main issue - no buckles - still unsolved. Did you see NZ Alice pack? That´s what I really like, but I will not dump my old ALICE just for nothing. Even without improvements, it´s still solid serviceable rucksack.