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If you like going camping out in the wilderness, then you are going to need something to carry all of your gear. Regular bags might suffice for a single-day camping trip, but if you are out there for a full week you’ll need something more than just a backpack and some jacket pockets.
An ALICE pack could be just the thing you need for your long camping trips. ALICE packs (which stands for All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) is an equipment carrying system that is commonly used by militaries around the globe.
ALICE packs have two main components: the main bag which includes a cover and frame, and the belt system which is meant to distribute the load more evenly on your torso so you can carry for longer without fatigue. ALICE packs are designed for you to have quick, convenient access to all your gear without having to fumble around with zippers.
ALICE packs are extraordinarily useful for going on long camping trips because they are large, secure, and let you carry all your essentials in a convenient and comfortable way. However, if you have never heard of an ALICE pack before, then you might not know where to start. So we put together this list of what you should look for in an ALICE pack.
One of the most important parts of the ALICE pack is the material it’s made out of. The best modern ALICE packs are made out of tough waterproof nylon webbing. Nylon is an excellent material for survival packs because it is very strong, resistant to puncture and tearing, and slightly stretchy.
The best grade nylon for an ALICE pack is 100D nylon. The “D” stands for “Denier,” which is a way of measuring the thickness of the yarn. For survival and outdoor packs, 600D is the minimum thickness you want to go for. However, a 1000D thickness will ensure that the pack is more durable but still lightweight.
ALICE packs also usually have a metal frame. The metal frame helps distribute the load more evenly across your torso and keeps things in the bag from bunching up near the center.
The best material for the interior frame is aluminum. Aluminum is lightweight so it won’t add much to the total weight of the pack. Aluminum is also strong and resistant to the elements. You can actually use an ALICE pack without the metal frame, but if you have a lot of gear and are out camping for days at a time, a metal frame is extremely useful to keep the weight of your gear from digging into your shoulders.
By the same token, if you get a pack with a removable frame, make sure that you can attach and detach the frame easily. Most ALICE packs have a quick-release mechanism for the frame. Make sure that these straps incorporate a sturdy metal release buckle that can be operated without too much effort.
One last thing to check with the frame: make sure that you inspect the rivets. Low-quality rivets increase the chance that the frame will fail. Rivets should be solid and reliable.
One of the best features of an ALICE pack is the modular design. ALICE pack mods and ALICE pack upgrades are all ways you can improve the functionality of the design. For example, you can buy a special MOLLE (pronounced “Molly”) belt and attach it to the bottom of the pack so you have extra support when hauling your gear around the trail. Or you can buy upgrade packs and have more storage space.
So when looking for an ALICE pack, make sure that you also investigate modular upgrades to customize your pack. A modified ALICE pack can be even more effective for survival trips.
Another quick note: if you want to get an ALICE pack, you probably should practice sewing. Most ALICE pack mods and ALICE pack upgrades require to be sewn into the larger fabric. Fortunately, sewing is relatively easy, and you can find tons of videos on the internet on how to do it.
Load-Bearing Shoulder Straps
The shoulder straps are one of the most important parts of an ALICE pack. If you have ever loaded up a normal backpack, you probably know that after some time, it can get really uncomfortable digging into your shoulders. If you are out on the trail with all your heavy gear, flimsy shoulder straps will become painful after a while.
That’s why you should make sure that your ALICE pack has thick, padded shoulder straps designed for heavy loads. The good thing about ALICE packs is that you can switch out the different pieces to make your own custom bag. So if you find a pack that you like but do not like the shoulder straps, it's possible to mod it and add straps that you like.
Most ALICE packs already come with one of these, but make sure that your ALICE pack has a belt attachment. Belt attachments are extraordinarily useful as they can distribute the load of the bag around your waist, instead of everything weighing down on your shoulders and back.
Waist belts for ALICE packs attach to the bottom and wrap around the torso, just over the hips. These kinds of belts tend to have extra padding as well, so they do not dig into your sides. If you buy an ALICE pack without a belt, then you can buy a mod and sew the belt on yourself. But many ALICE packs come with a belt attachment included.
ALICE packs are an excellent choice for the survivalist and backcountry camper. Their sturdy construction, large carrying capacity, and load-bearing structures make them ideal for long treks with all your gear loaded up on your back. ALICE packs are modular and extremely flexible, so even if you can’t find a single pack that you like, you can mix and match ALICE pack mods to make the perfect gear carrier for you.