Does anyone prefer using an alice pack without the frame?

Discussion in 'Packs, Bags & Pouches' started by M.W. Gammill, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. M.W. Gammill

    M.W. Gammill Scout

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    I've got a medium sized Alice Pack and I really like using it, especially for overnight trips or when the weather is in question. You can't kill an Alice pack. I have a frame for it, but seems that using the frame is more weight and trouble than it's worth at times. Most here who post pics of their Alice packs, use a frame and I was just wondering if anyone else prefers a frameless pack like I do?
     
  2. Grizzix

    Grizzix Guide Bushclass I

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    I prefer the stability I get from having the frame on mine. I wouldn't have it any other way. Realistically it doesn't add that much weight to the pack and it gives me more options for lashing points.
     
  3. PoPo

    PoPo Scout

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    I like the frame also. It does seem more stable. However a day hike is ok with no frame if you aren't packing a lot. My two cents
     
  4. freebirdfb

    freebirdfb Supporter Supporter

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    Trying to remembember back when we carried the ALICE in the Marine Corps, I didn't like using it without the frame. In boot camp, we straped a shleter half to the frame between our back and the frame. It would be a good place to stash a tarp as well.

    I could use a new pack but have been ignoring the ALICE pack. It just occured to me that I'm not going to carry a full combat load so it might be more comfortable than I remember them being.
     
  5. wth

    wth Tracker

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    Alice packs are great! My son uses a medium AP for his trap basket... drops a medium, plastic garbage can in it and carries around his traps without poking holes... the outer storage being for lure, wire, etc.... When trapping season is over, pull the garbage can out and you've got your pack back... Personally, I've got a molle setup and a maxped vulture II - just depends on what we're doing...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2012
  6. Arizona-Hermit

    Arizona-Hermit Scout

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    I am not a frame person. I vastly prefer carrying the AP without the frame... just fits me better I reckon.
     
  7. bharen

    bharen Guide

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    When under development all ALICE packs - the medium and large - were intended for use only with a frame. It was only late in the testing phases that some of the NCOs on the advisory board asked that shoulder strap loops be added to the medium so it could be used without the frame. I'm not sure why they asked, but the system developers figured that adding two little attachment rings was no big deal.

    What ended up happening was that very few medium rucksacks were issued with frames until the early 90s. Mother Army figured the medium was small and light enough to use without a frame, particularly if you were in a combat support or combat service support unit. All you carried in the thing anyway was your sleeping bag, a change of clothes and a shaving kit.

    However, in combat units we loaded the things to the gills, and then continued to load them up some more. In the early 80s, in an airborne combat engineer unit, we were issued only mediums w/o frames. You couldn't even find frames for sale in the surplus stores down Yadkin Road outside of Fort Bragg. They just were not available. Of course, the Army hadn't figured out a way to rig a rucksack w/frame for a parachute jump; we just rode the frameless packs all the way to the ground. It was only in the late 80's when the Army figured out the use of lowering lines for rucksacks during jumps did the frame become a general issue item,.

    Carrying a medium w/o a frame became an exercise in torture (while carrying one with a frame was merely organized abuse). The ALICE pack really needs some form of support. If not an external frame then a rolled up sleeping pad or other stiff but pliable material on the inside. I'd love to be able to put a plastic frame insert into an ALICE pack a-la the current MOLLE II Assault Pack, but there is really no way to make it work without significant alteration to the pack.

    ALICE frames are cheap, well made and available just about everywhere. I really recommend them. The ALICE pack and frame go together like peanut butter and jelly.
     
  8. woodsmannorway

    woodsmannorway Guest

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    I have a medium alice pack with frame and use it on most of my 2-3 days that is in the woods, bushcrafting, in any weather. But when I know I need to walk for miles I will not use it on trips.

    If i am on a trip where there is much walking and tracking.. Then I feel the pack itself is way too heavy. Then I use another pack.

    Its on pack, shelter and sleeping gear its really possible to save much weight.
    The only minus I have is the packs weight.
     
  9. rimfire63

    rimfire63 Scout

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    I have used a medium Alice without the frame as a hunting pack for years. I recently upgraded the straps to the LC2 and it was a grand improvement. I love the Alice bag but hate the Alice hardware. How you pack it makes all the difference.
    I'm definitely in the "no frame" group. The frame is just too uncomfortable.
     
  10. tree-ratsniper

    tree-ratsniper Guide

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    I remember humping a medium w/o a frame in basic all around Ft. Lost in the Woods. Seems like they bit most of us in the lower back area. Our DI's carried large's on frames & seemed much happier... I have a large on a frame now & have no comfort problems with it.
     
  11. Woods Walker

    Woods Walker Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    Med Alice with enhanced shoulder straps works rather well within its limitations.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. spikecamp

    spikecamp Tracker

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    I carry mine all over without using the frame, the only time I use the frame is if I plan on a long hike, as in 15+ miles. I do alot of hunting while out in the woods and find the creaking and groaning of the frame too loud for my tastes. And I dont carry much anyway, my last trip out was a 3 day and I weighed in at 22lbs. The more you know, the less you need to carry the frame of your alice pack
     
  13. Doubletap

    Doubletap Scout

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    i have a large that i use without a frame i prefer it much better than with the frame
     
  14. Kristopher

    Kristopher Scout

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    Day hikes and short trips I usually go frameless. I cut a piece of foam rubber floor mat to fit into the pack up against my back. It gives the pack a little bit of shape, keeps hard things from digging into my back, and makes a good pad to kneel on or sit on.

    I made a PVC frame based on a post on found on this site that I use when I need to carry a sleeping bag or want a kidney belt to help carry the load.
     
  15. solocanoe

    solocanoe Bushmaster

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    yep. me too. basic training we had no frames on our ALICE's...

    I have the family BOB set up's in medium ALICE's with no frames either....
    [​IMG]
     
  16. woodsrunner

    woodsrunner Banned Member Banned

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    locked and loaded solo...locked and loaded :dblthumb:...woods
     
  17. karlhungusjr

    karlhungusjr Scout

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    took the words right out of my mouth
     
  18. Taliesin

    Taliesin Guide

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    Don't forget the bane of all American Soldiers, MOPE Gear. We had to carry that crap along with all the stuff you named. In Desert Storm, I also carried 3 brokedown MRE's and an additional 180 rounds (we couldn't get bandoliers, it came in boxes), a shelter half to stay out of the freakin' dust storms (It didn't help), a poncho liner (that went into my large mountain cold weather bag, it gets cold in the desert) and two 2 quart canteens. It had to go somewhere, so into the frameless medium ruck it went. I don't like them without the frames anymore. Luckily, they usually went into the back of the truck (Leg Engineers don't walk much, like our Airborne Brethren had to :) ), so not a lot of walking was done in them, but it went went us, whenever we were out of our trucks, along with all our survey gear.

    The only thing I don't like about ALICE packs is they don't settle on the hips like a good hiking backpack does. But they aren't designed that way. They have to fit over the pistol belt, with your mag pouches, canteen, etool and bayonet .

    I have a framed medium ALICE.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
  19. Taliesin

    Taliesin Guide

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    How do you rig the large to use without the frame? I thought you had to have the frame on the Large ALICE.
     
  20. Doubletap

    Doubletap Scout

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    real simple small piece of pvc pipe on top and run the shoulder straps through the frame holding straps at bottom
     

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  21. Bushcraftgeek

    Bushcraftgeek Guide

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    I always have mine with the frame large or medium just more comfertable for me especially depending what's in the pack i've tried it without the frame and I just dont like it. my upper spine does curve inwards some thats the main reason for using the frame as well
     
  22. santaman2000

    santaman2000 Guide

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    I don't know if I'd like carrying it this way or not; but it's definitely good to know it CAN be done.

    Thanks.
     
  23. M.W. Gammill

    M.W. Gammill Scout

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    We (and I'm sure many in the Military did the same) used our sleeping pads to line our rucks. jusr run it around the inside of the bag like a liner, with all your gear in the middle.
     
  24. Doubletap

    Doubletap Scout

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    I like the pack, always had issues with the frame not fitting me correctly Im a big guy and the pack is made for someone around 5 foot 10 so for me it is alot more comfortable. I only use as my winter bag, for the summer I use a camelback motherload.
     
  25. AnthonySmithXR

    AnthonySmithXR Guide

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    I love the frame. Using a waist belt (which I dont think you can do without the frame) really helps the weight. Also, I love the air space between the pack and my back that the frame gives. Makes the trip much cooler, literally. Full disclosure- I use molle waist and shoulder straps. Much better than lc2
     
  26. matthew6767

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    i use one with out a frame, i did put a few dowel rods in a sleeve up in the shoulder pad that way it keeps the pack flat. plus the shoulder straps strap around the dowels spreading the load . works good for up to a 30 pound load
     
  27. glassknapper

    glassknapper Scout

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    [​IMG]
    Picture 7 by imseeker, on Flickr My friend uses a shelf on her frame. It has been handy for hauling water and especially firewood. I like the basic ALICE medium pack without the frame most times.[​IMG]
    Picture 8 by imseeker, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
  28. bharen

    bharen Guide

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    Taliesin,

    By the time of my second tour at Bragg starting in '89 the ALICE frame was a standard issue item and we used the 12' lowering line during parachute jumps. A much better arrangement than riding the ruck all the way to the ground. However, we were still issued just a medium ALICE for use with the frame so most of us went out and bought our own large ALICE packs. You are right about the MOPP gear (chemical protective suit, rubber boots, rubber gloves and extra filters, hoods, etc for the mask). It took up about 1/2 of a medium ALICE and you STILL had to stuff all the other go-to-war junk in there. I've detailed my unit's Desert Storm packing list for the ALICE in another discussion on this forum, so I won't cover it again. Suffice to say, the ALICE will carry beastly loads, but only if you are using a frame.
     
  29. Army11b

    Army11b Scout

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    I was wondering this same question. In basic (2003) we had mediums with no frames, but I bought one after I got out with a frame but wondered what you guy's did. I was thinking of ditching it but maybe ill keep it on there.

    A
     
  30. 11b inf

    11b inf Scout

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    alice frame

    were did you go to Basic/AIT ? i went thru Infantry OSUT in 1987 and was issued a frame for my med. ALICE ruck...heck also got a (new) field dressing for the first aid pouch...we still had steel pots and M-16A1's...vince g. 11B INF:42:...
     
  31. OldMan

    OldMan Guide

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    I use the ALICE frame with the large pack...and the frame itself to carry stuff like 5 gallon buckets, oxygen tanks, boxes, game carcass, strap on a waste bin as a pack basket when trapping, etc.

    When using the medium pack, I've never used the frame. I never felt I needed it and hiked the AT and a good portion of several western trails with one. I don't tend to overstuff it, and I put my sleeping pad either against my back for padding, or let it uncoil from its roll to fill the pack, and then put the rest of the gear inside. The sleep pad gives some padding and fills out the pack so it's not too slouchy.

    Anyway, love the frame for its multiiple uses...love the large pack with the frame....and for the medium I love using just the shoulder straps sans frame...works great.
     
  32. gps4

    gps4 Tracker

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    Where might one find these kind of enhanced straps?
     
  33. gps4

    gps4 Tracker

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    Where might one find these kind of enhanced straps?
     
  34. POPEx4

    POPEx4 Supporter Supporter

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    That's the tactical tailor straps. Pretty much the Cadillac of Alice straps. Those things are outstanding

    I usually don't use a frame, but I do add something to the back of the pack for ridgitity. Plastic sheet from a molle pack works good

    I've got the Blackhawk! version of the Alice that is amazing that I use a lot now. Corrected a lot of the issues I had with the original.
     
  35. Three Eagles

    Three Eagles Scout

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    I prefer carrying without the frame, I even did ruck marches without the frame. With the frame one I could never get it high enough on my back to be comfortable and it always ended up digging into my back and kidneys. Without the frame I could get it up high on my back, almost sitting on my shoulders and go without any problems, my back seemed to thank me for it too.
     
  36. mlp2147

    mlp2147 The "retired" Gunny Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I've worn em both ways. When it was our current issue most guys went without as not everyone had the frame issued to them but IMO it makes it ride awkward under heavier loads. I prefer the frame for stability and form.
     
  37. PREPSHERIFF

    PREPSHERIFF Tracker

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    I have a Med and a LG, both framed. As I recall, I rarely jumped with a frame if at all, because I hated the lowering line, hence I rode in my ALICE, 90% of my jumps, actually, don't even remember using a frame. My only regret was riding in my pack with a PRC-77 and not using a lowering line, ended up doing a front PLF, knees hurt for a few days. Out in the world, I find myself using my frame always, too be honest, I really haven't tried it without it. MMM?? I'll have too check it out. BTW, I served in '80-'86, may have been a little different back then.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  38. PREPSHERIFF

    PREPSHERIFF Tracker

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    Great Memory!!:dblthumb::42:
     
  39. CSMMIKE

    CSMMIKE Guide

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    I developed a strong dislike for the ALICE pack during my Army career but I disliked it less with a frame. In Bosnia we used the Large pack mounted on a frame and that was fairly tolerable. For anything other than a short walk I would recommend using a frame.
     
  40. MedievalMike

    MedievalMike Tracker

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    I am in process of building a Medium Alice system with Mollle Belt and Shoulders. I am just waiting on my Down East Frame to put it on as I got my sleep carrier today. I have also seen on several forums where people use outdoor products Ram Flex frame to build on or use Molle Belt/ shoulders with traditional frame for "HellCat Mod".
    My dad was in the Military for 41 years and I could always remember Alice gear in the house as a kid. It's just a fun project for me to use on weekends and intermediate distance trips.
    I saw a video on a new company called Alspak who are doing a super light frame with combat belt,but the cost is high. Plenty of options with Alice-- I will post some pics when finished.
     
  41. Malamute

    Malamute Guide

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    I bought a medium Alice with the frame, I quickly sold the frame, I didn't like it at all. I ended up using a WWII period aluminum channel cargo pack frame. It worked great. I do like the quick detach Alice type shoulder straps. I found a couple sets that had both sides that would detach, some just had one side that detached. I like being able to instantly drop the pack without pulling my arms out of the straps.

    I use it without the frame as a day pack or hunting pack.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  42. Loaded

    Loaded Tracker

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    I have liked my medium Alice with the frame so much that it never dawned on me to try it without. I'm a taller guy and I've had no issues with the frame riding low or breaking my back. Maybe I need to pack heavier and walk longer?
     
  43. SpartanShield

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    (So, this is my first official post here, although I started "bushcraftin" long before I knew that was the term for it - as Im sure most of your stories go as well - delighted to be a part of the discussion!)

    I have been using the same medium ALICE my father got me for my 10th birthday (not the year I got it but dated 1977) off and on for 20 years with the original aluminum frame since day 1. A majority of the second half of that (of which just recently ended for the aluminum frame, but not frameless which I'll explain shortly) I had decided I preferred it with the frame although it still left some room for want.

    Then I found the Down East 1606 AC and have not looked back a day since. I have heard that it is lighter... maybe ounces. It certainly is more flexible, and that rigidity of the aluminum almost inevitably caused popped rivets, so that's a win in my book. The real improvement to me is the ergonomics to your body and the way it distributes the weight on your back which (if you combine with the Tactical Tailor super straps as mentioned a couple posts back) makes it surprisingly comfortable for trekkin' even when loaded down. (For reference Im 5'10" 160lbs with a long torso YMMV.)

    I scored the frame shipped on ebay for $30 (the pack was gifted but I see em on craig's around here for $10) add $50 after tax on the straps from the TT shop (it's local for me :4:) and I cannot imagine a better pack for me in this category for that price. I actually sold my frame and straps that came with mine to pay for the new frame so I actually invested less. Cannot praise it enough!
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014

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