A.L.I.C.E. Gear for Bugging Out
Pat Cascio 04.13.14
You don’t have to identify as a prepper or survivalist to have a bug-out bag (BOB) ready to go at all times. One never knows when one might have to get out, and get out fast, from your home because of fire, earthquake, riots, or whatever may come your way. My entire family is equipped with BOBs, and we have enough food and survival gear to last us three or four days. However, we also have an alternate set-up, and that is the old U.S military A.L.I.C.E. gear set-up.
What is A.L.I.C.E.?
For those who haven’t served in the military, back when we hunted dinosaurs with rocks, A.L.I.C.E. stands for All-purpose Light-weight Individual Carrying Equipment. Quite a mouthful, to be sure, so we’ll just call it A.L.I.C.E. in this article. Today’s military doesn’t issue A.L.I.C.E. gear any longer. Instead, they have opted for several different types of set-ups, most of which are MOLLE, and it carries all your gear high up on your body, and all–or almost all of it–attached to your body armor vest. Ever try going prone with all that gear mounted so high on your body? You stick up like a sore thumb; you simply can’t get low enough when the bullets are flying your way.
I’m old school and always have been. My entire family has A.L.I.C.E. gear, and here’s what it consists of:
- One Nylon pistol belt with a pair of “H” suspenders attached to the belt and a butt pack on the back of the pistol belt. On the suspenders, you will find a small dressings in a pouch for taking care of a wound.
- We all have two canteens on our pistol belt, one on either side, closer to the rear of the belt.
- On the front, towards the sides, are two magazine pouches.
- I also have a pouch on my belt with a good compass in it.
- My wife and oldest daughter have two ammo pouches on their pistol belt, with each pouch holding 3 of the 30-rd AR-15 magazines. On my current set-up, I have the same thing, except my ammo pouches hold three of the 30-rd AK-47 magazines for a total of six spare magazines that we are carrying, plus one in the gun, for a grand total of 210-rds of ammo on-hand. In a matter of a few minutes, I can swap out my AK magazine pouches for my AR pouches if I want to carry my AR-15.
With the A.L.I.C.E. set-up, you can move those ammo pouches more to the side instead of to the front of your gear. It makes it much easier to go prone when the ammo pouches are off to the side a little bit. Also, with our canteens we carry a bottle of water purification tablets–one with each canteen carrier–so we can purify any suspect water sources. Any surface water should be purified before drinking it.
We also keep all of our magazines fully loaded in the magazine pouches, too. Additionally, we each carry some type of fixed blade knife on our pistol belt. I carry a Gryphon fixed blade bowie-style knife on my belt.
In my humble opinion, one of the most important items is the old butt pack. It’s amazing how much stuff you can put inside of one of these little butt packs, which fits on the pistol belt. We all have several days worth of food in our butt packs, all kinds of survival gear, and even some potassium iodide pills should we need them for a nuke emergency. We have small, portable cook stoves, so we can warm our meals. I keep trip wire, gun cleaning gear, and a host of other supplies too numerous to list in my pack. You can also fold-up a military poncho and attach it to the bottom of your butt pack with the straps that are attached to the butt pack. The butt pack is lined with plastic, making it virtually waterproof, or as near to it as it can get.
The “H”-style suspenders that attach to the pistol belt are there to help balance the load on your pistol belt as well as take some of the weight off your hips, placing it evenly on your shoulders. The military A.L.I.C.E. suspenders now being sold are the “Y” type, and they have a single load bearing strap across the back that spreads out at the bottom, so you can attach it to the butt pack. There are two metal lined holes on the back/top of the butt pack for attaching the suspenders. However, should that single strap break, you are up the creek. So, many prefer the “H” style suspenders; in case one of the rear straps break, the other will still hold the suspenders to the butt pack.
The butt packs we have are the traditional canvas instead of the newer Nylon packs. I’ve found the canvas butt packs to be better made than the commercially made Nylon butt packs that aren’t mil-spec. Our pistol belts, canteen carriers, ammo pouches, and everything else is made out of Nylon and mil-spec. We also sprayed all our gear with a water repellant spray to help shed water and keep things dry, too.
On my personal A.L.I.C.E. set-up, one of my canteens is from Clearly Filtered and it will filter water without the use of purification tablets. My other canteen is pure mil-spec. I also carry a spare water filter replacement cap for my Clearly Filtered canteen in my butt pack so I can filter a lot of water without having to use the purification tablets, which leaves a “funny” taste to the clean water.
Why You Should Try One
Now, here’s our logic for having the A.L.I.C.E. pistol belt set-up to start with. One never knows when a dire emergency might hit, and you only have a minute or two to bug out. We can grab our A.L.I.C.E. pistol belt set-up with our ARs or AK and head out the door, knowing we at least have weapons with several hundred rounds of ammo, along with food and water to last us several days. Of course, we’d like to grab our BOB as well, but if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be hurting. At least we’d have some food, water, ammo, and a weapon, along with survival gear to keep us going. More than likely, we’d also grab our BOB as well.
You an also attach a sleeping bag, with a U.S. military sleeping bag carrier–“spaghetti” straps, and attach it to the back of your A.L.I.C.E. gear. It’s not the perfect set-up, but you’d at least have a sleeping bag; maybe no tent, but you’d have that sleeping bag.
Those in the today’s military are stuck with what they have to use to carry their combat gear. But guess what? Once I introduce a young soldier to the A.L.I.C.E. set-up, they prefer it over the vest carry that the military uses. So maybe “old” isn’t so old after all. I have several combat vests, and if I were only going out on a short mission for a day, I’d probably opt to wear it with spare ammo and water. However, if bugging out, I’d sure pick the old A.L.I.C.E. set-up over one of my combat tactical vests in a heart beat.
Just sitting here, looking at my pistol belt set-up, that the entire thing costs about $100.00, and that’s not counting the survival gear, spare magazines, ammo, etc. Just the gear! And, when it comes to mil-spec gear, it’s hard to beat. It’s been designed and tested to stand up to long-term use and abuse, compared to commercial camping gear, which is usually designed for weekend camping or camping out once or twice a year.
I’m old school, no doubt about it, but I’ll take what has been combat tested for the past 40 or 50 years over any commercial set-up, and without a doubt, I’ll take it over a MOLLE set-up for a bug-out arrangement. If you decide you want an A.L.I.C.E. set-up, shop around carefully and make sure you are getting mil-spec–not “like” mil-spec, and not by the company calling themselves “Mil-Spec”; you want the real deal, not some foreign-made knock-off gear that won’t last you. Ge the real deal.