Medium ALICE Pack Load Out
Kevin Felts 03.07.19
We have talked about the medium ALICE pack in previous articles, but we haven’t really talked about load out in detail. So let’s take a few minutes and talk about loading out a medium ALICE pack.
For the intents and purposes of this article we will look at the medium ALICE pack as a warm / hot weather backpack, although I am sure some of the readers have hiked the arctic tundra for months on end with their medium ALICE, and without a resupply.
My personal experiences with the medium ALICE started in the early part of 1992. A buddy of mine returned from Operation Desert Storm; while visiting he showed me some of his military gear, which included a medium ALICE pack. I thought the pack was perfect for the types of camping we did, so I bought one a few months later.
Since 1992 my medium ALICE has been used on numerous hiking and camping trips. These trips include camping everywhere from swamps along the Texas Gulf Coast, to the rolling hills of Southeast Texas.
Medium ALICE Outside Pouches
On the backside of the medium ALICE are three large pouches.
Left pouch: Hammock. When I reach a camping site one of the first things I do is select two nice-sized trees and string up a hammock. This is so I can take a break and relax. However, I typically hammock camp in the rolling hills of Southeast Texas. When camping near a swamp or marsh, I bring a one person tent.
Middle pouch: Rain poncho. A U.S. GI military surplus rain poncho will fit, but it will be snug.
Right pouch: Water filter, mosquito repellent, toilet paper. In the load out example for this article, the water filter is a Sawyer PointOne with a platypus bag for a gravity filter setup.
Medium ALICE Main Compartment
At the bottom of the main compartment is typically a tarp. This is usually something along the lines of a 4×10 or 6×12 tarp. The bad news, tarps can be heavy and bulky. If we wanted to cut some weight and bulk, get a rain fly designed for hammock camping.
Why put a tarp or rain fly in the bottom of the ALICE pack? So the contents do not get wet. It is an extra layer of protection for the gear inside the pack, while also providing a rain fly for the hammock.
There have been times when the pack was set on the ground, I did not realize the ground was wet, the moisture seeped through the pack, and got my spare clothes wet.
On top of the tarp or rain fly goes:
- Change of clothes, especially socks, shirt, and underwear.
- Food. This is typically snacks and a couple of freeze-dried meals.
- Lightweight blanket or poncho liner in a waterproof bag.
During summer camping or hiking trips, I typically bring an extra shirt, underwear and change of socks.
Inside the medium ALICE is a radio pouch which is ideal for organizing smaller items.
- Stove, pot, lighter and fuel. I use a BRS micro stove which stores nicely inside of a Toaks 750 ml titanium pot.
- Extra matches inside a pill bottle.
- 550 cord.
Some people may forgo the pot and use a canteen cup instead. Carrying the canteen cup in the canteen pouch outside the pack saves room inside the pack. However, stainless steel canteen cups weight more than a titanium pot.
Personally, I do not like to use an aluminum cook pot. Even though they are lightweight, aluminum can sometimes leach into the food. That is why I avoid aluminum canteen cups. Some people may not have an issue with aluminum, I just prefer to avoid them.
Depending on how much gear an individual carries, there may be room for a small first aid kit in the radio pouch. If someone wants a larger first aid kit than will fit in the radio pouch, pick up a surplus first aid kit with ALICE webbing and attach it to the outside of the pack.
ALICE Pack Flap
Small items can be stored in the flap that covers the top of the pack. Velcro helps close the pack so items do not fall out.
Inside the flap is where I typically store my navigation gear:
- TOPO maps
- Spare compass
They are all sealed inside of a one gallon ziplock bag.
Sleeping Pad, Bag, Tent
Due to the size of the medium ALICE, the tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag will typically be carried on the outside of the pack. On the bottom of the medium ALICE are two loops which make it easy to attach something with a nylon strap.
A small pup tent without the poles may fit inside the pack.
The sleeping bag is one reason I prefer to use the medium ALICE as a warm-weather pack. Replace the sleeping bag with a poncho liner or lightweight fleece blanket that can be stored inside the pack, and just carry the tent and sleeping pad outside the pack.
I typically like to carry the sleeping pad on the bottom of the pack, and the tent on the top.
Even though the medium ALICE was not designed for comfort, it is one of my favorite packs. That statement comes after using the medium ALICE for 27 years.
It may not be the lightest pack on the market nor the most comfortable, but one thing is for sure: it should give you decades of use.