Gear talk reminds me of the better days here at LFer.
I bought a large ALICE because all the cool kids had one, but in use I usually wound up cinching it down to keep it stable, often to the size of a regular ALICE.
Before ILBE, FILBE and the new USMC system, we only had one pack, an ALICE. No assault pack, no three-day bag shit. I think the buttpack solved most of our 2nd line problems.
But did we experience a shift in the quantity of gear carried? I would offer that no, we didn’t, with the exception of leader planning tools. Well, we used to carry NVGs in the same lime green storage bag they came with, because it was all we had until PVS-14 cordura pouches and functioning mounts came into vogue, but for the basic grunt they stay on the helmet or get stuffed into a three-day bag when not in use.
But we did get more motorized and buttoned up during the risk averse years of OEF/OIF than I would have ever imagined. That reality prompted the shift to chest rigs, admin pouches, and ute pouches that rode on the side of the rig. It never seemed like someone one day dreamed up the awesomeness of a minimalist 2nd line and said, “Behold, I give you the answer to all our load carriage woes...the TT-MAV.”.
Take away the need to be motorized during insert/patrol/offensive action, and belt kit truly makes sense.
ALICE was always good resting on the buttpack, over the flak jacket (just as thick and cumbersome as a modern plate carrier). Without the buttpack, I always felt it was as much a PITA as any other pack when worn over armor.
The frame allows it to reign supreme in hot and jungle environments, but only sans armor, or with a cinch-tight strap if armor is worn. We had grunts from 3rd Marines fighting in the hills of northern AFG and the only concession they got was the ability to wear a plate carrier specially procured from where I don’t know. Yet they were still running around and sucking wind in an environment where the TB had better mobility because they weren’t wearing that stuff. I don’t know that if we came down to a jungle fight, that the Corps would have the sense to relize that METT-S&L may dictate losing the armor requirement.
The Marines at the Basic Recon Course ran polymer-framed remakes of Large ALICE because it allowed them to ruck a metric ass-ton of gear for long duration ops, and every guy usually needed the ability to carry a radio set inside the pack, along with everything else. The external frame was important in that case. But those guys are not the norm.