Good morning all and sundry,

I am keen to get the SME's thoughts and pondering's on the optimal size for a dismounted OP's Patrol Pack ? For what its worth I think we have gone the full circle from carrying everything including the kitchen sink to now actually looking at lessons from history ie Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea and minimising weight but lifting operational capability.  

The other question is internal or external frame? 

Original Post

Greatly depends on situation, mission and terrain, not to mention job.

Medic, commo, engineer are going to have different needs than an E3 Rifleman.

------------------------------------- "A True Warrior knows neither Left or Right"  Looking for a doc who can fix my allergies.. Stupid People and IED's...

I'm now retired, and was mech for most of my career.  Still, here are my thoughts:

Define 'patrol'.  1+ days, 3 days, 5-7, etc.  Second, as mentioned, who is doing this patrol?  Regular infantry, versus LRRP, and then consider medic/commo attachments and specialty weapons like mortars, MGers, etc. will have different needs.  Are they operating deeply and relatively autonomously (really only able to depend on self versus supported by QRF, aviation, IDF, etc.), or just locally to a patrol base?

However, building a base-size pack, that is expandable with some molle pouches and configurable to support specialty guys, is a worthy endeavor.  I think the 3-day pack is still a valid base to build from.  But even that can get tough if you have to pack all your water, are operating in temperature extremes, etc.  The current US Army mid-sized pack is not optimal in design for several reasons, and is perhaps slightly large for the mission.  But it is where I would start (conceptually, not literally modifying that pack) if I wanted to refine it to a 3-day patrol pack. 

I would definitely add the ability to cinch it down on the sides, make it work well with and without the frame (maybe some modular bolsters for when frameless to stabilize it a bit, but I'd definitely want both and if only 1 or the other, I'd go frame versus frameless), and have some sustainment pouch add-ons when you need to carry a sleep system inside the primary pack.

I'd make it a bit smaller - a pack should, IMO, always feel a tad small, so you really look critically at your gear and what you actually need.  Leaders/soldiers are otherwise just not that good at load discipline - if you have room, they'll fill it.

I'd also look at higher tech materials and get away from 500 denier cloth.  A little bit less durable (long-term, like 2-3 years versus damn near forever) to shave some critical pounds/ounces.

Finally, if it is a 'patrol' pack, it has to integrate well with the 2nd-line gear, as this pack almost straddles the line between 2nd line and 3rd line.  You don't want to wear it in the assault, but if patrolling, you probably can't afford to drop it if reacting to contact.




In Yorktown, VA.          Joined August 2008

Gov't Civilian, after retiring from active duty in 2015. 


'One's own open sore never smells.'  - Haitian proverb

...which is why SOCOM issues a family of rucks.  METT-T always determines the packing list.

ALICE was a great GP ruck for a lot of reasons.  Not perfect, but served a whole bunch of needs.  Too small for winter ops.  If too large for short missions you could tighten it up some using the tie-downs and D-rings inside.

Eagle A-III served a whole bunch of short-range/short-duration mission needs, with the new medium ruck filling the delta between A-III and Large Alice.

The Lowe or military Terraplane are great for long-distance/long-duration and winter packing list.

I love the UK/commonwealth squaddie rigging concept with ruck base on top of pouches, but US gear isn't designed that way. 

As Steve posted, if you have space in the ruck you shouldn't feel compelled to pack something else just because you have room.

90% of my job I can do with my AWS Yote. I do think a modernized medium ALICE on a DG frame could be a good sell though. Especially if attachments for the Javalin etc come out for that frame. Kinda makes a suite of options all built off of one frame. But for GP forces, like Sinister said, medium and large ALICE just make sense. Current MOLLE is just to huge, it’s encourages guys to over stuff and most dudes just look at it as a weird shaped piece of luggage.

Yeah I think a suite of rucks makes sense.  I'd like to see an assault pack, a "Medium ALICE"-sized pack, and a "Large ALICE"-sized ruck.  Then depending on what your mission might be, you have a way of carrying what you need.  

Obviously missions vary here.  Speaking strictly for myself, which would be as an armed civilian, training with like-minded individuals, for possible scenarios, I might have a wide range of needs.  

So depending on the market, I'd say the pack size and config, for dismounting patrolling is gonna depend on some factors, like mission, re-supply schedules, environment, etc.  For instance, if I wuz a guy in a civilian defense group, charged with interdicting possible hostiles into my town or surrounding area, I might break this down into local security patrols, longer area recce patrols, and possibly some raid or ambush patrols.  Since I don't have a long logistics chain, I would be carrying most everything I need on my back.  This might vary from a small assault pack, to a medium or even large pack.  I might also lay in cache sites, and make arrangements with local farmers to re-supply along the way.  So the duration of the mission, and time/distance between re-supply would drive the pack size.  I don't have a lot of specialized kit, or team equipment, so for me it boils down to how much food and water I need, along with clothing layers and the like.  

For a LEO,  you might see dismounted patrolling on a missing persons or fugitive hunt.  Or possibly a raid on a suspected whatever site.  Since these are typically shirt-range ops, you would probably not need anything past an assault pack, but possibly a Medium ALICE-sized pack.  You are also not normally very far away from re-supply.  So you wouldn't normally be worrying about food and shelter.  

For the soldier, again, mild to wild, depending on mission and other factors.  As we've seen in the past, most guys got by with an assault pack, or a "3-day" style pack.  Re-supply is normally not an issue, with a long logistics train.  But specialized troops require larger rucks for longer range work.  And military units have things like belt fed MG's, mortars, anti-tank wpns, radios n other shit that require a ton of spare batts.  So having a ruck that can carry enough gear for mission duration, and various out-sized objects might be a good idea.   And I would submit that we are now facing various peer or near peer threats these days which may change what the typical and specialized soldier may be carrying in the future.    

So yeah the suite of rucks, like SOCOM is trying to pull off.  Probably a good idea, for a lot of different folks.          

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

As far as config, I have my preferences, like anybody else.  For a small assault pack, I prefer a "no frame" pack, typically "Yote" style, which may (but doesn't need to have) a stiffener board.  Basically just big enough for a water bladder, some energy snacks, small tool/cleaning kit, batts, and spare clothing per season.  Also a (removable) beaver tail for stuff like a helmet/NV cave or other stuff.  

For a Medium ALICE type ruck, I'd like a larger 3-day pack, either internal or external frame, depending on how I'm carrying the fighting load.  The internal frame would work well with BA/chest rigs n such, and the external frame with belt order.  If I am in hotter weather, I prefer the belt order, with a clean chest for ventilation.  And an external frame for back ventilation.  If I am in colder weather, then a chest rig works well.  With an internal frame, especially in hilly or mountainous terrain.  Typically a "short back" ruck config for belt kit, and "long back" for chest rigs.       

For a Large ALICE type ruck, I like a Bergen style, with either internal or external frame, again depending.  I like an external frame with belt kit, and internal for chest rigs.  This is pretty much an extension of Medium ruck requirements, with just more supplies, or cold weather gear.   

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

Preface:  Not an SME.  Not a professional.

Adding to what tankersteve said about integration with the fighting load, I prefer external frame since it makes a little hollow for the water bladder to sit in.  Imo pals on the side is worth the weight since it gives you the option to put water or tarps on the outside for quick access or to make more space inside.  I also like the flat top flap (vs zips), you can put things there like sleeping pads or claymore bags, and then snug it all down to compress the load with the vertical straps.  Definitely needs horizontal compression straps.  Not extending over the head, so you can fight with it on.

One of the bigger problems with the medium ALICE is how you have to take out everything to get to your sleeping bag (or maybe I'm just doing it wrong).  Is it crazy to have a dedicated sleep compartment on the bottom, like the FILBE (or at least a lower zip?)

In my community 72hrs is the max duration in-game (often 48).  Most people who actually patrol with their patrol packs (instead of just dumping them at the FOB) don't go past 45L, often just using a 30L and small assault pack (LBT 3-day/MR 3DAP/Arc Khard/Ratnik daypack+twineedle minimap/AWS yote/Smersh buttpack).  But ofc that's without ammo and extreme cold weather gear, not a ton of food, no special equipment besides air tanks and grenades, large radios, etc.  Just water, food, cooker, grenades, batts, bag, bivy, mat, shirt and socks, raingear, hygiene kit, maybe special equipment like etool, gas, air, 203 shells, helmet and nods if they're not wearing them.  No mortars, no big batteries, no claymores or ammo belts, so take it for what it's worth.

Guys start out with humongous surplus rucks but generally slim down as they can.  No one wears belt kits, and the few that do pair them with big assault packs, at least from what I've seen.

You are kinda doing it wrong it you are putting your sleeping bag at the bottom of a medium ALICE pack, because the ALICE system wasn’t really designed to work that way.

The sleeping bag was put into a waterproof bag and then rested under the top flap.  The sleeping mat was wedged in under the straps,  more towards the bottom, or was secured to the very bottom of the pack be tie-downs.

It is better that they do it imperfectly than that you do it perfectly. For it is their war and their country and your time here is limited.


                                                                                                                        —T. E. Lawrence




We talked about quite a few of the issues in the periphery of the OP’s question, years ago here:

I agree with Tankersteve about defining patrolling, the environment it is occurring in, and the other missions being conducted when not patrolling.  Are you typically conducting movement to contact, deliberate attacks, raids?  SOCOM and Rangers can develop mission-specific packs but GP forces simply do not have that option.

I also agree that different occupational specialties have different requirements, but the pack can be built to adjust to their needs with a little careful thought.  I don’t think most other GP troops need a dedicated pack, besides maybe the medic.

My thoughts on your questions circle back around to ALICE and an exploration of why we went away from ALICE.  Do a deep dive into that and I think the way ahead gets illuminated pretty easily.  You’d should also procure both a medium and large ALICE bag and the frame, and just lay it out in front of you and look at it for a while.


-ALICE did not have much modularity and you were left with the pouches as they were.  

-Mission-critical gear often ended up hanging off the bag, and could get ripped off when snagged on vehicle edges, vegetation, etc.

-Your load could turn into a dynamic load very easily, making the crappy straps a chore to use, so the straps would need more attention.   It looks like Crossfire has minimized a lot of that with the new means of bag-to-frame interface.  It just needs to be simple and grunt-proof.


-You could take the medium bag off of the frame and use it paired with only the straps, which was sometimes great when you weren’t wearing a flak jacket and were only carrying a lighter, mission-specific load.  I don’t think the answer has to be a hard choice between external or internal frame (see more below).

-The basic volume of the medium ALICE bag is probably the sweet spot for patrolling.  It and small ALICE seems to have worked ok in the Vietnam environment.

-The 40 liter medium bag forced you to be judicious in what you carried.  Sure, the packing lists were often driven by some silly SOPs, but 40L, no matter the number of batteries, rations, ammo you need to carry on “patrol”, was a good baseline.  It could be expanded to fall into maybe 50L (about half the delta in volume with the 62L large ALICE) size, but don’t just make it 50L without some deliberate thought as to why.

Because ALICE was so good at the mission, maybe it just needs updating.   A good number of companies have done a respectable job with their attempts at an update.  My recommendations would be:

-Adding curvature, a chest cinch strap, and legitimate padding to the shoulder straps.

-Adding a sleeve to the back of the main pocket so a stiffener can be slid into place when the bag is taken off of the frame.  This would provide shape and form to the bag and minimize contents shifting when the user needs to secure ammunition, a radio, etc.

-Adding durable but easy quick disconnects so you can get the bag off of the frame without a lot of fuss when preparing for a different mission.

-Adding a reasonable amount of PALS webbing to increase performance.

-Adding a tie-down grid on the back of the pack, like the RAID’s system, so equipment can be lashed into place.

-Making the frame adjustable for length.

It is better that they do it imperfectly than that you do it perfectly. For it is their war and their country and your time here is limited.


                                                                                                                        —T. E. Lawrence




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