There have been a few threads lately on ALICE-style packs and things so I wanted to share some stuff I've been working on, for your consideration. First off, I have pretty much come full circle back to ALICE style rucksacks, after years of experimentation with all sorts of shit. But I want to stress, this is for military or paramilitary ops, AKA "tactical" applications, not lolly-gagging with Sally Rottencrotch on a manicured trail.
Very quickly, what I mean is that you are basically tactical the whole time, based on threat level, but always at a minimum of alertness. So you need a ruck that's easy to work out of, carries a lot of heavy/sharp/pointy shit, and pretty durable to boot. And the kicker is it will integrate with a full belt kit, if that's how you roll for hot weather ops (in lieu of a chest rig/BA type load out).
So with this in mind, it's hard to beat the tried and true ALICE design. And trust me, I've tried. A lot. But since I live in the southeast, it gets hot down here. Really fucking hot. Whether I'm up in the mountains, or down in the swamps, I've found that internal frame rucks, not to mention chest rigs and BA is, uh counter-indicated, if not down-right hazardous, to your health. And while I realize a sucking chest wound could be a lot worse, at some point you just gotta weigh the consequences and drive forward. For me (and this could not be you), I have found that 55lbs is about all I want to carry, consistently, day in and day out. So adding another 8-10 lbs of armor subtracts from other needed gear.
So I have decided to kick it old school and run a classic belt kit, for basically 9-10 months out of the year. But wait, Diz, didn't you make all those chest rigs back in the day? Yeah, guilty as charged. But things evolve. I'm not wearing "deuce" gear anymore either; today's belt kit is light-years beyond all that shit. So if this is you, too, then consider a good "short back" ruck, like the ALICE system, which is designed (sort of) to work in conjunction with it. Lots of good stuff in that "jungle" LBE thread on this. I'll try and stick to the rucksack.
Right now, if you want to jump in with an updated ALICE design, with maybe updated camo (OCP/MC), take a look at the surplus LBT 2657's right now. They are 8-pocket Large ALICE bags, in MC, on GI ALICE frames but with LBT suspensions. I just got one off ebay for 250 shipped. This is an excellent base to work from, or just use as-is.
Then you have the TT bags, frames, and suspensions. Really good kit, but now you're getting up there in price (around 500+). But if you need the more robust welded metal frame, and want to really good bag and suspension to go with it, that's a good choice.
And then there's Jay Jay's "jungle" ruck, which is a cross between a short back Bergen, and a Large ALICE. DE 1606 frame with a custom suspension (their shoulder straps are especially good). Around 450.
Then you have MR's "Mountain" ruck. Really good bags, frames, and suspension, but also price tags (5-700).
So all things considered, the LBT is relatively cheap and plentiful right now, so that's how I would go. I am taking it apart and doing some mods, but that's just what I do. Nothing wrong with it, as-is, but I have some improvements in mind. I'm adding "yib-yab" tabs to rig into a 1606 frame (like a jarhead ruck), and also running the DE "mountain" suspension, which is one of the best commercial harnesses available. I am also re-working the pouch suite into my own custom load-out, but that's just me again. I like big, outside pouches for a "basha" in the middle, and long pouches for cold/wet weather gear on the sides. In a tactical scenario, this makes it much easier to ditch and don kit, as conditions change, keeping an eye out, instead of burying your head inside the main bag.
Some other projects in the works. I am also modifying an issue "short back" Bergen, to take an external frame. I want to see how it works with a DE frame and suspension.
Also have a Molle 4000 torn apart and will re-build for DE frame and suspension.
Between these 3 rucks I will see what I prefer in bag size/shape, and also pouch suite.
But the bottom line is they are all "short back", meaning they will sit on top of your belt kit, not (hopefully) interfere with it. If this is something of interest to you guys, let me know and I'll post updates as I go.