I've done a little "market research" as it were lately, on MR internal frame rucks.  I recently traded out for one so I could test it out for myself.  The particular bag I have is the "Grisly" which I assume is pretty close to the 6500.  I loaded it up, to about 45lbs, and took it out for several spins.  4, 6, and 8 miles.  Rolling terrain, temps in the mid-40's.  I was pretty much disappointed.  I though it would ride a lot better than it did.  It gets the job done, I suppose, but I thought with MR's reputation, it would be a lot better.  

I just don't like the internal frame and suspension anymore.  After testing out all the pack bags on a Crossfire external frame and suspension, I guess you get used to a certain ride, and when you go back to other systems, they just don't compare.  Although I may be a little biased on the subject, but I would guess most guys that try them both out would agree.  

First off, is the internal frame.  Such as it is.  You get these two sets of stays, one in the bag itself, and another in the Futura style harness.   I just don't think this is beefy enough.  It barely works for 45 lbs and I wouldn't want anything over that.  The load can twist and move around, if you get off-level, or go into a recon shuffle.

The suspension relies on a heavily over-padded, super stiff waist belt.  The shoulder straps are basically there to hold the ruck against your back.  And there's is some validity in that approach, however, the waist belt is so stiff your hips can't really articulate in uneven terrain, much less move at a run.  You are basically locked into a walking pace.  Which if that's all you need to do, GTG, but for .mil applications you might need more.

The suspension padding hugs you from neck to hips, which sounds good on the face of it, but soaks you through with sweat, even at lower temps.  So at first blush. you're thinking, right on, but temperature regulation could be a challenge.

And yeah full disclosure I work for Crossfire now, so if I just wanted to motherfuck the competition, I could say all this just as marketing strategy to pimp my wares.  But it's not that; before I went to work for Crossfire, I wanted to try MR rucks out for a long time.  I figured if the big dogs are using them, they must be pretty good.   But the price point kept me away.  When I finally did get my hands on them, I just gotta say, I am not that impressed.

But hey, any of you guys with more experience with them, chime in here.  Did the issue rucks get the job done for ya, or what?   

"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

Original Post

I never humped one (MR) in theater.  Had a medic that had the RATS in A'stan - he liked it for the better than issued  very-large Army MOLLE ruck for his personal and medical gear (most guys were using Eberlestock or the Army's 3-day pack).  It worked for him, but I can't say he bought it for the frame/suspension, but rather the innovative incorporation of medical kit into a ruck suitable for 3+ days dismounted. 

I happened to get a RATS and really checked it out - it was very nice for what it was.  Also had a 6500 - I didn't find it that hot, but I never had a real load in it, and it was definitely better than the issue ruck, although too large to compare to the 3-day pack.  But that is the point - almost anything is better than the issue Army pack.

Back in the late 80s, still a civilian, and I had a then-near state of the art Jansport external frame pack for scouts.  I was able to have a friend that weighed around 200 lbs stand on that pack frame.  I could readily walk around with him hanging onto the frame, with all the weight pretty much in my hips.  Now, that was way beyond the realistic load-carrying ability of the pack (and balancing the weight/center of gravity was the real problem), but for normal movement on relatively flat terrain, it was actually doable.  Then I joined the Army and found how incredibly horrible the issue bag is if you are carrying more than 50 pounds for any real distance.

There is a definite difference for what works for extended, expedition-style portage, and what is appropriate for extended patrolling in a military context.  I think the MRs are more of the former - but compared to most .mil bags, they fit really well, almost feeling like a clamped on system versus the issued stuff just flopping around on your back, especially with body armor.  The belt is stiff on the MR - but if you are walking/yomping, (not ruckrunning) - I think it works just fine, and feels like such a great upgrade over issue kit.  

So, have you tried the Eberlestock F3-series in comparison?  Different, but much more affordable, and therefore many guys are more familiar with it, from my experience.

And all that rucking I did in the 101st for 4 years - man I'm glad I was in heavy units for most of my career...

Tankersteve

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

Yeah you bring up some very good points. 

It's a very important distinction, between say a stationary hunter in a blind, and a .mil dude gettin' it done.  I've had a MR 3-day Assault pack for years, and for awhile there it was my most bestest, favo-rite pack.   Like you said, the padding and suspension just envelop you, especially after years of the big green tick.  So what I would hazard to guess, is that most guys went to this format because, well, they weren't doing 10K off-sets with 95lb packs.  So for the "average"  dude, this works very well.  Funny story, I was stroking around one show or the other, about '07 time frame, and Dana sees my/his pack and sez: "I don't see any dirt on that", and I'm like, yeah, well, you know.  It was my daily carry pack I took to work in those days, which kinda illustrates my point.  

So yeah, if we take a look at our hunter, from his clothing,  to his weapons and equipment, we see a huge difference between him, and say some SF dude humpin' up the Hindu Kush.  While there are many overlaps, especially with the new breed of mountain hunters, there are major differences.  .Mil has tried internal frame rucks on several occasions, with the CFP-90, ILBE, and now the MR variants.  The early MR stuff, from say '07 was not supportive enough for heavy .mil loads.  So they recently beefed up their .mil designs.  I still don't think they have enough support.  So we are seeing there is a difference from our hunter packing out his meat and rack, as opposed to our hunter humping in all that mil-spec hardware.  

This is something I think our guys are gonna eventually figure out.  Since SOCOM can go around the usual supply chain boogey, and go direct to mfg's and get anything they want, they can get internal frame packs they see civvies in, thinking they've found the solution.  Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don't.

Another thing you mentioned, which is also very important.  Most good ruck systems, including MR internals, are really good when you have a casual walking pace, mostly level ground, and not stupid-heavy loads.  When you get out on the ragged edge of things, this breaks down.  Frequently in military affairs things go side-ways, and guys end up carrying shit in ways that might kick a Sherpa's ass.

It will be interesting to see what happens, going forward, as we see a return to jungle, mountain, and artic warfare, where long approach marches are more common.  I think the classic external framed pack, like the Jansport you mentioned may be making a come-back.  Especially in SF circles around the globe.           

"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

Hmmm.  Different strokes for different folks.  I humped a modded up Large Alice pack full of god knows what for years in .mil.   I tried the old LOWE alpine pack but it didn’t work.   Since then I have been a hiker and used Dana design and MR packs for 20 years.  I have hauled them from the Appalachian trail to Nepal.   Along the way and over the years I flirted with a few other brands - Gregory, arcteryx, northface, and a very expensive kifaru rig.   Some were better than others but for me MR is the better fit of the bunch.  They are good but not magic.   

I find I have to shorten the frame a bit more than my torso measurement would suggest.  I also have to pay attention to the load lifters for it to ride right.  

I can’t say they are going to be the best for everyone but they are certainly one of the top brands in the industry.   If things got so bad they were calling up the geezer brigade, I would be marching off to war with an MR pack on my back.  

_______________________ Front Toward Enemy

The Special Forces ruck suite is now three different packs, operator chooses which one based on METT-T -- vice just throwing on the old ALICE large.

I have an MR Terraplane in the office against the wall for winter cold-dry.  My latest is a Marine FILBE with an MR Guide Light frame.

I no longer have a requirement to haul my worldly belongings in a ruck but my son does.  I'm waiting to see the Crossfire frames.

Yeah, it was not that long ago that I swore by my Gregory Snow Creek, and then my Brit Bergens.  There are times and places for alpine style internal frame rucks, of that there is no doubt.  The comfort and balance are awesome.  

The question in my mind is what is the optimum solution for military ops versus civvy back-packing/mountaineering/hunting.  There is a wide range of .mil apps and I think there might be a range of packs that fill those roles, beyond internal frames.

But yeah very true, each to his own. If you have a pack and it works for you, GTG.      

"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

Mike, I think the problem for as long as man has worn belt or chest webbing is that the guys hauling foot soldier stuff don't or can't properly articulate to the stitch-bitches what it is they want exactly.  SF guys have modded things, lazy Army tries to adopt them, and you have two groups of foot Soldiers not happy with what they have.

SF seems to be able to pick-and-choose.  GWOT has meant a whole lot less yomping outside of school environments.

Leg Army insists the Dome of Obedience and vest with hard plates (maybe now the IOTV) , eye protection, and PT belt  MUST be worn, including while in the shitter and shower. 

Add lightfighter/mech-track Soldier differences and we add more complication.

Guys like Dana keep cranking out mods while the customers spin in circles.

The corporate Army and Marine Corps has changed the way they fight since OG-107 jungle fatigues in Vietnam with belt webbing and basic suspenders.

Ha yeah I get that, and this goes on at multiple levels.  Between design guys and end-users; between civvies and .mil; between real grunts and support; between big army and socom.

And yeah you're right, case in point, Dana and MR.  The green machine will keep coming out with requirements, and MR will be happy to fulfill them.  So when I crank on MR for not making what I consider to be the optimum pack for mil apps, is it their fault, or the system that requested them.

Your last point is a real corker.  Things have really changed on this front since I was AD, for sure.   Now that Spec Ops have their own branch of service- and think about that- they truly are a separate branch now, look how that has affected how weapons and equipment is procured, and then how that trickles down to big army.         

"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

My tanker buddy Frank R. went into the Army Acquisition Corps (our equipment buyers) about 30 years ago.  He asked me how SF did their requirements and buying.

I told him guys would assess their needs, then tell the equipment buyers, "It's got to fold up small, fold out big, weigh nothing, and come in outrageous civilian colors no Leg Command Sergeant Major would tolerate in a hundred years."

He laughed, thought about it, and said, "Yeah, that probably works."

Sinister posted:

The Special Forces ruck suite is now three different packs, operator chooses which one based on METT-T -- vice just throwing on the old ALICE large.

I have an MR Terraplane in the office against the wall for winter cold-dry.  My latest is a Marine FILBE with an MR Guide Light frame.

I no longer have a requirement to haul my worldly belongings in a ruck but my son does.  I'm waiting to see the Crossfire frames.

 

I still think a combo of medium and large ALICE with a better frame and suspension is the best bet for most military application. 
I just missed out on a TYR Jungle ruck on eBay and I’m bummed because I really like the concept, but at my current income level I cannot justify $800 for what is essentially an ALICE pack. 

Sinister, what do you think of the Guide light frame? I’ve been eyeballing it to pair with my modified medium Alice. 

Sinister posted:

I've been stuck in school, but it's definitely nice.  They were on clearance with MULE packs for a hundred bucks.

After finishing my last final I'm now doing bourbon therapy for back spasms. 

 
 
 

$100! Nice! 

ugh, I have to double dip and take all my finals from this semester next semester. 
heal up! 

If you guys would be interested in trying out a Crossfire frameset on yer ALICE goodness, let me know.  I'm thinking you would be pleasantly surprised.    

"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

Diz posted:

If you guys would be interested in trying out a Crossfire frameset on yer ALICE goodness, let me know.  I'm thinking you would be pleasantly surprised.    

I'll vouch for the Crossfire frameset with an ALICE or MOLLE ruck. Did my first ruck with the Crossfire paired with a MOLLE ruck last week and it's a night and day difference. Rucking weekly, I'll have a lot more miles under it over the next few months to make a more thorough assessment but so far it's a winner.

Yeah, I think the Molle Large and DG16 frameset is gonna be a winner.

And yeah, I have to agree with your sentiments about the Medium/Large ALICE system.  For short back rucks with external frames, the concept was sound.  It will still work, if that's all you have, but there have been improvements over the years.  I too have tried many different frames and suspensions on these bags and while there was improvement, I was never really satisfied. Then I tried the Crossfire frameset.  It's like combining the rigidity of the ALICE with the flex of the NICE/Guide Light.

Another thing, since all this was mentioned, you don't have to wait for sales or clearance to be able to afford it, either.

As far as bags go, I too prefer the FILBE over the ALICE, and the Molle Large ain't bad either.  These bags are also pretty inexpensive and have much better features.  

And I'm serious if you guys want to try a Crossfire frameset, let me know.       

"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

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