View Full Version : Picking a new pack

09-10-2010, 07:48 AM
I know this has been covered a million times, but I'm at a crossroads and can't make up my mind.

I am looking for a new backpack, all my own, not raggedy and torn up from the kids hauling a ton of books around school. By the time I reverse-inherit their backpacks, they are pretty torn up.

I found an Atlantco daypack on sale for $40. hydration compatible, and roomy enough for books and a few supplies. Water resistant to keep my stuff dry.

Found a few other similar bags with the same features, for around the same price.

Then I found ALICE packs on sale for $25. I'd prefer to have a MOLLE for it's clip-pouch feature, but I'm sure I could adapt the alice to suit my needs. Neither of these is hydration compatible, are they?

Also found a nice hunting-type bag for the same price. Lots of pouches and room and even a strap for carrying my 30/30 or bow.

I want to keep my plant books in it for the obvious reasons, a few kit items, like folding saw, hatchet, machete, fire-kit, first aid, fishing, and WATER. I'd really like to have either detachable pouches for foraging or enough pockets and room in and on the pack. Water-resistance is a necessity as I will be carrying moisture sensitive items.

Would you go with the Alice since it's on sale? Put up for the Molle for it's features? Grab a daypack and go for it?

Just need a little help making the decision. I usually just recycle the kids old bags, but the ones we got them this year are holding up really well so far and papa's gotta get a new bag.. The changes are in the air and I'm eager to get out!
I intend for it to be my Out and about bag, BOB and/or GHB. Don't need a whole lot of stuff in it, the resources in my area are great and many. I know a lot of you guys have 5 or 6 bags, but I'm trying to keep expense to a minimum and make the most out of what I can afford.

Justin Case
09-10-2010, 08:10 AM
Hydration compatible ?? what does that mean ?

09-10-2010, 09:01 AM
Hydration compatible ?? what does that mean ?

I'd guess a camel bag kind of thing..

09-10-2010, 09:03 AM
a pocket and a sleeve for the spout for a water bladder.. carry water in your bag with easy access.
like this bag (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/item-link.jsp_A&_DAV=netcon&id=0078554519532a&navCount=3&podId=0078554&parentId=cat601349&masterpathid=&navAction=push&catalogCode=IA&rid=2146251080&parentType=index&indexId=cat601233&hasJS=true).
and a bladder (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp?id=0066732519069a&navCount=2&podId=0066732&parentId=cat601349&masterpathid=&navAction=jump&cmCat=netcon&catalogCode=IA&rid=2146251080&parentType=index&indexId=cat601349&hasJS=true) to go in it.

Justin Case
09-10-2010, 09:19 AM
Ok,, I got ya,, thanks ,,

Alaskan Survivalist
09-10-2010, 09:21 AM
I have two MOLLE packs and each have a flat pouch against back. I don't use hydration bladers but it was my asumption this is what those pouches were for.

09-10-2010, 11:33 AM
Thanks AS. I may just go ahead and spend a little extra on the MOLLE then. I like the expandable features of it better than alice. Would you say they are more durable than the new nylon packs, like the one I linked above?

09-10-2010, 11:50 AM
The pouch inside the main Molle compartment is a radio pouch. Most don't actually come with the pouch included. All you'll find are two rings inside that the radio pouch hooks to. It's referred to as the Radio Pocket. The Molle rucksack was not designed to carry a bladder. The bladder is carried on the Molle vest, I think. Some of you sandbox folks can chime in on this.

Here's a sticky on packs that you might want to look through.


09-10-2010, 11:55 AM
If your heart is set on a Molle pack then you might want to look at this.


Sam is a member here. I'll be brutally honest, if you buy from him prepare to wait for a long time. I'm not certain why it takes so long but it took me two months and a lot of emails to receive mine. On the plus side, they were exactly what he said they were. Two brand new Molle packs completely assembled. And the price is probably the best you'll find anywhere. He's great about responding to emails and I think he has customer service at the forefront it just takes a long time.

His packs do not come with the Radio Pocket or the sustainment pouches. They come exactly as pictured on his web site.

Alaskan Survivalist
09-10-2010, 12:41 PM
That was the only idea I had for what these pouches were. I don't have the same kind as rick. I can't imagine a radio fitting this pouch/pocket. It is flat and runs full lenght of pack (about 18 inches). Whatever belongs there has to be thin. I have been thinking of just adding another piece of foam for padding.



On the durability issue they do have a thicker material. They have been more water resistent but I had an inncedent last weekthat raised some doubt. I took a fall with a completely full pack and it busted one of the seams open. Because it was stretched from being full it may have happened to any pack but I have been analizing it. My reasoning for the Military packs is because I carry guns, ammo, and tools that are heavy and need tough material. I think you want to consider your load and lighter things would not need the heavierr material. There are some packs like the Coleman MAX that are heavier material than most packs and I have also seen one made by Outdoors with a plastic frame that has heavier material but niether is as thick as MOLLE. Alaska prices on those packs are about 80 dollars so could be had probably 30 percent cheaper in the states. So far my MOLLE has been holding up except for the incedednt that may have been just a freak occurance but I have reduced how tight I pack things just incase. I have only used the MOLLE for about a year now on about 15 outings. It is at least as durable as other packs I used but I could tell you better in about 10 years. I have a Coleman Peak I have been using for 15 years I can swear by. I do love the utility of MOLLE!

09-10-2010, 12:59 PM
Thanks for posting those pics!!! That is a different pack altogether. The ones I have are like the ones on the link I posted. However, I have one that looks exactly like yours made by Mil-Spec. I didn't even know the stupid thing had a bladder pouch until you posted your pics. Mine does, too! There's a Velcro seem holding it closed. I'd have never even known it was there if you hadn't posted. I love learning stuff.

Alaskan Survivalist
09-10-2010, 01:01 PM
So what do you think it is for?

09-10-2010, 01:02 PM
The Alice packs are nice, I have a few. Lately though I have been using and older version of this one:

It is a North Face Spire 40 pack. Not cheap new, but used or from their outlet store it can be had for $50. I really like how it carries and fits me. Not Molle or Hydration compatible, but I have an insulated pouch that I can tie on for hydration. The belt even carries a belt holster nicer than any other packs I have owned.

09-10-2010, 01:09 PM
I agree completely. I can't see anything else it would be designed for. The Velcro stops on both sides leaving enough room for the bladder tube to exit the pack.

09-10-2010, 04:15 PM
This is really helpful guys. Thanks for the info and especially the pic of the bladder pouch. Sounds like they are pretty tough. I'll check on that coleman too. That spire 40 is gonna be way out of my price range. with the picture of the pouch there, I'm leaning heavily toward a molle like that. Still thinking maybe alice, but not sure about hydration on that one.
Thanks guys

Alaskan Survivalist
09-10-2010, 05:27 PM
I was trying to find Outdoors company and found the original pack I bought from them a long time ago. I only paid 20 dollars for the pack and never liked the bag but the frame Is the best I have ever used. The bag bit the dust carrying a leaking dead battery over one mountain and up the next (donít ask) but I kept the frame and used it as a pack board every since.


I have MOLLE small pack and pouch attached to it here.


Sometimes I just strap stuff sacks and roll stuff inside tarps and poncho to carry it.


Most of the time I just strap on what every I need for a hike like in this picture. A heavy coat and my rifle.


I keep my camping gear in Coleman peak pack and use the pack board to load food and clothes for trip. My wife carries the lighter of the two.


My camping gear is not the same as my survival gear and gets used much more and for 15 years I have been looking through outdoor stores and have not found anything I like better at any cost than these two packs. My survival packs are specialized for TEOTWAWKI but until then these are the ones I use.

09-15-2010, 01:39 AM
My mom had to go to the "big city" today to get some stuff for a job and I rode with her. There's an army surplus store over there and we stopped by to check out their bags.
Found a MOLLE 2 Assault 3-day pack for $50 brand new, all sorts of attachable bags for $2, 5, and 10 bucks, a roll of paracord for $5..
Got almost everything on my list for less than $80. (got my son a nice realtree shirt for $5 bucks of that total also.) I really racked up, and as much as I loathe going to the city, it paid off for me today.
I will be spending a lot of time making attachments to go inside and out, packing things neatly into their own special places. This is going to be fun and a great investment.

Last time I had a new backpack, I was still in high school! I'm like a kid in a candy store.. Can't stop trying to pack stuff in it, take it out, repack it. figure how to attach things.. Roomy and collapsible. It should do well as my "all around use bag". Can we make that a new anagram? GUB for general use.
It will always have the bare necessities, with emergency type stuff ready to be stuffed to go in one of those nifty waterproof attachables I picked up today.

Thanks for all the advice guys. Now I have a bag I can custom build! Fun Fun!!

09-15-2010, 02:43 AM
YCC is that the pack with just 2 main compartments? I'm looking into getting one myself.

09-15-2010, 09:13 AM
It has one big main compartment, and two smaller ones on front. The main has a sleeve for hydration, a webbed compartment and the hooks for hanging stuff inside. The two smaller ones are not further pocketed, but there are TONS of attachment points outside.
can't find a pic of it online. I'll snap a pic and upload it for you

09-15-2010, 09:24 AM
bladder tube access and attachments on the side

top view of main compartment. bladder sleeve and webbing pocket

top front pocket

bottom front pocket

full view with a few attachments

09-15-2010, 11:25 AM
spent the morning organizing and repacking the bag. Got ALL my stuff in it that goes inside, including books, got stuff in the accessory bags, that don't go inside, and still have an extra acc. pouch on the outside for foraging. All I need now is the bladder to carry water.
This includes ton's of cordage, premade trap triggers, knives, light, first aid, fire, map and compass, saw, etc.
Gotta make a few leather items such as a quiver, axe holder, folding shovel, etc. but I'll have this thing outrigged by next week to carry everything I need. The thing I like about this setup... If I'm just going hiking and looking at flowers or whatever, I can just detach the pouches I don't need, like sleeping bag, 100' of cordage, and such, and If I'm going hunting I can maximize the use of space and that gear as well.

I'll probably unpack and repack again, just to see if everything is where I think it is and is easily accessible, make tweaks and adjustments, probably add a few more extra pouches over time. So far I really like it. All my stuff fits with room to spare, (yes even my knapping stuff!) and only time will tell if it's as durable as it appears.
Still got a few things I want to add to my kit and there's plenty of room inside.

09-15-2010, 12:29 PM
Looks like you already got a pack. I will say this, as it seemed important to you. Any pack is hydration compatible. It is just that some need to be told so (ie modified). The ALICE and MOLLE radio pockets could easily hold a bladder as well, without modifying.

09-15-2010, 09:18 PM
Just ordered a Kifaru G1 Navigator for the wifey. The G1's are 50% off so I just couldn't pass up this deal.

09-16-2010, 01:51 AM
Looks nice YCC, thanks. That's what I'm looking for too, something light that can be modified to suit, but a little bigger than the daypack I currently have, yet smaller than the big external frame that I now loathe.

09-22-2010, 02:53 PM
@ AS,

I appreciate you posting about your pack. I would have never know it had a bladder pocket if you hadn't. I paired mine up with a Nalgene TPE Big Bore 2 liter bladder. It's about 2 inches too tall for the velcro but you can make it fit easy enough. I think a 1 liter would be just fine. Thanks again!!




09-22-2010, 09:04 PM
After you posted the sweet deal you got at the army surplus YCC, I checked out one of ours. WAY EXPENSIVE! They had medium alice packs used for over 100.00 and the Molle you got pictured was 79.00 and it was a low end version too. Extra Molle pouches were all 10-20 bucks each. I did grab 100' of paracord for 7.99 and a Coughlans 5/16" firesteel for 3.99 to justify the cost of gas going there and back which was about 10 bucks. LOL!.

I'm not sure why prices are so much higher here, but I think a lot may have to do with the high demand from paintball and airsoft enthusiasts which is quite popular here.

09-22-2010, 09:32 PM
RWC, I bought a medium alice pack which came with a new frame and excellent used pack (couldn't tell it was ever used) from armygear.net for $26 shipping was like 13 dollars and had it in less than a week from the time I hit enter on the key board

09-22-2010, 09:37 PM
Yeah.. the guy there offered me a large alice pack for 25 bucks, but it wasn't what I was looking for.
I tried looking for their website mpsurplus.com but apparently the site is dead. No Idea what's going on there.

Alaskan Survivalist
09-22-2010, 09:47 PM
Rick, I have 2 packs very similar to the one you have. I love them as long as they are not fully loaded. They have good compression strap system. I keep main compartment packed and leave the rest for things that vary from trip to trip or I find on trail. I am kind of bummed out today because I wanted to get out and do some hiking today. It was a beautiful day but my shoulder went out on me for no partcular reason. I sure hope it heals by tommorrow and the weather holds. Reminds me I need to put a hot water bottle in my survival gear. I don't think my old bones would survive long without my heating pad.

09-23-2010, 09:03 AM
Thanks tipacanoe and YCC, those both sound like a good deal. I'm not looking for an Alice, but was shocked at how much they wanted. It was one of the only true mil surplus packs they had. They did have a more modern ILBE pack, but it was pretty beat up and I think they wanted over 250 for it. I've seen them new online for less either way.

I'm getting the Made in USA Molle II patrol/ assault pack and a few other items. NIB for 47.00 or so + shipping. It was less expensive than the cheapest import I could find and hopefully it will stand up to some hard use.

09-23-2010, 09:56 AM
I was trying to find Outdoors company and found the original pack I bought from them a long time ago. I only paid 20 dollars for the pack and never liked the bag but the frame Is the best I have ever used. The bag bit the dust carrying a leaking dead battery over one mountain and up the next (donít ask) but I kept the frame and used it as a pack board every since.

I recognize that frame! That's an enduroflex!

To anyone who hasn't seen it yet, you might find The ALICE Thread interesting:


10-09-2010, 08:51 AM
Got a nice bladder from RedHead. It's smaller than I wanted, but for $13 I thought it was a good deal till I can get a bigger one. I would have preferred a 3L but that was over $20!?!? 3L would easily fit in the sleeve.
Anyhow, the same weekend I talked about testing out my buckskin, I did some "living out of the bag" at camp. Everything was right where I thought it should be, easy to access and kept neat. I am thinking long and hard about adding another book bag to this sort of kit so I can take or leave them as I choose and depending on the situation. It's an extra 10 pounds I could live without when just "out and about".
Last weekend did about a 6 hour hike through some of the WMA over in the next county. Took the bag off only to eat lunch or look up a plant in my books. The padding on this bag is suitable for my needs, very comfortable compared to my kids old bookbags.
Could I walk 10 hours a day with it on my back? I'm afraid I'd have to take a lunch break, but yes, after a short rest, I'm certain I could make it to my BOL with it on. a 3 day march...The only problem is I need a days worth of water for 2 adults and 3 kids.. Now I just gotta get the kids packed up with bottled water and snacks.
Alls I need now is a gig bag for my books, and I'm all set, should the SHTF. Getting into my third year of foraging and wild edibles... I still need a buffer so the books are a must. Also need a few more accessory pouches for foraging, so with another $20 I could have my own personalized Favorite bag.
I understand a lot of you guys north of here will need more gear for winter months, so a bigger bag will fit your needs, but down here.. 9 months of summer and 3 months of winter.. You really just don't need all that extra stuff.

I hope this little review might help some of you decide on an affordable, adaptable pack system. The molle attachment straps are the bees knees!