The weather is nice, and you’re ready to hit the trail, but should you take your Alice pack, or do you need another solution? Well, backpacking is different from an emergency bug out scenario. I’ve spent years trekking up and down mountains with various styles of backpacks, from military to school bags. Alice packs have some apparent advantages, but they’re also made for soldiers to ‘ruck’ a whole lot of heavy gear over long distances with no backup coming. Meanwhile, backpacking is typically a much lighter weight scenario.
Backpacking rigs come in more styles and fits. Moreover, a soldier wants to fade into the background while a hiker can benefit from brighter colors in case of any problems. I’ll walk you through the differences and explain which style you need for backpacking, and why. Taking backpacking trips is a superb way to train your body and learn vital outdoor skills, but bringing the wrong bag isn’t going to help, and it can fatigue you unnecessarily.
Is an Alice Pack Good for Backpacking? An Alice pack is not suitable for backpacking. Although Alices are great for bugging out because of the massive capacity, they are too broad and stocky for regular backpacking. Moreover, this style requires modification to wear comfortably for any length of time.
What is an Alice Pack
Adopted by the US Army in nineteen seventy-three, an Alice pack is lighter than the backpacks carried by soldiers previous to that era. However, a more lightweight soldier pack is not necessarily what you want for civilian backpacking. War-zone tested Alice packs lack much of the essential comfort and accessibility of a hiking backpack.
Advantages of an Alice Pack
All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment or Alice packs are cost-effective and can carry a considerable quantity of gear. The massive single pocket is usually enough to hold fifty liters when combined with three outer pockets. Rugged and extremely durable, Alices are more than you need for backpacking.
Versatile Alice packs are also known for their long lives. One backpack was supposed to last a soldier for at least one tour of duty, lasting several years. Sometimes they can hold up for decades. That’s a nice bonus.
Choose an Alice for your emergency bug out bag. The ability to carry more weight and gear while escaping via your planned route is fantastic. In an emergency, comfort and whether you can reach all your equipment easily without stopping is not the primary issue. Instead, what matters most is whether you get out with everything you need to survive.
For those seeking larger hiking backpacks, I suggest the Nevo Rhino Hiking Backpack from Amazon. In sizes from forty to eighty liters, you can bring whatever you need for backpacking and camping. The durable, lightweight nylon material won’t weigh you down, and the high-quality zippers are more modern than the buckles and clasps of an Alice pack. See the outstanding reviews for yourself by clicking here.
The Downside to Alice Packs
Unwieldy Alice packs are not made with comfort in mind. Soldiers have specific long term needs that involve being in the field for weeks or even months. Meanwhile, your backpacking trip is likely to last only a few days at most.
A heavy and oversized Alice pack is not designed to let you reach your pockets easily. Grab and go items were attached to extra pouches using suspenders and a belt system. However, for hiking and backpacking, the more straightforward, sleeker, and lighter fit of a civilian pack is a smart choice.
The more considerable base weight of an Alice is likely to fatigue backpackers more than necessary. Moreover, backpacking packs are often waterproof, while Alice packs usually absorb water if it rains or the humidity is too high. Finally, the outdated snaps and buckles are less than ideal for a simple backpacking trip. In short, get a hiking backpack for comfort and ease of access.
Why You Need a Regular Hiking Backpack
In addition to the advantages of a regular hiking backpack over an Alice pack, they are also better than most crossbody bags. Because a bag has two straps and often comes with chest and waist straps as well, the weight distribution is ideal. Moreover, they usually weigh less than Alice packs.
According to REI, you need a relatively limited number of things in a basic hiking pack. They recommend ten essential items that are similar to what I’d recommend in a large EDC bag. Naturally, you’ll need more of these things if your hike is longer.
“This is a collection of gear and clothing that all hikers should carry whenever they step onto the trail. The collection includes items for navigation, sun protection, insulation, illumination, first aid, fire, repairs, nutrition, hydration, and emergency shelter.” The only things I would add to this list are self-defense and a way to call for help, such as a portable ham radio.
I recommend the Mountaintop 40L Hiking Backpack from Amazon for those quick trips to go exploring and hiking in nature. This well known and trusted brand has been around since the mid-nineteen-eighties. Plus, the adjustable hip belt is comfortable, and these bags are small enough to qualify as personal carryons when you fly. Grab yours by clicking here.
You can easily see how this differs from what you’d pack in an Alice bug out bag. Backpacking is exercise and enjoyment rather than preparing to survive in the face of a dangerous situation. Although any hiking can devolve into danger very quickly, the motivation is very different.
Backpacking Bag Advantages
Most backpacking bags have several pockets, which allow you to stay organized easily. Alice packs rely on you to manage your gear with separate containers and molle pouches instead. Additionally, most bags designed for enjoying the great outdoors have at least one pocket or side pouch you can reach easily without removing the pack. Plus, they are often waterproof.
The lighter weight is part of the appeal, but hiking packs tend to be slimmer as well. Fortunately, this allows you to move between overhanging trees and path crowding bushes more easily. With either internal or external frames, you can find a style that suits you. Meanwhile, the Alice pack follows one basic shape and style combination and only offers a couple of sizes.
Like the massive Alice pack, your backpacking pack is expertly designed to do its’ job. Arguably the most crucial element of survival is preparedness. Thus, it would be best if you had the right pack for the job you’re doing.
How to Choose the Best Backpack
Alice packs are seldom the right choice for backpacking. However, there’s more to choosing the right hiking backpack than grabbing the first framepack you see. You need to consider the weather, your strength and stamina, what equipment you plan to carry, and the fit. For example, not all backpacking bags are waterproof because they don’t always need that feature.
You don’t necessarily need to find insulated packs for cold weather; however, waterproofing is vital in the rain. Additionally, carrying a large black or dark-colored backpack in the middle of summer is foolhardy. Likewise, you should seek out a brightly colored and easy to spot pack in case you ever end up lost or in need of rescue.
Strength, stamina, and equipment needs to all tie in together. Your hiking backpack needs to be capable of taking the weight and distributing it to avoid fatigue. Some of that is down to how you pack, but the bag itself also affects how you carry gear.
Always check the fit on your backpack. Although most styles are similar, you still need to do a test run to make sure that you aren’t going to end up rubbing yourself raw on a poorly placed strap or wearing a frame that is too large or small to fit your body.
Framepack or Daypack
The duration of your planned hike is another serious consideration. If you plan to hike out and back in one day, or you’re only going overnight, sometimes a regular, well-constructed backpack with no frame or frills is ideal. However, for serious backpacking trips where you plan to stay more than a night, or two at most, require larger hiking-style backpacks.
A Wasing 55L Internal Frame Backpack is made from water-resistant ripstop fabric. Moreover, a molded foam back panel keeps you on the move, so you don’t have to stop and readjust to stay comfortable. Plus, the aluminum frame bar is adjustable as well. Learn more when you click here.
What Not to Pack for Backpacking
In addition to making sure you have the basics and everything you need, there are things you should not take backpacking with you. Fancy shoes, jewelry, and lots of accessories are obvious leave-at-home items. You don’t need them on the trail.
Other things to leave behind include heavy items like giant camera lenses, extra pairs of jeans, and equipment you don’t really need. Unlike packing for survival, you are not backpacking for your life. Keep your bath towels and books where they belong, at home.
Alice packs are great for trekking through a warzone when you need to bring everything but the kitchen sink with you, but they’re not the best for backpacking. As a civilian recreational sport, backpacking is a great way to have fun, stay in shape, and build outdoor survival skills. To do this, you need a lighter pack that is made to fit comfortably over long distances.
Ultralight backpackers may even opt for a pack as small as an average school bookbag. However, it depends on your circumstances and goals. For comfortable camping, you’ll find a larger forty to sixty-liter framepack is the best option.
As the seasons change, it’s an ideal time to get out and hit those trails. Backpacking can be a refreshing and delightful change from the hustle and bustle of the city, even as you work on improving vital outdoor skills.