I’m always on the lookout for great backpacks, but over the years I have to admit I have primarily used a medium Alice Pack for my various gear carrying needs. It certainly has served me well over the years, and seems to be the perfect backpack for me. That’s not something I take lightly. So I wanted to write a medium Alice Pack review for my readers.
As a man in my forties I like to contemporary camp with my family, go hiking on day trips and even weekend trips, go on overnight canoe trips and vacations, hunt, fish, do solo weekend bushcraft excursions… I spend a lot of time outdoors where having the need for a solid backpack to carry my essential gear is a must. The medium Alice Pack has always fit that need for me.
- Product: Medium Alice Pack
- Price: Varies online by manufacturer (around $65 to $85)
- Best place to buy: Amazon
- Colors available: black, woodland camo, tan, and digital woodland
- My Rating: 4.5/5
“Alice” stands for All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment. The Alice Pack and and it’s various miscellaneous equipment pieces, was adapted by the United States military back in 1973. For thirty years it was implemented by U.S. Forces all around the world and is still used by some training units. It is a battle tested and proven pack system. For more information in the history of Alice Packs, check out this Wiki Link.
Alice Packs are available in small, medium, and large. I also have a large pack, which I may do a review of in the near future, and link to this post.
Medium Alice Pack Review
I am writing this medium Alice Pack review because I get a lot of questions from friends and family about my preferred outdoor gear, and seventy-five percent of the time the questions always focus around what I use to carry my kit. I own six different backpacks, but three of them are Alice Packs. Two of those are medium sized packs that I bought new over the years. One is a large Alice that I bought as used military surplus fifteen years ago.
This is a medium Alice Pack review, as that is the sized pack that I tend to use the most. So if you are looking to get a lightweight pack that weighs practically nothing, that can hold copious amounts of gear, dries fast if it gets wet but has good water resistance (you can buy liners for these to waterproof protect your gear), that is easy to access your stored gear in, that can take a good beating, and is actually comfortable to lug around on your back for many hours and even days, look nor further than the medium Alice Pack.
The Alice design has been battle tested by the United Stated Military for decades… you know it can take a beating and get the job the done you need it to.
Here is what can you expect for specifications on both packs from either manufacturer:
- Adjustable padded shoulder pads (quick release)
- Three outside quick opening vented pockets with adjustable buckle/compression enclosures
- A large main compartment under an adjustable buckle/compression enclosures
- External attachment points for extra gear and add on pouches
- Construction of durable 600D P.U. coated polyester (good water resistance, and lightweight)
- Pack size 20″ x 19″ x 11″
- 2412 cu. in. capacity (roughly 39.52 liters)
- Up to 50 lbs capacity load
- Ease of Use
One of the the things I like about the Alice pack is that it has no zippers. When a pack is stuffed with gear zippers can break and can just be a pain to work with. I lost count in my younger days how many packs I threw away because they had zipper issues. Alice packs use straps with buckles and button snaps to tighten down and secure your gear. In the grand scheme of things it may not make it overly quick to access your stored gear like on some modern packs. You must undo the compression straps to open the main compartment.
The actual process is very easy. But it can be a little slower. For me, when accessing gear in my medium Alice Pack, I usually pack the gear I am less likely going to need at a moments notice in the large compartment. The three outside pouches open quickly with their adjustable compression straps with button snaps.
The main compartment of the medium Alice Pack is 19″ x 11.5″ x 9.5″, and the three smaller outside pouches are 5″ x 2.5″ x 9″. Total storage capacity is approximately 2400 cubic inches (39.50 litres). Maximum weight capacity is suggest not to exceed fifty pounds. You can carry a lot of gear in this pack.
I have loaded mine up with enough kit and food to last me four comfortable days on extended solo bushcraft excursions. You can also attach additional pouches, canteen holders with canteen, and a “butt pack” bag using Alice Clips and straps to tack on additional storage.
When my medium Alice Pack is set up for remote camping or a bushcraft weekend I carry a descent amount of gear. I easily carry a camp hammock with tree straps, waterproof tarp, ridge-line for my tarp, ‘Snugpack’ blanket, 12 cm stainless steel Zebra Pot, twig stove, first aid kit, personal hygiene kit, snare and fishing kit, flashlight, spare clothes (socks and undergarments are a must), gloves, spare cordage for camp projects, extra knife, flashlight and headlamp with extra batteries, hatchet (secured to the outside), fire starter and survival kit, light jacket or pullover, food, water, and maybe some light reading material.
There is usually a little extra room to spare after all that kit is loaded up.
Don’t need to use the full carry space of the pack, say you are going on a day trip and don’t need to carry too much gear? Simple, just use the compression straps to snug the gear you are carrying.
One of the reason I love my medium Alice Pack is because it is simple to use and has great durability. The main body material is constructed of water resistant 600D polyester. The straps are heavy nylon with metal hardware (buttons and clasps). Though the pack itself is fairly water repellent, I still treat it with Scotch Guard or a similar camp spray treatment to give it a little more boost. I also usually double line the inside of the main compartment with a couple heavy mill trash bags. This is something most campers and hikers do with their bags anyway and is not out of the norm.
My primary use medium Alice Pack has taken a lot of abuse over the years and has held up amazingly well. No rips or holes anywhere and no loose threading. The Alice Pack system was developed for the military in the late 1960’s and battle tested for decades. That fact alone is cause for praise for the durability of the pack and the newer made mil-spec manufactured units.
Upkeep & Maintenance
Very little is required to maintain my medium Alice pack in good condition. After heavy use I will take all the gear out and wipe it down first and foremost. Then I will treat the metal clasps and button snaps to a little oil (usually Rem Oil or CLP) to keep them protected from moisture and rusting up. That’s about it. Before I use it on an outing I may spray some Scotch Guard on it for a little extra water resistance.
All in all, my medium Alice Pack requires little in the upkeep and maintenance department. It is another reason why I live these packs so much.
Lightweight Aluminum Frame
Though the Alice Pack Frame is optional on the medium pack, it is a required part of the large pack. If carrying more than twenty pounds in your medium Alice Pack it probably a good idea to also use the lightweight aluminum frame in conjunction with it.
It really depends on what you are hauling in your pack. A great bonus is that the frame is only about 3.1 pounds and doesn’t add a lot of weight. They work great for distributing the weight of your pack across your shoulders and hips, as well as allowing for air flow between your back and pack. On a hot and humid day that airflow is a beautiful thing.
If you are looking to buy an Alice Pack Frame, you can get them by clicking this link.
Medium Alice Pack Review – Summing It All Up
I like the medium sized packs over the large because they are sized perfectly for gear you would want to take along for a day or even two or three day excursion. I’ve found that if I have too large of a pack I am trying to jam kit into it that I don’t necessarily need, but because I have space I try and lug more stuff along. Let me tell you, when going out into the woods for a few days to camp and practice bushcrafting skills you want to travel light and only carry the essential gear. The medium Alice pack fits that bill perfectly.
I also like the simplicity of the medium pack. No zippers to worry about breaking. Easy to clean and maintain. It can be modified with additional attachments. They are incredibly durable. And last but not least they are some of the cheaper packs out there on the market; you really get a lot of bang for your buck!
I use it for everything. While my gear needs may change from activity to activity, whether I am going for a three day hike and camp trip along the North Shore of Lake Superior, or truly roughing it with just the basics on a bushcraft excursion, my medium Alice Pack hauls my various gear and makes it easy on me.
Thanks for checking out my medium Alice Pack review. You can buy one by clicking here.
Are you are a fan of the Alice Packs, let me know and leave a comment below!
14 thoughts on “Medium Alice Pack Review – A Great General Purpose Outdoor Backpack”
Nice review! I’m actually looking for a new hiking backpack and this one may fit the bill perfectly.
Do you think that it’s okay for a day hike which only lasts a few others or would you recommend something a bit smaller?
It does look like it would be a fantastic option for going on a 2/3 day trek. Thanks for the post!
There are also smaller sized Alice Packs out there that may be better for short days hikes. The medium Alice Pack is great for the 2-3 day trip. However it can work great for the day tripper as well… it has compression straps that can be used to minimize the pack size to fit what you are carrying.
Carrying less gear, tighten down the straps so the pack is less bulky… Carry more gear, not a problem you have 39+ liter carry capacity.
This pack seems really cool. I have never seen a backpack like this that does not have any zippers. I think that is so unique. I love when companies can do something different than what everyone else is doing. I am also intrigued that it still uses an external frame as that its frame.
Yeah, many modern pack designs use zippers. You don’t see to many packs these days that use straps or buckles. Duluth Pack is well known of course for their strap and buckle packs. The medium Alice Pack is a great system in my opinion because it doesn’t use zippers, at least it’s one of the things I like about them that make they great, in my opinion. Nothing worse then bulging a zipper and breaking it out in the woods.
Many hiking packs still use frames. The Medium Alice pack is optional. Frames are a great way to haul more gear and of course allow air ventilation between your back and the pack… they really do a great job for keeping your back cool and not getting all sweat soaked!
I do a lot of water sports, sailing, portaging, kayaking etc. I know you said they dry nice and quick with the 600D Polyester, do you encounter any issues with mildew or mold? Also is the lightweight aluminum frame, is it galvanized aluminum to aid against corrosion? It looks like the ideal design and volume but again my concern is the water aspect. Right now I am using an old canvas dive bag but just like you said about the garbage bag lining and the contents all in zip-loc freezer bags. I am just wondering if this style of pack would be a better option?
This bag dries fast when it gets wet, much faster than canvas. Mold should never be an issue if you take care of the bag and let it air out properly when it does get wet – just like with any gear. If you are looking for a better way to waterproof the contents, then I would suggest using a water proof boat bag as an interior. They came in various sizes and you can easily find one that fits inside the medium Alice Pack, and they are watertight. So anything you put in them will protected from water, even being submerged in water. I use one in my pack when I go canoe tripping just in case I take a spill.
The frame for this pack, if you choose to buy one, to the best of my knowledge is not galvanized. I have one but it is older. Not sure if the newer ones are or not… I suspect not, as the information online does not mention their being a galvanized aluminum. With that said, taking care of any equipment is key to it lasting. As for aluminum, it has very good corrosion resistance on its own. Aluminum forms a thin oxide layer over itself that slows down and hinders further oxidation. These things were battle tested in the jungles of Vietnam… you can still buy old Army Surplus of these things, but personally I would go with something new.
I do a lot of regular hiking in and around my local area, and sometimes I like to take a bit of extra gear with me, so I’ve been researching backpacks that might be suitable. I want something that will fulfil my needs without breaking the bank.
The Medium Alice Pack is exactly what I’ve been looking for in terms of compartments etc., and the price is right. Thanks for this recommendation. It’s been a great help.
Glad you liked my medium Alice Pack review. I’m getting ready for a weekend excursion coming up and have my medium Alice all ready and set to go. Just need to toss some food and snacks in there and I am set. All my other usual kit is in it and ready to go.
I was just looking for a nice bag to go camping and this one look absolutely fantastic!
What I like about it is that it doesn’t feature any zipper. My belongings are always getting stuck in the zipper and it is really annoying especially when I am in a rush. Also, my husband loves fishing, so I am pretty sure this bag will meet all his expectations.
Just a question please, do you think the bag will protect all our gear if it stands hours in the rain because we usually attach it to the back of our truck?
Thank you for this excellent post and I am looking forward to reading more of your articles!
Thanks for reading. I love my medium Alice Pack. It is my go to bag, especially for day and weekend outings.
As for your question, if it is raining and the pack is outside in it for an extended duration the contents inside the pack will get wet. It is not waterproof, just water resistant up to an extent. Pack liners are commonly used to protect the inside of packs and items that you don’t want to get wet. Most people just use a heavy plastic bag or two. But there are Alice Pack waterproof liners made specifically for them that you can buy for several dollars – but why spend that money when a couple plastic trash bags will do the trick.
The nice thing about these packs is that they dry out fast if they get soaked.
I’m just starting to do some hiking and this article is perfect on timing as I’m looking for a pack to get.
Your alice pack review make strong point for me to take a took at it, and the best of your article is also reading the comments and see people love it too, and I can get a small alice pack,
Thanks for sharing this great information.
The small pack is perfect for day hiking. The medium Alice Pack is perfect for day hiking, or one or two overnights. It can really hold a lot of camping gear. I can usually get three or four nights out of my medium Alice if I really pack light and plan on do more of a bushcrafting type of camping.
All in all, great backs for hiking.
Hi,This article was so useful for me about the Alice Pack.
good job and thank you!!!
Hi KateG – Thanks for reading!