The ALICE military backpack came into existence in January 1973. Designed to emulate older versions used in World Wars I & II, the Alice Pack was a necessity for the fighters in Vietnam.
ALICE stands for All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment. This type of pack is still in use with the American military, though it is slowly being replaced with the MOLLE issue pack.
The ALICE Pack was designed to lighten the overall weight of their pack. By changing materials and the makeup of the components, the U.S. Military was able to lighten the pack down to three pounds empty. This was a considerable difference from older versions whose lightest weight was at five pounds. By changing the heavy cotton material to a lightweight, water proof nylon, and the components from heavy steel to aluminum, the ALICE pack became lightweight and less burdensome to the solider.
Designed with a pack on the back, two shoulder straps and a mid section belt, the ALICE design was made for easy carrying. The wide shoulder straps reduce the pressure put upon the shoulders from the weight of the pack and the multi function belt serves as weight distribution and additional carrying capabilities.
Military packs were designed to provide the solider with carrying capabilities for the mission at hand and that mission only. This usually comprised of a change of clothes, firearm and ammunition, a canteen, field first aid kit and any other relevant items that relate to the particular mission. Objective, terrain and length of time were all considerations in packing an ALICE Pack. ALICE Packs were available in three sizes and were issued on a per case scenario.
Slated to be replaced in 1988 by the military, officially this has not happened. The popularity of the ALICE pack among personnel has made the change over slow. Many of the ALICE components are capable of interchanging with the newer packs being used by the military.
Popular with campers and backpackers you can find ALICE packs in many Army/Navy stores. The packs while no longer produced by the military are often found in their surplus lots. It will be a long time before the packs are no longer available.