Choosing A Ruck

#1
In short, how do you choose a pack specifically in regards to use for fitness?
I already have a couple pig eggs laying around that I used for unit PT and I'd like to start using them again to get not fat. I've heard Alice pack in the past as a default and that's probably as much as I'm willing to spend but I don't know WHY I would buy an Alice, I can't even cite where I heard that as an answer. So if I could get some pointers for choosing your own pack that would be awesome.
 
#2
For me alice is still my go to after 10 years here's a short list of why, that I can think off the top of my head:

metal frame
multiple actual pack options: medium, large, Malice; with options to add more pouches on the exterior
multiple shoulder pad options
multiple kidney belt/pad/waist strap options; with options to add pouches to your waist strap
back pads for the gap in the frame and your back
still super cheap since they have been around forever and can be found outside any base or surplus store

easy to load main compartment with exterior pouches that make sense
top lid pouch for things like rain gear, maps, etc...
flat interior compartment that is against the frame very useful for flat items
easy to cinch down and make the pack as small as possible even when loaded down and get the weight raised up on the frame

so for fitness/ruck marches;
you can easily load it with weight nearest to your body and get it raised up so that its not sitting low on your back with multiple pad options to make it as comfortable as you desire while still loading lots of weight. I used to load a 25-35# plate on the interior flat pouch that is nearest to the frame for formation ruck marches to get the majority of the weight then got the rest with whatever I needed.
 

chasnojm

Regular Member
#3
The Alice is really a phenomenal design that has been greatly enhanced by the welded frames etc. I highly suggest keeping a surplus pack for the frame if you are using it for training. It keeps the cost down and its already great for rucking. A mountain ruck bag will do the trick.

That being said, I would not suggest ruck running unless its part of your unit's evaluation. Rucking is extremely taxing on your body in terms of the damage its inflicting. When you are running with 50 pound dry plus water and food, its a significant load on your joints etc.

Unless you are preparing for selection, I wouldn't do it too often. Hiking (rucking at a 3 mph pace) isn't as bad, but its all mental anyways.
 

Grizzly

Regular Member
#4
I put together the modified alice pack the "hellcat" as described here: http://libertytreeblogs.blogspot.com/2011/04/building-hellcat-hybrid-ruck-from-us.html from surplus stuff pretty cheap and I like it. It is pretty big so isn't my first choice for hiking but it is quite usable when I need a big pack.

If you are rucking for fitness but don't have to ruck for selection/tests you can try dragging a sled. I rigged up an old tire with a piece of plywood in the middle to hold weight then added an old tow strap to hook to a belt or harnass for about $15. Add 20-60lb and drag that for a mile or two. You'll be good and smoked with out having the pounding a heavy ruck can bring to the party (as chasnojm mentioned it is rough on the body).
 

Frosty_Bear

Regular Member
#5
@Grizzly That hellcat is pretty dope. That's the coolest thing I've seen in terms of rucking in a while.

@Longinvs When you're rucking, think about your feet too. Every 1 Lb. on your feet is 4-6 lbs. on your back depending on which study you're looking at. On the contrary, the better(thicker, quality) sole you have on the shoe, you'll be less likely to have blisters. You can check out this post here on rucking: https://primaryandsecondary.com/forum/index.php?threads/norwegin-foot-march.5925/#post-34116
Pro tip: Stretch more before doing something that fucking long. I'm still hurting because I didn't prepare my body like I did my gear. Your body needs to be "gamed" too.

If you want a lighter ruck system than the ALICE, there's always the straight MOLLE. It reduced the weight of the ruck itself and provides much better hip support compared to the ALICE system. Which is why that Hellcat, outfitted with the MOLLE shoulder and hip system is so cool. I've cracked 1 MOLLE frame in the past from cinching my bag tight with a lot of weight. Granted, they were still very functional, just at a 90% level. If you don't want to ever worry about that, the Hellcat seems like one hell of a system at face value.

MOLLE:
It has a number of pros that I'll cover since they haven't been covered yet. In no particular order:
1. It's lighter. I don't know how much from a cursory duckduckgo search. But it's noticeable if you grabbed two. Ounces equal pounds, say hasta la vista to weight at every chance you get when the cost benefit analysis makes sense.

2. It's much more modular. You can remove the sustainment pouches on the side, add different ones. It's easier to cinch things down from the MOLLE being almost everywhere you might need it. There is a "shelf" in the center of the main sack that can be used to raise the weight of the cargo higher. You want to keep that weight high and close to your body. Routing a camelback or similar system isn't difficult and can be done very well.

3. Keeping it small. You want to cinch down the sack to get the ruck as small as possible. There are a standard 6 straps on the main MOLLE sack that do this. You can also empty the sack beneath the shelf to get it smaller. This will substantially lessen the felt load and make you much more maneuverable. I can run pretty freaking fast with 30 pounds or less, all things considered. If it's packed right and not swinging around. Arm movement is also less restricted when you're executing a push-up to get up from the prone. Unless I know we're bedding down for a good minute, I don't feel the urge to remove my ruck because it's comfortable and maneuverable. I might lay back on it and loosen the shoulder straps while I eat, so when it's time to go: cinch the straps and stand up. Because of the MOLLE system, you can add more straps if you absolutely have to.

4. The OCP camouflage is better than ranger green. Practically speaking, but also aesthetically(IMHO, wearer's preference).

Cons:
1. Like I said above, even with the latest generations you can break the frame. I broke a gen 2 frame. The gen 3 is much less brittle, but for that gen 2....I was being very, very aggressive with my cinching for a ruck challenge. I paid the price with a ruck that only connected the top and bottom through the center spine. Oddly enough, while I had worse hip support...it did increase my flexibility. If it wasn't for the clacking of the frame, it might have made sense for shorter/faster action stuff. I've never seen or heard of a Gen 3 frame cracking, but it could be possible.

2. MOLLE is not as cheap as the ALICE. Don't be a poor, but at the same time...budgets are real. Ball on a budget and you can ball more.


If you plan on carrying a lot of weight(65+ lbs), I would more strongly advise the MOLLE or Hellcat system. I don't know your build, whether you have a long or short torso, broad or narrow shoulders. I don't know your medical history either. But, I know that more equally sharing that load between your hips and shoulders will cause less damage/fatigue to your shoulders. This helps in movement, shooting and comfort substantially after 65 lbs. Idk why, but 65 lbs. is the magic number for my build that a properly worn ruck very noticeably affects the above 3 things. I'm 6'0, 170 lbs with above average length limbs. Range walking comes easy to me, but it may not for you due to genetics. Every bit of "gaming" gives you an edge.

Don't ruck run trying to get that highest speed. Game your rig to reduce your drag. Average speed and low, low drag will beat high speed and average drag almost every time. People don't perform well when they're tired, so reduce fatigue where you can. Reducing your chances of injury is the most important thing like @chasnojm and @Grizzly mentioned. Take care of yourself and avoid bad knees, spinal compression, shoulder nerve damage and blisters from the hip straps. It'll help you enjoy rucking so much more.
 

Frosty_Bear

Regular Member
#6
Note though, I'm a younger guy who doesn't have near the experience as rucking as the gentlemen above. Just one of them likely has double my rucking experience at least.
I'm just very used to the new stuff and appreciate it's qualities, while getting to see a lot of my peers with the ALICE systems. On average, the ALICE performs worse. This could easily be attributed to their unit's training, doctrine, gear being subpar. I'm AROTC btw.
 
#7
Note though, I'm a younger guy who doesn't have near the experience as rucking as the gentlemen above. Just one of them likely has double my rucking experience at least.
I'm just very used to the new stuff and appreciate it's qualities, while getting to see a lot of my peers with the ALICE systems. On average, the ALICE performs worse. This could easily be attributed to their unit's training, doctrine, gear being subpar. I'm AROTC btw.
FWIW, I had the option to either use the ALICE or MOLLE. For movements, ruck marches and airborne ops, everyone that I know, and myself, universally choose the ALICE. I would not say it under performs the MOLLE, I would say from my experience the MOLLE under perfoms vs the ALICE and the MOLLE makes a stupid creaky sound that I could never get over. YMMV
 

Frosty_Bear

Regular Member
#8
I've noticed most people prefer the ALICE. With the hip and shoulder system of the MOLLE, it makes a lot of sense to me. The Army replaced the ALICE with the MOLLE because of the complete lack of weight to hip allocation. Some people don't like rucking with weight on their hips. From what I know, there is no study out there on which method is better. I know I prefer to have a lot of hip support, so I like the MOLLE system. However, I'd be very interested to try out the Hellcat to see if there can be a best of both worlds.

Also, if you replace the plastic bits used on the straps, this will get rid of the "creaky noise".
 
#9
So when people are referring to the MOLLE pack what pack do you have in mind? I have heard a lot of people refer to a lot of packs as MOLLE packs, I assume they aren't all right. Maybe they are, this is a learning experience for me, I've never had to shop for anything more than a day pack. The pack I've heard most commonly called this just due to exposure is the FILBE pack, and I won't buy that pack. I would add to my original post that the pack doesn't need to be as big as an ALICE. If there was a day pack with a waist strap I'd be interested in that too.
 
#10
this is a MOLLE pack, which also comes in different sizes (medium & large) and then a stand alone assault pack: https://www.armysurplusworld.com/us...ii-large-ruck-and-frame-w-sustainment-pouches

Like posted previously there are multiple ALICE 'packs' and they attach to the metal frame to include a small, medium, large and 'other' (being companies like tactical tailor (MALICE pack) and others) of which these packs can technically be used independently of the frame if you loop the shoulder pads through them. I have also never had a problem getting my perfered amount of weight balance using proper kidney pads/waist straps



without dragging this out much further here are some articles if you want more info about the ALICE:
http://soldiersystems.net/2015/09/28/the-baldwin-files-alice-pack-trilogy-part-1-of-3/
http://soldiersystems.net/2015/10/08/the-baldwin-articles-alice-pack-trilogy-part-2-of-3/
http://soldiersystems.net/2015/10/14/the-baldwin-articles-alice-pack-trilogy-part-3-of-3/
 
#11
sorry forgot to mention that that picture above is a comparison between different ALICE packs and other options for comparison, found in the attached articles
 
#12
In the above picture the bottom two is medium on the left and large on the right. I’ve had my medium for almost two decades now, got it at 10 and I’m 28 in two months. It’s a great pack in both size and design. Older guy told me to get that one when I was younger and told him I wanted to be in the Army. It’s size helped teach me not to overpack when packing for camping and such and the design kept it simple and taught me how to pack. As I got older and started adding weight cause I wanted to get stronger at rucking rather then just camping and playing army the radio pouch made it awesome for keeping weight high. Over the years I wore out the shoulder and waist strap and replaced them with the Tactical Tailor Super Straps and Super Pad. Until I got a hold of the Crossfire DG frame and my buddy rigging me up a pack for it I didn’t think any pack would top it, not even the Mystery Ranch I had. I’ve moved on to the Crossfire frames as I just can’t beat that comfort and stability but I still think the Medium ALICE is one of the best packs ever made, and no plans to get rid of mine. The heavily modified pack I’m using right now shares a lot in common with the ALICE.
 

Grizzly

Regular Member
#13
Here we go, a picture of maybe the most confused hellcat pack ever known. Vintage od alice medium pack, duct tape handle, desert camo belt, and camo other bits. It carries well and by shopping around it cost less than the price of a moderate dinner with the wifey.

Its also ugly enough to make sure it never gets mistaken for someone else's pack by accident :)
 

Attachments

#14
I will dogpile on what Runningwolf is saying. Full disclosure: I am the North American rep for Crossfire packs. Running wolf was and is one of our beta testers for ruck improvements. We have our own bags, frames, complete systems, but for this discussion I will confine myself to what kind of improvements you can do to the tried and true ALICE or Molle systems, for ruck training. Crossfire makes two different sizes of external polymer frames. The are backwards compatible with both ALICE and Molle systems. So if you already have the bags, this gives you an improvement in the frame and suspension harness system. I will try and not pimp you out with a commercial here, just to say that I, and a few others, like Runningwolf have been ruck training with them over the past year and here's the big difference. A Crossfire polymer frame strikes a balance between the rigidity of an external, to support the load, and the flexibility of an internal, to move with you. So it supports the load like an external, but can flex with you as you move, like an internal. So you're getting the best of both worlds.

It really comes alive, the faster you move. So when "speed marching" over rough terrain, as you might do in training, it will flex and twist with your hip and shoulder movement, instead of beating you to death, like a rigid metal frame. But it still provides excellent load support, unlike some internals, that shift around when heavily loaded.

As an added bonus, it will take a rear plate, which is not really recommended, but something some of us have to do. It has a nice open middle to take a plate, rather than bolsters that try to keep it from skating around.

I will leave it at that, as I don't want mods to think I'm sneaking in a stealth commercial before paying for vendor privileges here.