As military combat conditions have evolved and changed so has the equipment needed by soldiers on the ground. Carrying equipment under battle conditions is the primary focus of military backpacks. Military packs have to balance load carrying capacity with functional mobility. A very tough thing to balance.
Over the last 50 years the backpacks used by the military have been upgraded. From the ALICE pack used back in the Viet Nam era to the MOLLE and ILBE carry systems used today, they all serve one purpose: make sure the soldier has the equipment he needs to win.
The MOLLE Pack
The MOLLE backpack was developed during the first Desert Storm conflict. It was designed to replace the ALICE pack system. The main improvement of the MOLLE system was a module aproach. Different pouches and equipment could be stored on and in the pack. It also incorporated a vest used to carry personal fighting equipment. The pack “load” could be quick disconnected in combat to give soldiers more mobility.
The ILBE Pack
The ILBE backpack system was designed to further improve the MOLLE system. It was designed by the U.S. Marine corps to better suit the combat conditions Marine’s encounter as well as make ammo and equipment easier to get too. As this is the newest military pack, it is one of the hardest to find.
The ALICE Pack
The ALICE Backpack (or just ALICE pack for short) was the first significant leap forward in the modern military backpack. It was used heavily and evolved quite a bit during the Viet Nam war. While not used as often today, the ALICE pack is still quite popular with campers and outdoor enthusiasts. It is also the easiest of the military back packs to find.
The CFP-90 Pack
After the ALICE military pack and before the development of the MOLLE and ILBE packs the Army used the CFP-90 backpack system. It was the first system to use the vest + pack approach that was later improved with MOLLE and ILBE.
Finding Surplus Military Backpacks
While these packs have been designed for our military, surplus military backpacks are readily available to the public too. While the older military surplus backpacks are easy to get, the newer (MOLLE & ILBE) ones can be harder to find. We’ve tried to make this process easier by listing currently available surplus packs. Check our other pages for the currently available listings. If you arn’t worried about getting an official military issue backpack, plenty of companies sell a military style backpack that has camo designs.