The Improved Load Bearing System (ILBE) backpack designed by the Law Enforcement and Armed Forces (LEAF) program run by Arc’teryx in response to changes requested by the United States Marine Corps to the current ALOCE and MOLLE systems. During initial incidents in Iraq, the USMC deemed that the current system need to be revised to allow greater mobility, increased load capacity, improve comfort, and smaller overall volume. The result was the ILBE. The system itself is comprised of three main components, the Assault pack, the Main Pack, and the Hydration System.
Since the majority of military conflicts in recent years have been in desert settings, hydration became a key concern for soldiers in the field. One of the main specifications for the ILBE system design was an improved Hydration System that allowed a greater volume of water to be carried but would also easily integrate into the overall system. The result was a bladder type hydration unit. Technically, it is a USMC Tactical WXP Hydration System, more commonly referred to as a military CamelBak. The bladder device itself has a 100 ounce, or three liter, storage capacity. Three liters is the recommended volume of water that a person should consume on a daily basis, but that same amount can be stretched over several days, if needed, in combat situations or when re-supply is not immediately available.
CamelBak is the name of the company that originally created the hydration pack but the term is also used in a generic sense to refer to any bladder-style hydration pack. The name originated from the myth that camels use their humps, or backs, to store water. While the myth did inspire a catchy name, camels, in fact, store fat in their humps, not water. The CamelBak company itself is the top producer of hydration packs and one of the major hydration system suppliers to military organizations around the globe. In the 1990s however, most of the USMC military issue Hydration Systems were produced by Source Vagabond.
There are three main configurations for the ILBE system, the Assault Configuration, the Approach March Load, and the Existence Load. All three configurations utilize the Hydration System as one of their components primarily since proper water intake is such a key requirement for military personnel regardless of whether they are in combat or survival situations.
When combined with the Assault Pack and the Main Pack, the Hydration System creates a complete ILBE system that provides an effective and efficient method of load carrying and storage for the USMC today.