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I have an ALICE HELLCAT setup and "mostly" like it. It now tends to be my hunting/"bang around the woods" setup. For hunting, I have removed the medium ALICE pack (too big for day trips) and just use the frame with a smaller Red Rock Assault pack (with horizontal compression straps) and the load shelf. With the assault pack, it seems that I have accidentally created a poor-man's version of the Mystery Ranch Guide Lite frame with an "OVERLOAD" shelf.

The only thing that would make me happier is if the frame were longer; my torso is long enough that the load lifters do nothing. I did some searching and found that this topic has been discussed before, but this thread went nowhere, and the OP hasn't been active since 2014:

https://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=119655

There does not appear to be a direct replacement ALICE frame that gains any length over the GI version, EXCEPT the Mystery Ranch Guide Lite frame...but it is $275.

I did some more digging and found this guy's solution - added 2 vertical stays to have the load lifters rise above the frame and shoulders to actually get "lift":

https://www.monstermuleys.info/xf/threads/modular-pack-frame-build.113200/

In other places, I've seen it referenced to cut the frame in half horizontally, then sleeve the outer round stays with (probably larger) aluminum tubing. You might also have to remove and replace the center flat stay with a longer piece. I've only seen the idea mentioned, and never any examples.

One of the ideas in the SB thread above is to have a metal fabricator bend a new exterior "horseshoe" (same tube diameter and frame width) as the existing ALICE frame, just longer. Then I drill out rivets and cannibalize parts to make it an "extended" ALICE frame (LC-3?). I have no idea what that would cost, but sounds like the most factory-like solution.

These are mostly just ideas that I'm scoping out, but would like to make this pack system a bit more comfortable for me...on a budget.

Thanks for any thoughts!
 

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A length of thick wall aluminum tubing in 10 foot length is not very expensive. You can get a conduit bender but the bend might not be small enough for a backpack. The trick is to fill the tube with sand so it keeps its shape while bending. I am sure a decent metal shop would have the right machine to make tight, precision bends. Aluminum can be hard to paint. You need to sand it and clean it well. And getting it powder coated would be more expensive than having the aluminum bent.
 
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