After about 15 years of using the medium ALICE pack as my primary warm/hot weather backpack, I decided it was time for a change. So I got on Ebay and after looking through some of the listings, I decided to go with the large MOLLE pack with internal sleep system carrier.
There are 2 versions of this pack on the market - one where the main pack is separate from the sleep system carrier. And the one like what I bought, which is just one large pack.
Its slimmer then the large ALICE
Its easier to get into then the medium ALICE
It has more webbing then the large ALICE
The map case is larger then either the medium or large ALICE
The map case has a mesh bottom, so its easier to see the contents
The internal sleep system carrier has a zipper for easy access - lets talk about that just for a minute.
The way may pack is packed - the stuff to make camp is at the bottom of the pack. The ground cloth (6X8 tarp), tent, poncho loner or sleeping bag, hammock - all go in the bottom of the pack. When you reach camp you have to dig everything out of the pack to get to your camp gear. The bottom zipper access makes it easy to get your gear out without having to take "everything" out of the pack. Unzip the sleeping bag compartment and start pulling your gear out trough the bottom of the pack. Since the tarp (ground cloth) was put in the pack first, its the the first to go out through the bottom. Once the ground cloth is in position, its time to set the tent up, and spread the sleeping pad out. Once your finished getting everything out to make camp, zip up the sleep system compartment, and the pack is sealed up again.
Two things the large MOLLE is lacking - internal pouch and external pouches.
Internal Pouch - After having using the medium ALICE for about 15 years, I got used to having the internal radio pouch at my disposal. It makes a nice storage area for small items - such as my contact lens case, personal hygiene case, flashlight, FM 21-76, burner for a 1 pound propane bottle,,,,, and other small gear. Not having a place to store my small stuff puts the large MOLLE at a disadvantage. I do not want to dig through the whole pack just to find a bottle of matches. So now I have to look at getting some kind of pouch that will go inside the large MOLLE.
External Pouch - When your out in the woods, and the bottom drops out (it starts to pour rain), the last thing you want to do is open your pack and look for your rain poncho. The skys are black, its pouring rain, my gear is getting wet, I'am getting drenched and I'am having to dig though the contents of my pack to find a rain poncho - not the type of situation I want to be in. Every pack should have some kind of external pouch to store your rain gear and first aid kits in. Those are the 2 things you want to be able to find without having to dig. Since the large MOLLE does not come with external pouches, I ordered 6 sustainment pouches off Ebay last night - 2 for the large MOLLE, 2 for the MOLLE with external sleep system carrier and 2 for the large or medium ALICE pack. I also have a Maxpedition clam pouch on the outside of the MOLLE. The clam pouch is just right for small items like my wallet, keys,,,, stuff like that.
Plastic Frame: - Unlike the large and medium ALICE packs, the MOLLE packs use a plastic frame. Its "supposed" to be lighter and stronger then the aluminum tubing frames of the ALICe family. But I have heard a lot of people talking about how their plastic frames broke. If my frame breaks, I'll be sure to report it.
Overall: I'am pretty happy with my new large MOLLE pack, but I'am probably going to be a lot happier when the extra pouches have been added.
Do you have something to say about the ALICE or MOLLE pack? If so, post your comments in this forum thread about comparing the MOLLE and ALICE packs .
Related Forum Post:
List of forum threads about MOLLE packs