I have just had the opportunity to get back into learning about some gear that many of us peripheral sharpshooters either take for granted, or at greater value during UKD shooting activities. When attending the Carlos N. Hathcock II Memorial Sniper Match this past October, I learned a valuable lesson about packing the pre-requisite gear around Storm Mountain.
As a cost cutting step the carry gear selected was a surplus ALICE pack (medium size /with frame) bought through "Cheaper Than Dirt" in my favorite Olive Drab coloration. This one was just a little rough with a couple of busted pouch snaps, and missing metal cinch/pull tabs for the main cargo pocket. Plus it stunk of deteriorating waterproofing as does most surplus equipment.
Some simple repairs were made and a little trial carrying seemed to reveal all was in good order.
After just two days of "Real World" carrying this pack around Storm Mountain Training Center, and having chronic problems with the shoulder strap snaps popping open and those plastic fork thingees failing, I had just about enough fun for my lifetime.
These straps had begun to fail as I climbed up the hill from the observed stalk and this drove me freaking nuts. I ended up having to make a late night trip to the Keyser WV. Wally-World and buy some electrical/automotive pull through wire ties (zip strips) just to keep the damn thing together for the rest of the match. I even named this fine piece of kit "ALICE from Hell"
The arrival of a London Bridge Trading Company Ltd's Three Day Assault pack with two of the optional Accessory pouches could not have come at a better time. I opened the shipping box and first read through the enclosed catalog and shipping documents.
The pack was made from Olive Drab 1000 denier Dupont CorduraŠ fabric, so that earned some bonus points right off the bat! Unfolding the pack revealed immediately a significant reduction in weight vs. "ALICE from Hell".
Taking the packs to work and depositing them a shipping scale revealed that the LBT weighed less than the "AFH" and took up less bulk when thrown in the trunk of my jalopy.
Packed weight does make a difference, and I had quickly relearned the lesson (something forgotten even after living in Alaska for over five years, Ah-Duh!) of cutting carry weight to a minimum.
The LBT pack does not have a frame, and much of the weight is saved here. (If you just have to get one, and internal frame option is available).
The overall Dimensions for the LBT three day assault pack are 20"H x 7"D x 15"W - this is a good comfortable size.
The pack straps are constructed from a combination of 1" web straps and 3" wide x 18" long x 1/2" thick pads. The shoulder strap pads are 1/2" closed cell foam, of a 2 lb. density - they will hold up for the duration.
An elasticized cross strap with fastex buckle is located at about center sternum level to help with load "packability". These straps are on sliders and can be slightly lowered, or raised, if that is deemed necessary.
Located directly above the slider "H" harness assembly are a pair of 1" wide D rings for locking on gear, or routing the camelback tube.
The straps are retained via synthetic sliders, and not the freaking snap'n'fork thingees as found on "Alice From Hell"
The detachable waist strap has a 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" pad sewn onto each side for comfort and a 1 3/4" fastex type buckle. During my testing the pack felt quite comfortable with the same payload that I used for the Carlos Match.
I did not feel any pinching, or binding, during movement and donning the pack was vastly easier than my experiences with "AFH".
The rear of the pack which rides against your body is completely covered with a integral pad sewn into place with six separate cells to prevent migration of the closed cell foam. The 3/8" inner core providing more than adequate protection for the middle back.
Up top is a Heavy-duty 2" web carry/drag handle and directly beneath that is a covered "port" to route a Camelback supply tube. All stitching is with Type "E" thread, double stitched and bar-tacked at stress points
The bottom of the Three Day Assault pack has a single metal drain grommet and a 3" x 10" strip of webbing segment sewn for attachment of gear via ALICE clips, or wire ties. Two 4"x 1" loops are affixed to the front of the base for additional gear like a stuff sacked Ghillie, sleeping roll, sleeping bag, etc. etc.
The LBT features a main compartment and a slash zipped outer compartment. The interior of the main compartment is divided into a thin pocket at the rear to hold a hydration system. Inside snuggling against the back is a slip pouch that will accept up to a 70 ounce CamelBakŠ hydration bladder. Total volume for these all compartments is approximately 2,000 cubic inches.
Two optional side cargo pouches 4"x 6"x14" (inches a piece) were provided and offer the option of being quickly detached from the pack by four 1" fastex type buckle assemblies.
When affixed with the Alice strips "inside" and the webstraps to the outside, the payload seems to be pretty damn secure. The webstraps along the outside can then be used to cinch down compressible stores like hats gloves, ponchos, rain gear, BDV's, or other light clothing.
Conceivably, although it isn't a recommended practice, reversing the cargo pouches with the Alice strips on the outside can be done to stack on additional gear like canteen pouches, ammo pouches, and other widgets, but it does not "feel" as secure to me, and things wobble about a little too much for my tastes.
A web pull tab is provided on each end of the opening and two large zipper pulls coated with a noise subduing synthetic coating make accessing the interior easy. The three zippers on the main compartments have 550 cord pulls and lack the metal pull tabs. Incidentally, the zippers are all #9 TalonŠ coiled zippers.
Oh, Incidentally, A.L.I.C.E. doesn't live here anymore...............
LBT is a military and police contractor that sells an exhaustive and complete line of tactical web gear. Their factory is quite impressive and there is little in the way of tactical gear that they do not make. Their assortment of tactical vests alone could take ten articles to cover! Civilian sales are unrestricted except on some small and rather limited use items. Most of LBT's vast inventory is available to the public. You can learn more by visiting their web site, or at:
London Bridge Trading Company Ltd.
3509 Virginia Beach Blvd.
Virginia Beach, VA 23452 USA
Tel: (757) 498-0207
Fax: (757) 498-0059