I started out with the ACU Molle Large Rucksack. It’s bombproof. Carries a HUGE load. And can be found for only $50-$80. But is 10lbs and is a hideous camo color not suited for my intended AO (although you can find it now in multicam for about $80). I then decided to cut weight and move to a better camo pattern. So I switched to a 5lb. Gregory Z65 (in a tan color) with a multicam pack cover. That worked well. But when it came to getting all of my winter/cold weather gear in there it fell short a bit. I’m also a big guy at 6’3″. So all of my gear is larger in one aspect or another.
Camo is very important to me. Partly due to my intended AO – woods of the PNW. And being an ex-Marine in a sniper and surveillance platoon. I know the importance of camo. For me (and I know many will differ on this) it’s either one camo pattern or none at all. If you wear multiple camo patterns your always going to be wearing something that doesn’t fit in with your environment. And thus why wear camo at all if your always going to be standing out in your environment. I chose multicam. As it fit my AO. And you can find just about anything you need in that pattern. Which can’t be said for to many other good camo patterns. Even civilian ones. You might find clothes in that pattern but you won’t find the pack and all your pouches and web gear etc. etc. in that one pattern. But with multicam you can do that. You can do that with older Woodland gear – but it’s older gear. And you can do that with ACU gear but the pattern sucks. Multicam is the best of both worlds for me.
So then I purchased both the Eberlestock Dragonfly and the Arteryx Khyber 80. Both in multicam. I picked up the dragonfly because it expands into a massive meat hauler for hunting. But in the end it was another 10lb pack. And I could cut 5lbs with an equally comfortable Khyber 80 from Arcteryx. With enough room to fit all my winter gear. Here’s a long review of that pack that I did a few weeks back:
In the end it’s really a choice of how much room you need, how much weight your willing carry pack wise, and what color is acceptable for your AO. And most important is it fitted to your size torso. To many people don’t realize you need to get fitted for a pack. I suspect many of those carrying the Alice don’t realize it doesn’t really fit them that well. Because it’s not adjustable and comes in a medium size only. Meaning alot of folks that are larger than a medium are carrying all their weight needlessly on their shoulders. Instead of comfortably on their hips. Same goes for any other pack too. You’ve got to get fitted and adhere to that size in order to insure pack comfort. Which in the long haul really matters. Or your going to bash yourself physically for no reason.
Lastly, is cost. Many of us can’t afford packs like this. I would suggest getting fitted and looking at the ILBE. I don’t know it’s size ratings. But it appears to be the best or at least parts of the best of both worlds. It’s a decent camo pattern, it’s heavy but doable, and it has all the bells and whistles of a modern pack – and it’s CHEAP. If I was on a limited budget I would look into the Molle large rucksack in multicam or the ILBE. Both seem to be bombproof packs that will get the job done. Just be ready to carry an extra 5lbs. That might be better suited for ammo, water or food.
There is an old adage that applies here though. “Buy once, cry once”. I’ve learned this the hard way. You get in a hurry to get out there with your latest gear. And so you start buying “what you can afford at the moment”. When you’ll be far better served by waiting, saving up, and getting the gear that you know your going to be happy with. Unless your a real deal hound. And can turn around and sell your old stuff at a profit or equal to what you paid for it. Your going to be disappointed and out more money than if you just bought what was the best gear in the first place.
I hope this helps even one person shopping for a pack. Or any other gear for that matter.