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When lightweight materials such as nylon started being used for military items like flight jackets, the Lightweight Rucksack (FSN 8465-782-3248) was developed. This was 1961. Hey, duh! People knew there was already a need to lighten a soldier’s load, even before the early-mid 60’s studies on the conservation of energy and the reduction of load to the Infantry Combat Soldier.
The approval for the development of the (LINCLOE) lightweight load-carrying equipment didn’t officially start until 1966. But, based on the 1961 Lightweight Rucksack, inquiries were made to use that same technology on the M-1956 Load-Carrying Equipment. So instead of duck canvas, brass and steel, material changes were made to introduce nylon, plastic and aluminum. It saved them 2 pounds on that system. Because of that success, more designs were ramping up, but at a very slow pace.
Unlike the rapid production of new technology, medicine and procedures that was brought on by the Iraq and Afghanistan Campaigns starting in 2001, the 1960s LINCLOE project was going to take some time to overcome the needs of the combat infantryman in Vietnam. They were going to get it right. They needed it to be right.
After some failures, the nylon Tropical Rucksack was created and used in Vietnam. Visually, it’s the closest thing to the traditional Alice Pack we all know and love.
After 6 years of changes (now 1973), prototypes, arguments, failures and mild successes since the Tropical Rucksack, all individual lightweight Load–Carrying equipment was re-designated All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE). The use of year-model designations also ceased. (I still have my dad’s M-1961 field pack in my truck.)
For me, the Alice system and especially the Alice Pack is a symbol of Cold War military functionality and ingenuity. For a long time my dad had that pack hanging up in the garage. You know that was his shadow box – that was a symbol of honor and duty. I cannot confirm or deny that I ever hid bottle rockets in it, but other than that one week during the 4th, I never touched it, just admired it. Now in my mid 30’s, I go hunting with my neighbor who served, let’s just say, a while ago. You know, I love cool stuff from Cabelas as much as he does, but when he puts on his issue woodland camo and stuffs that ole ALICE pack with everything he can still carry, I kind of smile privately to myself. And I know I’m in for a good day in the woods.
Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-purpose_Lightweight_Individual_Carrying_EquipmentThe ALICE Pack - Before there was MOLLE, there was ALICE,