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Looking for advice on a backpack to replace my medium ALICE pack.

Hello, I have used a modified medium ALICE pack for about ten years. I have one 3-4 day group trip every year with 3-8 friends, depending on how many can make it. Temperature usually gets down in the 20's. Ten miles a day with 3-4000 feet elevation is the hardest hike, and we are equally likely to be paddling and portaging. I need a lighter pack. Any suggestions? Thanks.

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7 Replies

@Bluegill 

Thanks for reaching out!

We are happy to make some suggestions of lighter packs for you, however, your best bet would be to go in to your local REI store to get a pack fit or to sign up for a virtual outfitting appointment with one of our expert pack fitters. That way you can talk about your specific needs and get the right pack matched for you. In the meantime, we encourage you to check out this Expert Advice article, How to Size and Fit a Backpack, for lots of good information about choosing the correct size backpack for you.

Additionally, choosing the right backpack for you is not only about getting the correct fit, it is also about the equipment you are putting into it. Backpacks are generally measured by liters of volume, in addition to torso length, and that helps determine how many days worth of gear the backpack can carry. For many reasons, there is a lot of variability in these numbers, so a backpack's size will be highly dependent on your style of backpacking (do you bring a backpacking chair for lounging around camp? or are you drilling holes in your toothbrush to shave weight?) and personal preference. We would caution against going with an ultralight backpack if you haven't also made the investment in ultralight gear as well. An ultralight backpack is great, however, it can be very uncomfortable if you overload it with too much gear.

Here are a few backpacks to consider, in the 60-75 liter range, which is generally accepted as a 3+ day backpack:

Hopefully this helps, thanks!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

I reviewed A LOT of backpacks in preparation for the AT and found that if you can afford it, the Zpacks Arc Haul or if you can fit all in a 50 the Arc Blast is really nice and light weight

https://zpacks.com/collections/backpacks

 

 

 

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I'm certainly biased in this one because I am a proud owner of the Gregory Baltoro 65. It is a heavy pack (at 5 lbs) but it fits me well and that's so important, as @REI-JohnJ  mentioned. In fat, because of the fit and the suspension system, I don't really feel the weight of the pack on me.

Fit is really important so if you can find your way to a local REI (and you're comfortable going into the store), I would strongly suggest it. You'll find, for example, that a $300 pack may be a better value than a $100 pack if it fits you properly.

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“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

A military rucksack? hmmm, you'll find that really any backpack, made for backpacking, will be superior to an ALICE in terms of comfort, if not capacity.

I've been using an osprey exos 58 for many years, and highly recommend it, lightweight and comfy.  It can handle week end or week long trips.

good luck

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes
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I'm in complete agreement with @Philreedshikes.  Coming from an ALICE pack, just about anything is going to be a major improvement.  You could try renting a few different packs and see if that helps you decide on features. You just really don't know until you get one on your back for a day's worth of miles.

I've also used a modified medium ALICE pack since I bought it in 1996, literally all over the country. I've been able to make it pretty comfy, but in agreement with others that any of the suggestions that @REI-JohnJ gave you will feel completely different, pretty much all for the better.

My questions to you are: What do you like about the ALICE pack? Do you have a bunch of ALICE/MOLLE pouches that you like and want to keep using them? Are you on a budget?

If you are okay with digital camo color, check out the ILBE. Used to be issued to the U.S. Marine Corps and based on the Arc'Teryx Bora 65. You can get the complete pack fairly cheap if you look around and it is about as bombproof as you can get. Tons of MOLLE webbing but it has a civilian fit and feel. Not the lightest pack, but several heavy duty handles make it easier than some packs to grab and chuck when you are portaging.

The earlier suggestions of renting a pack is a great idea, and absolutely get to an REI store if you can. Get measured and then try everything you can to get a better feel for what's out there and what you want.

Good luck, and hope you bring out ALICE every once in a while for old time's sake!

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Hey, if you are looking for a lightweight pack, I would suggest that you check out the Andinista Pack Mil manufactured by Wild Things Gear (https://www.wildthingsgear.com/collections/clearance-sale/products/andinista-pack-mil). I have the smaller version (Guide Pack Mil) for day hikes, but its a tough pack, made of waterproof material, and is extremely lightweight. Its also 100% made in the USA. If you are interested, I would check it out now because its 40% off.

As I said, I have the smaller version and it is one of my favorite pieces of gear. I used it as my day pack on Mt. Kilimanjaro (7 day trip). It performed really well...I can only assume the larger version would be a great piece of gear also.

Enjoy your trip!

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