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#285303 - 08/06/17 09:42 PM Re: Military backpack or rucksack [Re: tomar15]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1084
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: tomar15
I'm looking for a good backpack that can outlast me. I'm reluctant to buy from a civilian department store assuming that military grade backpacks are made to last.
Welcome to ETS! You've already received a lot of good advice, but I'll add my $.02 worth.

As others have noted, the first thing to do is decide what you want to carry, and where you plan to carry it. Military packs are designed to meet the needs of military personnel in combat. Yes, they are built (overbuilt?) very tough, but that doesn't necessarily make them better for your intended use. Soldiers in combat often carry very heavy loads (50-70 lbs, or even more). All this extra weight is often bulky or oddly shaped items, sometimes with sharp edges. Think extra ammo for personal weapon, extra radio batteries, night vision gear and batteries, smoke flares, mortar rounds or belts of ammo, breaching gear, entrenching tools, etc etc. Combat will be very abusive on gear. Think crawling through broken glass and rubble, hanging packs on the outside of vehicles, crawling through (not around) brush or rock slides, etc etc. How likely are you to be doing that?

The military buys gear in huge lots, and tends towards a "one size fits all". If you aren't that size, the fit might be less than optimal. Also, these days most soldiers will be wearing body armor, and military pack straps are designed with that in mind. Again, unless you wear body armor, the shoulder straps might not be the optimal fit for you.

Military gear often tends to be very heavy, relative to civilian packs. Military packs have lots of Velcro and other places to attach other gear. That looks cool, but adds weight. And those packs are designed as part of a system, so the attachment points mate with other pieces of gear in that system. Unless you have (or need?) that other gear, all that Velcro just adds useless weight. A pound on your back is a pound on your back, whether it is food you can eat, or useless (to you) extra straps and Velcro. A weight that feels comfortable in the store or on the first mile of trail, can feel crushing after many hours and miles.

As others have noted, I would strongly advise going to a good retailer such as REI who specialized in backpacking gear. Talk to the sales folks, get fitted for a pack. They can also advise you on some nice pleasant easy intro backpack trips in your area.

Originally Posted By: tomar15
What size backpack is suitable for 3-7 day hike?
That depends. What sort of terrain and climate? How long a hike each day? Alone or with others to share group gear? If you haven't backpacked before, I would strongly advise starting with a more modest trip. A short hike followed by a one night campout is ideal for starters. This will give you a chance to evaluate what you need (and more importantly don't need), and get used to your pack and other gear. Any problems that arise (and some probably will), won't be that big a deal if you are only out for one night. I know far too many people who did a long trip for their first backpack, had a miserable time, and never wanted to do it again.
_________________________
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

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#285306 - 08/06/17 09:55 PM Re: Military backpack or rucksack [Re: AKSAR]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6290
Loc: southern Cal
Good advice from AKSAR, as always. I started hiking, first with day hikes (gradually realizing that a backpack would be very comfortable)then longer day hikes that stretched into the night, then overnights, and eventually even longer trips. Getting the right combination of gear that works for you and your trips is going to take some time, and what works for someone else may not be quite your thing, even in the same general environment.

But it is a lot of fun in figuring out what works....
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#285310 - 08/07/17 03:35 AM Re: Military backpack or rucksack [Re: tomar15]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1342
AKSAR has summed it up best in regards to military vs recreation hiking backpacks

Over the years, I have found through trial and error (and a lot of money) that there is no one perfect backpack and at one time, I had over 20 different packs. The pack I use for multi day hiking in the summer is not good for winter. The pack for day hikes does work for a fishing pack, the pack used for EDC for work essentials does not work for day hikes and so on.

The best advise for anyone is - don't cheap out any pack and stay away from the poorly made knockoffs and purchase from a reliable store such as REI or in Canada at MEC. A well made pack will last you a lifetime - and probably more. When purchasing your pack, don't buy it because the color is cool etc. Instead, proper fit is essential and most outdoor retailers will have various types of padded weights and general camping items to add to the pack when you are testing. Also ask if the pack is available in a short, standard or long lengths. It is surprising how an ill fitting pack can be if the length of it for your body frame is too short or too long - even by a couple of inches.
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Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#285311 - 08/07/17 11:01 AM Re: Military backpack or rucksack [Re: tomar15]
earlgrey Offline
Stranger

Registered: 08/04/17
Posts: 1
Loc: England
Hi, always wonder where you can get high quality gear that has the durability of military equipment. I see a lot of normal brands such as North face, Condor, but i dont know if that is the same.
any suggestions?
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#285312 - 08/07/17 02:15 PM Re: Military backpack or rucksack [Re: earlgrey]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6290
Loc: southern Cal
North Face has made quality outdoor gear and equipment for many years.I have been impressed with their packs and tents for a long time, especially their VE-25 mountaineering tent.

Inevitably, their line has verged toward trendy and fashionable, which is why their brand is now featured on vacuous models in outlets like the one you linked. Their real outdoor stuff is as good as ever, and every bit as good as mil spec, often better for the intended purpose. Buy from any good retail outlet.

I don't much care for military gear. When I served, the things I was issued were junk, and definitely inferior to what I had purchased as a civilian. Military stuff is better now, because they have adopted some of the civilian items (like Gore-tex).

Some one who has served more recently (Montanero, are you listening?) can better comment on current items....


Edited by hikermor (08/07/17 02:17 PM)
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#285313 - 08/07/17 03:02 PM Re: Military backpack or rucksack [Re: tomar15]
Montanero Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1267
Loc: North Carolina
The newer packs used by the military (and there is a wide variety now) carry more and are of higher quality and have the ability to attach more things to the outside. The MOLLE pouches are useful and there are many more types than just ammo pouches. Some of the packs are very large. The external frames are made of a heavy plastic that is less prone to breaking than the old aluminum frames of the ALICE packs. The are a little flexible in sizing.

When out in the remote areas for either work or with the scouts, I like to have certain things attached to the outside of my pack so everyone knows exactly where to find them (first aid, ropes, communications, extra water) without dumping my pack out. This is especially important with smaller packs for shorter trips. I do look for attachment points, even on civilian packs, and have had some civilian packs modified with MOLLE type attachment points. One of the advantages of living near Ft. Bragg is the plethora of parachute riggers who know how to sew on heavy nylon. Some of the gear companies actually started around here with former riggers modifying gear for soldiers (and we used to get in trouble for having our gear modified, now it is normal, even expected).

One advantage to military surplus gear is price and availability. Here it is coming out of our ears and the prices are very reasonable. It is better to have a pack that works than to not have a perfect one.

I am with Hikermor though in that I prefer to have a higher quality and better design than you usually find in military gear. For my scouts I steer them towards surplus just because it is more affordable. Many families have financial difficulty and this removes the obstacles that prevent the kids from participating. It can also ensure that they have what they need and that it will work. Especially when you are talking winter outings. Long underwear, boots, jackets, ponchos, sleeping bags can all be very expensive. The military stuff will work and keep them safe. It is hard to find smaller sizes however, for the younger scouts.

There are some newer civilian brands that are improving in quality, but they are also going up in price. Outdoor Research (OR), Alps Mountaineering, High Sierra have all improved in quality and are much more affordable than Mystery Ranch.

All of that being said, if you feel that you need to evade notice and sneak around the brush, by all means get a military pack. They work. A bright color is safer though. Zombies don't care what color you are using!

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#285315 - 08/07/17 03:12 PM Re: Military backpack or rucksack [Re: tomar15]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1344
sorry to hijack the topic ...

"One of the advantages of living near Ft. Bragg is the plethora of parachute riggers who know how to sew on heavy nylon. Some of the gear companies actually started around here"

Montanero ... I have been trying to find a source for that heavy-duty nylon webbing. i saw it once on some gear rigged for a para-drop at Edwards AFB. the nylon is very thick, looks incredibly strong. i have never been able to find out where to buy it. if you know a source, please post.

Pete


Edited by Pete (08/07/17 03:14 PM)

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#285316 - 08/07/17 03:33 PM Re: Military backpack or rucksack [Re: Montanero]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6290
Loc: southern Cal
Montanero reminds me of days gone by, when I was starting out, and then mil surp was a good option - a bit on the heavy side, but the second hand military mountain tent, and the bag,sleeping, mountain kept me snug and warm.

Eventually Uncle Sam made me an offer I could not refuse, and I had all the military gear one could ask for. But when I got out, I immediately purchased a Kelty frame pack and a quality down sleeping bag - an entire month's wages at the time....and well spent.
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#285317 - 08/07/17 04:41 PM Re: Military backpack or rucksack [Re: tomar15]
Montanero Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1267
Loc: North Carolina
I will look for a source for that type of nylon. Do you have specs that you are looking for? (color, width, strength).

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#285319 - 08/07/17 06:32 PM Re: Military backpack or rucksack [Re: Montanero]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1084
Loc: Alaska
Note that my previous comments were not meant to diss military gear. I was only trying to point out that military gear is designed for specific requirements, which are in many cases different than civilian needs. But certainly the price of surplus gear makes it attractive. Like hikermor, in my youth I used a lot of GI surplus gear because that was all I could afford. The same is no doubt true for Montanero's boy scouts. (They are very fortunate to have a leader with his background and skills!)

In my opinion, currently the best compromise between function, sturdiness, and light weight is found in packs and other gear designed for serious technical and expeditionary climbing. Look for brands such as Black Diamond, Patagonia, and Arc'teryx. Hard core climber's lives depend on their gear working, and not falling apart, yet weight is crucial when doing big climbs at high altitudes. But this gear is definitely not cheap! Hikermor mentioned the North Face VE 25 tent. The VE 25 and it's almost identical predecessor the VE 24 was for many years considered the Gold Standard tent for use in the most extreme conditions in winter, in arctic regions, and at high altitude. I understand that various Spec Ops teams contracted with the North Face for special runs of these tents in colors suitable for military use.

Some of these high end mountaineering gear makers have special divisions that design and make gear for Spec Ops and other specialized users. See for example ARC'TERYX LEAF. (WARNING: Opening this link can result in Life Threatening Sticker Shock!)

Originally Posted By: Montanero
When out in the remote areas for either work or with the scouts, I like to have certain things attached to the outside of my pack so everyone knows exactly where to find them (first aid, ropes, communications, extra water) without dumping my pack out.
As always, opinions differ on this. Generally speaking, I have just the opposite view, and for me the less stuff on the outside of my pack, the better. Generally the trend in climbing packs is for a clean exterior to avoid snagging. The one exception to that, for me, is my shovel when traveling in avalanche terrain. When a companion is buried in a slide, seconds count and having my shovel instantly available is a big plus. As always, different situations lead to different solutions.
_________________________
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

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