The ALICE pack isn't pretty and it isn't fancy, but it's tough, rugged, and it gets the job done. It's big enough to carry all your get home bag, or your bug out bag gear and its big enough for camping and hiking needs. It's proven to hold up to even the roughest conditions and was used by the Army for decades. I purchased my ALICE pack used from Ebay and even though it is used it's still in great shape and ready for years of use.
There are many different companies and people on the web that modify and upgrade the ALICE packs. One useful and inexpensive upgrade you can do yourself is adding a hydration bladder to the pack. The radio pouch inside the main compartment of the pack is a perfect place to add your bladder.
You will need to purchase a hydration bladder to go inside your pack. Wal-Mart sells a 2L hydration bladder for $9.99. It comes with the bladder and hose for drinking from. You will also need a couple of (black preferably) zip ties.
Make sure you clean the bladder and hose thoroughly with a vinegar and water solution and let it dry completely. *It might take a couple days for it to completely dry out, but you don't want it getting moldy or stinky!
Once dried, add the bladder into the radio compartment. Lay it down horizontally with the hose on the side you want to drink from. *I took some electrical tape and blacked out the hose to give it a more camouflaged look, this is not required.
Route the hose out from under the flap, and along your left or right shoulder strap; whichever you prefer. Add a zip tie to the top buckle of the shoulder strap and slide the hose through it. *Don't tighten it yet!
Now you want to try on the pack and get the length of the hose right. You want enough to be able to get it in your mouth for a drink, but not anymore than that. Keep as little length of hose on the strap as possible so it doesn't get snagged on something.
Tighten up the top zip tie to keep the hose snug, but not so much that you still can't adjust it or that it pinches the hose any. Then you can add a zip tie to the bottom buckle on the strap, but keep this one open to about the size of a half dollar piece. This gives you a place to keep the mouthpiece when not in use. It will keep it from flopping around when walking or hiking, and make it easily accessible if you needed a drink. Once your hose is in the right place, stuff the remaining hose into the radio pouch with the bladder to give it a clean finished look.
And that's it! For around $10 and 30 minutes of your time, now you have a hydration bladder equipped ALICE PACK. This modification is cheap, easy, and useful. There are lots of other great packs out there but for the price and toughness, you can't beat an Army surplus ALICE pack.
*Click the thumbnails for a full size view
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