So way back in 2015 I read one of “The Baldwin Files” posts on Soldier Systems and in he talked about upgrades to the old ALICE pack. I liked the idea and wanted to try to put together my own. But as time went on I forgot all about the idea. Then I saw a series on rucking from on Instagram as well as a post from counting_coup_tactical around the same time that reminded me of that old upgraded ALICE article and with summer around the corner I set out to finally get around to putting it together.

Here is the video form of me going over it. Sorry in advance for the lack of a professional look.

Now for a closer look here are some photos of what I used. The frame swap is easy as the 1606 frame is compatible with ALICE so it just slides in and attaches like normal.

1606 Frame

I used a MOLLE shoulder harness as that was surprisingly the cheapest route. Plus I liked the padding over the frame as it does contact your back a little bit. However I think a better option is the FILBE harness.

I used a MOLLE medium ruck belt as is was narrower than the standard one. I do have a standard one that I may use after testing.

To attach the shoulder harness to the frame I had to really monkey around with the straps to get them even remotely tight enough. Then once those were done I came up with two solutions to secure the shoulder straps/load lifters. You can either use the included load lifter and a small strip of webbing to secure it to the frame or you can use a slightly oversized tri-glide buckle.

load lifter on the left in tan
Close up of the tri-glide. I had to use an oversized one to get the ends to fit through
Close up of the load lifter and strip of nylon

Using the load lifter seems like it may not be the strongest attachment method and it does sit a bit away from the frame. But it does allow you to adjust the pack height by loosening the lifter and then cinching the shoulder strap. The tri-glide seems more secure and does hold the shoulder straps tighter to the frame but it does not allow for height adjustments.

I wasn’t totally happy with the MOLLE shoulder straps so I found a good deal on an FILBE shoulder straps on eBay and replaced them. The both will work but since the FILBE shoulder harness is actually meant for this frame it attaches much easier and the load lifters don’t require any Jerry rigging.

You are still able to move the pack up or down or tipped back like with the MOLLEs. You do have a little less back padding with these for what it’s worth.

Pros: Cheap and common, more back padding.
Cons: Jerry rigging.
Pros: easier/better attachment.
Cons: more expensive less availability, slightly less padding (not really a problem but may be for some)

The last thing I did was add some fastex buckles to the main pack closure. And then some tri-glide buckles (although elastic works just as well) to secure the excess

And done. I opted not to do the pockets currently as they already have snaps and rigging up a buckle is a little more awkward. Not hard just better when stitched on that using repair buckles.

Here are links to the original Baldwin posts that planted the seed in the first place.

Here is the Red Beard Tactical “story” on rucking so you.

The group also has a blog as well with some interesting stuff on there that I’m sure most of you will find interesting

And lastly here is the Counting Coup post that also jogged my memory. The pack also pops up in other posts as well.

I recommend checking out all three of those source for other stuff as a lot of good or interesting stuff comes out of them.

One last thing about this modification that I figured I would include for giggles. The 1606 frame and large ALICE combo will allow you to use the old Vietnam era “rifle butt pocket strap” deals that you still come across. But these are honestly terrible ways to carry a rifle and I just did this as a lark.


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