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Best Army Surplus Rucksacks with Frame

Whether you’re looking for a ruck for work, play, or to add to your military collections of must haves, you can’t go wrong with one of these outstanding Army issued rucksacks. Built with intentions of durability and versatility, these rucks won’t let you down when it comes time to put them to the true test of wear and tear. By far better than any civilian ruck you can find in a store or on the net, the Army Surplus is the way to go. No where else can you find new or used gear that is in excellent shape, holds its value, will never let you down when you need it most.

Here is a list of the best army surplus rucksacks with frame

Which Frame Is Best For Me?

There are several differences to consider when you pick out your framed rucksack. Keep in mind that there are external and internal frames to choose from and several things to consider when making your choice:

External Frame: Primarily the “old” way of things, the external frame is generally cheaper and can accommodate more gear. With the cost at approximately half that of a internal frame, the external frame can distribute weight more evenly. While most of the compartments are smaller, external framed packs have extra room above and below the main compartment for storage of extra gear. An external pack can be easily adjusted for multiple users or for those who happen to grow in size. It is adjustable for various differences in height and width. Another consideration is the ventilation with an external pack is much better and results in less sweating.

Internal Frame: This pack will generally cost double of that of an external frame, it provides a larger interior volume. There is more freedom of movement and no poles protruding above head level, which can be a thunderstorm hazard. Some versions of internal framed packs sit close to the body with a lower center of gravity, making it more compatible for climbing, crawling, or repelling. The internal framed pack is more streamlined with a narrow profile, making them less likely to snag, catch, or tear.


Over the years, the Army rucksacks have evolved considerably. With the ALICE pack as the original Army issue, the MOLLE was its replacement later down the line.

Both are still available at most surplus stores, but unless you’ve used both, it’s hard to determine the difference. Here is the breakdown in differences between the ALICE and MOLLE packs.

Here are the top rated Army surplus rucksacks with frame:

USA ALICE Pack: Even though it’s completely phased out, the ALICE pack is still preferred by many. Made of water repellent nylon, your typical Army issued ALICE pack is the all time favorite pack. Circa 1973, the ALICE pack has been trusted by all branches of the military and has additional attachment pieces.

Features of the ALICE are:

1) Attachment options (canteen, First Aid Kit, ammo pocket, add on D-rings)

2) Two-component system

3) No zippers (uses belts and straps)

4) Entrenching carrier

5) Canteen cover

6) Suspenders

Sure, during all those trainings in the field you thought you’d ever consider rekindling your relationship with the ALICE pack. Not just for the Army G.I. anymore, this pack is highly favored among civilians as well. Designed with comfortability in mind, this pack distributes the weight evenly and can handle well over 70 lbs of gear. With a two component system, the ALICE pack is ideal for the hardcore adventure seeking individual. The belt system has no zippers, making it easy to stuff to its maximum capacity. It features an entrenching carrier, two small cases, suspenders, and canteen cover. It has the element component, which is the bag, cover, and frame. The ALICE pack can be used with or without the frame. Use for a Bug Out Bag, hunting, or camping adventures. This pack is available in medium and large sizes so you can choose wisely based on the purpose of use. The straps tend to run long, but can be easily altered with Velcro, banding, or rolling. Some cons of the ALICE pack are: 1) Lack of a grab handle and 2) Lack of smaller pockets for smaller individual items like knives, matches, and water purification tablets. Overall rating of 4.0/5.0.

Buy Alice Pack here

MOLLE II Rucksack: Replaced the ALICE in 1997, the MOLLE is the perfect Bug Out Bag or the best pack out there for the civilian or military spec types. A rugged pack, but not too heavy, this pack contains a lightweight frame. A wide bottom provides for room for a sleep system and can easily store a week’s worth of gear. The MOLLE II has areas to carry a long arm weapon or an entrenching tool without impeding comfort or carrying ability. Contains a pocket in the top flap for easy storage of maps, charts, and other paper items that need to stay dry or out of the elements. No need to join the Army to get this pack, you can pick it up on Amazon with suffering through a strenuous stint of Basic Training. Contains two “Sustainment Pouches” with two D-rings on the outside. This allows for use of a “General Purpose Sling”.

The MOLLE features:

1) A tactical assault panel

2) Rucksack,

3) Hydration bladder, and

4) Modular pouches.

5) Locking internal pouches and easy access to gear due to handy attachment.

There is no digging around with the MOLLE. With the larger models, it can also accommodate a sleeping system with easy access zippers. The MOLLE is best for hikes and day trips. This is the most preferred rucksack. This ruck is better than any civilian pack on the market and made Army Strong! Rated 4.5/5.0

Buy Molle II Rucksack here

So what's the difference?

The biggest difference between the ALICE and MOLLE packs is the way things are stored. ALICE uses straps and MOLLE uses compartments. When looking for a quality rucksack, the most important feature to keep in mind is the way it fits. If you have a great fit, you will avoid back issues, rubbing, chaffing, or possible balance problems as well. Get fitted by a professional if you can to ensure your rucksack fits you and the type of body frame you have.

What Else Is Out There?

If the ALICE or MOLLE isn’t your cup of tea, here is two more choice of framed rucksacks that may fit the bill:

 G.I. CFP-90 Complete Combat Pack With Frame: This original Army issue rucksack with frame is your go-to bag  for field operations and wartime scenarios. The huge holding capacity can easily accommodate a two-layer sleeping system, medical kit or tackle box, and enough water for the the whole squad. Originally the military issue replacement for the ALICE pack, the CFP-90 is a solid, rugged pack with aluminum internal frame that forms to the user’s body.

It comes with attachable day pack for those shorter excursions and made with the same heavy duty construction as the main pack. The suspension system is fully adjustable with enough padding for comfortable long hikes or extended periods of time in the field. Holds built in MOLLE attachments points and has a heavy duty duty grab handle for easy yanking, dragging, or slinging.

The abrasion resistant and water repellent and heavy duty kidney pad with lumbar support. Not considered a “high speed” rucksack, but holds all the essential amenities to get through the roughest terrain, climate, and war situations. Rated 5/5.

Buy G.I. CFP-90 Complete Combat Pack here

ILBE Main Pack (USMC) Generation 2: Although USMC issued, this pack is clearly used across all the branches and trusted with the roughest of them all. With a padded internal frame and reinforced by an outer frame, you won’t be disappointed in the ruggedness, durability, or storage capacity of this ruck. With quick access size zippers, you can dig around into the depths of darkness without removing all your gear.

Tons of MOLLE webbing for all your   attachable MOLLE gear like medical kits and ammo pouches. Has a built in radio compartments to keep your comms safe and dry. No problem storing all the water you need, but may be a tad overboard for a modern 72 hr bug out bag. Definitely can accommodate for a week long emergency or extended deployments/trips to the roughest of areas. Contains two mortar pockets/sleeves which can be modified for weapons, tents, or fishing poles. It has plenty of indestructible zippers for those with a heavy hand and won’t rip, tear, catch, or make a lot of noise.

By far the one of the best rucks out there and with the double frame, you won’t find any other G.I. ruck out there like it. Rated 5/5.

Buy ILBE Main Pack (USMC) Generation 2 here

What Is Your Choice?

No matter the ruck you decide to pick up for your professional or personal use, any of these are sure to surpass the expectations of any civilian pack on the market. With all the hype of colors, bells, whistles, and fads to choose from, you can’t go wrong with good ol’ Uncle Sam issued gear. You know it’s been tried, tested, and beat down by the best of them and is going to last you a lifetime. These rucks will literally last forever and with the amount of money being spent; you know you will get every single penny’s worth. Stick to what you know what you’ve trained with and leave the other stuff to the amateurs of the world.

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