Home Gear Backpack Alice Pack as Bugout Bag with HellCat Upgrade Mod

Alice Pack as Bugout Bag with HellCat Upgrade Mod

With very little effort you can upgrade an ALICE pack, with modern straps and waist belt, making it comfortable, and giving you a great platform to utilize.

Why the Alice Pack as a Bugout Bag?

Alice shelf
ALICE Frame with 2 Shelves installed

The more I use the Large Alice Pack with Frame, the more I realize that this thing is a beast. 

The Alice Pack is a battle proven, time tested platform for moving large amounts of gear and supplies.

Since these packs are military surplus, they can be found fairly inexpensively at surplus stores and other retailers.

The main compartment alone is between 3200 – 3500 sq inches. That is well over 60 liters.


  • Water-repellent 420D Nylon
  • Rugged military construction
  • Snap-closure pouches
  • ALICE webbing
  • Drawstring closures
  • Buckle-closure flap cover
  • Pack does not come with straps
  • CAPACITY: around 5,000 cu.in. (inside storage capacity of right at 3276 cubic inches not including the outside storage pockets)
  • 3 additional outside pockets are about 10 inches x 9 inches x 3 inches each
  • 3 more outside pockets are approximately 7 inches x 3 inches x 2 inches
  • DIMENSIONS: 22.00″ x 20.00″ x 19.00″
  • Made in the USA


I recently picked up a shelf, for my pack, that will allow me to carry heavy, bulky items using the frame of this pack. I’ll now be able to strap 5 gallon water containers, Jerry cans of fuel, firewood and a zillion other things to my frame and pack it back to camp.

How to Upgrade an ALICE Pack

We all have our views on what makes the perfect Bug Out Bag.

The ALICE pack platform has proven it’s reliability and for ruggedness with the US military, but dang if those things aren’t uncomfortable.

If you take some time you can upgrade an ALICE pack, with modern straps and waist belt, making it comfortable, and giving you a great platform to utilize.

Why would you want to upgrade an ALICE pack?

The ALICE pack has been in use since 1972, and has only recently been replaced with the MOLLE system gear. Even now the ALICE packs are still in active use by our military.

This means that the ALICE packs are available almost everywhere. If something rips, breaks or gets ruined you can replace it easily, and at a manageable cost.

The frame can be easily repaired using rivets and a rivet gun.

Alice Pack Specs


Large ALICE Pack:

  • Water-repellent 420D Nylon
  • Rugged military construction
  • Snap-closure pouches
  • ALICE webbing
  • Drawstring closures
  • Buckle-closure flap cover
  • Pack does not come with straps
  • CAPACITY: 3,800 cu.in. (inside storage capacity right at 2,800 cubic inches, including the outside storage pockets 3,800 cu.in)
  • DIMENSIONS: 22.00″ x 20.00″ x 19.00″
  • Made in the USA (Heck yeah!)


medium alice

Medium ALICE Pack:

  • Water-repellent 420D Nylon
  • Rugged military construction
  • Snap-closure pouches
  • ALICE webbing
  • Drawstring closures
  • Buckle-closure flap cover
  • Pack does come with straps
  • CAPACITY: 2,350 cu.in
  • Made in the USA (Heck yeah!)


Personally, I prefer the Medium ALICE pack, not because it’s better, but because it’s smaller, forcing me to pack smarter.

It’s way to easy to pack too much into a  Large ALICE pack and end up with a 200lb pack strapped to my back. Not a great idea for bugging out…or camping.


The Upgrade

What does it take to make a ALICE pack into a Hell Cat ALICE PACK?

You take an ALICE pack WITH external Frame and then replace the waist belt and straps with MOLLE gear. This makes the ALICE pack a whole new beast.

It’s comfortable and carries the load on your hips while gently cradling your shoulders with padded goodness. Ok it’s still a backpack but you know where I’m going.

What you need:

To see how to connect the new straps to the frame, head over to Building a “Hellcat” Hybrid Ruck from US Mil Surplus. This is a great site with lots of good pictures and info on routing the straps properly.

If you want a PACK with easy to find, easy to replace parts, that won’t cost you a fortune, an  ALICE pack or the Hell Cat ALICE pack mod might be a good fit for you.


Tips on Shopping for Mods

If you do go to ebay, make sure that the Shoulder straps that you buy come with the load carry straps, these are the straps that actually connect to the ALICE frame. Many sellers remove them so they can sell them separately. Those scurvy dogs!

After much Google-Fu (in a browser that’s never logged in to a Google Account) I came across another blog who had great instructions, with lots of pictures, to help me get all the straps on correctly. Check out the post on Liberty Tree Blog.

ALPS -OutdoorZ- Commander-bugout-bag-altI still am missing the Molle sleep system carrier, but I’ll add that in the near future and post some pictures, but then I’ll have to figure out how to carry the ALICE shelf without it being mounted on the frame. Decisions decisions.

These shoulder straps and waist belt really change up the feel of the ALICE frame and pack. It’s much more comfortable and I’d feel much better about lugging firewood or 5 gallon fuel cans with the ALICE Shelf with these straps.

If you’re looking to use an ALICE pack of any size, take a few minutes to consider purchasing the updated carry straps for your gear, it will make a huge difference.

If the ALICE gear just isn’t for you, here is another option: The ALPS OutdoorZ Commander Freighter Frame Pack (5250 Cubic Inches).

It doubles as both a backpack and a Freight Hauler, to carry heavy loads to your camp or back to the road! Plus you can even strap your long gun, rifle or shotgun to the side of it (someone was thinking when they designed the ALPS OutdoorZ Commander Pack)!


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    I’ll bookmark your blog and take a look at once more right here regularly. I’m
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  2. Ex OIF vet who got out before all the MOLLE stuff, does this really make it more comfortable and let you have a higher weight carry on your back as I love the ALICE.

    • I’d say no it don’t, I always noticed most of the kids never used the waist strap, had the frame on wrong, or just wore wrong to begin with, had the molle crap for a year, ditched it before deployed to Iraq as it failed countless times(broke frame), no where near as rugged and durable as the Alice, just read her tm to set it up right.

  3. I was wondering if anyone out there can recommend a good 2 man tent that’s lightweight, camo?
    The 2 man combat tent weighs a ton and the only other option seems to be the Rothco or Texsport 2-man trail tent. I’ve seen many good reviews for the Texsport 2-man, but I wish there was something out there of better quallity. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I built a Hellcat using a large alice pack. Thanks very much for the instructions on your website, much appreciated.

    • I can not recommend another two man tent for you as it would be a Chevy VS Ford ordeal.
      However I can help you with packing and the weight. Assumeinh that you have a molle or alice pack or any pack with top lashing straps… Take your two man shelter halve and split it. Place the stakes and rope in the center, fold the ends to the middle then roll it like a burrito. Place your new burrito in the center of your poncho fold, the ends to the center and roll like a burrito, place your double burrito in your sleep roll foam mat and roll again. Tie the ties and lastly lash to the upper/top lashing straps of the ruck. Feels very nice and makes a great chair/ recliner/ headrest.

  4. It’s easy! I didn’t know it had a name but I saw the mods on you tube for the straps & hip belt. Updated ours w/ molle II straps & belts. The author is right, sellers do take the 1″ load bearing straps off and sometimes the lower quick release straps too. I bought the shoulder straps on e-bay & ended up having to buy one set of lower QR straps separately. Tip: try and get the woodland or DCU shoulder straps because the straps that go on the frame are a little easier to work with when installing on the ALICE frame. I made a set of ACU straps work but I think the older style woodland straps are easier to install. I also converted the main flap straps to G.I fastex buckles. If you have the original ALICE shoulder straps, you can use the upper load bearing straps too. Look for some videos. Enjoy.

  5. I did this to my ALICE pack before reading this article! He 100% correct. I too am a Vet who got out before the Molle system. I use my ALICE pack with frame and this upgrade all the time. IMO, it out does most expensive packs/rucks sold now!

  6. Replace rugged Alice pack frame with chincy molle pak frame? If you have the waist belt adjusted right and the pack correct on your back, once on you forget it’s even there. I’ve humped with the LG Alice all over Pendleton and Iraq and loved it compared with the molle junk. Tossed it off tanks, hummers, through windows, swam with it etc, never had an issue, 1st field op molle frame spine broke, had to replace 3 more times, same issue, broke spine. Molle was garbage. The Alice comes with a technical manual that shows the proper way to set it up and wear it, one of the dumbest things the corps did was get rid of Alice equipment. Only reason it was replaced was some fricken general wanted to make a name for him self. Ended up taking it back to cif and getting rid of it and buying my own LG Alice and finished out my tour with it.

  7. I don’t have the frame, but I have an older Alice pack where the shoulder straps fell apart, and some of the metal clips broke. Is this worth it just to replace the straps? I mostly use my bag for camping.

  8. the one thing i did to both of my medium alice packs was to put a sternum on both of them. this was a big improvement in keeping the pack secure and not moving around as much.


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