Planning for a long-term, long distance camping trip can be a headache. Finding the right pack that can fit all your stuff and remain rugged enough to handle serious punishment is crucial. In a previous post, I delved into a variety of options I was considering for my rucksack. They ranged from typical lightweight commercial hiking equipment to military surplus rucksacks. They each have their pro’s and con’s, but ultimately, I settled on two.
The two packs I will be taking with me on my trip to our national parks and forests in the lower 48 states will be the Swiss Military Engineer’s Pack and the US Military Molle II Rucksack and 3-Day Assault Pack. My top two criteria a pack needed to meet were reliability and capacity. For a thorough run-down on the Swiss Engineer’s Pack, read my post where I take you through all the specs as well as the pro’s and con’s.
Let’s check out the US Molle II and 3-Day Assault Pack and why I chose this system.
The ACU MOLLE II comes in at 21.1×15.2 x 6.2 inches and 9.8 pounds. It has the capacity of 4,000 cubic inches in the main compartment/rucksack, and includes an additional 1,000 cubic inches of capacity thanks to the two 500 cubic inch sustainment pouches on either external side. The pack is made of 1,000 Denier Cordura and Nylon threading. Inside the main rucksack is a large Y2K zipper and flap that separates the main compartment from the bottom M.S.S. (Modular Sleep System) compartment. The flap on the top has a large mesh pocket that seals up with velcro. The complete rucksack system comes with a polymer gen-IV molded frame, a large waist belt, shoulder straps, an easily attachable assault pack, and the options available for an entrenching tool case and a MOLLE entrenching tool pouch. For a thorough look at this pack, check out this video from The Outdoor Gear Review.
As mentioned before, I also got the 3-Day Assault pack with my US Military MOLLE Assault Pack in ACU Digital Cam Pattern. At first, I wasn’t going to get this pack, I figured the main rucksack would be enough storage, but then I remembered I would be backpacking/hiking through long stretches of tough terrain on my trip. There will be routes where the full-size rucksack with all my equipment wouldn’t be practical or safe. A 3-Day pack capable of strapping to my sleep system, first aid kit, and carry enough food/water would be a smart choice. The two selling points for me on this pack was, of course, it’s durability with 1,000 Denier Cordura and Nylon threading just as it’s larger rucksack. This pack has a spacious main compartment with a separate compartment along the pack. The pack is equipped with compression straps all over so to securely tighten your load is easy. There is a waist strap with buckle and an adjustable chest strap and the two of these make for carrying heavy loads without sacrificing comfort possible. Of course, you have your outward pocket at the front with an internal velcro pouch and more storage space on the outside of the pouch for easy access. The pack is equipped with MOLLE webbing for easy customization and opens the door for additional carrying capacity. For a look at this pack, check out this video from Adventure Camping.
This is my first MOLLE system and I am highly impressed. Before I was hesitant about the reliability and durability of straps and their buckles, but now that I have it and tested each component, I couldn’t be more assured. I did consider the most up-to-date and larger USMC FILBE system but the price and availability were forbid-able. The latest system for the Marine Corps will run you about $500 for the main rucksack and hasn’t flooded the surplus market, while the MOLLE II complete system can be found for less than $200. Purchased brand new, unissued, my rucksack came in at $160 with the two sustainment pouches and complete waist belt included. I could have gotten a used one for $60 but some of the reliable retailers were currently out of stock. Plus, I wanted the best condition to start off with on my journey. The 3-Day Assault pack ran me $60, which was a steal. This pack goes for $140-plus on eBay and Amazon brand new. Of course with the US MOLLE II system you can equip it with a hydration pouch. I will most definitely be adding one to my system for those long treks through our National Forests and National Parks.
Pictured above is the MOLLE II rucksack in ACU Digital Camo on the left and the FIBLE rucksack in coyote brown on the right.
All in all, I am very pleased with my picks. These are excellent packs and I have full faith in their reliability. Growing up camping throughout Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, I always found camping gear to be poorly made, poorly thought-out, and prone to leaking, caught zippers, and endless rips. All of which would occur on a weekend trip. Last thing I need is for the same issues arising on a multi-month long trip.
I also wanted a way to raise awareness for causes I believe in. This trip is also meant to raise awareness to organizations that are doing incredible work for people and their communities. Coming from a family with a long tradition of military service, I wanted to make sure to include veteran-focused organizations as well. While hiking and rucking, I will be using fundraising apps to track my distance and turn those miles into dollars for these charities. Not only will I get a great workout from a tough ruck, but I will also be raising money for those who have served our country. I will be writing a lot more on this in a later post. For now, these are my packs and couldn’t be more happy.