I have been talking about my ALICE setup, that I primarily use, on many posts over at Instagram and sometimes here on the blog as well. My Youtube channel began with the introduction of this same setup a few years ago and I have referred everyone to that video ever since I made it. I recently made a Short ‘n’ Sweet video about the same ALICE setup which is heavily oriented towards the setups that can be seen worn by Rangers during Operation Just Cause in Panama, especially by 2nd Battalion in Rio Hato. I think it is time to make a serious blog post about this setup and go through the different parts that make this setup my favorite.
INSPIRATION AND SELECTION
Though some of the ideas and inspiration have been taken from the Panama era of the Rangers, this setup has my own touches in it. As this is made for Airsoft, this cannot be looked at as a pure re-enactment setup. It passes for one, but what I carry is in some areas very different from what the Rangers carried. I love historical setups and using them in Airsoft games, but sometimes there are some compromises that are needed to make the kit effective for Airsoft as well.
I also have some plans on changing some things around, once I get the necessary parts. The radio pouch that is currently attached to the belt will be changed to a early-1990s style one (reproduction) once I receive it. This is due to the fact that while this is Airsoft, I want to keep some kind of authenticity with my setups. Since I run with my custom G&P RO727 replica most of the time, that effectively places the setup more towards the beginning of the 1990s. Rangers only trialed the M723 they use in small numbers in Rio Hato and the 727 was selected due to the A2 style rear sights. If you want to read more about the two replicas, check these blog posts that I made about them: M723 Ranger Carbine, RO727 Ranger Carbine.
Another option instead of changing the way this setup is built is to make a new one completely around the new radio pouch. I have the necessary parts to make a new setup and it could be centered more around the 1993 Mogadishu (Operation Gothic Serpent) events that unfolded. Options, there are always options!
Let’s being with the meat of this post, the stup itself. I will first go through the harness and how it is attached and setup. From there, I will move on to the belt and finally the pouches that are on the belt. I am doing this since it is the usual progression on setting up the whole webbing.
The Y-harness I am using does not have the metal snap links that attach it to the belt and ammo pouches. I have removed all four of them and I am using paracord instead to attach the harness to the belt and ammo pouches. On the back, I am using 4 attachment points on the belt instead of the usual 2. I have a paracord running through the two loops where the metal snap links usually are and both ends of the paracords go through the top holes on the belt. The ends have a knot on them to prevent the paracord and harness coming loose. This actually holds together really well and I have not had any problems with it. The paracord also makes wearing a rucksack more comfortable as the metal snap links can dig into your back when wearing it.
On the front, right hand side, I again have the paracord setup the same way, but the two ends run through the eyelets of the two ammo pouches that I have side-by-side. Again, the ends have a knot to prevent them from coming loose. The left side utilizes the same method, but since I have my radio pouch on the left, closer to my back, I run the other end of the paracord through the eyelet on the belt. Before when I did not have this radio pouch, the setup was identical to the right side setup.
A note about the paracord setup. You can run both sides on the front through the belt as well. The reason I try to have the paracord attached to the ammo pouch eyelets, is that I find the ammo pouches can flop around more if the paracord is attached to the belt instead of the loops on the pouches. Since I have some extra weight in two of the ammo pouches (more on that later when we get to it), I do not want them flopping around while I am moving.
I have two first aid or compass pouches on my belt. The one on my left hand side has my orange death rag inside it. The death rag is attached to the pouch with paracord running from the bottom eyelet of the pouch. Furthermore, I have attached and elastic band to the paracord, to avoid me ripping the pouch or doing any damage to it. Just in case, not necessarily needed. The right side first aid pouch has a small boo-boo kit, which has blister bandages, some regular bandages, alcohol wipes and other small necessities. This is just for the small cuts and bruises that might happen. A larger “medical kit” is located in my rucksack or my buttpack if needed.
Before I got the custom made radio pouch from Squadron Sew Shop, I was running four ALICE ammo pouches. Now, since I have an actual radio pouch for my radio, there’s only three. Two of them have magazines (totalling 6 each, with 1 more in my replica) and the third is a small general purpose pouch. The GP pouch has a few pens, camo cream (light green/loam), all weather notebook, small Swiss knife, storm matches, paracord, toilet paper, a small mirror and a field bandage. You might think, where is my fire-starter/survival kit? Always on my person, in my BDU pocket. To complete this, I would still add a small flashlight (Mini Maglite or something else).
In the ammo pouches I carry magazines in, I also have lead weights at the bottom of pouches. This is due to simulation of fully loaded magazines. The weight is close and the magazines are raised just a little bit higher by it.
The radio pouch that I am currently using is an awesome custom replica of the 1989 Motorola radio pouch, which is seen in use by Rangers in Panama. It is made by Squadron Sew Shop and I can highly recommend them for any of your old school needs. They make more items than just this radio pouch, so head over and take a look. Since this pouch is an accurate replica, the size is way too big for my Baofeng UV-5R or my Puxing 888. This is why I made a small “housing” from wood for my Puxing radio. Makes the pouch look full and at the same time it offers some protection for the radio as well. I am currently in the look for a MX-300R radio (there is a place where these will become available soon, I have heard) or an empty shell of one to replace the current setup.
Next in line we have the two canteen pouches. Both pouches have a dummy cord, or rather the dummy cord is attached to the belt. The loop on the other end is placed around the top of the canteen to prevent losing them. They also enable me to drop the canteen in case of a contact while drinking from the canteen. Sure, if the cap is open you will lose the water, but you will not lose the canteen. It can always be refilled. I have also made a canteen straw system for these, using an extra NBC cap that I had available. I used food-grade PVC hose for the system and the small piece from my old Camelbak, through which you suck the water. Works wonders and helps with the drinking process. To make it, just remove the cap and the insides of the cap. Then just push the hose through the top of the cap.
Still, I prefer to not use the straw system. The reasoning here is that if I drink from the canteen, I can monitor my water consumption more easily. If I happen to use the canteen straw system, I have it attached to my 2qt canteen which is in turn placed in my rucksack. It is advisable to always drink the water from your rucksack first, in case you need to ditch it.
One of my canteen pouches also has my canteen cup and canteen cup stove.
Finally we have the buttpack. I don’t always use one, mind you. The way I have the buttpack setup is that I can attach and remove if with relative ease, without the need to adjust the harness at all. I have paracord on the top eyelets of the buttpack, which are then attached to the two attachment points on the ALICE harness. Furthermore, I use the regular ALICE keepers to attach the buttpack to the belt.
What I carry in the buttpack depends on the event, mission and what I think I will need. During weekend games a buttpack is very rarely needed. Usually I carry a pair of extra socks, a warmth layer (one of those light black snivel gear types), extra hat (boonie and watch cap), some gloves, a shemag/veil and some food. If I have the need, I will also have some extra batteries for my accessories, like lamps or even my AEG. Clothing items are packed inside a waterproof bag and the batteries and other items that can break are in a hardcase.
If I have a buttpack during a longer event and I know I might get separated from my rucksack, there are a few things that you also will want to carry. A poncho with a liner and rain jacket are a must, and go a long way in many climates. I also always carry 1 days worth of food in it. A stripped down MRE usually works and the accessory packets that come with the MRE go to my BDU pockets for easy access.
Worth noting that the buttpack in combination with a ruck determines how you want to pack them. I will talk more about this in my post where I go through my rucksack items and how I pack it.
All of the mentioned pouches here are further attached to my belt with paracord. I run the paracord through the top eyelet of the ALICE keepers, then through the same way the keeper attaches to the pouch and from the other side of the belt as well. I then tie a square knot and an overhand knot to the end of the paracord to secure it to the belt. I do this for the sake of security, since the keepers can fail. I have heard that using zip-ties is also a way to further secure the pouches onto your belt. You can even replace the keepers with paracord or zip-ties altogether, but I have not gone that far.
The belt also has a strip of foam mattress on the inside, which is attached with paracord. Attach the foam mattress with paracord and run the paracord through the eyelets on the belt. I used a nail to make the holes to the foam pad. To make it easier, heat the tip of the nail with a lighter before making the hole. This is purely for comfort, but it is a worthwhile modification. I just cut a strip from a US foam mattress that was a bit wider than the actual belt and attached it. Do note that you will need to re-adjust the belt after you attach the foam pad on it. If you do not want to go the do-it-yourself route, you can always buy one of those belt pads, from Eagle or Blackhawk! I have one from Eagle and it does the same things as the foam mattress strip. It just costs more, but is not as labor intensive.
There you have it. The complete breakdown of my primary ALICE rig. You might have noticed that I do not run a sidearm. I have another setup which is almost identical with this one where I do have a sidearm. Since I rarely need a sidearm, I have not added one for this kit.
I hope this is of some use to you and gives you some ideas about your setup. The ideas and choices I have made with this setup are taken from reference images and information that I have gathered over the years from different sources. One big help has been the The Complete Ranger Digest: Volumes I-V by Rick F. Tscherne. You can find this on Google Books and I can highly recommend picking it up and giving it a read.
If you have any questions, leave a comment here and I will get back to you. There will most likely not be a video about this, since I have already two made for this kit and the changes are not that drastic between the videos and this post.
Furthermore, the book and radio pouch source I mentioned here, are purely my own recommendation. I do not receive anything in return for recommending them.