About a year ago, I bought a surplus MOLLE Generation 2 3-Day Assault Pack. I wanted a pack to use as a day-pack so I could carry some water, a few emergency supplies, a camera, and repair materials for geocaching. I have come to love day hikes. I love geocaching in more remote areas — those that are more difficult that park-n-grabs.
I did some reading before selecting a surplus pack. I did not want to spend a lot of money, at least not initially. I know that military packs are developed to meet specific requirements, but I also know that materials are top-notch as required to stand up to the rigors of combat use.
From many perspectives, this is a great pack. There’s lots of room in the main compartment and a separator to keep the plastic stiffener apart from the contents of the main compartment. The main compartment is zipper closure (with a weather flap) and the zippers are high quality. You can put a lot of stuff in the main compartment. I keep a 3-liter Camelbak in there as well as a cover if I start out cool or think it might turn cool. There is much room left over.
There are two additional pockets on the front of the pack, a large compartment with zipper closure (and weather flap) that could hold food or necessaries that are too large for the smaller front pocket. I can put a couple of bushcrafting books in there and have room for some additional things.
The smaller front pocket is velcro closure (good velcro too) and has room for all of my geocaching tools, replacement logs, and plastic bags. I could keep a decent size pocket notebook in there as well.
The straps are thin but wide. I would say they could be good for loads up to 20 pounds or more, depending on your tolerance for discomfort. I get tired of the straps after five miles with a 20-pound load.
I’ve learned a lot using this pack over the last year. I carry my load a little high. I don’t like the load hitting me in the ass. So the straps are fairly tight and the bottom of the pack sits in my lumbar regions, just above my hips. Because of that, the insertion points for the end of the straps poke me in the back. For short hikes this is just annoying and I can ignore it. For anything five miles or more, it’s uncomfortable. I suspect that if I was wearing the FLC and plates, that the straps would not dig my shoulders or poke me in the back.
I’d also like a separate pocket for my Camelbak. I know they are tough, but I’d like my water separate from my other gear.
The MOLLE is wonderful! There are tons of pockets that can be added to MOLLE-equipped gear. I like have cubbyholes to put things instead of a dump into the main pocket. So, my replacement pack will have MOLLE and I will use surplus MOLLE pouches to add pockets to my new pack.
There are many things about the MOLLE Assault Pack I like. But I need a pack that is comfortable to wear with the loads I carry. This one is not going to work for me.