Below are tips referring to the ALICE Load Bearing Equipment (LBE), or belt and suspenders kit a soldier wears into battle. Please note, I do not take credit for all of the modifications listed below. I’ve collected them from various sources including the “Ranger Digest” series of books by Rick Tscherne. Also thanks to local Milsim player Dave for his first hand insight into this topic.
- Sew small pouches directly to larger ones. For instance, a compass pouch can be sewn onto a 1 quart canteen pouch. This saves space on the belt and allows you to carry more gear without having to carry a pack.
- Make a drop leg pouch as shown at right. This can be done by attaching a strap to a small arms pouch and running it through your belt. If you attach this to your pants belt rather than your duty belt, you can use it as a survival pouch in the case you have to ditch your
gear. I run paracord through the drain hole on mine
and I wrap it around my leg to stabilize the pouch.
- Make a radio pouch. There are many ways to do this but one way is to cut a hole in the flap of a small arms pouch for the antenna. Drill two holes in the back and thread elastic cord through them to secure the radio inside. Use a cord lock or knots to secure the elastic cord. If you’re not the DIY type, Tactical Tailor makes an ALICE compatible radio pouch.
- Cut the metal belt attachment clip off your suspenders and attach them to your belt with para cord. Not only does this get rid of a pressure point, but it also silences your kit and doubles the number of places your suspenders contact the belt. This distributes the weight more evenly and is more comfortable for you. An example of this can be seen in the photo below in tip #13.
- Replace your ALICE clips (that attach pouches to the belt) with zip ties, para cord or MALICE clips made by Tactical Tailor. Removing these metal bits further silences your gear, prevents places that can rub and provides a more secure mounting solution if done properly.
- Dummy cord your compass to your
compass pouch with para cord. Tie the cord to the thumb loop in the compass and run it through the drain hole in the pouch. Then tie a knot and fuse (melt) the end. This will prevent you from losing your compass and may save your life one day. Dummy cording other gear (knives, flashlights, NODs) isn’t a bad idea either.
- In order to further distribute the load on your belt and suspenders, use the rear “Y” strap from a couple sets of suspenders. If you run four small arms pouches up front, attach each end of the “Y” to the grommet on the top of each pouch. This will keep them from flopping around when you move. Otherwise, attach the clips to your belt as usual or replace the clips with para cord as mentioned above (and seen in tip #13) for further distribution of weight.
- For shoulder straps with better padding, remove the front chest panels from an Enhanced Load Bearing Vest (commonly known as a LBV-88) and replace them with ALICE suspender straps as seen above. Voila!
- Alternately, if you’d rather streamline your shoulder straps so they fit better under your ruck – cut off the pads. The remaining webbing is plenty wide to comfortably carry lighter loads.
- Buy a “canteen straw”. A brilliant invention! This contraption turns your canteen into a pseudo hydration bladder that you can drink from on the move. Be sure to use the collapsible type of canteen when you do this. My preference is to use this with the 2qt canteens. Additional para cord through the “D” rings on either side of the 2qt canteen pouch attaching it to the equipment belt (or ruck) prevents any swaying.
- Attach Fastex clips to the shoulder straps of your load bearing equipment. By putting two in the upper back you could attach your butt pack like a small backpack. by putting one on the front of your shoulder, you can attach your weapon via a webbing or para cord while retaining the ability to detach it quickly.
Fighting Load Tips
- This may seem like a no brainer, but keep your firing shoulder free of pouches. Otherwise you’ll have trouble shouldering your weapon properly.
- Balance your load between the front/back and left/right. Placing more weight in any one area will lead to pain and fatigue in corresponding areas.
- Adjust your ALICE belt so that 80% of the load is on your hips. This distributes the load directly to your legs without tiring your shoulders. Keep in mind that some weight does need to be on your shoulders in order for the suspenders to work properly.
- If you are going to be in a vehicle for an extended period, try putting the contents of your butt pack in two 2qt canteen pouches. Wear these on your sides to keep your back free of obstructions. This is much more comfortable while seated!
- Have extra gear to attach to your kit? Tape or para cord an ALICE clip directly to your knife, flashlight, E-tool or anything else you need to keep handy. This works great for odd shaped items that you have trouble finding pouches for. I highly recommend that any gear attached to your LBE by clips be dummy corded as they do have a way of coming open over time.
- Are you missing your nice MOLLE dump pouch? Dump your empty mags down your blouse, into your pants pocket, or put them back in the mag pouch. Also, you can attach a carabiner or “Key Clip” to your belt and use that to gather spent mags assuming you have some sort of magazine pull on your mags.
This concludes our ALICE LBE tips and modifications! Found one we missed? Drop us a line, we’d love to add it here.