FILBE pack overview

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FILBE pack overview

Post by RonnyRonin » Fri Mar 21, 2014 1:10 pm

I’ve been following the USMCs new pack they are replacing the ILBE with, while not officially called the FILBE that seems to be the name that has stuck (and “the USMC pack” just sounds silly). Here are some posts to get you up to speed if you didn’t know/care about the pack:

http://soldiersystems.net/2011/04/08/br ... -new-pack/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://soldiersystems.net/tag/filbe/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Notice the first date is clear back in 2011, I think the packs started being widely issued in 2012, and now, over a year later there still isn’t a whole lot of information on the interwebs. A few blog writers have worn it for a few miles and written some comments, and there is at least one youtube video showing how it is basically a MOLLE II pack. The instructional video put out by PM ICE might be the most informative:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FemRN3y8Wv4" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

As many sources will be quick to point out, the USMC contracted Dana Gleason of Mystery Ranch to do some design work for the FILBE but my impression (reinforced by rumor and heresy) is that he had a fairly limited involvement. Forum and blog opinions range from “he had a lot of input” to “he designed the FILBE” but I think this video sums it up well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti4npjIuBZc" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Well the FILBE eventually trickled down to my reservist buddy and I FINALLY got to put hands on it. I had been watching eBay for one but my curiosity was tickled enough that I doubled down my search and scored one about a week ago for $70 to my door. It is pretty beat up and the going rate for a new clean one seems to be about $120. I titled this thread an overview since I don’t have much time under this pack and I probably won’t be living out of it any time soon.

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Right away you can see the pack hanging painfully off my shoulders and see that Mystery Ranch was definitely involved (I kid I kid).

Starting at the bottom there is a huge sleeping bag compartment with a seam-to-seam zipper reminiscent of the CFP-90 pack. I’m a little befuddled by the size of lower compartment as it is bigger then needed for even the MSS, which the USMC is moving away from anyway, and their new system of light-weight bag and happy suit is quite a bit smaller. The compartment uses a very beefy number 10 coil zipper, much smoother and nicer then the tooth zippers on the MOLLE ruck.

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There are good lashing straps over the front of the compartment, just the spot I like to keep my sleeping pad sometimes. I also like that they deleted to MOLLE that had been there on ILBE, I don’t think I’d ever seen someone mount pouches there anyway.

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Also unlike the ILBE the straps go all the way underneath the pack and secure to the frame. Much like the MOLLE II pack you can route the straps through different webbing to shift were the load sits.

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Inside there is the zipper devider flap much like the MOLLE II, but instead of the huge grommets for redundant closure there is simply some reinforced button holes.

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Right inside the sleeping compartment zipper there is a compression strap that lets you take nearly all the stress off the zipper BEFORE you close it. Definitely some MR DNA here, and a little touch that makes a big difference.

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inside there is a sewn-in radio pouch (ALICE pack fans rejoice) that is much better then the strap-in monstrosity of the MOLLE II and ILBE packs.

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the improved cinch strap makes in much more usable in my mind then the old ALICE pouch, It really is in the perfect spot to put the heaviest items in your pack into (for my BOB that would be the MRE entrees and fuel alcohol). For the test load I put a gallon jug and two Klean Kanteens inside.

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on the top there is also an over-the-top strap that is inside the storm collar rather then outside. I guess I like it better then the one on the ILBE, but it isn’t the game changer the bottom compression strap is.

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the storm collar has a double cinch on it, not sure if I’d ever use the lower one but some people might be into it.

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I’m a big fan of the top lid, it has elastic side skirts to help it wrap around the top of the load but it is still flat enough to engulf bulky loads like the ALCIE pack. It has internal storage that is much more useful then the ALICE or MOLLE II pack, there is actually some shape to it so you aren’t just stuffing lumpy stuff into a flat envelope.

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on the side there are two, and only two, compression straps unlike the 4 strap mess that was the ILBE. A subtler feature that OCD people might appreciate is that between the side sleeve and the water bottle pouch both straps have somewhere handy to stuff the extra webbing.

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A feature retained from the ILBE that sets it apart from the MOLLE and ALICE packs is generous waterbottle pockets. I assume they are sized for 2-quart canteens, but I know it fits a 40oz and a 27oz waterbottle at the same time.

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While the FILBE has side sleeves similar to the ILBE, unlike the ILBE someone was actually thinking when they designed these and made them slightly larger then the pack body so even with the main bag full there is still enough slack to fit items behind them. Both the AR and AK have 20 round mags loaded.

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the grab handles and side donning handles are quite nice, almost like they took 3” webbing and wrapped the edges around, I think I like it better then the tube-wrapped ILBE handles.

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at the back of the lid there is a waterproof zipper port for radio antennas but if you unclip the over-the-top strap you can access items in the radio pouch.

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pack bag removed from frame, you can see the ALICE style frame sleeve, as well as attachment points slightly more nuanced then the MOLLE ruck.

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the frame removed from the bag. You can see the shoulder strap assembly is mounted to a stiff plastic sheet. At the top of the sheet is were the load lifter buckles are supposed to be but both ripped out, a common problem with early FILBEs. Luckily the assault pack attachment buckles are in a similar location on the pack bag.

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the hard plastic sheet allows for a “tall” version (recommended for Marines over 5’8,”
sounds like “regular” to me) by bumping it over the top of the frame and reinserting it. This adds about 2” to the frame height.

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as you can see it transforms the frame from being miserably short to almost tolerable. Keep in mind I am 6’2,” but my torso isn’t abnormally long.

A feature I kept hearing about but was never demonstrated is the ability of the pack to be used without the frame. I assume this is mostly to give the grunts some peace of mind after hearing all the stories of early molle frames breaking, I haven’t heard any stories of the gen 4 frames breaking yet.

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it only works with the shoulder straps but it certainly is designed for it, there is a lower shoulder strap attachment point and one of the frame attachment tabs connects to the hard plastic sheet in the shoulder straps. Of course this turns it into a duffle bag with straps, but better then nothing in a pinch.

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share your tobacco and your kindling, but never your sauna or your woman.

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by RonnyRonin » Fri Mar 21, 2014 1:24 pm

Other touted features that I had yet to see was reverse compatibility with ALICE frames, and conversely the frame with ALICE bags.

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you can see my ALICE frame bayonets working overtime, unlike the "tall" frame mode these give me somewhere between 4" and 5" of extension.

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waterbottle pockets are a huge step up from the large ALICE in my mind.

The alice pack does work with the FILBE frame (including "tall" mode) but my pack is a little out of spec so it should fit about an inch lower then the picture. it does give you a good chunk of bare frame to use for dry bags or bed rolls.

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the shoulder straps do work on the ALICE frame kinda sorta, so if you've ever wanted an extra 2" on an ALICE Frame this is an option.

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I had heard that mystery ranch bags would work with kifaru frames, and I knew the FILBE would work on a NICE frame so I took a leap:

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of course the water bottle pockets are completely unreachable and there is like 6 inches of bare frame underneath, but fun to know I now have an unearthly huge packbag for my duplex if I ever need it.

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share your tobacco and your kindling, but never your sauna or your woman.

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by spanningtree » Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:14 pm

Many thanks for the in depth report! I have been checking these out on eBay. Do want.

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by RonnyRonin » Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:20 pm

So the FILBE is obviously closer to a MOLLE II ruck then the ILBE it is replacing, so how does it stack up?

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obviously the sleeping bag access is different, in some ways it's easier to get into but the zipper is a clunky tooth zipper and overall size of the opening works out to about the same size.
I like the lower lashing straps on the FILBE much better, the MOLLE II has the ALICE style continuous straps all the way around the bag while the FILBE has separate upper and lower straps meaning you can unhook the top lid without losing whatever you have strapped to the bottom.

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similar side compression straps to the FILBE, but with ladderlocks instead of quick-release buckles. another difference is that instead of full MOLLE there is only the loops needed to mount sustainment pouches.

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The MOLLE lid sucks. it floats on the top straps so you can get lid bunching and you can't really store anything in it to speak of. it also doesn't hug the load like the FILBE, just kinda sits on top of everything.

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the shoulder straps on the MOLLE are similar but in some ways simpler then the FILBE, the quick detach mechanism on the FILBE is much better in my mind.
The belt on the FILBE is better only in that it has a normal center buckle and reverse pull mechanism, but the padding is pretty much identical (I.E. AWEFUL).

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the back of the pack bag shows more ALICE DNA with the full wrap straps and reinforcements. It attaches to the frame only around the perimeter of the frame making it hard to adapt to other frames.

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the storm collar on the MOLLE is horrible, the old grommet-and-paracord mess that barely keeps your stuff inside. Clear win for the FILBE here.

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the frames show several differences. something I never realized till I got them side by side is that the MOLLE frame is taller then even the FILBE in it's "tall" setting. Also the airborne frame on the FILBE is obviously designed to support a pack bag while the MOLLE frame would make a much better pack board.

the FILBE weighs 9 lbs 4oz

the MOLLE II weighs 8 lbs 8oz

the FILBE bag (no frame) weighs 4 lbs 2oz

the MOLLE II bag weighs 3 lbs 10oz

capacity is nearly identical.

so the MOLLE II bag is 1000d with no pockets, single layer all the way around. the FILBE bag is 500d, double layer bottom, water bottle pockets, radio pocket, side sleeves, more complex lid.

basically the take-away is that the MOLLE II is more simple and rugged, the FILBE is more nuanced and convenient. I believe MOLLE has the better frame, but the military has totally crapped the bed on the most important thing, the hipbelt.
the story I heard is that the hipbelt shape is left over from the gen-1 ball-and-socket abomination when they needed room for the mounting plate. rumor is that the FILBE design team ran out of time and simply threw a lumbar pad and reverse pulls on the molle belt and called it good.

I would not be at all surprised if I found out whoever designed the MOLLE belt went on to pick the colors for UCP. I don't even know which one I would call a bigger mistake.



TL;DR version: awesome packbag, crappy frame and suspension. If you have an ALICE frame you like this is a BA large ALICE gen II.
share your tobacco and your kindling, but never your sauna or your woman.

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by ssgcmw » Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:01 pm

I've been thinking about picking up a FILBE system to do a combined BOB/INCH.... use the assault pack as a BOB, and put the more INCH-style items in the main ruck.

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:06 pm

It looks like the FILBE top pouch comes off still, am I seeing that right?
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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by RonnyRonin » Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:14 pm

Doctorr Fabulous wrote:It looks like the FILBE top pouch comes off still, am I seeing that right?
if you are referring to the lid, no. she's sewn on like an ALICE lid, that's why there is the radio access zipper.

pity too, the ILBE lid is pretty handy as a butt pack.
share your tobacco and your kindling, but never your sauna or your woman.

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:17 pm

RonnyRonin wrote:
Doctorr Fabulous wrote:It looks like the FILBE top pouch comes off still, am I seeing that right?
if you are referring to the lid, no. she's sewn on like an ALICE lid, that's why there is the radio access zipper.

pity too, the ILBE lid is pretty handy as a butt pack.
:(

The ILBE buttpack was awesome. I've been trying to find a better buttpack that could be used as an ILBE lie for a more modular rig.
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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by RonnyRonin » Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:18 pm

ssgcmw wrote:I've been thinking about picking up a FILBE system to do a combined BOB/INCH.... use the assault pack as a BOB, and put the more INCH-style items in the main ruck.
I can't say I really recommend this pack, especially by the time you pony up for the assault pack (which isn't bad from what I've seen) you're out enough dough to by a significantly better backpack.

when these are down to ILBE prices ($50 apiece) they'll be an OK deal for short guy with tough hipbones, but I still don't know if I'd ever recommend one.
share your tobacco and your kindling, but never your sauna or your woman.

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by RonnyRonin » Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:20 pm

Doctorr Fabulous wrote:
RonnyRonin wrote:
Doctorr Fabulous wrote:It looks like the FILBE top pouch comes off still, am I seeing that right?
if you are referring to the lid, no. she's sewn on like an ALICE lid, that's why there is the radio access zipper.

pity too, the ILBE lid is pretty handy as a butt pack.
:(

The ILBE buttpack was awesome. I've been trying to find a better buttpack that could be used as an ILBE lie for a more modular rig.

I put padded wings on my ILBE lid and I'm trying to find a better way to mount canteens on it so I can have a scouting pack. I tried mounting a mountainsmith lumbar pack as a lid but it was too stinking big.
share your tobacco and your kindling, but never your sauna or your woman.

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by Zaper » Sat Mar 22, 2014 11:44 pm

So, the frame is a DEI 1606AC?

You can use the Alice straps and Molle II belt, and the Alice bag...

Then, the Filbe is an evolution of the Alice?

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by Niblick » Sun Mar 23, 2014 2:41 am

I think the review is excellent...I've just spent enough time under GI gear to know that I never want to do it again.
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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by Kutter_0311 » Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:21 am

Zaper wrote:So, the frame is a DEI 1606AC?

You can use the Alice straps and Molle II belt, and the Alice bag...

Then, the Filbe is an evolution of the Alice?
Correct on the frame, hoping that brings frame prices down. 1606AC's are my fave Christmas present for my ALICE-loving friends. Sounds like is carries some good features of all over, improves on some even, but HEAVIER than MOLLE?!?! WTF, Corps?!?! Go home, you're drunk!

Glad it uses the 1606AC, but the assault pack should run 1609 like army's Medium MOLLE bag...
JAYNE COBB wrote: Well, what you plan and what takes place ain't ever exactly been similar.
TravisM.1 wrote:If a rifle is an option, a rifle is usually the answer.
minengr wrote:I've said it numerous times, a quality rig is only as good as it's weakest link. Which usually is the nut behind the butt.

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by RonnyRonin » Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:52 am

Kutter_0311 wrote:
Zaper wrote:So, the frame is a DEI 1606AC?

You can use the Alice straps and Molle II belt, and the Alice bag...

Then, the Filbe is an evolution of the Alice?
Correct on the frame, hoping that brings frame prices down. 1606AC's are my fave Christmas present for my ALICE-loving friends. Sounds like is carries some good features of all over, improves on some even, but HEAVIER than MOLLE?!?! WTF, Corps?!?! Go home, you're drunk!

Glad it uses the 1606AC, but the assault pack should run 1609 like army's Medium MOLLE bag...
for all the features it packs I'm almost surprised the weight difference isn't greater, but if they built it off the MOLLE frame and ditched the silly hard sheet shoulder harness they'd have a taller, more adjustable frame and a lower over-all weight.

I disagree on the assault pack, worn over armor I see no reason to use a frame. the Medium Ruck is quite a bit bigger and trying to be a hybrid. the FILBE assault pack is quite good from my limited experience, and small enough you'd just be piling a rigid frame on a rigid sapi plate. since there is no real hip belt the frame would just be dead weight.
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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by Kutter_0311 » Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:22 pm

1606 > MOLLE frame because you can lash an issued water/fuel can between the frame spars. Those water bottle pouches are for mortar/SMAW rounds, BTW :wink:
JAYNE COBB wrote: Well, what you plan and what takes place ain't ever exactly been similar.
TravisM.1 wrote:If a rifle is an option, a rifle is usually the answer.
minengr wrote:I've said it numerous times, a quality rig is only as good as it's weakest link. Which usually is the nut behind the butt.

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by Son of Jord » Sun Mar 23, 2014 1:03 pm

Looks like they tried to take the best aspects of the MOLLE Large and ILBE packs and mate them together with a couple features that have been on non-contract military packs for a while.

This will most likely ride better over armor than the ILBE does, and not ride as well without armor as the ILBE does.

I do still think that this feeds the apparent desire to seriously overload troopers, but that is a matter of policy, and not an issue with the pack. Looks like a fine pack that you could live out of (and maybe even live in 8-) ).

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by Kutter_0311 » Sun Mar 23, 2014 1:16 pm

I have pics of my 3 kids in my MOLLE ruck. On my back.

Yes, overloading grunts is a common problem. Won't stop anytime soon, though, so we throw what we NEED in a 3-day pack and clip the rest of the gear to a vehicle headed in the same direction :wink:
JAYNE COBB wrote: Well, what you plan and what takes place ain't ever exactly been similar.
TravisM.1 wrote:If a rifle is an option, a rifle is usually the answer.
minengr wrote:I've said it numerous times, a quality rig is only as good as it's weakest link. Which usually is the nut behind the butt.

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by Son of Jord » Sun Mar 23, 2014 1:19 pm

That's why I loved armor. I ride into combat, and let my mule hump my shit.

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by RonnyRonin » Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:09 pm

Kutter_0311 wrote:1606 > MOLLE frame because you can lash an issued water/fuel can between the frame spars.
can't you lash a can just as easily on the MOLLE? it is the same width and there are more mounting points. I just have a hard time seeing how a 20" frame is a good idea for anyone over 5' tall. My wife is 5'4" and can't get any shoulder lift off the 1606 frame.
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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by jasonff33 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 12:29 am

First off RonnyRonin thank you for the awesome and in depth review. I wish I had seen it before I bought my FILBE off ebay a few weeks ago. There is nothing else online that really goes into as much detail as yours and none with the different option/frames.

I am kinda of "meh" on the system. Not overly thrilled and not totally disappointed.

The bag itself is pretty solid (although nowhere near the stitching quality of Kifaru or a real MR) but even so I expect it to be durable and lasting.

The frame and hip belt are both pretty comfortable. Unfortunately even with the "tall" setting I had the same problem with it not being long enough (I'm over 6 ft.).

I do have a Kifaru duplex frame and was wondering if there were any special steps or annoyances to hooking the FILBE up to it? Did the attachment seem solid or loose? Should I even bother? LOL

Thanks!

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by RonnyRonin » Sun Apr 06, 2014 2:27 am

jasonff33 wrote:First off RonnyRonin thank you for the awesome and in depth review. I wish I had seen it before I bought my FILBE off ebay a few weeks ago. There is nothing else online that really goes into as much detail as yours and none with the different option/frames.

I am kinda of "meh" on the system. Not overly thrilled and not totally disappointed.

The bag itself is pretty solid (although nowhere near the stitching quality of Kifaru or a real MR) but even so I expect it to be durable and lasting.

The frame and hip belt are both pretty comfortable. Unfortunately even with the "tall" setting I had the same problem with it not being long enough (I'm over 6 ft.).

I do have a Kifaru duplex frame and was wondering if there were any special steps or annoyances to hooking the FILBE up to it? Did the attachment seem solid or loose? Should I even bother? LOL

Thanks!
I really just threw it on there for the pics, the top mates up pretty darn well (the opening in the filbe is a tad narrow but the load lifters still go through, or you could use the filbe load lifter attachment points) but I didn't really attach the bottom at all. Few options: you might be able to grab the cargo chair mounting rings with the straps that grab the inner struts on the airborne frame, and you could mount the bottom compression straps to the duplex which should snug it up pretty well. Also you could connect a strap to the bottom yib-yab tab (watch the video, that's its name) and hug the duplex just above the lumbar pad.

As for the "should I bother" it is a crap ton of weight up pretty high, I don't see myself using it unless I had a ton of stuff to strap underneath too.
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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by jasonff33 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 5:50 am

Thanks for the reply.

I'll think I'll stick with a Kifaru bag on the duplex then.

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by atod » Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:09 pm

RonnyRonin wrote: Image
I'm watching the instructional video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FemRN3y8Wv4 and looking at your picture above. The way your load lifters are adjusted is actually a -10º or more angle. The typical angle of these straps detail online and in the instructional video is º30 - º45. As you have your FILBE in the tall position, I can only assume FILBE fits max 5'11" users for such an angle. The ILBE has similar max height and this is something I thought USMC would have resolved in the new FILBE design.

I see in later pictures the FILBE is attached to ALICE frame. The ALICE load lifters are higher and allow 45º angle. Does the pack ride better on the ALICE frame? Is there any way to increase the height of the load lifters?

Thanks

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Re: FILBE pack overview

Post by RonnyRonin » Wed Jun 04, 2014 12:43 am

that pic is on the regular setting, this one is the tall setting:
RonnyRonin wrote: Image
not much difference but a little bit.


the reason the load lifters actually work on the ALICE frame is that I have custom frame bayonets on it, stock it might have even less then the FILBE on the short setting.
http://www.zombiehunters.org/forum/view ... 4&t=110921
with the tactical tailor belt this system is way more comfortable then the stock FILBE.

and no, the armed forces have a long and glorious history of not learning from their mistakes. the only way to get actual shoulder lift with the stock FILBE is to a) be super short, or b) wear the hip belt around your short ribs. There are a few tricks to getting some more shoulder lift out of the ILBE but about the only thing you can do with the FILBE is rout some webbing from the MOLLE on the lid and mount your own load lifter buckles (notice how the lid actually extends above my shoulders while the frame does not).
You could make your own bayonets like I did for the ALICE frame, but I would argue it is just easier and cheaper to buy a better backpack from the start.
share your tobacco and your kindling, but never your sauna or your woman.

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