Since World War I, soldiers encountered many problems when it came to backpacks. The biggest hindrance was weight, with most packs weighing over five pounds without gear. With the Vietnam Conflict, the necessity of carrying a backpack everywhere meant that the government needed to develop a better backpack. Since soldiers were required to carry their equipment through the jungles of Vietnam, they needed a more lightweight, versatile, and practical means of transport.
The redesign of the military backpack began in 1965. The first major modification was in the material. Instead of the heavier canvas, they began creating backpacks from a waterproof nylon. Not only did it take pressure off the back of the soldiers, but it provided better protection from the elements. They later modified the suspenders of the pack so that they could be used to carry items that a soldier needed to be readily accessible such as additional ammunition.
The new backpack, called the LINCLOE (Lightweight Individual Clothing and Equipment), had its own problems. By 1968, an upgrade was necessary. The new features included belt straps for a canteen, first aid carrying case, and a tool carrier. While these helped the soldier, the backpack was far from perfect. Until 1972, the United States government and Natick Laboratories continued to experiment with the design, adding and subtracting features.
While originally a product of the military until the nineties, the ALICE moved on to become a fashion statement and civilian equipment. Used heavily by campers for convenience and comfort, they remain on the market. Medium and large ALICE packs have been considered a favorite for backpackers, hikers, and even for students.