Thursday, April 11, 2013

Review: Tactical Tailor - MALICE 2 pack set

Here's the third installment of reviews for KitUp!'s David Reeder, and the inestimable Casey Ingles of Tactical Tailor. I've been so pleased with the other kit that they sent me, I've been somewhat hesitant to begin on this next review, given its magnitude.

However, it's just too awe-inspiring to hold it back any further, so here we go.

I've always wanted an ALICE pack. Since childhood I remember putting it on Birthday and Giftmas lists. 

The combination of metal frame and hefty pack have been of great interest to me, from my earliest camping days.

So, without further ado, let me introduce to you the MALICE 2 kit from Tactical Tailor.

This MODIFIED All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment pack is jam packed with improvements over the standard "lowest-common denominator" issue pack, and I'll get to those points as we go along.

Probably the first thing that strikes me about this pack is that it is BIG. With a main compartment capacity of 53L (3276 cu") and a whopping total capacity of 75L (4556 cu") That is a whole lot of ruck!.

Here is what it looks like when I filled it up, and threw it on. See lower down for what I filled it with. Lets just say a LOT.

As you can see, this is some serious pack! The kit itself comes in four distinct parts; the main pack body which constitutes all the storage, the Super Straps which are the heavily padded shoulder straps, the Super Belt which is the padded hip/kidney belt and the frame These all come together to form the MALICE2 -kit-. Each are available to add to, upgrade or replace a standard ALICE pack component.

I'll be honest, in that I needed the provided instructions to put it together, as there's no shame in RTFM.

So here's what I can tell you about all the parts:

The frame is built from light weight metal tubing, just like a racing bike, which is reported to give a 30% reduction in weight compared to other  pack frames. This frame is welded, rather than riveted, like the older issue-frames,  while increasing strength and rigidity over the issue ALICE pack frame. Apparently one key issue with those frames, apart from being flimsy, were the popping of rivets, leaving metal ends flapping in the breeze, ore more accurately, finding nice solid fleshy places to jab. Yeah. No thanks! The welds are really solid, and there is NO flex, sway, or signs of weakness in this frame. Rock-solid quality, powder coated to a smooth finish.

The frame also has a crossbar, which in fact rather than just joining the uprights, bends away from the body, creating a  space between the pack and your body. This is ace for not only keeping an air-flow gap, but also keeping the bulk of the pack up and off. The spacing of the frame also lends itself to go around standard sized (10"x12") back hard armour plates, something that hadn't occurred to me, but a brilliant idea!

The Super Straps are reported to be twice as long as issue straps, a real bonus if you are already bulked up with a plate carrier, warm clothes, and allows the use of a cool item like the MysteryRanch Cinch Straps to fix it snugly over a plate carrier. They  are made with 3/4" thick foam padding for added comfort under heavy loads. They are also are contoured rather tan just straight, to fit your shoulders and feature an adjustable sternum strap which helps distribute weight and keep it loaded tight to your body.
The Super Belt is much the same, except it utilizes 1.5" padding to maximise a comfortable ride of the pack. It features a big dual-adjusting front fastex style buckle and side ALICE style webbing attachment points to allow additional modular gear to be attached directly to the belt. Mounting the belt to the pack was a snap with the two adjustable buckles which just cinched it on tightly, this apparently replaces the 'ratchet' style attachment system on the issue kidney pad, which sounds like a nightmare!

The main pack itself as I said, is HUGE. The whole thing is made of 1000d Cordura, and features extra reinforcements of all  the high stress areas of the pack. The seams and all the finishings are top-notch.  

The main compartment is 53cm  (21")  tall, 35cm (14") wide and 28cm (11") deep. That might be hard to picture, but see below, for a good indication. You'll know when. That single main compartment has drainage grommets in the base, but is essentially a big open sack. For more compartmentalization , look to the outside! 

The front of the pack features two 6" x 7" x 4" and one 8" x 12" by 4" zippered pockets and on each side there are additional 7" x 10" x 4" zippered pockets. That's five big pockets lining the top of the pack. Below them are three more deep clip-fastening lidded pockets. I was able to stuff a set of cargo pants into each of these side pockets, rolled up, to give you an idea of their capacity and my Platatac Harry 1.2 Softshell Jacket in the middle one. We're talking a whole lot of storage here... Below the top row of pockets are two twin ALICE webbing loops, to give you even more modular attachment options, like for a canteen or e-tool.

You really CAN fit a whole lot in this pack.
Inside the top of the main compartment, in addition to the standard draw-string closure, is the additional Storm Flap modification, which sits inside the main closure, and adds an sphincter-like extension around the inside of the top of the pack to help keep things secure and dry. This also features a draw-string closure and really improves the packing security, easy of access when needed, and keeps the elements off your kit.

This is in addition to the built in flap that covers the whole of the top of the pack, secured with two long fastex-style clips on long webbing straps. That cover itself features another pocket, a

zipper closing 8" x 12" x 4" Claymore pocket. There is also a heavy duty 2" Nylon webbing carry handle at the top of the pack

Tactical Baby says RUCK UP!

She also objected strenuously to me trying to get her back OUT of the pack, and wanted to go for more rides. Considering she spent several hours worth of walking at ConFest in my Light Field Pack, I shouldn't have been surprised.

This is a serious mountain of a pack. 

Lightweight on its own, a heavyweight when used to its full capacity. The additional padding on the shoulder and hip belts are with no doubt a stunning improvement over previous offerings and I shudder to think what those old frames must have been like. The construction of this setup is without reproach, and I can see it lasting a lifetime. It truly warrants the "M" for Modified in its name but could just as easily stood for "modern".  This is a modern pack with classic lines, with rock-solid modern materials and construction philosophy.


  1. I typed up a massive question just before but it disappeared so I'l try and keep it short this time.

    Basically I need a ALICE Pack and have chosen 3 different ones:

    1. PLATATAC Alice Pack
    2. Max Force Tactical Alice Pack MKII
    3. Tactical Tailor MALICE Pack V3

    I'm a 16 yr old Army Cadet and about to attend ATA and need to carry a weeks worth of gear in a pack. The first two packs stated they had sleeping bag compartments were as the MALICE doesn't? This is a feature I would really like.

    So basically what I'm asking is if you were me, which pack would you buy?

    Thanks, Kyle

    1. hey Kyle, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. The TT-MALICE pack doesn't have the sleeping bag pocket, and whilst haven't had the of the MaxForce MKII to hand, i'd say you wouldn't go wrong with Platatac. The guys in the retail store will be able ot tell you if the Z-Alice, or the bigger will suit you better, but both have the under-pocket for your sleeping bag ... hope this helps!

      all the best, thanks for asking, and good luck with ATA, ahhwoo!


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