Surfing for Dolphins – 782 Gear – ALICE


I was looking at this list of these articles on the site, and giving them all the same name didn’t help much for finding one. So I’ll add a topic related suffix.

Picture found on internet. Owner must be left handed.

When I went to boot camp, I had ALICE gear. I used Alice gear a few other times while I was in. Mostly liked it, but when you are active it could sometimes spin around your waist. I hated when that happened.

For parades, we wore the belt with the first aid kit in the small of back and a canteen on each side of the first aid kit.

In boot camp, I recall often we rolled up our ponchos and had that in the small of back, with the canteens on each side of that. The poncho was secured to the belt with boot bands.

We also had our “moonbeam” flashlights hanging from our ALICE gear in boot camp night fire watch. Back then, I didn’t know about Surefire lights, so I thought that right angle flash light was so very cool and useful. I wrote about this flashlight back in 2019. Here is a link to that article:

Each ALICE mag pouch held 3 mags. So we could hold 6 mags total. All during this time my fighting load with the M16A2 was 6 mags.

I ran into so many different versions of the mag pouch. Some had little dividers in them to keep the mags from rotating or sliding around. I once found one that had two internal snap flaps. When you opened the mag pouch, you could remove one mag, then you would have to unsnap a flap to access the next magazine. Once that one was unsnapped you could access the last mag. Seemed unnecessarily slow to me.

I preferred to have the alice mag pouch with out any internal organizers as I would sometimes just put in two mags where they would lay flat to my body. Seemed a little faster and easier to get mags that way.

The alice gear dated back to a time when it was thought that you might be keeping your support hand on the rifle and loading and racking the charging handle with your firing hand. Having the mag pouches closer to your sides allowed you to lay flatter to the earth and keep a lower profile when the enemy is shooting at you.

We almost always used a buttpack with the alice gear when we used it for real. When we had a first aid kit, it was often attached to the right side of the buttpack.

I don’t recall ever seeing anyone use the grenade pouches on the mag pouch.

We were issued Y harnesses. I recall someone, maybe an instructor, really preferred the H harness and explained that to us. So I managed to get me one and used it for a while. I also recall breaking several of the snap hooks used to connect the harness to the belt so I am guessing that was the fate of my H harness.

When I was in Iraq, my squad leader used an Alice belt and harness along with a couple of SOB general purpose pouches. He would keep mags on one side and the other used as a general purpose pouch to hold maps, NODs, and what ever other little things he needed. I felt pretty jealous. Not of his kit, but at how light weight it was. Being the RO meant I was carrying everything.

I had started writing this intending to write a paragraph about ALICE gear, a paragraph about the LBV-88, another about MOLLE, etc. I didn’t think I would have so much to say about ALICE gear. I’m sure I’ve overlooked things I wanted to say, but I’ll cap it here. Next time I talk about gear I’ll talk about the LBV-88.


  1. There was no better gear than the haversack. You already had the cartridge box with a wood block drilled out to hold twenty linen cartridges. In the haversack one had their sausage, cornmeal and anything else you wanted. Who could ask for more?

  2. I never used or carried alice gear but it still seems quite functional and practical even today. Especially when you consider the cost of most ‘battle belt’ set ups compared to surplus or even new condition alice gear. Along with a matching Bianchi holster for carrying a side arm, it seems like a good idea. You might not win a quick draw contest but maybe for community defense with your neighbors in the event of civil unrest? Am I off base here?

  3. When I was playing army, what the Marines call 782 gear, the Army called TA-50 gear, although whatever a “TA” was, was never explained. I never heard the word “Alice” used in conjunction with it, either. Apparently that came later, or I just wasn’t paying attention. But I do think it’s still a very practical bunch of gear. On a road march or just standing around, you could rest your M-16 between the belt and the magazine pouch, with the rifle balanced at the front of the magazine well, muzzle down a bit, with your right hand alongside the receiver and your thumb stuck thru the carry handle. Darn handy way to carry a rifle if you weren’t expecting immediate trouble.

    • I “think” it is for Table of Allowance, TA. I heard it somewheres but don’t rightly remember if it is true or something made up.

  4. Wow, the old ALICE Y strap TA-50. Brings back memories from both Basic in 1989 to SFAS in 1995. At SFAS we used to wear our ALICE gear so high up it was pretty non functional combat wise, but boy did it make it easier for Ruck Sack marching with all the medieval torture apparatus they made us carry for 3 weeks. After completing SFQC, we used to wear our ALICE gear so low it used to hang off our buttocks. We wore it that low to clear our T10C parachute harnesses.

  5. Still have the set I bought and used 20+ years ago. The issue stuff stayed in the bag for an easier turn-in…which is another story in itself.
    I clipped off the suspender buckles and looped in 550. The pouch clips were scrapped and replaced with zip ties. A $5 BX belt pad was wonderful.
    Seen all manner of versions of the mag pouch/divider combo. I always cut them out. The last ones we got issued didn’t even have them. Never carried a grenade in the loops either. Usually had a roll of electrical tape snapped in one for quick gear silencing or adhoc repairs. And we shoved our angle head lights through them so they wouldn’t flop around on the suspender. My first base abutted a Club Fed prison. They’d knock tennis balls over our fence constantly so most of us had one or two of those in our loops too. We invented a game, the actual rules are lost to me, but if you dropped the ball everyone got to huck a ball at you. That story really has nothing to do with web gear though ….
    Everyone wants the fancy chest rig, plate carrier options now but this gear is very functional stuff. It’s nothing fancy but it works, is rugged and is very, very affordable nowadays. It’ll carry your bullets, your water, and (with a butt pack) your beans too. The butt pack was great kit in itself. Roll up and strap your poncho underneath. Field stripped MREs, poncho liner, couple changes of socks, maybe a shirt too and some other small particulars and you could live off of your gear for a few days. No need for a ruck. Not living in style and comfort mind you but capable of doing the job at hand. Nothing different than today, just different in the execution of it.


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