About this two sets of backpack ILBE and FILBE, I will not start from their history, their histories are only nine or ten years.
Every set of backpack includes a main bag, an assault pack, a 3L hydration carrier carried independently and many external materials kits. For FILBE, two external hydration carriers were gave as present.
ILBE was designed by ACRTERYX. Because the supreme headquarters of ACRTERYX is in Vancouver of Canada, this product must be produced by the local contract manufacturers of America limited by the Defense Authorization Bill passed in 2005. Lastly, Propper won the bid and produced this set of backpack system.
FILBE is a premature baby created by the marines’ constant complaining. Because the design of most part of FILBE were evolved via MOLLEII, it is not a completely new set of backpack. The paratrooper type frame exposed its ancestry.
A full set of ILBE includes a main bag, an assault pack, assault pack and medical inserts allotted by reconnaissance battalion with tasks of searching for and rescuing, a 3L hydration system, hydration system cleaning suits and a 65L compressed waterproof bag.
In fact, there are two kinds of main bags, one is the main bag we usually see, another one was used in RECON whose capacity is 15 percent bigger than the first kind of main bag. MOLLE has more external bags which are same basically. And CORPSMAN backpack is a backpack exclusively for RECON.
Everyone can see all things included in this set of backpack but the main bag of RECON in the following picture.
This set of backpack covered all types of daily pack.
29L assault pack with solid structure can be extended with PALS system. The routing with 725D cordura is conscientious and meticulous. Too few compartments is its disadvantage, there are only hydration system compartment, main compartment and assistant compartment. An external repair kit was needed if you want that all materials are classified detailedly, or you can put all materials in the main compartment directly.
39L RECON backpack is near perfect backpack, it has two advantages, firstly, it is solid to the feel, secondly, it has detailed compartments. The three perfect inserts in the backpack can split the backpack into three modules medical part, tools part and clothing, food part which is fit with perfectionist.
There are also two disadvantages, firstly, air shaft was not designed in the pack, so the backpack must be tacked down to the wearer’s back on a hot day, the wearer must feel quite hot. Secondly, I am not too happy that the backpack can not stand upright because of the lowest compartment.
Main bag: it has the most handsome appearance in the world (just my personal opinion, do not stab with me willy-nilly if you have different opinion), it has extremely strong structure with MOLLE ribbons all over the body of bag. The upright and adjoining lateral compartments can hold hydration system, cane, tent poles, and folding stool or firearms ( of course, if you have them). It also have perfect top compartment and thick zipper full of wild nature.
Disadvantages: always feel that it is slightly long and thin, more thicker, more better. The capacity of 75L is slightly small.
In my opinion, the marines replaced ILBE just because of the small areas of contacting back of carrying system of ILBE. Because the prototype of main bag of ILBE is arcteryx bora, it has the small areas of contacting back. The cruelty of field was not considered when arcteryx bora was designed at the beginning as an outdoor big backpack. Because we must not make quick movement and any tactical action when we are wearing a 80L-90L big backpack out of doors. Who made quick movement and tactical action with 80L backpack you have seen? But, the soldiers would done. This backpack with load-bearing of 120 pounds is very comfortable. The problem is that it will move from side to side on the body of soldier with armoured vest, this movement carried much physical strength of soldiers, so soldiers refused to use this backpack.
In fact, FILBE is an advanced and improved MOLLE II, the typical outer frame (small paratrooper type), installation make everyone have a headache and the same hip belt must make you think that USMC back to the MOLLE II ages again.
But you must know that the first feeling is very good when you wear it. This backpack is well-tailored just because that it was produced by EAGLE. The center of gravity adjustment system in the main bag was designed by the Don DANA there are frame sway following one’s body, more fit, comfortable hip belt and the big zipper which cuts the backpack in the middle in which.
The evaluating online also blot out the sky and cover up the earth. A fat man has any uncomfortable feeling after making a walking of 12miles with weight of 75pounds. We are not stronger like the fat man, but we must have a good feeling if we will make a walking with the weight of 40-50 pounds.
I have made a try that I made a walking of 1.5 hours and two hills with the weight of 40 pounds, the feeling is very good. In my opinion, FILBE give us more comfortable feeling than ILBE. Hip belt is very fit, and I like the inward tightening belt designed by the Don DANA very much, thank DANA for the belt.
I am sorry for no photographer of all assemblies. Following is a picture online which is not my work, we can see a whole set of FILBE in the following picture.
FLBE VS ILBE
It is the main reason of the marines’ complaining that the backpack can not completely fits the armoured vest, so main improvement is needed in this part of backpack.
Basing on my personal feeling, three big problems have been resolved in FILBE.
The first one is hip belt. I do not know why I always be unsatisfied with the hip belt of ILBE whose prototype came from the famous BORA. I have three main bag of ILBE and S,M,L hip belt, I have tried all them. The problem is that hip belt can not block on my hip and always be falling down no matter how much strength I tighten belt with when the backpack is carrying a full load. But I have no worries on hip belt of FILBE, because the backpack completely fits my back. Hip belt fit back perfectly and can not fall down even if the wearer is a girl with weight of 40 kg. I like this improvement very much.
The second one is aeration. Although air shaft also be designed in the back of backpack, ILBE may let the sweat broke out all over your body in the hot summer, because the backpack is extremely tacked down to your back. When you wear FILBE, your back is fully exposed because of frame of FILBE, so you will have a good feeling in the hot summer, at least you will not be soaked in sweat.
The third one is that horizontal large zipper replaced vertical large zipper. This is an improvement let me happy. The Don DANA is said to be the designer of this improvement. It was very difficult to take out objects like sleeping bag and clothes in the bottom of backpack when I used ILBE ago. Because the open of rubber tube zipper appears to be strong is very small, it is hard to take out bigger objects from the bottom of backpack. Now I have no worry about that trouble because of the horizontal large zipper which can help me open backpack fully, it is an easy job to take out objects from the sleeping bag compartment in the bottom of backpack.
But FILBE is regressive to some extent. Following are good examples.
Firstly, FILBE with 500D codura is more heavier than ILBE with 725D codura, more than 1 pound heavier than the later. This should be created by frame.
Secondly, center of gravity is in the rear because of the space free on back especially when backpack carrying a full load. This also should be created by frame.
Thirdly, there is no the comfortable feeling like the feeling of aluminium bar bent along body’s curve of ILBE, of course, this is just my personal feeling.
The forth trouble is the most important trouble that it is too hard to assemble backpack and to adjust the length of back. There is a cry of outrage in foreign forums, the person spent more than an hour to assemble backpack can be found everywhere. For resolving this problem, the marines even made a teaching video of 1.5 hours specially to tell those MARINES who are too lazy to move their brains how to assemble this backpack. Assembling of backpack is abhorrent to me which is too unscientific and too unreasonable.
In aspect of deadweight, ILBE without frame system on the back is slightly lighter than FILBE, but I feel unnoticable about that.
In aspect of hip belt, of course, hip belt of FLIBE is more comfortable than hip belt of ILBE, because hip belt of ILBE can not perfectly fit back of wearer, and the design of the direction of pulling on the belt is not scientific by contrast with FILBE. With the same weight of 50 pounds, hip belt of ILBE give me the feeling of falling down and letting down, but hip belt of FILBE does not give me the feeling, because hip belt of FILBE perfectly fits my back.
In aspect of capacity, FILBE has more bigger capacity, 15-20L bigger than ILBE. ILBE can hold 70L, and FILBE can hold 85L at least. In addition, width of FILBE is more wider than ILBE which is more fitter for many large-sized objects like sleeping bag and tent, or tactical vest. The design of the horizontal large zipper is more scientific than the design of the vertical large zipper. The two vertical zippers of ILBE is a chicken ribs especially when there are external bags on the backpack.
My FILBE can hold two sleeping bags more than my ILBE.
In aspect of appearance, in my opinion, ILBE is more handsome than FILBE especially when it was used match with other equipment. FILBE is more versatile, more low-key, more short and fat by contrast with ILBE.
In aspect of center of gravity, the center of gravity of ILBE is near back of wearer, but the center of gravity is in the rear. About the center of gravity of FILBE, some people say good, and some people say bad. My personal feeling is that there is no obvious feeling within 50 pounds, if heavier, adjustment needed to be done by our bodies.
In aspect of aeration, FILBE is the winner. The back of wearer is fully exposed because of frame, the wearer feel cool even if in the hot summer. The wearer of ILBE fell very hot, because ILBE pack is tacked down to the back of wearer. At the same time, the problem of center of gravity was created by this difference.
In the aspect of assistant bag, because the assistant bag was produced and sold in the primary stage, there are all four assistant bags in FILBE system. The two sustainment pouches are good to use and practicable which can hold many objects. Two hydration carriers can hold other objects if hydration system was not held in it , or one hydration carrier hold 3L hydration system, another hydration carrier hold sundries.
There are also sustainment pouches in ILBE system, but only RECON was issued with sustainment pouches and special version main bag of ILBE.