Austrian army backpack system

During the 80’s the Austrian army had a load carrying system that consistent of a large backpack that looked like a US army Alice Pack and a smaller bag that could be carried as a front pack or as a butt pack. Alternately the small bag could also be worn as a shoulder bag or a small backpack on it’s own. The bags are made from Nylon and usually carried in combination with a pistol belt.

The idea from a front pack was copied in later years by the Dutch army. They had a small duffle generally known as the Rotota bag or soldiers handbag. This was also attached to the shoulder straps of a backpack. However the Dutch used plastic fast release buckles while the Austrian pack system uses metal hooks. Another difference is that the Dutch front-pack is carried on the chest while the Austrian front-pack is carried on your waist in front of your genitals.

The Austrian backpack and front-pack. Source:

The small pack is available with 2 straps to secure the cover lid and also with 3 straps. Perhaps one was intended as a butt-pack and the other as a front-pack.


As mentioned in the last video, the carrying straps are not the most comfortable. They are 6 cm wide. For a full size backpack this is quite a small area to spread out the load. Also the padding is not the softest. Since the carrying harness can easily we removed from it’s hooks it is also easy to attach other shoulder straps or a harness to the pack.

The pictures above are from the Austrian army Main pack mounted on the frame of a Swedish army LK35 rucksack frame. Source: Alternatively you can also use a frame of an old (wasted) 70’s or 80’s backpack that you can find in second hand shops and thrift-shops. Since the original Austrian army harness is removable by opening the hooks you won’t do any damage to the backpack or straps.


austrian-backpack-main (
The main backpack from the Austrian load carrying system. Source:
Österr-Heeres-Rucksack (
The Austrian ”Alice Pack” with original detachable shoulder straps. Source:

More info:
3 Surplus European Backpacks You’ve Probably Never Used – But Should

Available at:

Large backpack (German website)
Small bag (German website)
Total system (German website) (Dutch website)

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