Pack Files: Lowe LCS-84 (with Pack Restoration)
Pack Files is a series that explores rare, forgotten, and prototype packs and accessories.
The Lowe Alpine LCS-84 was part of the Vector Pack Systems series of military load bearing equipment. The Vector line was created in 1978 to meet "the needs of the US Army and Marines as well as search and rescue organizations." The LCS-84 is a 5690 cu-in (6590 cu-in with storm collar fully extended) ruck made from eight ounce CORDURA® nylon. It features a dual aluminum stay internal frame, an adjustable suspension system, and a removable 1200 cu-in patrol pack that serves as the main pack’s lid.
Additionally, the LCS-84 has the following features:
• Zippered sleeping bag access
• Internal divider to separate the main body from the sleeping bag compartment (Torso Trac™ version only)
• Storm collar (Torso Trac™ version only)
• Removable, padded hipbelt that can be used on its own as an LCE belt
• Webbing-based, removable internal radio pocket
• Pass-through side pockets (a la ALICE external pockets)
The Field Pack, Large, with Internal Frame (FPLIF, colloquially known as the CFP-90) was based on Lowe’s LCS-84, and early FPLIF packs were actually manufactured by Lowe Alpine (both brown-bottom and green-bottom variants).
At least two versions of the LCS-84 exist, and I’m not certain which came first or if they were both designated “LCS-84.” One style features the Torso Ladder System, a suspension system that uses rows of horizontal webbing with a central channel that accommodates a length of 2” SCUBA webbing, to which the shoulder strap assembly can be secured at various heights.
Note: The woodland camouflage top flap was a user addition and not original.
The version referenced in the Vector Pack Systems (shown above) catalog featured the Torso Trac™ Suspension System (the same style of suspension system that was used on the later FPLIF/CFP-90).
There are several other differences between the two LCS-84 models, such as the position of eyelets on the 2.25” ALICE webbing, the construction of the side pocket flaps, and the lack of a storm collar and internal divider on the Torso Ladder version. Given the older style suspension system and more complex construction method used for the pocket flaps on the Torso Ladder model, I suspect the Torso Trac™ version was the second iteration of the LCS-84.
Restoration and Features
I picked up a well-used LCS-84 on eBay that ended up being in worse condition than the auction photos suggested. It was filthy, the fabric coating was flaking off, and the foam had become rigid and distorted. These photos highlight some of the steps I took to recondition the pack and provide details about the pack's features.
After a thorough scrubbing of the inside and outside, and applying a DWR treatment to the exterior, the pack started to look much better.
The worn-out elastic on the sternum strap was replaced. Throughout the restoration, I attempted to match the original stitching as closely as possible. In this case, black thread with an appropriately sized bartack was used.
The old, stiff foam (which was bunched up in both shoulder straps) was removed and new 1/2” XLPE foam was cut and inserted.
Replacing the foam in the shoulder straps was simple. I removed the seam stitching from the lower end of the shoulder straps, removed the foam, and sewed them back up.
The hipbelt was a more time-consuming task. It features 2.25” ALICE webbing atop thick LCE pistol belt webbing. The combination of that webbing, along with the 1/2” foam, made sewing in the new foam through the original stitching lines difficult. After the hipbelt was completed, I made a few small repairs throughout the pack and called it good.
Onto some miscellaneous details of the pack. The aluminum stays are housed in external webbing channels, the tops of which are secured with snap fasteners. The hipbelt slides onto the stays through open slots at the bottom, as shown above. An antenna port is positioned on the right rear side of the pack. This model does not feature an internal divider (unlike the Torso Trac™ version) but does include internal compression straps to secure a sleeping bag. My LCS-84, with a user-added lid, weighs 6.39 pounds/2.9kg.
- "Lowe Vector Catalog" Soldier Systems Daily. 21 February 2017
Written 6 February 2020 by Jesse Ables