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NICE 6500 Bag (NICE Frame Compatible)

8/01/05 - The NICE 6500 is one of Dana Gleason's bags offered for the NICE (Nylinear Individual Carrying Equipment) ALICE-compatible frame featured on the previous page. It's similar in design to the BDSB (Big Dana's Special Blend) pack, the military version of the G7000, except that it's slightly smaller front-back (it's called the 6500 since that's the approximate capacity of the main bag and pockets). Also, it doesn't have shoulder straps and is specifically designed to be used with the NICE frame, instead of having a built-in frame/suspension system. Almost all other features are shared with the BDSB. It's shown here in ACU pattern digital camo. Note that the particular bag shown here is an earlier pre-production one, and production versions feature mil-spec Foilage green webbing and IR reflective hardware.

The main compartment is cavernous, and is of a straightforward design with no internal compartments, save for the internal divider between the top and bottom compartments. It doesn't have the radio pocket like the BDSB on the inside of the pack. On the inside, there are two 775 aluminium stays that extend up to stiffen the pack body beyond the top of the NICE frame, bent backwards at a 30° angle for clearance behind the head. The twin stays are held in position at the bottom by a plastic stiffener/connector, which fits in a pocket that protrudes out the back of the pack. This 'protrusion' slips behind the middle horizontal stay on the NICE frame, essentially extending the frame. They're held at the top by stay pockets.

On the back of the pack are two large vertical pockets that run the length of the pack, down to the top of the bottom compartment. They have side zipper openings and are used for quick access to items that you'll need more often. They're quite substantial in volume.
A large, extendable storm collar with drawstring closure adds volume beyond the top of the pack. A removable lid that doubles as a daypack tops the pack off. More on that later.
The main bag is constructed of 500D cordura with 1000D cordura used at high wear/stress areas (like on the bottom). Dana also makes bags constructed completely of 1000D cordura. It just depends on what the customer prefers or requires.

BDSB/N bag, back

Close up of back view

Bag, inside out

Inside out view showing internal frame stay/stiffener configuration
There are side-access zippers on each side for access to the pack's contents, if stowed under the openings. An internal divider separates the main (top) compartment from the bottom one, and can be unclicked out of the way if one large compartment is desired. The bottom compartment is about 1/4 of the volume of the bag and is designed to house a sleeping bag system. It easily swallowed my Wiggy's desert bag plus a pillow. so there's definitely room for a larger sleep system. The compartment has its own compression strap/tail for keeping the contents secure and a zipper closure. The two 'wings' on each side fold over and buckle in the front. On each side of the bottom compartment is a canteen-sized pocket with elastic opening.

Side access opening

Bottom compartment

Wiggy's desert bag in compartment (in dry bag)

The bag attaches to the NICE frame by slipping the bag stay pocket behind the center horizontal frame stay while the top of the bag goes over the NICE frame, just like an ALICE pack. The top shoulder-lift straps are transfered from the frame to the ladder locks on front of the bag. The side straps from the frame are routed through the ladder locks on the side of the bag as shown below. The bag is held very securely to the frame and there isn't any shift whatsoever once these straps are cinched down.The upper and lower side compression straps from the frame buckle into the bag. Depending on whether the bottom compartment of the bag is folded or expanded, the bottom compression frame straps either connect to the bottom back of the bag, or go under the bottom compartment and meet up with female buckles in front.

View showing the bag stays inserted behind the frame stay

Top of bag and NICE frame showing shoulder-lift straps

Side frame/bag attach point

Bottom compression straps and compartment

Bottom compartment folded up and compression straps attached to bottom of bag

Removable lid/day pack
I 'stuffed out' the pack for illustrative purposes here. When my wife saw it, she exclaimed 'it's bigger than me!'. You might notice that the shoulder lift straps can be connected to the top of the bag (for more shoulder lift), as shown above, or directly to the top of the NICE frame, depending on how much shoulder lift you want.
A canteen fits perfectly in the side elastic-top pockets, but a Nalgene litre bottle is too long and I'd worry about it not staying put. Dana also makes deeper pockets to fit Nalgene-sized bottles. It's up to the customer to specify.

Shown below is the top lid removed and worn as a handy day pack. It has two compartments, for a total volume of about 800 c.i., with horizontal zippered openings. The black shoulders straps are comfortable and include a sternum strap. The top lid is connected to the bag in front by surface mount buckles, and the vertical compression straps in back. When worn as a day pack, I found that it tends to remain 'cupped', like it was on the bag, and it *might* sit better if the compartments were vertical instead of horizontal. Not a big issue, however, as it's not meant to replace a dedicated daypack and it does the job for what it's designed for. A plain top lid without pockets or straps is also available.

Rear view




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