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Reviews > Packs > Pack Accessories > Rothco Military Pouches > Owner Review by Mike Lipay

Rothco - Military Pouches
Owner Review by Mike Lipay
December 14, 2019

Reviewer Information
Height:5' 6" (1.6 meters)
Weight:155 lb (70.3 kg)
Home:Southwest Pennsylvania, USA
Background:I’ve been hiking since ’65 with occasional backpacking trips (backpacking became a love affair in the early 80’s). My first sleeping bag weighed in at 8 lb (3.6 kg) by itself! These days my loaded pack only weighs about 15 lb (6.8 kg) sans food. While most of my adventures are in the Northeast I’ve also been spending a good deal of time in the desert Southwest and most places in-between. My trips tend be in the cooler months - September through May - as I’m not much of a hot-weather person.

Product Information
Manufacturer: Rothco
Year Acquired: 2008
Ammo: Utility:
MSRP: $7.99 US $4.99 US
Material: Canvas Canvas
Measured Weight: 4.8 oz (136 g) 3.5 oz (99 g)
Measured Size: 8 x 6.5 x 2 in (26.2 x 21.3 x 6.6 cm) 7 x 6 x 2 in (17.8 x 15.2 x 6.6 cm)

Product Description

These are pouches made for military use, the ammo pouch typically carried magazines or loose rounds; utility pouches were used to carry maps, compass, snacks, fire starting supplies, etc. I’ve taken this idea of carrying items in easy reach to my hiking and backpacking needs. The pouches come in a variety of styles and sizes as well as in canvas and nylon. They are made to attach to a maximum 2” (5 cm) belt in one of two ways, either by sliding the belt through a loop in the back of the pouch or by the use of Mollie Clips that attach to the pouch then slide over the belt.

Pouches come with either one or two covered storage pockets, the flaps that cover the pockets fasten with either snaps or purse-style clips. The pockets can be used to store any number of different things, such as first aid supplies, snacks, etc.

Usage Report

I discovered pouches when I worked in Search and Rescue where we were given trauma kits as a Mollie-style pouch with Mollie-style clips (which are called Alice’s). I found it extremely handy for keeping first aid supplies easily accessible, and not having to take my pack of to gain access to them. After a little searching I found other pouches made by the military supply company Rothco. Rothco pouches are available locally at Army/Navy surplus stores as well as online at Army/Navy retailers as well as general retailers. The cost of these pouches is very affordable at prices ranging from $5-$10 US, and weigh in the 3.5 oz (99 g) to 6 oz (170 g) range.

For day hikes I have given up on carrying a daypack in favor of pouches attached to a 2” (5 cm) belt that I wear outside my jacket. For backpacking I have found that they slip over the belt on my backpack and can be used to carry things that I need/want quick access to, such as a camera, snacks, water filtration, maps, cellphone, etc.

Looking at the setup above, going from left to right, I would generally use the first one for my cellphone in the rear pocket, the front would carry a charging cable and a power bank for recharging. The second pouch is my trauma pouch carrying medical and emergency supplies (foil blanket, duct tape, thread, etc.). The third pouch might contain a water filtration system (I use a gravity filter so not much room needed) in the large pouch and a folded map in the front. The final pouch would probably contain snacks for the hike, keys to my vehicle, maybe an emergency rain jacket. There’s even room for a fifth pouch if I ever decide that I need more.

The canvas pouches are not water-resistant, when wet the water will, eventually, seep through. It is for this reason that I coat the canvas pouches with a water-resistant coating a couple times a year. The nylon pouches don’t have this problem, I have found that they hold up quite well to getting wet.


Pouches make a great alternative to a daypack, and an addition to a backpack. They provide the ability to have needed items easily accessible without taking a pack off, help to organize things to quickly locate them (no digging through a large pack), and the assortment of sizes assures a good fit for most items. I am considering making some out of a lighter weight material such as Cordura or Oxford to cut down on the weight.

On a recent trip to the White Mountains (New Hampshire) I attached a set of these to the hip belt of my backpack. On the left side of the belt one pouch (ammo) carried my GPS-enabled cellphone, a digital camera, compass, and a paper trail map; the second pouch (utility) carried snacks and a lunch for the day. On the right side was pack three, a trauma pouch (not a Rothco, but they do carry one), the final pack is my survival kit - (a utility pouch) with duct tape, fire starting supplies, knife, emergency whistle, emergency foil blanket, and water purification supplies. All of these things kept neatly on my belt, easy to grab, and not taking up precious space in my backpack.

The food pouch enabled me to grab something to eat without stopping my hike, giving me more foot-on-the-trail time. The cellphone and map/compass were referred to repeatedly during the days, easily removed from their pouch, then stuffed back in, and were far neater than they would have been stuffed in my pants pockets. Keeping the camera there also made it easy to pull out and grab a quick shot of passing wildlife. While the pouch with the camera does have a cover on it I never buckled it shut, that way it is quicker to pull out before the animals scatter off.

As I said, I find using these pouches makes my trip a lot easier since I don’t have to take my pack off to grab something that I need *now*. While I didn’t do it on this trip, there are trips where I work out of a base camp while I go out on day hikes. During these trips all I have to do is put the pouch belt on and I’m ready to go, no daypack to pull out of my backpack then load up with the day’s supplies. A much more elegant solution to a hiker’s needs.

  • Things I like:
    1. Keeps everything in easy reach, I don’t have to take a pack off.
    2. Easy to organize so I know just where everything is located.
    3. No wet back from a pack at the end of the hike.
    4. I can drop off pouches I don’t need on a particular hike.

  • Things I don't like:
    1. Do weigh more than an ultralight day pack.
    2. Takes some getting used to having the pouches where my arms usually rest.

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Reviews > Packs > Pack Accessories > Rothco Military Pouches > Owner Review by Mike Lipay

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