Principles of Pack Weight Distribution

The realities of mobility for unmechanized and unmotorized rifle units is that everything that moves from point A to point B needs to be packed up and carried by the personnel making the trip.

What goes in the bag depends two major factors.

1) Mission: A Zombie fighting unit looking to pack up and move to a new permanent base fifty miles away will have a very different packing list from an element of a Zombie fighting unit conducting a two day reconnaissance patrol.

2) Resources: How many people and what kind of people (children, men, women, elderly, etc.) will affect what can be carried by who and how much. In this scenario, it is assumed that motorized transport is unavailable so everything must be carried by personnel. Also, what kinds of bags are available and how many there are affects what can be carried.

However, regardless of what is put in, the fact is that supplies need to be packed into bags. Weight distribution of the pack can make a huge difference in the mobility of a Zombie fighting unit.

Weight distribution of a pack depends on the person, but in addition to the fighter’s level of fitness, there are three major factors that need to be considered: Weight of the pack, distance of to be traveled, and the speed in which the distance needs to be covered. Some people may nitpick and say that “time” would be the more accurate way to express it rather than “speed,” but once they are introduced to the principle itself, it makes a lot more sense.

Minimum Pack Requirements

The minimum requirements for packs to use in the field for heavy hauling is that it must have chest and waist straps (in addition to all the other things that make a pack what it is). Without them, any reasonably heavy load will be a challenging haul.

The Principle

The greater the weight, the more important the weight distribution.
The greater the distance, the more important the weight distribution.
The greater the speed in which it has to be traversed, the more important the distribution.

Importance of pack weight distribution is based on Weight, Distance, and Speed.

The reason why it’s important to judge the importance of weight distribution is because it is sometimes at odds with another factor to consider when packing: accessibility of the items (which is beyond the scope of this section).

The Principle In Action

Consider a crate filled with heavy items. This is a case of high weight but short distance, with the time not being a huge factor since they are intended to be loaded and offloaded off vehicles. Weight distribution is not a defining factor because distance and time are not serious factors. If a crate were to be used for long distance travel, it would have to be carried by more than one person. The reason for this is because the nature of the distribution of weight in a crate is very poor for carry by personnel.

Even with an empty box, this would make for a very unpleasant hike due to the nature of weight distribution. Image Courtesy: Wayne State University

Even with an empty box, this would make for a very unpleasant 10 mile hike due to the nature of weight distribution.
Image Courtesy: Wayne State University

Consider a school bag containing a tablet with e-book versions of textbooks and a laptop to take notes. Weight distribution is not a huge priority because the weight of the pack is very light. Depending on the campus and the route the person decides to take, the distance to be covered may be great, and the time small (therefore requiring faster speed), but because the pack is so light, weight distribution does not become a high priority.

Ideal Weight Distribution

There are two things that affect weight distribution in a pack, the actual loading of the contents themselves and then the straps that hold the pack to the fighter.

The most ideal and executable distribution of weight in a pack is as follows.
Red = Heaviest
Orange = Heavy
Yellow = Light
Green = Lightest

From back to front:
weight-distribution-diagram-rear

From the side:
weight-distribution-diagram

 

In addition to just the distribution, the chest and waist straps must also be tightened. The waist strap is especially important. The waist strap should be tightened so that it actually takes most of the weight, say anywhere around 75%. The shoulder straps should really be holding 25% of the burden.

The reason for this is in the anatomy of a human being. The human waist is designed specifically for holding a lot of weight, as are human legs. The human shoulder and back, however, are not.

In a Nutshell

In a nutshell, heavy things go at the bottom and close to the body. Waist straps are tightened to support the majority of the weight of the pack itself.’

Smart weight distribution means superior mobility.  Image Courtesy: HLN

Smart weight distribution means superior mobility.
Image Courtesy: HLN

Other Schools of Thought

Other schools of thought regarding weight distribution in packs suggest that males put the majority of the weight high up, while females put the majority of the weight down, citing the differences in physique in women as opposed to men. However the general physical layout of men and women are more or less the same, and are not different enough to warrant an entirely different weight distribution setup.

 

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