Ergonomics Working Group

Rucksack Packing for Performance: Load Carriage Training Package

Many soldiers are injured each year due to the improper use of rucksacks. These injuries are preventable if soldiers follow certain guidelines when packing and fitting their rucksacks.

There is currently no training given to soldiers on the packing and fitting of their rucksacks before a road march. In 2001, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (USACHPPM) Ergonomics Program, using research conducted at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), began developing a Load Carriage Training Package based on the relationship between center of mass (COM) location and the metabolic cost of load carriage. The research indicates that, to decrease the metabolic cost of load carriage, a COM location that is higher and closer to the back is desired.

The Load Carriage Training Package consists of:

  • Rucksack Packing and Fitting Tips Brochure
  • Rucksack Packing and Fitting Tips Poster
  • Rucksack Packing and Fitting Tips PowerPoint Presentation

The training was developed to be concise and easily presented to soldiers in a timely manner (20-30 minutes)

Currently, a training proposal is being drafted for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) to include elements of the Load Carriage Training Package in current training manuals.

Recent Publications


The Modern Warriors Combat Load report from the U.S. Army Center for Army Lessons Learned, focuses on the modern warrior's combat load as experienced by a U.S. Army light division force.

Major Findings

  • Increased capabilities continue to increase physical burdens.
  • Fit Soldiers are easily exhausted by their modern loads while operating in extreme environments.
  • Body armor needs to continue to be lightened and made much more flexible.
  • More emphasis and study needed on modern load carriage.
  • Unit transportation assets need to carry the bulk of the Soldier's load.
  • Units need more small unit ground vehicles.
  • Small unit robot development needs to be accelerated.
  • Army level effort needs to go into reducing the Combat Load through doctrine and equipment changes.
  • Needs unified action.


Reduce the Weight of Shoulder Worn Technologies

  • Recognize that all Soldiers have different jobs and carry different loads.
  • Recognize that the need for most gear will not go away. Soldiers have basic needs that will remain over time.
  • Make all attempts to create lightweight Soldier carried gear.
  • Look to lighten ALL the gear that Soldiers carry, not just an item here or there.
  • Make attempts to develop multi-functional gear to replace current one-task items.
  • Follow industry and buy off the shelf, state-of-the art gear to replace Army clunkers (GPS as example). Throw it away when it dies.
  • Reinvent many staple items to shed weight (machine gun tripods, ammunition (all types), batteries, body armor, and more).
  • Re-design or purchase commercial load carriage systems that support all job specialties (example = Radio Telephone Operator – no load carriage system that meets his needs).

And Take the Weight Off the Soldier's Back

  • Re-think the logistical practices that the Army has been using since WWII and consider novel ways to resupply the dismounted Soldier, to include possible daytime LOGPACs and even multiple LOGPACs each day.
  • Provide the platoon and squad with small unit logistics vehicles (SULVs) that can follow closely behind the unit during combat operations. Place most of the contents of the Soldier's Assault Rucksack on these vehicles. Place some of the Soldier's basic load of ammunition on these vehicles as well as specialty items (AT-4s, SMAW-Ds, etc.).
  • Consider using available HMMWVs, Gators, and other vehicles currently within Task Forces as surrogate SULVs.
  • Develop robotic vehicles to replace manned SULVs.

Other Links

Center for Army Lessons Learned -

U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine -