Pack marching is a key component of any Selection where loads tend to vary from 25kg to 80kgs depending on the task, phase or type of selection. For me, pack marching or stomping has been, by far my lease favourite military activity to do. This is due to a number of reasons, from having short legs to never actually been told how to set up a pack before ripping in.
Having learnt a lot of hard lessons over time it’s important that prior to starting any pack training activity you ensure that you have the correct gear and that it is set-up correctly.
Setting-up your pack then packing your pack will become an important skill to have in the military and for many none military hobbies you may have that required you to move a heavy pack over long distances (hunting, hiking ect.). In the military you will potentially have to carry equipment, but you will also have to survive and fight out of your pack. It is an art to identify exactly what you will and will-not need, then pack the essentials in a way which will suit the task or mission because it is important to have critical equipment placed where it is easily accessible yet secure. This will come with experience and trial-and-error. I always have the chocolate and sweets easily accessible.
So with all that in mind, the most important thing is to ensure that your backpack is fit-for-purpose. I.e. designed for military rucking, hunting or hiking and able to be modified to your needs. The key components to be aware of are: capacity (litres), comfort, functionality (pouch placement), weight, frame-size and waist-band.
Make sure you do your research for task you are undertaking and get the pack that best works for you. Once you’ve got the pack you want “test and adjust”.
For carrying heavy loads the waistband or hip-straps are a must. To protect your back, the weight of your pack must be distributed between your shoulder straps and your hips and as close to your back as possible This will go a long way towards enabling you to carry heavier and for longer. Things like water cantinas in external pack pouches will drive the pack backward towards the ground and really make you hurt as I found out on selection.
Good worn in boots are a must and like anything else you’ve just got to put the time in to get better at it. The crawl walk run method is recommended here. Find yourself a good program that’s tailored to pack marching and increase the weight of the pack over time. If you’re going to run a marathon you don’t run 42km on day one of the program. The same goes with pack marching increase the weight safely and slowly and over time the speed will come but if I’m honest it never really gets easy.
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