Don't Carry a Rucksack (If you can help it)

A friend of mine e-mailed me recently and told me he felt it was impractical for him to carry his bug-out gear in a rucksack. There was just too much, he said. I pointed out to him that others had been managing this for centuries, and that it wasn’t actually a “bug-out kit” if he couldn’t move it anywhere. Same friend often e-mails me wonderful, must-have gadgets that he has found. The two facts may not be unrelated. 🙂
Your core bug-out kit should be man-portable. What is lost on many people is that you should not be carrying it on your back if you can avoid it!
This is something we seem to have inherited from the military. A fundamental of military training is marching long distances with heavy loads. As well as the physical conditioning this provides it also improves traits such as self-discipline, determination and resolve. Unfortunately there is a downside to the old adage that “You fight as you train!” Lost on many officers is that long marches with heavy rucks’ may be great training but in an actual operation are to be avoided whenever possible. Most combat theaters are “vehicle-friendly”. Infantry may need to operate on foot, but gear they do not immediately need may be carried on vehicles and brought forward once an area has been pacified. Many soldiers during the Second World War learnt to operate effectively in “light order” and many modern “irregular” fighters do the same. Many armies need to relearn this. Current efforts are towards exo-skeletons and robot mules that will increase the weight that can be carried. The opposite strategy may be more productive.
As an individual prepper or survivalist you may not have a support unit that can bring your heavier equipment and supplies forward for you. Additionally you may be in “vehicle-proof” terrain where the operation of conventional or military vehicles is not possible or very restricted. Military forces sometimes find themselves in the same situation, of course.
A tried and tested solution is shown below. Porter-bikes were modified to carry heavy loads. When fully loaded they could not be ridden. A pole extending the handlebars allowed one or more individuals to push the bike along by walking beside.

For bugging out a bike has a lot to recommend it. On terrain where it is difficult to ride you can push it, and use it to carry your pack rather than your back. Overall load should be kept in the man-portable range since there may be obstacles you will have to carry bike and pack across.
Another interesting option is found on this site and others. Its inventor calls it a “travois” but it is actually a hand-cart (or possibly a “man-cart”?) As an aside, a real travois is an option you should always consider if you have to move something heavy over relatively soft ground.

Handcarts were once not uncommon in armies. After WW2 the “big ruck” mentality seems to have taken hold and they become rarer. In the early days of ATGWs some models were offered with golf-trolly-like contraptions so a dismounted infantryman could move them. Nowadays a few mortars are provided with trolleys, but in most forces they are unknown. If a skier can tow a pulk, why not a a walker a cart?

The wheeled travois has been designed with ease of manufacture in mind. I would suggest making the poles a little longer so that if necessary the cart can be carried over an obstacle like a stretcher. For ease of use in vehicle-proof terrain I would suggest reducing the width so that it can be used on narrow paths and trails. Bicycle wheels may be a good source for the wheels. I particularly like the net that forms the bed of the cart. With a bit of ingenuity this might double as a camouflage screen.

Vanishing Infantry

I came across the interesting photo sequence shown here. Some time ago I made a post about the Vietnamese use of a framework on the back for camouflage. Here we see its use in action:
This is a Viet Minh force from the Indochina war. This trick was still in use in the Vietnam war.
Possibly at the sound of an aircraft, the men have moved off the road and dropped down. As the threat passes men “grow” first from one side of the road and the other.
The final image is a close-up. Interesting is that their uniforms appear to be beige rather than the green associated with the later NVA. VM Regular uniforms have been described as “khaki-drill” but apparently light-green, khaki and a variety of other drab shades were used.
According to Osprey Men at Arms 322, “The French Indochina War 1946-54.”:
“Viet Minh Regulars, and many Regional units, were first class; it is clear that they had successfully made the mental transition from guerrillas to soldiers. Neutral journalists who managed to spend time with Regionals were impressed by their discipline and preparedness. Throughout the VM attention to tactical detail was excellent, both in camp and on the march – great emphasis was laid on camouflage, night movement, dispersal and reassembly in the face of the enemy, and endurance with the simplest rations and minimal medical care and comforts.
“The VM were skilled at concealed cross-country movement in the worst terrain, carrying all essentials with them. This gave them significant advantage over motorised French troops, whose more complex logistical needs kept them tied to the inadequate and vulnerable road network. Generally only the best French paratroop units could match their cross-country speed in the jungle hills, and that for only limited periods. It was rare for French aircraft to inflict much loss on Regular units on the march, though their supply lines suffered much worse (e.g. in 1954, during the huge effort to supply the Dien Bien Phu siege army 500 miles from Viet Bae bases)…
“…Reports speak of Regulars carrying a wire mesh panel on their backs when on the march; at each halt the soldier changed the foliage camouflage of the man in front to match the locality exactly.” 
Some WW2 British Manuals advocate the use of net or chicken wire screens for troops to hide behind or under. The back-screens described above could thus serve more than on application.