4-4-4-4 Combat Load

Recently I was trying to relocate the following article:
This has some interesting information on the difference between a marching pack, combat pack and stripped-down “patrol pack”. 
Exploring the site further turned up an even more useful article:
During my search, I stumbled across the following:
Of particular note is the “4-4-4-4” system.
Don't get too hung up on the titles. Just understand that a clear distinction is being made between short duration operations and those that span more than one day, and for the latter a distinction is made between short and long duration.
I would like to examine this scheme in a little more depth. “4-month” doesn't concern us today.

4-Hour Load

  • “Deuce” (webbing) gear and weapon.
  • Helmet and Flak (regarded as “mission specific”)
  • Whatever weather gear the marine is wearing. (i.e. marine is assumed to be suitably dressed for current conditions)
  • A zip-loc bag of toilet paper is carried in a clothing pocket so it is still with the marine if any pack has been dropped.
  •  NO pack. NO food. NO toilet kit, sleeping gear, weather gear, boot polish, shelter, nor spare clothing.
If it is a tactical situation the only things you should be carrying are tactical gear and water.
To this I would make the following caveats:
A reasonable quantity of “pocket food” may be carried. This is such items as trail-mix, hard candy, biscuit/cookie packs etc. These can provide a useful energy boost. No food that requires cooking nor warming. Strictly no gum.
A poncho and/or rain jacket may be carried. No spare clothing does not apply to items such as gloves and bandannas.
“Weather gear” is probably best carried in a small, light pack such as a bergen side-pouch.
A similar pack holds the NBC (CBRN) gear. These may be zipped together and both carried.
In some environments, small bottles of insect repellent and sun-block may be carried on one's person. These are topped up from larger bottles in the pack or baggage.
The deuce gear is assumed to include one or two water bottles. In some climates extra water will be needed.
Water is heavy, however, so the volume of water carried should not be so heavy as to increase the rate of water consumption. Just how much water that is might prove to be a useful research project.
Water-bladders for carrying water is lighter than using conventional military water-bottles.
Some tactical and mission-specific items are better carried on the back rather than on the webbing. For this purpose dedicated tactical packs (“Tac-Packs”) should be acquired.
Many of the likely contents of a tac-pack will be dense (machine gun belt, mortar bombs, radios etc), so I would advise keeping the volume of such a pack small, say 16 litres.

4-Day Load

The additional “4-day items” may be considered to constitute an approach load and should be capable of being cached before the deliberate tactical phase.
As 4-Hour load with the addition of:
4-Day Pack with food, 4-day washing kit, sleeping gear, weather gear and shelter. No spare clothing. No boot polish.
It also worth thinking about the potential of a “24-Hour load”. This would resemble the 4-Day load with less food, and perhaps without the wash-kit. This suggests the food be divided into a one-day and three-day bag,
A case (12) MREs is suggested as four days food. Except in sub-zero operations, this may be overly generous. Three eating periods a day may not be practical and troops not eating all of their rations often occurs.
Two MREs a day may be more practical, with a useful quantity of components that can be eaten on the move.
A 4-day wash kit is a hand towel, 1oz/25mls toothpaste, one toothbrush, a bar of soap and “razors for 4 days”.
No shampoo, no shaving cream, no extras nor spares.
Shaving cream , incidentally, is totally unnecessary and has no place in any lightweight kit. Just use your soap. You do not need a shaving brush.
“Razors for 4 days” is ONE razor. Small tubes of toothpaste are often sold with travel toothbrushes. Cutting a normal toothbrush down to 4 inches is suggested, and you might like to follow my advice and get a child-sized brush to begin with.
The document suggests carrying soap in a plastic case such as a “chewing tobacco case”. I have no idea why people think they need to carry soap in a rigid case, and their expensive electronic gadgets in a soft pouch. Many of the soap cases that I have used over the years have turned out to be quite brittle and easily damaged.
The best way to carry soap is in a small nylon drawstring pouch.
The document also suggests that an empty plastic peanut-butter jar makes a good wash-kit container. Use a mesh bag instead.
You can use a bandanna rather than a hand towel.

4-Week Load

As 4-Day load, with the addition of a 4-week pack. 4-week pack includes food, 4-week wash kit, sleeping gear, weather gear, boot polish, shelter and spare clothing.
4-week wash kit includes replacement items such as extra razors, more toothpaste and more toilet paper.
One bar of soap should last more than a month.
I have been on 3-week plus trips and not used up 50mls of shampoo despite daily use.
It may be prudent to have a “spares bag” of toiletry items from which you can replenish the 4-day kit when needed.