In our first part on General Purpose Gear Load Outs, here, we talked about gear selection and the type and range of equipment the NPT leader would need to help the new NPT member select.
This related piece is about the need to distribute the weight of the load bearing equipment over the torso to diffuse the overall strain of wearing 20 to 30 pounds next to the body and increase the ease of movement and slow down the physical tiring process that will most definitely occur for new people.
First, and yes, I’m beating that dead horse again…..the fitness level of the individual on the NPT member can not be over-emphasized! Again, that’s not saying every member must be able to run a marathon and lift their own body weight over their head, but they should be dedicated to a consistent fitness program that strengthens their core, their shoulders, their legs, and their stamina (typically by aerobic exercise). A simple goal we use when conducting the Train the Trainer: Essential Skills Course is this: Be able to walk 3 miles with your ruck (however much it weighs) in less than 50 minutes; be able to do 25 strict form push ups wearing your LBE in less than 2 minutes; be able to do thirty, 30 degree crunches (with someone holding your feet) in less than 2 minutes. Any NPT member that can do that is in ‘reasonable’ shape and has met the baseline of physical fitness needed to be successful in protecting the NPA.
Next, whichever belt/harness or vest is selected, it should fit snugly (but not tightly) enough so that when moving around, bending over, or doing any activity in training, it stays put. Pouches should be placed so that weight is as evenly distributed as possible. Example: Some people like all their rifle mags on the left side of the belt. Fine. Counter-balance by putting other heavier items, such as full canteens, pistols, pistol mags, etc, on the right. If the front is full of heavier items, make sure you have a ‘butt pack’ or similar item with things on the rear that counterbalance.
Arrange and re-arrange as necessary with the following in mind: Noise. After everything is arranged and tied/snapped/MOLLE’d/taped (yes, tape all the excess straps, don’t cut them–you might need to adjust the rig larger in cold weather) down, put it on as you would for training or ‘read world’ and jump up and down. Have someone listen. Make sure there’s no noise coming from belts/harnesses/snaps/sloshing canteens or magazines clanking together. If there is, find the offending pouch/item, and fix it.
Then, as we said in Part I, wear it for long periods of time and do things with it to get used to it. Bonus points if you do your PT first and then wear your LBE all day. Double bonus points if you load your ruck up to max cold weather weight and do your ruck walks with it.
Part II coming soon.