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220px-ARVN Rucksack 3

ARVN Rucksack

The ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) rucksack (also known as the Ranger Pack for the South Vietnamese Rangers who used it) was a canvas, external-framed pack produced in the United States for use by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam throughout the 1960s and early '70s. The pack saw use with ARVN forces, and became desirable amongst US troops in the early years of the Vietnam War, before the US military fielded similar items in the form of the Tropical Rucksack and Lightweight Rucksack, which were both influenced by the ARVN design.

DescriptionEdit

The ARVN rucksack was a small to medium sized pack with an external but close-fitting steel frame with "X" cross bars through the center. The pack had an open top with drawstring over which a flap closed, secured by web straps that ran down the length of the pack. A tab on the flap with eyelets allowed the attachment of any American M1910-style equipment with wire hangars, but most often the M1943 entrenching tool and cover. Two rectangular, flapped pockets large enough for a Meal, Combat, Individual (C-Ration) could be found on either side of this attachment point on the main body of the pack. Webbing points and a pair of metal eyelets on either side of the pack and above each pocket allowed the attachment of items using wire hangars or slide keepers, which featured on items of American M1956 Load Bearing Equipment and M1967 Modernized Load-Carrying Equipment. A pair of adjustable web straps on each side and on the bottom of the ruck allowed for the attachment of items such as bed rolls, shelters, and other cylindrical items like spare machine-gun barrel bags and M72 Light Anti-tank Weapons. Simple padded, adjustable shoulder straps and a waist pad allowed for comfortable carriage. The pack sat high on the back, not interfering with items placed at the rear of a combatant's equipment belt, unlike the low-riding American Lightweight Rucksack of 1965 and Tropical Rucksack of 1967.

American useEdit

220px-ARVN Recruit Trains with M16 Rifle

ARVN recruits training with M16 rifles, wearing ARVN rucksacks

ARVN rucksacks were never an official item of United States military equipment. Those that saw service were either acquired individually or by units through trade or purchase with members of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. In the first few years of United States involvement in the Vietnam War the M1956 Field Pack (butt pack) proved too small to carry combat loads, but the Lightweight Rucksack and the M1952 Mountain Rucksack in the inventory at the time were in high demand and short supply, so many units and individuals acquired ARVN rucksacks for use in the field. Many were replaced in United States military use during the later years of the Vietnam War by the Tropical and Lightweight rucksack as more became available. Examples that left Vietnam with US troops did so as souvenirs and did not see use outside of Southeast Asia.

ARVN rucksack in popular cultureEdit

ARVN rucksacks can be seen in use with the fictional platoon of the US Army's 25th Infantry Division in Oliver Stone's Vietnam War film Platoon. An early scene involves Charlie Sheen's character passing out from a combination of the tropical heat and exhaustion from an overloaded rucksack.

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