So last summer one of the clones used an ARVN rucksack on our backpacking trip. While it worked pretty well I figured it was a good idea to retire it as it’s over 50 years old now. I had hoped to score one of the SO Tech modern ARVNs but they only made a handful apparently since they sold out in under a minute. Since that wasn’t an option I went with the idea of making a mini lightweight rucksack. If you’re not familiar here are some period pictures of how they look.

Why a Lightweight Rucksack and not a regular backpack? Well a regular backpack can’t carry a sleeping bag. I threw a prototype together to test the concept. I used an M1956 pack adapter and ALICE suspenders and some various butt/training packs and a M1967 sleeping roll carrier. And it worked pretty well. But it was a bit of a strap master and required the pack adapter be zip tied to the bottom bar.

So I tried the same idea but with the goal of using less items and not having to paracord or zip tie anything. Plus with an eye to the look of the original lightweight ruck. Settled on just four pieces plus an addition of a center bar in the frame. M1967 suspenders and sleeping roll carrier an ALICE era butt/field training pack and web belt.

I debated over the height and position of the bar but basically centered seemed the easiest to build and most useful. The shape of the frame is something of a hybrid of the lightweight and ALICE frame. I didn’t shape/bend the pipe like the lightweight as it would have required an excessive bend due to the smaller size. That also would not allow enough offset for the kidney/hip pad as well as pull the shoulder straps out too wide to stay on the clone’s shoulders.

The blue throws it off but it functions and looks the part.

Here’s how I rigged it up. I hook the carrier roll over the top of the top bar and let the suspenders hang below. You can attach the velcro of the sleeping roll carrier now or at the end. Then pass the straps in front of the center bar. Now run them through the slots on the back of the butt pack. Once through go around the back of the bottom bar and back up to the center bar. Lastly hook the hooks to the D rings of the butt pack over the top of the center bar. Position them to the inside of the straps. Just snug it up and stow the ends.

To complete the shoulder straps just pass the straps through the loops on the frame from the inside and hook the hooks to the holes on the buckles.

Here’s the piece breakdown for the frame.

Or if it’s easier to keep count here they are grouped.

Fittings used are; 2 riser 90s, 4 tees, and 6 90s. The pipe pieces are 2 roughly 5″ pieces, 2 roughly 1″ pieces, 3 11″ sections and 8 2″ pieces.

I decided to glue my frame for extra security but it holds tight enough just press fit that it’s not mandatory.

I hit it with some OD paint to dress it up a bit.

Finished product. The dimensions are roughly 13″x13″.

And here it is all assembled.

Fits pretty good and he likes it a lot so hopefully it works out.

An optional addition that isn’t required but does make it more comfortable is to secure the hooks to the top bar. Zip ties work great but you can use whatever you prefer. This pulls the frame forward towards the back and makes it more rigid.

Here’s a video of rigging the straps. Sorry I bumped the stop button so it broke it up into two videos

Alternate set up.

If you aren’t focused on making it look like an original or retro I would recommend using an IIFS butt/field training pack. It has more capacity, a larger opening making it easier to get in and out of and fastex buckles.

You could rig it like the ALICE butt pack with the M1967 suspenders or use ALICE pack shoulder straps. The ALICE are more comfortable. To rig it without the M1967 suspenders you will have to use the bottom straps. Undo them and pass them under the bottom bar from the outside.Then as you go up slip the straps through the D rings.

Pass over the top bar from the inside and down to the buckles on the pack. Cinch tight.The only catch to this is that is it sensitive to frame height. I’m a hair over 13″ and barely made it. If you’re frame is 14″ or higher you will have to use just the middle and bottom bar.

I didn’t use the middle as it hangs lower than I liked from there.As always I’m sure you can come up with a different way to do this but this is what I did.

Now go forth and get those kids rucking.

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