Other Arms Rucksack

My thanks go to Michael Fletcher  who helped fix me up with tonight’s object, The Other Arms Rucksack:This rucksack was designed to be issued to non-front line infantry in place of a bergan. It has a large capacity, seventy litres, and can be used in a number of ways. A large flap is provided over one side of the rucksack:Opening this reveals a pair of shoulder straps that allow it to be worn on the back:These allow the rucksack to either be worn in the conventional manner, or for the carry straps to be stowed away for flight on board aircraft- the straps otherwise getting in the way and catching on things. Two large carry handles are fitted at the top for when the rucksack is being carried by hand:This combination has given rise to the rucksack being nicknamed the ‘Combat Handbag’ or the ‘REMF Handbag’ or ‘Turtle Pack’ due to the way they looked like a turtle shell when worn. Typically, as these nicknames suggest, troops tended to try and ditch the other arms rucksack as soon as they could and replace it with a standard bergan as it was more ‘ally’ and didn’t show to all that the user was a support troop rather than an infantryman.

The back panel of the rucksack, in addition to the shoulder straps, has a green panel to allow the owner to write his name and number:Zips and fasteners are provided down each side allowing a pair of supplementary rucksack pouches to be attached to either side to increase the carrying capacity:The rucksack fastened up with a large zip and has a Velcro fly over it; the inside of the rucksack is pretty much open, but there is a single divider on the shoulder strap side and a button down pocket that would allow a metal bergan frame to be fitted to improve the comfort on long transits:These rucksacks have proved particularly popular amongst cadets as they are far cheaper on the surplus market than standard bergans, the design and size being ideal for short weekends away rather than a full sized bergan. Adult users report that the pack is actually very comfortable to wear and the large capacity makes it practical, but that it is not ideal for wearing for long periods of time in the field. Ironically it seems to be more popular on the secondary market than it ever was with the troops who were issued it!

The following is the stores catalogue description of the rucksack:


  1. Also colloquially known as the ‘engineer’s bergen’, these were withdrawn and replaced with the PLCE infantry rucksack in Regular and Territorial Army in the late 1990s, early 2000s.

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