We continue our look at the olive green PLCE equipment this week by considering the yoke. The yoke is one of the two critical components of a set of load bearing equipment (the other being the belt). In order to function properly it needs to be comfortable, support the weight of the items a soldier needs to carry evenly and be robust enough to withstand a lot of punishment (for a yoke that fails on every count readers are directed to the Canadian 64 pattern example!). The yoke used in the PLCE set draws heavily on earlier designs of British webbing for many of its features. The yoke has six points of contact with the belt/pouches. While two straps at the front attach either side of the waist belt’s buckle, four straps are fitted to the rear:Two of these attach to loops in the belt, whilst the two outermost straps pass forward under the arm pits to attach at the front to the main ammunition pouches, distributing the weight more evenly.
Extensive use of an open weave mesh is used to help reduce the effect of overheating on the wearer:This had first been trialled on combat vests in the 1970s, the PLCE yoke is entirely lined with this mesh on the underside:Mesh is strong, light and allows air to flow through it. Note also the dark green nylon patch for a place the user’s name and number could be written:Other features brought forward from the old sets was the ability to easily change the length of the straps by pulling on them. Here they are adjusted with friction ladder lock style buckles on the ends of the yoke:Finally the back of the yoke has a series of loops allowing auxiliary equipment to be attached if required:The PLCE yoke was a sophisticated piece of equipment and clearly thought had been given to feedback from previous sets. As ever though in the hands of the user things did not always go to plan. They needed careful adjustment to get a comfortable fit and soldiers sometimes substituted commercial pattern yokes or 58 pattern examples. It was also not unheard of for the secondary supporting straps to be removed from the yoke so more ammunition pouches could be added to the belt, defeating the whole point of effective weight distribution. Arrse gives the new recruit some advice on setting up a yoke:
Fit the load spreader (‘yoke’) to the rear of the belt and adjust it to the right length. Some people prefer to wear their belt higher than others, but it shouldn’t be supporting your tits, loosen the yoke until the belt is somewhere around your waist. Then lock off the straps by feeding them back and forth through the buckle. Adjust the front straps, but don’t lock them off as some adjustment will always be necessary. Finally adjust the lateral load spreader straps and lock them off as with the rear ones. Taping the straps should not then be necessary, but is always popular