DPM Radio Carrier Backpack

Alongside the standard PLCE webbing sets were a number of specialist rucksacks and carriers for particular pieces of equipment. Radios were one of those items that needed specialist carriers and tonight we have an example of the rucksack issued for use with the 320, 350, 351, 352 and Cougar radio systems:imageThis large pack is made of DPM infra-red resistant Cordua nylon and is fitted with a pair of padded shoulder straps, a padded backrest and a waist belt to help support the weight of the radio:imageZips are provided to allow two 10 litre PLCE bergan side pouches to be attached to the pack to increase capacity, and a further small pocket for a spare battery on the bottom of the front piece. This is secured with a black plastic nexus fastener and Velcro to secure the pocket flap:imageThe main compartment of the pack opens with a long single zip that allows the whole pack to open up into two parts. The main, padded, part has a selection of securing straps to allow the different radios to be secured inside:imageWith the 320 set, the radio sits above, with the battery stowed beneath:dpmframeThe lid portion has a small pocket to allow a folding aerial to be stored here:imageA single label is sewn inside with NSN number and details, sadly badly faded in this example:imageOf all the radios carried in this rucksack, the 320 is probably the best known- part of the Clansman family of high frequency radios introduced in the mid-1970s that lasted in service until the 2000s. The 320 could be carried with a (not very) light metal frame carrier or in a rucksack such as this one which was presumably much more flexible and comfortable for use in the field. The metal GS pack frame weighed 3.5kg, this rucksack just 0.5kg so there was a clear advantage in the field to using the lighter fabric rucksack.


  1. Not sure why it took so long to introduce the Rucksack Radio into service even after PLCE was fielded. It was not only (to me) more comfortable than the GS Carrier, it was also gave better compatibility with PLCE CEFO and CEMO, offered better environmental and physical protection to the radio notably through the zip arrangement providing exits for antenna and cables whilst minimising the ingress of water/sand, and most importantly it reduced the ability of an enemy to distinguish a signaller from other troops as a priority target.

    As with other load carrying equipment the MOD seems to have followed the lead of the users who privately purchased kit in order to improve their efficiency and comfort in the field. Prior to PLCE those who wanted a more comfortable compact carry used a civvy daysack in preference to the GS Carrier, and that included troops issued GS or Airborne rucksacks which incorporate the GS Carrier – it was too time consuming and difficult to remove it, mount the radio on it, and then do it all in reverse. Really only the 58 Pattern large pack user had to (deservedly!) endure the GS Carrier with the large pack draped over it to the rear of the radio.

    Next best was probably the original Clansman carrier – the Lightweight ‘Para’ Carrier – which at 1.5 kg was lighter, more compact with its foldable ‘arms’, but when worn was less stable and wasn’t as robust as the GS Carrier.

    The only real downside of using a daysack, Para Carrier and Rucksack Radio was if you were vehicle borne and the radio used a ‘clip-in kit’ which necessitated having to mount the radio back onto the GS Carrier to fit it into the Frame Electrical fitted to the vehicle, and then remove it to fit it back into a daysack, etc. when dismounting. Bowman designers appear to have learned from this in the way the manpacks are fitted into FFR vehicles.

  2. Although PLCE side pouches fit, I suspect that this pack had bespoke “side pouches”. If you look at the top of the pack, it has 4x male snaps inline with the fitted zips: they accept female snaps on the zip fobs. There are 2x zip pullers on the pack so the other 2x zip pullers are on the bespoke “side pouches”.

    If anyone knows anything about the bespoke side pouches, please post a comment here to explain.

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