How to Assemble your Tropical Rucksack Frame

When you acquire your rucksack it may be in its separate components. Putting it together for the first time can cause some headaches. This section helps you on your way by explaining how to assemble the different types of rucksacks you are likely to be using when doing re-enactment. It also suggests how to attach your extra equipment and pack your rucksack if you are going out on any missions.

Frame Components

Your lightweight rucksack and frame are made up of the following components:

Aluminium Frame
Two Shoulder Straps (Left one quick release)
Upper Back Strap
Middle Back Strap (Early models do not have the middle horizontal strap)*
Lower Back Strap
Waist Strap
Two Vertical Cargo Straps

*Note that in the picture above the frame is equiped to use a middle back strap, the small metal tabs to retain the strap in place are present on the frame, but the strap is not mounted.

Attaching the Shoulder Straps

Left shoulder strap

Right shoulder strap with quick release

You should have two shoulder straps similar to the ones pictured above. The left shoulder strap has a quick release device, whilst the right strap does not.

At the bottom end of either straps is a loop. Thread this around the outer bar of the frame and then around the strap itself. Then pull until it tightens itself.

At the top of the frame are four frame loops. The outer two are for the vertical cargo straps and the inner two are for attaching the rucksack shoulder straps.
Face the frame so that the curved side, i.e. the side that goes against your back, is towards youself. Thread the upper shoulder strap around the outside of the upper bar of the frame and through the inner riveted loop. Secure it through the shoulders strap’s buckle. Adjust to fit.

Attaching the Upper and Middle Back Straps

Face the frame so that the shoulder straps are away from you. The upper back strap is secured between the two riveted clips visible in the picture above. Thread the strap between two aligning placements, so that the buckle is towards you. Thread the one end through the clip and secure. Secure the extra webbing flap by fastening the snaps.

Attaching the Lower Back and Waist Straps

The lower back strap is arranged around the rucksack frame as pictured above. Face the rucksack so that the curved side is away from yourself. Wrap the strap around the frame and secure with the buckle. Adjust to fit. To attach the waist strap (Not pictured) secure both ends in a similar way to the shoulder straps on the same frame part as the lower back strap. Adjust to fit.

Attaching the Cargo (Chape) Straps

To assemble the vertical cargo straps first attach the upper frame buckle chapes through the two outer loops, remember the inner two loops are for the shoulder straps. While facing the curved side away from you, thead the looped end of the chape through the buckle and round the upper frame bar. Loop over the other end and pull tight. The cargo straps attach in the same way to the buckles on the middle frame bar. The cargo straps are pulled upwards to secure on the chapes own buckles.

The Lightweight Tropical Rucksack has several key features:

Pouch Flap (With Map Compartment)
Nylon Drawstring
Three Cargo Pockets
2 Hangers A & B
Frame Securing Strap
Canteen Securing Strap
Pouch Reinforcement Straps

11 responses to “How to Assemble your Tropical Rucksack Frame

  1. Stepehn Sawchuk

    hi i think this is the same ruck i have im just wondering how to fit a sleeping bag on it. im not sure if im missing straps or not. thank you.

    • m151dave

      If you have the ruck without the frame, there are some loops on the bottom that would allow you to use straps to fix a load to the bottom. If you have the frame you could use the cargo straps to attach it to the frame above the pack.

  2. Josh Meyer

    Dave!!! Long time, no see!!! How have you been? I’m sorry i did not get back to you guys when I got back from Iraq. I saw the Cross’s and Decker’s at the last gunshow. wow, it’s nice to see familiar faces. I still remember freezing my butt off in the 2006 Veteran’s Day Parade riding in your M151. My email is

    Email me sometime and I’ll give you my address and phone number. I’m currently getting into the WWII Re-enacting with the WWII History Center in El Dorado. Talk to you soon!!! Tell Donna I said Hi!!! too

  3. Shaheer Anjum

    Hi, I’m curious what the metal bracket that’s located on the right side near the top (can be seen in the first picture where the words “Three Cargo Straps (missing)” appear)? I have the same pack, but it was configured differently, I’m glad I found this site to help me configure it properly.

    • m151dave

      The tab with the oval hole in it is for the strap assembly that is used to carry a rifle. The intent is for the alpine troops, like 10th Mountain, when they have on skis or snow shoes and hands full of ski poles. Not aware of it being used in the tropics all that much for that. Hanging a canteen with a carabiner yep, or some other strap, but not the rifle strap assembly.

      If it had been mounted and remove, there would be a blemish. Is your pack frame held together with rivets?

      • Shaheer Anjum

        Thanks for the prompt reply, and yes my pack frame is held together with rivets. It’s in pretty good shape, I’ve had it since 1990 and have traveled and backpacked with it in Nigeria, Pakistan, The Dominican Republic, and it has yet to fail me. Though I never bothered to configure it the way you guys have on your website until I came across it by accident, and now it’s so much more comfortable to carry. Before the shoulder straps were going through the outer loops on the top horizontal bar, and they were anchored through the rucksack rings. The rucksack straps were going through the inner two loops on the top horizontal bar without going through the loops on the rucksack. The bottom of the shoulder straps were anchored on the middle horizontal bar. The rucksack itself was anchored in the top position with the bottom straps securing it to the frame were the middle horizontal strap is located, except they were kind of pulled taut under the horizontal strap, which kind of deformed the bottom corners of the rucksack. The vertical cargo straps were through the outer loops on the middle horizontal bar going downwards towards the bottom horizontal bars, running back and forth a few times before being anchored to the cargo chape straps on the bottom horizontal bar, thus making the lower back of the frame between the middle and lower horizontal bars appear almost totally covered by the vertically running cargo straps. I used to interweave stuff I need to carry between the straps, but it was hard to secure it so that it didn’t move in a vertical plane, but now thanks to the new configuration I can pack my two person tent, sleeping bag, groundsheet and three days worth of stuff easily. My Vietnam era backpack and frame are a working setup that have seen everything from winter camping in New England and Northern Parts of Pakistan, to the lower deserts of Pakistan , the bush in Northern Nigeria, the tropical and sub-tropical conditions in Nigeria and the Dominican Republic.

  4. Buzz

    Looks good. Only problem is you are showing the “Light Weight Ruck Sack”. The “Tropical Ruck Sack” has a spring steel X frame. Two different rucks.

    • bob k

      Finally someone points that out. There was no “light weight tropical rucksack”. There was the lightweight rucksack and the tropical rucksack. The lightweight rucksack used an external frame like the one these guys show. The tropical rucksack used an “x” frame and doesnt have the large external frame. Dont confuse the ARVN ruck with the tropical rucksack. The ARVN ruck is smaller while utilizing the x frame. Thanks.

  5. Jim Stuart

    Awesome information Thank you ! Looking for the inflatable bed roll that straps to the underside of the but pack. Any ideas where I might find one ? Jim

    • m151dave

      Try the web site for Moore Militaria, he is an excellent source and great to do business with:

      If you are putting together a patrol pack, you did not see the air mattresses much at all as they were heavy and slow to inflate and slower to deflate and roll up when it was time to ruck-up and move out.

      Remember on a patrol weight equals beans or bullets. Not a lot of comfort items allotted.

  6. Gary Boling

    Great , helpful site (foolproof). Got my ruck, straps, and frame all together and ready to hump once again like in ’70. Really brought back some memories.Anyone know where I can get an X-frame for the Tropical ruck (not ARVN). You guys are a lotta help!!! Periodcollector69-71

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s