USMC M1941 Pack Configuration Guide Part 2

Here is part two of my M1941 pack configuration guide. This post covers the five remaining configurations not shown in the first part of my guide.

Light Marching Pack

M1941 Haversack. This was the smallest configuration of the pack system. Consisting only of the M1941 Haversack. This was the only configuration in which the haversack was meant to be worn using its own suspenders and no M41 suspenders integrated into the pack. In fact it was supposed to be worn without using any M41 suspenders at all.

Knapsack Pack

M1941 Knapsack, M1941 Suspenders. This configuration was used in conjunction with other equipment which must be carried on the shoulders (for example radio equipment).

Knapsack Musette Pack

M1941 Knapsack, Web Trouser Belt. The belt serves as the shoulder sling. This configuration was meant to be used by officers and others normally equipped with the officers field bag in lieu thereof.

Knapsack Pack, Hand Carried

M1941 Knapsack. This is simply the knapsack used as a hand carried bag. The coupling strap serves as the carrying handle

Baggage Pack

M1941 Knapsack, Short Blanket Roll. This configuration was used to secure equipment left behind on the march, to be moved ashore or transported forward.

Some basic info:

The M1941 pack system is quite complicated and one of the most common mistakes done by reenactors is wearing the pack without the suspenders integrated into the pack system. Even big budget productions like “The Pacific” made this mistake.

On very early manufactured packs (the ones with the D rings at the end of the haversack straps) it was kind of an awkward process to get the haversack into the “Light Marching Pack” configuration. You had to tie knots to fasten the ends of the straps to the haversack! Later packs used the “M buckles” making this much easier.

(Except for the Light Marching Pack configuration) it was not possible to remove the pack alone, you had to remove your complete webbing in order to get rid of the pack. Why was it designed this way? First of all especially the bigger pack configurations were not meant for combat use, so quick removal of the pack alone was not deemed necessary. In addition the suspenders integrated into the pack helped to support the weight and made carrying the pack more easy. Another idea behind this was to protect the Marines from drowning if they fell into the water while landing. You could remove all your heavy gear in one step by simply opening the buckle of the cartridge/pistol belt. And voilà! everything gone! pack, suspenders, belt and everything attached to it. Only problem is washing up on the beach with nothing but your uniform, still better than drowning right away i guess 😉

Two pics from “The Pacific”, check out how the suspenders are not integrated in the pack system:

Here two pics showing the correct way of integrating the suspenders into the pack system:

In theory all the official pack configurations make sense, in the real world some simply did not prove to be very practical. So you can see original photos with Marines getting “creative” with their packs from time to time 😉

~ by m1pencil on March 23, 2011.

5 Responses to “USMC M1941 Pack Configuration Guide Part 2”

  1. That’s perfect, thanks

  2. can you please make a vid. where you explain how to make a good configuration with the 2 backpack !?

  3. Hi. I have looked at dozens of photos taken of Marines in 1944- 45 and HBO’s “Pacific” actually got it RIGHT. The “Gyreens” did carry the 782 pack exactly as depicted in that show, on almost every combat landing. They did this in order to make it faster to drop the pack without having to drop the rest of their gear and spend 10 min rearranging everything. A little FYI: The Corp never really cared what the “book” said once they got out in the “boonies”. The modern USMC-“by the book all the time everywhere” didn’t start till after Vietnam.

    • Hi, Yes you are right of course, often it was not “textbook”! But considering some of the other things going on in “The Pacific” I think it was not done on purpose 😉 😉

      When reenacting it is probably best to study original photos of the division/time frame to see how things were worn. Often it seems “less is more” was the norm. “Light Marching Pack” style with no suspenders at all 🙂

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