Soldiers, civilians engaged in activities such as hiking, and public safety personnel engaged in search and rescue missions all require reliable systems for the effective carriage of necessary equipment. The most simplistic backpacks and rucksacks often do not incorporate a frame or other rigid load-distribution structure. Such frameless packs are suitable only for relatively light loads, as the bulk of the weight is transferred solely at two points: the shoulders of the user. Additionally, without auxiliary mounting points, the frameless backpack is subject to significant bouncing or swaying as the user runs or jumps.

The Ruck Dock evenly distributes the weight of a load and transfers it from the shoulders and spine to the legs, which are better able to carry weight with less fatigue and injury to the user, while enabling rapid mounting and demounting of equipment.

More substantial pack systems may incorporate either an internal or external, rigid or semi-rigid load-distribution frame. These systems increase the load capability of the user by distributing the weight over a larger area. Additionally, auxiliary mounting points are often utilized to apportion some of the weight to the legs and hips. For example, a robust suspender system, terminating in a load belt, may allow for an interface with the pack's frame. Alternatively, a substantial load-carrying belt or back brace may serve as an auxiliary mounting point, exclusive of suspenders.

An appropriately configured belt will allow the user to alleviate some of the load from his shoulders, and transfer it onto his legs and hips. Additionally, the auxiliary mounting point reduces the amount of rucksack bounce and sway that results from user motion. While these frame-based systems improve the user's load-carrying capability, they are not readily customizable. Additionally, the fasteners used with the auxiliary belt attachment point often make attachment and removal much more time-consuming when compared with simple frameless designs.

To improve upon the lack of customization encountered with standardized rucksacks, a MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) mounting system was developed. The MOLLE system utilizes a generic frame or vest as a foundation to mount user-selected pouches and accessories. A system of nylon straps, stitched at regular intervals to form a ladder-like pattern, is incorporated into the foundation vest or frame. The user's selected equipment interfaces with coordinating straps interlaced between the ladder stitching of the foundation webbing. The perpendicular straps are secured to the accessory with reusable mechanical fasteners. This interlaced system of perpendicularly woven straps allows the user to mount any of his readily accessible equipment (radios, weapon magazines, medical kit, etc.) in a position appropriate for his particular needs. While the MOLLE system does allow for increased user customization, the system does not empower the user to rapidly configure the gear as changes in the activity or mission arise. Additionally, the MOLLE system does not improve upon the speed at which the entire load carriage system is donned and doffed.

Rapid attachment and removal is often not simply a matter of user convenience. For example, during a vehicular crash, rollover, or explosion, a user may be trapped by the bulk and weight of his pack. Additionally, a soldier accidentally thrown into a waterway may be unable to remain buoyant when faced with the additional weight on his back. Lastly, by way of example, various medical injuries require rapid removal of the pack for effective diagnosis and treatment. Time-consuming and complicated mounting systems may significantly reduce user survivability in these situations.

The Ruck Dock is a load carriage connector system designed to enable rapid mounting and demounting of personal load-bearing equipment. The Ruck Dock consists of two mating halves that allow connection under various angles of approach. Despite a heavy load, or being unable to view the connector orientation, the end user can reliably and quickly couple and decouple the system.

The Ruck Dock improves the speed at which the entire load carriage system is donned and doffed. Rucksacks and tactical vests that both incorporate load-bearing belts can be coupled together into a single device.

The Ruck Dock will benefit civilians and military personnel who wear heavy backpacks (campers, rangers, firefighters, hikers, soldiers, etc.). The system allows an end-user to efficiently and evenly distribute the weight of a load, and transfer it from the shoulders and spine to the legs, which are better able to carry weight with less fatigue and injury to the user, while enabling rapid mounting and demounting of equipment.

For more information, contact Joan Wu-Singel at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 406-994-7705.

Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the August, 2017 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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