Ergonomic Load Carriage

Recent research by Bond University’s Tactical Research Unit has revealed and re-informed the negative impacts of carrying heavy external loads for extended periods during high-intensity military tasks. Impacts of load on soldier ergonomics translate from an increased risk of injury to reduced tactical performance. Second-order effects extend to future soldier injuries, associated medical costs and increased load exposures to other soldiers.

“Our research shows that load carriage can lead to a variety of injuries from minor to severe which differ depending on load placement. Performance impacts can include decreases in agility, mobility and lethality.” Says Dr Rob Orr, Bond University Tactical Research Unit.

As the designer and manufacture of the ADF Soldier Combat Ensemble and Load Carriage Equipment, ADA tasked it’s Research and Design lab to conduct over 30 months of analysis and diagnosis on the current-in-service packs and its interaction with the Soldier Combat Ensemble to understand and solve the associated impacts of carrying heavy external loads as identified by the Bond University Tactical Research Unit.

From this study, ADA combined advanced technology in load bearing with user feedback and anthropometric data on both male and female personnel to engineer the next generation of ergonomic load carriage packs fit for the modern warfighter.

“During a development process like this, ADA actively engages with former ADF special forces and infantry end users in each stage of the development cycle. The packs are first reviewed via a desk top analysis and trialled for extended durations towards the latter stages. Our designers work hand in hand with the user group to workshop solutions for each problem or idea presented, prototyping numerous iterations for further trial and analysis until we receive a final endorsement from our Tier 1 end user group.” Says Mitch Edward, General Manager, Australian Defence Apparel (ADA).

“The new pack range was designed with the soldier’s operational needs in mind and engineered to be applicable across diverse Army personnel in critical situations. By building products based on research and user voice, we were able to take a more human-centered approach to our designs.” says Jeremy Gueit, Senior Designer, Australian Defence Apparel (ADA).

The designs incorporate improved ergonomics through frame, strap, and material construction to reduce the risk of injury. User comfort is enhanced across the diverse size ranges with the ability to customise the pack for varying heights. The streamlined pack sizes also reduce the impact of load by moving weight closer to the body’s natural equilibrium whilst improving integration with the soldier combat ensemble and load carriage equipment systems.

The Assault pack series consists of five key designs:

Small 15L Pack (24 Hour Operations)
New 30L Raid Pack (36 Hours Operations)
New 45L Assault Pack (72 Hours Operations) 
85L Patrol Pack (120 Hour Operations)
Modular Medic Pack

The new pack prototypes with advanced load-bearing technology feature a combination of top to bottom clamshell access and functional organisation to secure load within the pack. Internal removable load bearing rods were combined for modular support and even distribution of weight across the body. The design also incorporates detachable helmet cradles, height-adjustable harnesses, padded waistbands, bolstered lumbar support pads and a dual pad harness system for extended carrying capability; all fully customisable by the wearer. The Assault pack series core construction is further supplemented with innovative lightweight Cordura nylon fibres to offset the weight of the internal frames.

“The Assault backpack series is a solution to the performance impacts of load carriage and a perfect showcase of what can be achievable when we accelerate connections and collaborations with end users, leaders in tactical research, designer and manufacturers - what we’re calling the trident approach.” Says Chris Dixon CEO at Australian Defence Apparel (ADA).

ADA’s new Assault load carriage range will be on showcase at Land Forces 2021 in Brisbane.To find out more on the range contact

Author – Australian Defence Apparel l



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