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Rucksack Universal C1_C2 Canadian Army

Page history last edited by Dan Fraser 4 years, 5 months ago


(Above)  My 3 Day Pack, an original rubberized cotton bag with cotton webbing and the first version 2 inch wide belt.  Note I have added an extra backstrap to the middle like the US Army P68 modifications.  This mod was never adopted by the Canadian Army.  The Frame has been re-painted and I have added a paracord handle to move it around easily when not on my back.


Old Soldiers always become nostalgic about some piece of equipment they used, for many it is a firearm or vehicle.  For me, it is the thing I hated the most when I was light infantry; my rucksack.  Most of my infantry career I was a slave to the Rucksack, Universal, C1/C2.  I carried my ruck summer and winter, on foot, Bangy Boards (Army issue skis) and snowshoes.  I carried it through Park Farm Pond on a very late night to attack the occupying enemy force of Brits from the Chestershire Regiment in Camp Wainwright.  Up the steep side of Coyote Hill, to brew up with a view.  I used it as a chair, a back rest, carried water in it`s bag from a creek to wash with, pack it, unpacked it.  It been tied to carriers (M113 and Grizzly), kicked off Dueces and generally abused by me.  It went on thirteen 2x10 milers with me, even the long one out the back gate of Kapyong Barracks where the road was so flat you could see the turn-around point five miles away.  I hated my ruck and I missed it when I gave it up!


The History



(Above) Pioneer Parachute Pack Board which replaced the Trapper Nelson


Rucksacks have never been a priority for the Canadian Army as we took our doctrine from the British Army until the 1950s.  Canada has some different battlegrounds from the UK which necessitated a proper load carriage system for light infantry that was larger than the P51 Large Pack.  We had, mostly to this point, used the Trapper Nelson Pack Board for load carriage until the late 50s.  The M1941 Mountain Rucksack was also used and there was extensive trials with rucksacks during the P51 webbing development.  Given that the majority of personal equipment carried would be in the winter,  and as we lacked mechanized cross country mobility, the Canadian Army looked to how the problem was dealt with by the US Army in Alaska.  This resulted in the Canadian Army trying out the T62-1 Rucksack.  The T62-1 rucksack was developed specifically for warfare in the a cold weather environment, unlike past rucksacks, the bag was moved to the lower frame to allow the carriage of the heavy sleeping bag system, on the top of the frame, needed by troops in cold weather environments.   The T62-1 went on to become the P63, P65, P68 lightweight tropĂ®cal rucksack of Vietnam Special Forces and Airborne fame. 



(Above) Lightweight Rucksack USGI


The Canadians took the rucksack and Canadianized it after testing in various climates of winter-time Canada.  The Canadian Army decided that thick cotton webbing would be used as there was no one manufacturing the new nylon webbing in Canada in 1964 and cotton webbing had been a Canadian Army tradition to this point (for example; the P51 webbing system).  Because cotton webbing was chosen, the buckles had to be plastic as the metal buckles would freeze to wet cotton webbing in the cold making it impossible to get into your rucksack.  The one disadvantage of the buckles was that some times in the coldest parts of Canada they would split if overloaded.  As the buckles were used on a thick webbing they had wide feed mouth, thus they would sometimes slip in dry weather when the rucksack replaced the P64 Cargo Pack as a summer rucksack.  Given the variety of winter in Canada, a rubberized bag was chosen to keep the contents drier in the wet winters of Eastern Canada.  The final modification was changing out the M1903 webbing side attachment points for webbing straps to fit the velcro webbing of Canada`s P64 web gear equipment.  The ski slips behind the to side pockets were retained but they are practically useless when the usual over-full valise is carried.  There is no firearm holder designed or issued with C1/C2 rucksack as came with the American version, thus making it somewhat harder for Canadian troops on ski or mountain operations.



(Above) One of the first C2 Rucksacks.This is a rare all nylon version.  Replacing the USGI metal hardware with Canadian plastic, the thicker webbing was added as well, but this is still very much like the USGI type.  Note that the M1903 eyelets are retained on the top back strap because these early rucksacks came out when the P51 webbing was still in general use.  The P51 webbing used the American M1903 eyelet and hooking bar system instead of the British pinching bar system of the P37 webbing.  These eyelets could be used to attach the parts of your webbing that would normally be held on the back of the web belt, freeing room to carry the rucksack un-obstructed.  (Photos Stolen from Professor Andrew Iarocci, UWO)



(Above) Cargo Pack P64, the "REAL" P64 Rucksack that the C1/C2 replaced.  This is the original rucksack issued as part of theP64 webbing, it is a frameless monster and very uncomfortable.  The plan, apparently, was that future war would all be from an APC and there was no need load carrying capacity on the soldier.  Of course, no one noticed that in 1964 Canada had enough APCs to equip 1/4 of it's infantry. 


The Bits, Piece by Piece


Let's review the pieces of the standard issue rucksack.  The Rucksack, Universal, C1, consists of:


     a. a tubular frame to which a number of strap and belt components are attached;


     b. a cargo shelf which is positioned to the lower or centre horizontal bar of the frame when the frame is used as a pack board,


     c. straps, including shoulder straps, cargo retaining straps and back rest straps;


     d. a nylon canvas bag (combat pack) having pockets with quick release tabs, back straps and side straps for attachment to the frame and securing straps on each side for attachment of the canteen and mess tin carriers-, and


     e. a webbing belt with a quick release aluminum buckle assembly.


THe components of the rucksack are as follows:


     (1) Bag, Nylon (Combat Pack)


     (2) Frame



     (3) Strap, Retaining, Cargo (Quantity 2)


     (4) Strap, Retainers, with Buckle (Quantity 2)


     (5) Strap, Backrest, Upper



     (6) Strap, Shoulder, Upper Section, Right Hand


     (7) Strap, Shoulder, Upper Section, Left Hand



     (7A)  Strap, SHoulder, Middle Section, Left Hand


     (8) Strap, Backrest, Vertical



     (9) Strap, Shoulder, Lower Section (Quantity 2)



     (10) Belt, Waits 2-1/4" Width


                    Need Photo


     (10A) Belt, Waist 1" Width



     (11) Strap, Backrest, Lower


     (12) Buckle, Assembly, Black Anodized, Aluminum


                                   Need Photo

     (13) Shelf Cargo Support




Note: The above shows the complete types and number of straps required as component parts for the Rucksack, Universal, C1.


Putting The Bits Together


Sliding bar plastic buckles are used for attachment of most of the strap components to the frame. Figure 2-4 show the sequence of operations for threading a strap through the buckle.


     Step 1 - Strap end is threaded through the buckle behind the sliding bar.


     Step 2 - Strap end is looped over the sliding bar and through the buckle.


     Step 3 - Strap end is pulled tight.


To loosen strap, lift up on the tapered projection on the front of the buckle.


Buckles have changed over the years to met the changing uses of this rucksack.  The first model had a smooth sliding bar.  Once the rucksack began to be used in dry weather it was found that a saw tooth sliding bar worked better.  The last pattern is from the P82 webbing, it solved the problem of the sliding ends breaking off but this P82 sliding bar buckled in the centre under load. 



The first step in the assembly of the strap components is the attachment of the two strap retainers (with buckle) to the top horizontal bar of the frame as illustrated here. It may be a little difficult to get the folded strap ends through the strap keeper; these may be opened out slightly with the aid of a screwdriver or other like object.



Attachment of the two straps, retaining, cargo and the strap, backrest, vertical.  The free end of each cargo retaining strap is passed through each of the outer strap keepers of the centre horizontal bar of the frame, through the loop of the strap and then through the buckles as shown.



Because of the length of the retaining straps, each is looped around the horizontal bar and through the buckle a second time.  The free end of the strap, backrest, vertical is passed  through the centre strap keeper of the centre bar and the buckle end is placed over the top horizontal bar of the frame.  Ensure that all buckles are facing outward as shown.



Attachment of the strap, shoulder, lower section. The strap is attached to the D section of the frame by positioning the strap as shown in the left photo and then the free (plastic) end is passed through the loop and the strap is pulled taut.  The other strap is attached to the opposing D section of the frame in the same manner.



Above photo shows the method of securing the left lower shoulder strap to the buckle of the lower end of the strap, shoulder, upper section left. The photos at the right shows attachment of the top of the strap shoulder to the top horizontal bar of the frame; the strap is passed through the strap keeper and around the tube of the frame (not the stay keeper; there is not loading bearing on the stay keeper) then through the buckle as shown. This process is repeated to secure the straps on the right side (wearer's right) of the frame.


Figure 2-4F Assembly


Note: Above photo shows the frame with aIl shoulder straps attached.  Note the quick release feature on wearer's left shoulder strap shown in right photo.



Attachment of upper and lower backrest straps. Note the position of the upper strap as well as the attachment of the lower strap to the smaller diameter vertical tubing in the centre of D section of the frame.



Attachment of bag (combat pack) to the frame. Bag is placed against the frame and each of the two vertical back straps is threaded through the rectangular loop and through the buckle as shown. Strap at each side of bag is looped around inner vertical bar of D section of frame and buckled down.


Figure 2-4J Assembly


Note: The above photo shows the bag and the basic strap components attached to the frame. It should be noted that the upper backrest strap rests unobstructed against the wearer's back.  After the bag (combat pack) has been secured to the frame the lower backrest strap is attached to the smaller vertical tubing in centre of the D section of the frame.



Attachment of waist belt. The waist belt is threaded through the D section behind the backrest strap and then the buckle is attached as shown.  Note that the bottom square rings of the bag are threaded through the belt loop either side of the frame.  This supports the downward weight of the loaded bag on the frame.  The buckle may also be positioned with the female section on the wearer's right and the male portion on the wearer's left, depending on his preference; however the buckle must be so positioned so that the wearer can lift up on the female portion for quick release. 



Shows the components that make up the quick release feature of the left shoulder strap.  To buckle the strap place the rectangular loop over the loop attached to the upper section then insert the webbing tip (emphasized by the dark outline in right photo) into the opening, and secure the two parts of the dome fastener together.



(Above) Use of the Canteen holders on the side


Packing The Rucksack


When you load your rucksack, pack the heavy items at the bottom next to the frame. This places most of the weight on your hips, which you need for good balance.  When loading:


     a. place heavy objects near the frame;


     b. place sharp and hard objects inside where they will not rub on the bag;


     c. place frequently needed articles in the outside pockets; and


     d. keep maps and other flat objects in the flap pocket.


The many pockets and partitions make it unnecessary to unpack the entire load to find frequently needed items or changes of clothing.




The straps should be adjusted so that the upper part of the body can move freely. The arms must be able to swing freely. Rules for fitting are:


     a. adjust the shoulder straps so that the frame is in the centre of the back, with the weight evenly distributed on both hips;


     b. see that the strap on the rucksack frame is tight enough to allow a comfortable fit across the back of the hips; and


     c. see that the waist strap is adjusted to fit snugly.




The white camouflage cover gives complete camouflage for your rucksack except for the shoulder straps and the curved part of the frame which fits around the hips. To fit the cover:


     a. place it over the rucksack so that the bottom of the sack is fitted into the sewn seam part of the cover;


     b. secure the tip-tapes (which should be at the top of the frame of the leather pocket); and


     c. tighten the side draw-cords and tie with a slip knot between the frame and the sack.


Canada supplied no other camouflage cover than white and made from cotton. It gets dirty quickly and stays dirty!  You should note that US Army ALICE Pack cam covers will fit nicely, they come in Woodland, DCU, Coyote Brown, Marpat Desert and Woodland.  CP Gear makes a cover in CADPAT.  The US GI and CPGear are water proof nylon. 


Care and Maintenance


Check the rucksack for damage before, during, and after an operation. A great deal of discomfort can be caused by a strap or a buckle that has been torn away while on the march.  Main points are:


     a. Check all the buckles, straps, and seams (missing, torn, or parting).


     b. Check the sack, for rips and tears (repair immediately, a hole may cause you to lose valuable equipment).


     c. Keep away from excessive heat and moisture.


     d. Check for any pulled seams or stitches and reinforce them until permanent repairs can be made.


     e. Do not leave pocket items scattered about where they can become lost or buried or step on and broke. 


Pack Board


The rucksack is one of the most important pieces of load carrying equipment and must always accompany the soldier on extended marches, or whenever the soldier is to be absent from his bivouac area for an extended period. Only minimum survival equipment need be carried on patrols and this may be combined into one or two rucksack loads.


Figure 2-5 Pack board Assembly


Note: This photo shows the frame put to use as a pack board for carrying bulky items. Note the various arrangements of the straps, retaining, cargo, and the attachment of the shelf. The shelf may be fitted on the centre or lower horizontal bar of the frame depending on the size of the article to be carried. The retaining straps are laced through slots provided in the shelf then around the article to be carried, and the strap ends are secured to the buckles of the retainers located on the top horizontal bar of the frame.


Figure 2-5A Pack board Assembly


Note: This photo shows the frame put to use as a pack board for carrying bulky items. Note the various arrangements of the straps, retaining, cargo, and the attachment of the shelf. The shelf may be fitted oil the centre or lower horizontal bar of the frame depending on the size of the article to be carried. The retaining straps are laced through slots provided in the shelf then around the article to be carried, and the strap ends are secured to the buckles of the retainers located on the top horizontal bar of the frame.


Daily Use Summer Kit


As a light infantrymen, we packed our ruck like so (does not include, ammo, rations, water or your share of platoon kit):


Rucksack main Bag (lined with garbage Bag)    Quantity 
- Combat Shirt                                                   1
- Combat Trousers                                             1
- Combat Sweater                                               1
- Spare Combat Boots                                        1 pair
- Undershirt, OD                                                 2
- Drawers, temperate underwear, OD                   2
- Grey Socks                                                       2 pairs each
- Towel, bath, OD                                                1
- Plate, stainless steel/melmac                              1
- P51 Small pack containing                                 1
     - Toiletries 
     - Hand Towel

Exterior Pockets             

- Repair kit, air mattress (left pocket)                     1
- Insect repellent (left pocket)                                1
- 15 m paracord (left pocket)                                1
- Foot powder (left pocket)                                    1
- Sewing Kit (right pocket)                                     1
- Cup, melmac (right pocket)                                  1
- Spare Laces (Combat Boot) (Right pocket)            1
- Grey Socks (Centre pocket)                                  1 pair
- Rations, 24 hours IRP (stripped) (Centre pocket) 
Sleeping Bag Carrier (lined with garbage Bag) 
(When marching, valise opening will be facing right)

- Sleeping Bag (outer and liner)                               1 

- Sheet, utility                                                          1
- Insect bar                                                             1    
- Air mattress                                                           1
- Boots, Rubber clumsy (in Garbage Bag)                   1
- Combat Coat                                                         1



- Swiss seat rope attached to frame with carbineer

Daily Use Winter Kit


Field operations in cold weather will often be conducted where the use of vehicles will be limited or where they cannot be used at all.  This means that packs and equipment must be carried or towed on toboggans, by manpower. This is not a new problem in Canada.  Trappers, hunters, and prospectors have been carrying their equipment on their backs for years.  For instance, at one time the Hudson Bay Company would not hire a man who could not make 80 miles in 4 days, carrying in addition to a 90 pound company load, his own food, weapon, bedding, and any other personal equipment he required.  You are not expected to do that. For planning purposes, we expect you to be able to move 12,000 m on tundra and 8,000 m in forest in eight hours carrying your normal full load of equipment and rations.  These standards are only a guide since the distance you travel will depend on the snow and weather conditions and the tactical situation.


The rucksack is the normal general issue load-carrying item of equipment for troops engaged in cold weather training and operations.  It carries the soldier's immediate needs of clothing and equipment. He, therefore, must know how to assemble, pack, and adjust it, for maximum comfort and balance.  The rucksack can be packed and adjusted for skiing, snowshoeing, and marching. When properly fitted it permits:


     a. freedom of the shoulders and hips;


     b. a natural erect posture; and


     c. a normal gait.

Once November came, everything was hauled out of your rucksack and the winter kit was stuffed in (again does not include, ammo, rations or your share of platoon kit):


Rucksack Main Bag (lined with garbage bag)                    Quantity

- Duffle socks                                                                      1 pair

- Woollen socks                                                                  1 pair

- Felt insoles                                                                       1 pair

- Shirt woollen                                                                    1

- Undershirt, extreme cold weather                                      1

- Drawers, extreme cold weather                                         1

- Sweater, combat                                                              1

- Combat Pants                                                                  1

Exterior Pockets

- Rations 24 hour IRP (Centre Pocket)

- Wool socks (Right Pocket)                                               1 pair

- Length of lamp wick (Left Pocket)

- Gloves anti-contact (Right Pocket)                                      1 pair

- Match box (Let Pocket)

- Toilet articles (Left Pocket)

- White camouflage suit (Lid Pocket)


Sleeping Bag Carrier

(Opening facing toward rightwhen carried)

- Sleeping Bag (inner, outer and Liner with hood)                   1 Set

- Air Mattress                                                                      1

- Sheet Utility                                                                       1



- Swiss seat rope and carabineer

- Tie white camouflage cover across top of frame



(Above) Individual Ration Package 24 Hours, the standard ration of the Canadian Army when this rucksack was general issue (stolen pictures).  Unlike the IMP rations now, you received 1 package of crackers and spread, 1 chocolate bar, 1 candy every 24 hours instead of every meal.  Before 1965, you got 5 cigarettes every 24 hours as well.  Standard fare was canned bacon and eggs for breakfast, powdered cereal or hot cereal; for lunch, canned stew or soup; supper consisted of canned meat in gravy and powdered mashed potatoes; there was crackers, spread, tea, powdered juice, coffee and fixings.  All cans were single serving sized.  Canned bacon was like gold and could be traded for anything, it was so salty or greasy and completely to die for!


The last item is not part of the rucksack but was always carried on the rucksack during winter operations and training, the thermos.  The thermos should be attached to the outside of the rucksack where it is immediately available.  If the thermos cup is frozen to the thermos, the cap must be removed from the bottle carefully to ensure that the seal between the outer and inner bottles is not broken. If possible, hold the thermos cup over a steaming pot, and, by revolving the thermos slowly, gently work the cap free. Wash out the thermos with hot water whenever you have the opportunity.



(Above) First version of the Thermos and (Below) the later (1987) version designed to fit in the canteen cover




The "Jump Ruck"


The final modification of the C1/C2 rucksack was the "Jump Ruck"  In 1984, the Canadian army started issuing a new web gear/rucksack called the P82.  This new system was not successful for people of small stature because the frame did not have enough modification for short folks.  Also the the P82 rucksack frame collapsed when deployed by paratroopers as it was not strong enough to stand up to landing.  This resulted in a hybrid pack called the "Jump Ruck".  The jump ruck used the bag and frame of the C1/C2 with the yoke, belt and kidney pad (Modified) of P82 rucksack.  Now I am not saying that all paratroopers are `little men`` ............


The result is a much more comfortable to wear rucksack.  Throughout the service of the jump ruck, "soldier" mods with added, the most common was the addition of the US Army ALICE kidney pad.


In the early 90s the rubberized bags began to dry up (literally) and needed to be replaced.  A small production run of 3000 C1 bags in cordura  nylon was contracted by the Canadian Army, These are the only cordura nylon bags with an official stamp.   This bags are identical to the earlier bags in marking, size and appearance excepting they are made of cordura nylon.


The last official jump rucksacks were disposed of by The Canadian Army Advanced Warfare Centre QM in 2012.  Some are still held on personal loan cards of jump units but all paratroopers have been ordered to use the CTS Rucksack with jump container for operations.  Many do not and refuse to give their rucksacks and many more non-paratroopers continue to tote these 30 year old rucksacks around as a symbol of not being an FNG.  The Jump goes together like so:


Yoke straps:



Kidney Pad:



The After Market Crowd


There are                                         


My Civie Use of this Ole Back Breaker


I have a small collection of rucksacks and pieces (enough to keep one going the rest of my life).  If you are going to use a military surplus rucksack for outdoor adventuring you need to keep one thing in mind.  Military rucksacks are deisgned to supply a soldier for 24 to 72 hours of combat.  They are not long range tripping backpacks.  Most have a capacity of 4000 cubic inches which is all you need provided you pack light and make everything serve two purposes.  Most of my adventures are 3 day maximum and usually off trails.  I spend alot of time on my own acreage and the 10,000 acres of crown land next to it.  I walk between 8 and 12 kilometres a day through heavy bush, camp early to fish or hunt and eat only two good meals, (lunch is usually flavoured rice or noodles).  This kit list is my possibles for such a trek:


Rucksack Main Bag

- Shave Kit and hand towel

- A dry bag with 2 sets of underwear and socks, 1 extra long johns

- A dry bag with 3.5 days food

- A dry bag with toque, gloves, fleece coat and scarf


Lid pocket

- Bug Net

- Fishing supplies

- A book


Left Pocket

- First Aid Kit

- Water Filter

- Toilet Paper in Dry Bag


Middle Pocket

- Complete Crusader Cook/Canteen System with plastic AND steel cup lid, KFS


Right Pocket

- Para Cord 50 feet

- Bug Juice (seasonal)

- 2 Glow Sticks (I hang one on the trigger of gun in bear country)

- Fire Lighting Kit (extra matches, magnesium, Bear Grylls tinder box with dry tinder)

- A dry bag with snare wire (check your local laws), gum tape, spare rucksack buckles, sew kit, batteries


Side of Rucksack

- Canteen with water tablets in little pocket on cover



- Warbonnet Outdoors Silnylon Ground Tarp Tent ( use mine as a single sided hooch)

- Sleep bag suitable to weather

- Ground Sheet 4x6 Poly tarp

- Folding Sleep Pad (wrap tarps and sleeping bag around the pad, using tarps to keep sleeping bag dry)

- USGI Silnylon Poncho (against the valise opening)

- Alcohol Fuel in bottle in plastic bag (bottom near valise opening)


Strapped to Outside of Rucksack

- Machete

- Fishing Rod

- Coffee Cup on climbing carbineer (great for those fresh water waterfalls!)

- hand cleaner on a carbineer (non climbing)


Navigation pouch (attach to belt or get a chest pouch that attaches to shoulder straps)


- Map and/or air photos

- Bearbangers, flares and Pen launcher (non lethal safety and emergency distress)

- Pad and pencil

- MiniMag flashlight

- Binos

- Strobe Beacon (emergency distress)


On Person

- Compass (Pocket)

- Small Camera (Pocket)

- Knife with fire steel (Belt)

- Gerber Tool (Belt)

- Sunglasses

- Rife and Ammo

- Clothing to suit weather and activity


I recommend the smallest of everything you can find that will be suitable to your use, especially the camera, shave kit, water filter, first aid kit, and GPS.  Get dry bags that you can reduce the air out of.  They will expand after but they will reduce enough to pack easily.  Food is the heaviest item you will pack, mine goes on the top of the main bag toward the frame.  Keep the rucksack weight total under 40 pounds packed, that should allow you food for 3 to 5 days depending on the type and weight of the food.


My Modifications on the Theme


I have only one modification of the old ruck, adding a middle horizontal back strap.  This was a modification introduced on the US Army packs in 1967.  It never caught on in Canada since this was the days before the information highway and we had already had our version in full swing.  This modification improves the carry of the ruck dramatically!  Another thing you can do with the original straps is tie para cord between the D rings on the shoulder straps and pull them away from your shoulders.  This will keep them from digging in.  If available, APC cargo straps (particularly the long one used to strap tools on the top deck) were used to strap the valise on, A7A straps were very rare outside of the Canadian Airborne Regiment.





This is everything I could find and remember about this old ruck, hopefully some historian will find this useful some day! 



Works Cited:



Army.Ca: Thread on P64 Rucksack

CP Gear.com

Dropzone Tactical.com


Paper Based:

BG Specific Operations; Winter

2PPCLI Bug Out Kit List 1983



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