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Equipment Loads / "Gear at a Glance"

Combat GI Issue Load


The purpose of this section is to help you decide what items you could expect to have in your impression. This list is not complete nor does it take into account personal weapons or mission parameters. This is just the "basic load" as issued to US Infantry.



Tropical Combat Coat and Pants, Boots, underwear, undershirt, cushion sole socks, trouser belt, Dog Tags, Cap, Utility (ball cap) and Hat, Tropical w/ insect net (Boonie).



M1 Helmet with Liner, Camouflage Cover, Camouflage Helmet Band. Flak Jacket, Poncho Liner, Poncho, Gas Mask (special issue), Air Mattress, Mess Kit, Rucksack.


Web Gear

Equipment Belt, Load Bearing Suspenders, Canteen with Cup and Cover (2), Small Arms Ammunition Pouch (2), Combat Field Pack, First Aid Case, Entrenching Tool with Cover.


"Gear at a Glance" US Army and Marine Corps

M-56 Revisions

As a quick background, there are several revisions / production changes that occurred on the M-56 series of webgear. As mentioned above, The basic set consists of: Equipment Belt, Load Bearing Suspenders, Canteen with Cup and Cover (2), Small Arms Ammunition Pouch (2), Combat Field Pack, First Aid Case, Entrenching Tool with Cover. Several of these items received upgrades during revisions of 1961 and some minor changes during other production years. This is a quick list of the main changes that occurred.


M-56 Suspenders

The suspenders originally had simple wire buckles on each strap. These are referred to as "4-wire" suspenders and...

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M-56 Pistol Belt

The pistol belt was originally issued in 1956 with a horizontal weave body (left to right). There is no documentation that...

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M-56 Universal Small Arms Ammo Pouch

The original pouches were produced with a stiffener in the front of the pouch and the closure toggle has a grommet...

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M-56 Canteen Cover

The canteen cover was issued without major changes from 1956 through 1966. During this period…

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M-56 / M-61 Individual Field Pack

The "buttpack" was originally a square design with no liner. In 1961 the...

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1qt Canteen and Canteen Cup

The 1qt canteen in 1956 was essentially the same metal body with plastic cap carried throughout WWII and Korea...

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M-56 Compass / First Aid Pouch

The pouch was originally sewn with a flat seam on the edges and no trim. It also lacked a drain...

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M-51 Entrenching Tool and Cover

The E-Tool did not receive any significant changes (the color was changed from 50's production to 60's...

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US Army Early-Mid (M-56 Gear)

Note cotton trim on canteen covers, early square M-56 butt pack, and standard M-56 Universal Ammunition Pouches.


US Army Mid-Late (M-56 Gear)

Note nylon trim on canteen covers, larger M-61 butt pack with rubberized liner, and "short" M-16A1 Ammunition Pouches designed specifically for the 20 round M-16 mags. See below for Lightweight Rucksack.


US Army Late (M-67 Gear)

Note that the cotton equipment has been replaced with nylon and that the metal snap closures have been replaced with plastic. The plastic would soon be replaced by metal as it was found to be too fragile. Also note the redesigned tri-fold shovel. This gear was put together for reference purposes only and it should be noted that the M-67 nylon gear was issued in pieces and not as complete sets. I have never seen a period photo where a soldier has all 67' gear. See below for Tropical Rucksack.


US Marine Corps

Note the WWII era M-41 Suspenders with late WWII US Army load bearing shoulder pads. It was also common practice to secure the separate suspender halves with a grenade ring or piece of wire / tape. The suspenders hold the M-61 belt with snap fasteners. Note the single M-14 ammo pouches and M-1910 hangers on the gear as opposed to Alice Clips. The USMC Jungle Pouch was also much larger than the US Army version and held more medical supplies. Also shown are the M-41 Haversack with entrenching tool and Mitchell Pattern Shelter Half. Of special note is the proliferation of WWII and Korean Era US Army gear in use by the Marines.


US Marine Corps Jungle First Aid Pouch

To the left are pictures of the first aid pouch packed with contents, the contents laid out, and a scan of the original packing list.



I have been asked many times about the various patterns for the 2 quart canteens and covers, so we are adding them here to the reference section.

The first and second photos are the 1st. Pattern 2qt Canteen from the Vietnam War. Introduced in 1963 and made through 1964, this pattern featured a removable bladder and integrated shoulder strap with a "lift the dot" fastener. The second variation of this cover, or the "2nd. Pattern" (see third and fourth photos) used the same bladder, but the carrier was redesigned with belt clips as opposed to the shoulder strap and it used a velcro closure and a pocket was added for water purification tablets. These were manufactured in late 1965 and 1966.

The "semi-rigid" 2qt bladder introduced in 1967 also came with a new "3rd. Pattern" carrier. This carrier was a complete redesign made of rubberized fabric and utilizing both clips and a shoulder strap. These were unlined and were produced in 67 only. They are quite rare today. The next variation of the 2qt cover had all of the features of the "3rd Pattern" plus the addition of a pile lining and it was made entirely of nylon. This "4th Pattern" was made from 1968 until 1971 when it was replaced in 1972 with the "modern" 2qt cover that is still produced today. (the key difference between a 68 to 71 cover and a 72 to modern is the shape of the flap. The early ones have a distinctive scallop curved edge where the modern cover is straight across.)