Archive for the Hiking Category

What is a hump?

Posted in Hiking on July 30, 2010 by Combat Pack

No I am not talking about a camel’s hump or the hump back of Notre Dame. In the Marine Corps we called hikes “humps” and they are a big part of bootcamp. During bootcamp most humps tend to be fairly short, we had a 3 mile, a 5 mile and a 7 mile hump. These fast paced marches through the hills of Camp Pendleton were one of the hardest endurance tests for many recruits.

Typically the gear we were required to carry was a flak jacket, kevlar helmet, M16A2 rifle, Load Bearing Vest (LBV) loaded with a military belt, 2 full canteens, rifle magazines and a first aid kit. Then we also carried an ALICE pack loaded with a variety of items such as a 2 man tent with poles and stakes, extra socks, utility uniforms, poncho, poncho lines, sleeping bag, entrenching tool, water proofing bag etc.

The weight of all the gear felt as if it was multiplied as we marched up hill, things were made even worse when tent poles were not properly pack and they would poke your ribs but we were not allowed to drop our pack and rearrange its contents.

Recruits were encouraged to keep up during the hump, usually we had 2 long columns and we had to stay right behind the recruit in front of us, each time he took a step we would step in the same spot, Drill Instructors would then should things such as “AT&T” and we recruits would say “Reach out and touch someone” as we literally stretched our arm and try to touch the recruit in front of us. Sometimes it was hard to keep up but it was in your our best interest not to leave any gaps in between, if a recruit fell behind a few yards it did not seem like much, but if every recruit behind him did the same then things would turn ugly, we would have to sprint to close up the gaps, in the front of the line this sprint would only be a cople of yards long, but the sum of all small gaps meant that the recruits in the “little end” or in the back of the line would need to close up gaps of 100 or so yards.

The hump itself was already challenging enough but our drill instructors liked to make things interesting, if they saw a recruit not putting out or if they saw someone holding their rifle with two hands etc, they would make the recruit carry extra weight such as ammo cans or water jugs, then they would have to chase the Drill Instructor as he ran to the front of the line than back to the rear and to the front again.

When I finished bootcamp I thought I would get a break, but in school of infantry the packs got heavier and the humps longer. Something that I have no explanation that happened during SOI is when we went on a hump from point A to point B during which it felt that we went up hill he the whole time, then we took a different route back to point A but for some reason it seemed we were still going uphill! It was the strangest thing.

Well the humps did not end there, I would have to participate in several more during my time in the Marine Corps, the funny thing is that humps are not so relevant to today’s combat missions. Yes physical endurance and strength are important but this is not Korea anymore, I think the military should emphasize other forms of training.

Now that I am a civilian I would like to hike across beautiful places at my own pace with a good back pack and carry only what I need, I wonder if I will be able to enjoy hiking like normal people do and forget about how the military took the fun out of it.