The Angelic Host is going to war. It's a long journey, requiring flight over the highest mountain ranges and long trudges through the fiercest blizzards.

As with all large scale military marches the Host will be carrying equipment, tents and provisions for the journey and the eventual battle, averaging 30kg of gear per angel. Each angel is the same physically as a well built human, but with a pair of large birdlike wings based just behind the shoulder blades that enable them to fly by pushing off Plot particles floating in the aether (you can assume these wings are strong enough to deal with the extra weight).

Naturally hands need to be kept free for wielding flaming swords and throwing thunderous spears and playing mighty trumpets etc, so how might an angel keep all their equipment about themselves without interfering with their wings (or ruining their backs)?

EDIT FOR CLARITY: I don't care about the equipment in the knapsack, I care about the manner of attachment/storage. The question can be most succinctly written as: 'How could my winged humanoids attach items/goods to their bodies in such a manner that they can keep their hands free, fly and walk'.

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    $\begingroup$ Joe, you need to specify the question a bit. Angels under what mythology? World under what mythology? What is the technological level here? Who are they fighting? What is the war about? What is the objective for this host? How much can an Angel carry while walking? What does it take to defeat an Angel? What does it take to defeat a foe? What can an Angel carry while in flight? All we know now is: War. Flying Humanoids. Flaming Swords, Thunderous Spears. Does not give us much to work with. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Sep 1 '17 at 13:09
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelK: Can you explain why you require all that information to answer the question? How, precisely, does the nature of the foe or geographical location change the fundamental use of a backpack? I ask because your points on why these things should be considered may lead to more in depth and useful questions where an arbitrary refocusing of the original question wouldn't. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 1 '17 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelK: I see now where the confusion lies. I don't care about the equipment in the knapsack. For all I care it could be 30kg of copies of War and Peace. I care about the knapsack itself. The 'war' detail is flavour, the fundamental aspect of the question is 'How would my winged humanoids attach items/goods to their torsos in such a manner that keeps their hands free and allows them to both fly and walk'. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 1 '17 at 13:48
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    $\begingroup$ Plot Particles are made from gaseous handwavium ;) $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Sep 1 '17 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen angel? $\endgroup$ – NKCampbell Sep 1 '17 at 19:24

Carried low, and conformal

"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."

— Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps)

A military host needs food, clothes, first aid and a whole lot more to be combat effective once it is time to get bloody. No military host moves faster or farther than their logistics, the so called Train.

So unless your host's train is flying and carrying everything with them in the air, this means that your host has a sizable portion on the ground, carried by land vehicles of some sort, trucks or wagons or whatnot. This in turn means that your angels do not need to be carrying anything in the air for the most part. Their knapsacks will ride as cargo on the ground.

If some smaller groups go off as a detachment however (think rangers or some other units that operate independently from a host), then the question becomes relevant, and a matter of rather simple aerodynamics.

For anything carried on their person, they want that to be carried low (i.e. below them when flying) and conformal against their body to reduce drag. So their packs would be large, flat chest packs most likely.

However if they are the least bit clever they would not carry it on their person, because for an avian creature lifting is a very heavy affair. Instead they would probably bring some sort of cargo glider with them — like a hang glider or paraglider — stuff their knapsacks under that, and tug it behind them. This is because the energy you need to spend to make a given mass glide is a lot less than if you need to provide direct lift to that same mass.

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    $\begingroup$ I very much like the idea of a cargo glider! That's brilliant. Apologies for the confusion on the question. +1 $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 1 '17 at 14:17

The angels are strong enough to fly while carrying their body weight plus 30 kg. That's a lot of extra strength, so I don't think you need to worry about their backs.

  • When the angels are actually expecting fighting, they leave the packs in camp. While wearing the packs, they don't need the full range of motion they'd have unencumbered. They need enough range of motion to respond to emergencies, so weapons should be available, and packs should be able to survive being dropped from a great height.

  • To carry the weight, they could use a combination of lumbar packs around their hips and front packs on their chests. They might be able to carry their flaming swords on their backs in a harness designed to fit between their wings, which would solve the problem of easy access.

  • Do not try trudging through blizzards. Breaking a path through the snow after a blizzard takes a huge amount of energy and is completely unneeded if you can fly over the snow. During the actual blizzard, you risk losing whole battalions when they can't see each other and make a wrong turn in the blinding snow, plus the wind and snow make walking difficult. An army walking in these conditions would be lucky to travel a mile in an entire day, and when the weather finally clears, they would be exhausted. Instead, the angels are better off building camp, then flying away as soon as conditions permit.

And a question you didn't raise: How are you feeding this army? Each soldier probably needs about a kg of food per day, maybe more (basing this off of the diets of British navy sailors, since there's reliable data on what they ate). So if your armor, weapons and shelter take half the pack, you've got about 15 days provisions max. A large human army would travel with a supply of food and extra supplies hauled by beasts of burden, or a small force might try to rely on raiding farms and towns as they pass.

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    $\begingroup$ Excellent follow up question on logistics. For the purposes of this question I was assuming that Military Angel Nutritional Aids were like elven way bread: One small bite keeps you going for ages. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 1 '17 at 13:54

Think of a basic military harness - the kind with a single back strap and two in the front. The cargo would be split between a few waist packs, a bigger front bag (aka baby carrier) and maybe a fanny pack. Down low. A pair of thigh packs might work as well. Assume the front and fanny pack would not be worn in combat.


The solution that immediately comes to mind is a hotshot (wildfire firefighter) style backpack. It's basically a standard rucksack, but the pack is slung a little lower and supported by a center piece that runs down the center of the back (between the wings in this case).

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or a larger pack, center strap can be adjusted enter image description here enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the pictures and the word 'hotshot'. Ripe googling territory right there. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 1 '17 at 21:19

I'm thinking less backbpack, and more buttpack.

You want it to not interfere with the wings, so dead in the middle of the back is pretty well out.

You also want the weight of the pack to be settled on the shoulders while upright. I mean, that's what a backpack does.

Take a military harness as a start point. One central, dorsal strap and two shoulder straps. These are connected at the waist by a complete belt that goes all the way around the abdomen and over the hips. The actual pack is attached to the belt and central dorsal strap. It should hang over the but, maybe as far down as the middle of the thigh. you may want to consider bifurcation at the butt and thigh straps to keep the load as firmly attached to the body as possible. You can hang all kinds of weapon and gear attachment points to the harness.

The point of a backpack is to carry gear in a way that you can still move and manipulate things with your hands. It tends to be easier if the pack moves with you rather than some semi independent mass. This would be even more important in flight. That is why you need to strap it to just about every point away from a joint as possible. you bend at he waist and it's an independent bend for each leg, so you have thigh straps. The belt is situated above the waist. the trunk doesn't move a great deal, comparatively speaking.

A note after re-reading the question and some answers.The position of the load on the body is important for flight, it it also important for fighting. I flight, the load being directly under where the wings join to provide balance makes the most sense for just flight. By contrast, having a bulky object between your arms is impractical for combat.

You might split the difference by making the whole thing modular. Anchor the mass in front for long flights up the mountain pass, when enemy action is near, shift it around back. Make sure you train to fight and fly in both scenarios, just to be prepared.

I hope I described it well enough. Not a great artist, but I can see it in my head.

  • $\begingroup$ Harness points away from the actual load sounds sensible for a flying species, but potentially very complex. Imagine adjusting the straps!! $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 1 '17 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs Adjusting the straps would be complicated,, true, but all those buckles would look steampunky and badass! It shouldn't be too bad though as almost all the adjustments would be don on the frontAlso, I love the use of Plot particles. $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Sep 1 '17 at 17:07
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs Another thought, Once the rig is adjusted, it could be put on/taken off, with just 4 Heavy main buckles. Sternum, waist, and each thigh $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Sep 1 '17 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ I'm kind of inclined to agree with Paul's most recent comment; it's not likely that the angels would just put on each other's packs, in much the same way that a human's backpack is typically adjusted to fit that particular human. Any good backpack has plenty of possibilities for adjustment so that the same type can be used by different people, but not necessarily because Joe will want to don Jane's backpack; I see no reason why angel knapsacks shouldn't be the same in this regard. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Sep 1 '17 at 21:03

Are there any (flying) pack animals that the angels could use? Thinking in terms of infantry/cavalry - if you've got flying horses that can match pace with the angels, they could also be useful beasts of burden? Potentially a land train could go on as well, but if aerial travel is a necessity, then maybe some extra wingpower could come in handy.

Also, are there military ranks within the angelic host? If you've got a section of lowly footsoldiers (wingsoldiers?), perhaps part of their duty would be to carry some of the extra weight (superfluous weaponry, culinary equipment, camping gear, etc.). Then the higher-ranking or more experienced angels would have greater freedom to fly without being overencumbered.

Scouts and rangers would probably want to pack light as well, given that their job is to travel greater distances and keep the rest informed of what's happening ahead - so someone else may have to take care of the heavy possessions they need.


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