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What to Expect During the Wildland Firefighter Pack Test
To ensure that firefighters are physically capable of taking on the intense physical demands of wildland firefighting, they must pass the pack test. Also known as the work capacity test, the pack test is a type of physical fitness test in which potential wildland firefighters must complete a variety of tasks designed to judge their muscular strength and aerobic endurance. If you’re an aspiring firefighter, here’s what to expect during the wildland firefighter pack test.

Which type of the pack test do wildland firefighters need to complete?

There are three different types of the pack test which vary in difficulty. Which level a firefighter must complete will depend on the type of duties they’re assigned. Based on your role, the fitness requirements that you must fulfill will either be defined as arduous, moderate, or light. Due to the intense physical demands that wildland firefighters must meet while fighting forest fires, they must complete the most difficult test: the arduous test.

What does the arduous pack test entail?

The arduous pack test is the most physically demanding of the three tests. It is designed to test the physical capabilities of firefighters who work in extreme temperatures, altitude, and rugged terrain.

To complete the arduous pack test, participants must finish a three-mile hike across relatively level terrain while carrying a 45-pound pack in 45 minutes or less. An ability to complete the test in 45 minutes suggests an aerobic fitness score of 45, which is the standard for wildland firefighters.

During the test, no running or jogging is permitted. Instead, participants must hike at a quick pace to meet the time requirements. Distance markers will typically be located at 1 or 1.5 miles to help candidates pace themselves.

Participants can either choose to bring their own pack or use the standard firefighter backpack pump which will be provided at the testing location. The packs will be loaded with sandbags, gear, water, or other weighted materials until they reach exactly 45 pounds. To ensure that the packs are of the appropriate weight and to eliminate the potential for cheating, all packs are weighed both before and after the test is completed.

The pack test is either pass or fail. If a potential firefighter fails the pack test, they must retake it completely until they pass. Hopefully, this guide helps prepare you for what to expect during the wildland firefighter pack test.

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