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I am actually so confused. Shouldn’t they just carry a gun and ammo and maybe some rations?

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    Whose soldiers? In what circumstances? On which front? – KillingTime Feb 26 '18 at 20:30
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    If you got sent onto a battlefield to fight for months, would you just want a gun and a can of food? – Jake Feb 26 '18 at 20:57
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    You need, at the very least, a change of clothing, something to bivoac with -- i.e. (parts of) a tent, a sleeping bag, something to cook with (stove, cans), and rations -- gas protection, helmet, a spade, coat for cold weather / rain, water, ammo, your rifle, and a first aid kit. (Just raffling off what I remember lugging around on my time in the army.) That's not including any special equipment -- radio, mortar rounds, belt ammo for the MG, ... -- You might get lucky and get a truck you can toss all that kit on. If you aren't lucky, you've got to carry that and march 30km+ / day. – DevSolar Feb 26 '18 at 21:32
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    Soldiers today often carry more than 45kg so WW1 soldiers had it easy by comparison! – Semaphore Feb 26 '18 at 21:44
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    @DevSolar This could be an answer – Pere Feb 26 '18 at 22:16
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The weight (an average) soldier carries has increased from World War I. If you look at the respective article for the equipment of a World War I soldier, you can ask yourself which items you consider dispensable.

This article probably gives what an average British soldier carried in World War I:

Over the centuries, the equipment has looked like this (there is also World War I British equipment displayed):

Today's problems with overweight:

And what the Romans carried:

The solution for the modern problems seem to be along these lines:

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