Load Capacities of Sam and Vehicles

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Carrying capacity in DS depends on both weight and size. Weight is simpler to show, but they are both important.

The Small Cargo Equivalent (SCE)

It's easier to understand size capacity when stated in terms of the smallest unit, what I call the Small Cargo Equivalent (SCE):

Size SCEs
Small 1
Medium 2
Large 4
XL 6 or 8

Sam and all Bridges vehicles (including the carrier) consider the XL equal to six SCEs (the Rule of 6). Mule Trucks regard an XL as 8 SCEs.

Sam's Capacity

Basic Capacity

Location SCEs
Top of Backpack 20
Backpack 8
Total on Back 28
Shoulders (2) 2 S
Hips (2) 2 S
Toolrack 1* (S to L)
Bootclip 2 Boots

* Things you can put on your Toolrack:

  • Everything on the Tools Fabricate menu except Blood and Decoy Cargo.
  • Everything on the Weapons Fabricate menu:
    • All grenades (EX, remote/stun, etc.). They're all Small.
    • All handguns are Small and all other guns are Medium except
    • Both Rocket Launchers are Large. These are the only Large things you can put on the Toolrack.
Things you can't put on your Toolrack:
  • Nothing on the Equipment Fabricate menu at all.
  • No Orders, Lost Cargo, or Materials.
  • No carriers or, of course, vehicles.

The Shoulders and Hips can carry any type of Smalls, including Orders, Lost Cargo, and Materials.

  • The Power Skeleton blocks hip attachment, but the other two don't.

Utility (blood) and grenade pouch(es) carry their respective items, all of which are Smalls.

High-Capacity Blood Bags are a twofer ... double the blood volume, but same weight as before (1.0 kg). They could've been twice the weight and still be a deal, because they pack twice as much blood into one Small. Sweet.

And of course Sam can wear up to four pieces of equipment:

  • O2 mask
  • Gloves
  • Skeleton
  • Boots

So basically Sam can carry 28 SCEs plus 4 more Smalls of any type, and other locations are limited to specific items for Toolrack, Bootclips, and worn equipment. Plus blood and grenades in pouches.

This is true whether Sam is fresh out of Fragile's cave, or is 60+ on all his Bridges star points.

Skeleton Stats

They follow a simple rule:

  • Each type has a base carrying capacity that the level 1 skeleton adds:
    • 14 kg for the Speed Skel (20 minus 6 for the weight of the skeleton)
    • 52 for the All-Terrain Skel (60 minus 8)
    • 110 for the Power Skel (120 minus 10)
  • Then levels 2 and 3 of all types add 32 more kg carrying capacity for each level (they add 30 plus 2 for the lower weight of skeletons at higher levels).

Here's a complete table:

Skeleton Simplified Actual
Type Abb. Level Size Cap. kg vs.
PS at =
Cap. Δ Cap. kg vs.
PS at =
Speed SS 1 L +20 -100 6 +14 +14 -96
2 M +50 -100 4 +46 +32 -96
3 S +80 -100 2 +78 +32 -96
All-Terrain ATS 1 L +60 -60 8 +52 +52 -58
2 M +90 -60 6 +84 +32 -58
3 S +120 -60 4 +116 +32 -58
Power PS 1 L +120 - 10 +110 +110 -
2 M +150 - 8 +142 +32 -
3 S +180 - 6 +174 +32 -

The "kg vs. PS at = Level" shows how the current skeleton and level compares with a Power Skeleton of the same (equal) level. For example, an SS1 versus a PS1 carries 100 kg less (simplified), 96 kg less (actual). And in fact, these differences (-100 and -96) are true for all three levels; they also hold for SS2 versus PS2 and SS3 versus PS3.

I'm just showing that there are fairly simple relationships between the different types of skeletons and levels.

Compare how Sam starts at 120 and can get up to 150 (see next section).

Increases due to the Delivery Volume level of your Bridges Star

You start at 120 kg carrying capacity and get +5 at every 10 levels of the Delivery Volume point of your Bridges Star:

0   120
10   125
20   130
30   135
40   140
50   145
60+ 150
Once you get a Bridges Truck,
punch out some big loads on Central's highway!

All Porter Grades stop giving increases at level 60. (Thanks, /u/MisterCrowbar!)

Thus, Sam can only go up by 30 kg in total, a 25% increase. Sounds realistic enough to me.

Sam goes for broke!

Sam can theoretically carry a max of 82 SCEs and 1,033.5 kg if he puts the heaviest things he can, everywhere he can:

Where Item Size kg each # Total kg SCEs
Back High-Density Special Alloys M 48.0 14 672.0 28
Shoulders Climbing Anchor Lv. 2 S 7.1 2 14.2 2
Hips Climbing Anchor Lv. 2 S 7.1 2 14.2 2
Toolrack Quad Rocket Launcher L 19.2 1 19.2 4
Bootclip Mule Boots S 0.5 2 1.0 2
Built-in Utility Pouch Blood Bags S 1.0 4 4.0 4
Grenade Pouches Heme or Smoke Grenade Lv. 2 S 2.7 21 56.7 21
O2 Mask O2 Mask S 1.0 1 1.0 1
Skeleton ATS1 L 8.0 1 10.0 4
Gloves Silver Hand S 2.7 1 2.7 1
Boots Mule Boots S 0.5 1 0.5 1
Hands Special Alloy XL4s XL4 120.0 2 240.0 12
Totals 1,033.5 82

It's a pretty wonky loadout for lots of reasons, not the least being that you can barely move (lol). Anyway, that's the heaviest theoretical load I could come up with. Did I miss anything?

Some notes:

  • I don't have a quality detailed dataset of Order info, so I couldn't check to see if some Order cargo is heavier than the HD Special Alloys or the Climbing Anchor 2s (for Smalls).
  • I had to use an ATS1 skeleton (8 kgs); you can't put things on your hips with the heavier PS1 skel (10 kg). By losing 2 kg for the skel, I could add 5.4 kg with 2 Climbing Anchor Lv.2s. (The goal is to have as much weight as possible, period.) At Delivery volume 71, my base carrying capacity is 150, plus the level 1 ATS gives me 60 kg more load capacity... but we're blowing way past capacity in this theoretical exercise.
  • High-Density Special Alloys (XL1 480 hg in a Medium form factor) has higher density than even the XL4 Special Alloy:
Parameter HD M
(= XL1)
/ XL4
hgs Special Alloys 480 1200 0.40
SCEs 2 6 0.33
hgs/SCE (density) 240 200 1.20
A hectogram (hg) is 100 g or 0.1 kg. Apparently DS used them for the convenience of seeing amounts without always using decimal kgs.
Note that going from XL1 to M is otherwise a 4x weight reduction (480 to 120 if it hadn't been HD), but going from XL4 to XL1 is only a 2.5x reduction (1200 to 480). The HD Mediums let you pack 20% more mass into an SCE.
Also, with 4 XLs (24 SCEs), you'd have 4 SCEs left (28 - 24) that you'd have to fill with less-dense, sub-XL4 material containers, leading to a little more loss. Compare my trial with an XL4 loadout, below.
  • For the backpack-cover loadout I looked at several possible choices (all Smalls):
    • 3 Utility Pouches (12 Small blood) and 3 Large Grenade Pouches (9 Small grenades) OR
    • 6 Large Grenade Pouches (18 Small grenades) and 3 regular Grenade Pouches (3 Small grenades) OR
    • 5 Utility Pouches (turn two sideways), but that would only be 20 Small bloods.
    • Conclusion: 21 Grenades lets you bulk up on these, which are heavier than blood. They range from 1.5 kg (Stun Bomb) to 2.7 kg (HG2 and Smoke Bomb 2).
    • Also: Neither batteries nor stabilizer add SCEs nor do they weigh anything, so they don't help in this "contest".
  • Sam has a Special Alloy XL4 in each hand, lol. Poor bastidge.

I haven't fully tried this loadout... I didn't have a bunch of HD SAs close at hand, so I just used regular SAs (4 XL4s and 2 Mediums on my back). My weight was 865.5 kg. (That's with a weight limit of 210, lol.) I could still move by shuffling just a little bit. Couldn't turn ... had to pop in and out of the Compass to re-point myself. Didn't fall over! Also couldn't hardly go anywhere, though.

For a more realistic estimate of max SCEs during actual play, players might carry a rifle (-1 SCE compared to above), a level 3 skel (-2, Large to Small), no O2 mask (I rarely wear one; -1), not have 2 XLs in hand (-12, laugh), and might only have, eh, 2 Large Grenade Pouches on their backpack (6 - 21 = -15). So a more realistic max SCE value during actual play is going to be ~49 SCEs (80-31). Maybe just call it 50 Small Cargo Equivalents. Or 44 SCEs if you don't want two Large Grenade Pouches.

And of course, you'd keep your weight below your max.

Vehicle Capacity

It's pretty straightforward:

Vehicle SCEs
kg +8
Bridges Truck 168 84 42 28 6 Unlimited Yes
Mule Truck 48 24 12 6 8 Unlimited Yes
Trike (not LR) 12 6 3 2 6 Unlimited n/a
Carrier Lv.1 32 16 8 6 6 299.9 n/a
Carrier Lv.2 599.9

If you load these amounts into vehicles, you can't load even a single Small cargo past that. For example, a Bridges Truck can hold 168 Smalls OR 84 Mediums OR 42 Large OR 28 XLs. And not one bit more. (You can mix and match sizes, but they can't total more than 168 SCEs.)

For the Mule Truck (only), an XL counts as 8 Small Cargo Equivalents (Rule of 8). For all other (Bridges) vehicles and Sam, it counts as 6 SCEs (Rule of 6). Notice that a Bridges Truck can hold 28 XLs; 28 x 6 (Rule of 6) = 168 SCEs. A Mule Truck can hold 6 XLs; 6 x 8 (Rule of 8) = 48 SCEs.

With the big amount you can pack into the largest XL, plus the Rule of 6, Materials XLs not only have five times as much material as their respective Large, they also fit it into only 50% more space. Some numbers for Special Alloys:

Parameter L Rule of 6 Rule of 8
Special Alloys kgs 240 1200 5.00 1200 5.00
SCEs 4 6 1.50 8 2.00
kg/SCE (density) 60 200 3.33 150 2.50

The Rule of 6 lets 33% more materials fit into an XL4 (8/6 SCEs or, above, 3.33/2.50).

A few notes:

  • In general play (not counting the Rule of 6), you can fit 2.5 times as much material into an XL4 compared to lesser sizes. So if you're out of space but not out of weight, use XL4s. (Trucks have no maximum weight.)
  • The Trike only has two cargo racks. Dividing its numbers (above) shows how much fits into each rack.
  • The Long-Range Trike has no cargo racks; it has batteries instead. It can't hold any cargo.

Bridges Truck LEDs

The Bridges Truck has 14 red LEDs on its back. Compare that it can hold 168 SCEs a.k.a. 28 XLs:

  • Each LED represents ~7% of capacity (1/14) and corresponds to 12 SCEs (e.g., 2 XLs using the Rule of 6). 14 x 12 = 168 SCEs.
  • When you're in inventory and start to put something in the truck, it shows you what the LEDs will look like if you put your selection into the truck. (It's showing you the "after", not the "before".)
  • A Small package placed in an empty truck will make the entire first LED light. Two XLs put in an empty truck will, too. The LEDs show whether "their" share has anything at all (including if it's full). Try it: put 2 XLs and 1 Small in it, and nothing else. Two LEDs will light, and both LEDs look exactly the same.
  • If the LEDs go deep red, the truck will be full. This can happen if your transfer will actually just barely fit... it will still be full when executed.

I think it's pretty nice that the game gives you feedback. And the devs clearly made there be 14 LEDs for a reason.

Sam's Shotgun Space

Sam can get into a truck that's a completely full with a little more cargo on his back. Specifically, he can get into it with only his backpack (proper) full, and nothing on top of it. That's what "+8 SCEs?" means above: Sam can get in with only 8 more SCEs (that's what his backpack proper holds). You can call this Sam's shotgun space. (In the U.S., "riding shotgun" means sitting in the passenger seat next to the driver.)

To see what's in your backpack proper, look for the little blue backpack symbols to the left of cargo on your inventory screen.

If you watch, you will see that Sam puts his backpack cargo in the passenger space. Kind of cool, huh? It's easiest to see with the Mule Truck. When you carry Mama to the mountain, that's exactly what she does: Gets off your back and rides shotgun. (But why doesn't she just sit there to begin with? High maintenance, laugh)

The rest of Sam's slots (besides backpack) can be jammed full. They don't matter for truck purposes.

Of course, Shotgun Space doesn't apply to the Trike or the Carrier.

Another wrinkle:

If the truck is almost to capacity, Sam can have more on top his back... he can have however much would bring it to capacity. For example, if a Bridges Truck has 27 XLs, Sam can have an XL "on top" of his backpack, and still get in.

Again, it's most easily seen in a Mule Truck... whatever was extra goes in the back. And whatever's in his backpack proper goes in the passenger seat.

Questions for extra credit: If a Mule Truck has 5 XLs (only), how many Smalls can Sam have on top of his backpack? How about for a Bridges Truck with 27 XLs?

Sneaky Sam's Shotgun Space loophole!

As stated above, Sam can have cargo on top of his backpack, as long as there's room for it in the truck.

When he does this, the cargo on top of his backpack does not count as being in or on the truck. It is ignored for Truck load purposes. This helps the truck battery last a little longer (see Batteries) and helps the most with a Mule truck's small battery. When combined with the 300-kg truck freebie, it means the Mule is practically empty, for battery purposes. [??Note to self: Link this to battery section when it's done]

At standard speed (not Boost), a Mule Truck's battery lasts ~3:45 when empty, ~3:00 full up with 720 kg (6 120-kg SA XL4s). At Boost speed, it's ~60s versus ~45s. So it doesn't actually save you a ton, lol. But it's still a way to go a little farther. Put the heaviest things on Sam, and the rest in the truck bed. Things attached to Sam also don't count toward truck load.

Bridges trucks have a much larger battery and carry far more, so it doesn't have much effect overall. Only bother with this if you know you'll be pushing the limits of a Bridges truck.