Today, as I did yesterday and the day before, I spent a couple hours packing up all of my gear for deployment. As I tucked my MultiCam-patterned uniforms, melt-resistant gloves, and bulletproof body armor into my rucksack I couldn't help but think about how very different the equipment I packed for LDAC in 2009 was. Or even when I first joined ROTC and was handed BDU-patterned uniforms. I am not trying to sound old, because I'm not, but it amazes me how much changes in such a short amount of time.
After putting my Advanced Combat Helmet on top of everything else and shoving it down, I remembered similar issues I had fitting all of my gear into rucksacks of the past and thought that those who may venture onto this blog may have similar challenges.
Odds are that you know someone who somehow manages to fit the same amount of stuff into the same sized ruck as you, but makes it look like it would all fit into a shoebox. If you are that person, I envy you. When I packed my ruck it always looked like it was just waiting for the seams to burst. Finally I decided to ask my friend how he was able to make it look so easy. And not only look easy, but having all the items packed tightly together and up close to your back makes it easier to carry. Naturally, I wanted to know the secret.
Unfortunately there is no great formula. Some people really are just more gifted at cramming five pounds of junk into a one pound bag, but there are some helpful tips:
-Roll everything. Your t-shirts, underwear, poncho, etc. Rather than fold it, roll it as tightly as possible and shove it into those tiny crevices left by the hard, irregular-shaped objects.
-Better yet, cram those rolled items inside your hard items. For example, shove as many pairs of socks and underwear in your boots as possible.
-If you can, put your rolled items into Ziploc bags and squeeze all of the air out of them before zipping them shut. This is also handy if you want to make day bags. That is, put a day's worth of stuff into a baggie (underwear, socks, and shirt) so at the end or beginning of the day you just have to stick your hand in your ruck, fish around for the plastic bag, and pull it out with all the contents you need, rather than fish around for each individual item.
-Put some thought into how often you need to access certain items. If you don't need it very often, put it in the middle of the ruck. Assuming you have a MOLLE rucksack you have a zipper on the bottom as well as an open top. So you could, for example, put clothes into your waterproof bag and have it easily accessible at the top, and have your sleep system (that is, your sleeping bag and its components) at the bottom. Or whatever suits you best.
These are just a few thoughts off the top of my head, but hopefully they will help make your life easier. If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, please feel free to let me know. All the Way!