TACHACK: Packing A Ruck – A Basic Primer

After we talked about hydration, the fieldkit and the survivalkit we want to take a closer look at how we basically prefer to pack our third line, we don’t want to go into task specifics like patrolling, hiking, bushcraft etc. We also don’t want to tell you how its done, we just want to let you know how we basically do it. If you do it completely different, let us know. But perhaps you can take some inspiration from here. Generally its always important in terms of preparedness to try out several packing concepts for different tasks.

The Scenario

Before we pack a ruck, we need to know what is our “mission”. This needs several questions to be answered.

  • How long will the trip be?
  • Which level of comfort do I require?
  • Which additional equipment do I need to carry?
  • Which weather will I face?
  • Will I be able to replenish food or water?
  • How many participants will there be?

Our scenario is a simple three-day trip with two overnight stays. This trip will take place during late march, so we can face different weather situations, from temperate weather, relatively hot temperature, rain and even perhaps snow. The level of comfort we wanted to archieve is not on a complete “hole-up-style” lack of comfort but we also don’t wanted to take out a big tent or something. So it should be the classic bivvy, a comfort level that most light infantry units constantly have to face. We needed no additional equipment. We also wanted to be independent of water and food, so we had to take everything with us. The trip has only one participant. So there is no option to split stuff up.

The Planning

The panning requires you to set up some main categories that you have to fill with equipment and resources that you calculate based on your aforementioned needs. Basically, those categories are: Shelter & Sleep, Light & Fire, Weather Protection, Food & Water, Medical and Hygiene. We filled those categories in the following fashion. Basically this is an more detailed way of the military survival basics of PLWF (Protection, Location, Water, Food) but optimized for life in the field, rather than survival.

Shelter & Sleep

  • Sleeping Pad (Savotta Sleeping Pad)
  • Tarp (Snugpak Stasha Basha)
  • Bivvy bag (Snugpak Ionosphere)
  • Sleeping bag (Snugpak SF2)
  • Ground Sheet
  • 10 Ground Hoggs

Light & Fire

  • Two Lighters
  • Two Blocks of Esbit Solid Fuel
  • Esbit Heater
  • Headlight (Princeton Tec Quad)
  • 3 Chemlights
  • 2 small candles
  • Three AAA spare batteries

Weather Protection

  • One low loft puffy jacket (VertX Recon)
  • Woolpower Pullover
  • One Pair of Sparesocks (Point 6 Merino)
  • Merino Shirt (Armadillo Merino)
  • One pair of Long johns
  • Lightweight Poncho
  • GoreTex Trousers
  • Neoprene Socks (As bivvy shoes and for water crossings)

Food & Water

  • 3l Camelbak Bladder
  • 1,5l Klean Kanteen Steel Bottle
  • 2x 1l Nalgene Bottles
  • 1 Blister of water purification tablets.
  • Two stripped down MREs and some Nutbars
  • Small Primus Cooking Kit with cleaning cloth stored inside.
  • Mess kit (Swedish plastic variant)
  • A Spoon (you don’t need a spork or other even an additional fork)

Medical

  • BooBoo kit with some bandages, medical tape, Lip Balm etc.
  • SamSplint
  • TQ

Hygiene

  • Cutdown tooth brush
  • Tooth paste
  • Block of Soap
  • WetWipes
  • Two small towels

Fieldcraft

  • Mora Knive
  • Saw
  • Tape
  • 15m Paracord
  • 10m Shockcord
  • Survivalkit

Final Cut.

Now that we got everything for a three day trip we have the last chance to strip down the load or add stuff based on how much we want to carry. We can also try to split up the stuff between all participants of the trip. Questions should be: Why should every participant carry a cooking kit? Why should everyone carry a tarp AND a ground sheet? Do we need a ground Sheet if we got a micro tent like the stratosphere? And so on. In our scenario I wanted to be able to set up a micro tent and a shelter as well.

After this is done, we have to organize our gear, especially given the fact of quick access. Items I need to reach quickly are either stored in the top lid of the pack or even shockcorded to the pack.

Top Lid

In the Top lid I only carry things that I or a buddy will need to reach immediately. Note that in military scenarios you will carry much of this stuff in your second or first line of gear.

  • Lightweight Poncho
  • Headlight (Princeton Tec Quad)
  • 3 Chemlights
  • Three AAA spare batteries – Waterproofed in a ZipLok
  • TQ
  • Survivalkit
  • One Pair of Sparesocks (Point 6 Merino) – Waterproofed in a ZipLok, as especially water or swamp crossings can quickly lead to wet feet.

Side Pockets

Those are for Water bottles, which are bulky and also have to be easy to reach as soon as I consumed my bladder.

  • 2x 1l Nalgene Bottles

Strapped to the pack: I usually don’t like to add external loads. So my savotta sleeping mat is the only thing I attach, because it is bulky and also pretty light.

  • Sleeping Pad (Savotta Sleeping Pad)

Strapped to the pack: I usually don’t like to add external loads. So my savotta sleeping mat is the only thing I attach, because of its bulky design. I definitely will go for an inflatable mat in the future.

Internal Organization

Now that we talked about the quick acess items, we need to look at the internal organization. We start from the bottom of the pack where I place items that I will mostly need during longer rest periods or when I even already set up my camp.

I prefer to use waterproof bags to carry my equipment as they not only keep my stuff dry, compressed and organized, they also will make great flotation devices in case you have to cross a deep lake or river. One thing I like to say about compressing your kit is that it is really easy to compress your stuffsacks when you are setting up your kit, everything will fit your pack, but once outside you will not always have the time to compress everything to the last inch, so feel free to leave some “air” in your stuffsacks.

My big stuffsack, is located on the very bottom of my DG3 pack and has the following contents:

  • BooBoo kit with some bandages, medical tape, scalpel, Lip Balm etc.
  • Ground Sheet
  • Woolpower Pullover
  • Merino Shirt (Armadillo Merino)
  • One pair of Long johns
  • GoreTex Trousers
  • Neoprene Socks
  • Small Primus Cooking Kit with cleaning cloth stored inside.

Just beneath this stuffsack I carry my Snugpak SF 2Sleeping bag.

On Top of the big stuffsack I place my fieldkit in another, small, yellow stuffsack. This fieldkit consists of useful Items I can use during life in the field.

  • Tape
  • 15m Paracord
  • 10m Shockcord
  • 1 Blister of water purification tablets.
  • Cutdown tooth brush
  • Tooth paste
  • Block of Soap
  • WetWipes
  • Two small towels
  • Two Lighters
  • Two Blocks of Esbit Solid Fuel
  • Esbit Heater
  • 2 small candles

Located on top of the small yellow stuffsack is a grey stuffsack which contains my low loft puffy jacket. It is easy to fetch when I open my pack. The Tarp and the Stratosphere bivvy bag are located behind those semi quick acess items. The Crossfire DG3 features a nice internal cinch strap,and a pocket which is normally intended for a patrol radio. Those features offer me the ability to further divide and compress all items inside the pack.

The DG3 also has some internal organization pockets and a bladder pocket, which allow me to put everything else into fitting pockets:

  • 3l Camelbak Bladder
  • 1,5l Klean Kanteen Steel Bottle
  • Two stripped down MREs and some Nutbars
  • Mess kit (Swedish plastic variant)
  • A Spoon (you don’t need a spork or other even an additional fork)
  • SamSplint
  • Mora Knive
  • Saw

All those items are easy to acess, particularly for comfort reasons. E.g. in the military you learn to always keep you mess kit at the ready, this is also true for your MRE, as you could also eat in unheated. The Saw and the field knives just fit perfectly into the side pockets, just as the SAM splint and my VS17 panel did. From a military point of view, some items could also be vital in case that you need to drop your pack in a evasion scenario.

All packed together this setup left me with more than 5l of space for additional items, or comfort in case you have to leave your camp in a rush and you don’t have time to fold your tarp or roll up your sleeping bag.  Its amazing, as the DG3 only has a capacity of 55l and this setup will also be able to sustain you for more than three days. You could at least add food and water for two more days. As Iam carrying a micro tent with me I could easily ditch the ground sheet and the tarp with its ground hogs and paracord to get even more space. Just as I could easily leave the whole mess kit and cooking equipment in my trunk to save more space while eating straight from the Ration while keeping the ability to cook water, thanks to my steel bottle. Weightwise the pack is a little over 15kg, counting in water, this is more than acceptable for a light infantry loadout.

Synopsis

As you might see, everything depends on what you pack and how you pack it. Simply cramping all stuff into your pack will result in a mess as soon as you have to search for a certain item while you will also waste lots of spacd. Overengineering and overcompressing your setup will result in trouble as soon as you need to quickly pack your gear in a rush. I did a little benchmark for this, the benchmark being a 5km ruck run with the loaded pack, unpacking all my stuff and then repacking everything in under two minutes as soon as I got “cold”, you can see the result in the video below.

We hope that this article will inspire some people to actively think not only about which ruck , but also about HOW the ruck should be packed. It’s always important to create systems in your mind, as systems are the only things that will give us inner safety in times of decision making.

Let us know what you think on Instagram.

You can get the DG3 pack directly from Crossfire.

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