Some say that packing a rucksack can be an art form perfected only through experience. It’s common to see the occasional rucksack that’s packed incorrectly – and five miles later, you’ll see someone struggling. Fortunately, we’ve put together a brief guide on how to correctly pack your rucksack in preparation for the 2017 Chicago Veterans Ruck March.
As you ruck, items packed tend to shift around if not packed correctly. If weight is not evenly distributed, you risk injury to your knees, back, and neck.
Note: This ruck sack is being packed with a typical “field packing” list for the military. Good substitutes and additions for civilian items can be – sleeping bags, towels, pillows, sneakers, water bottles, and weights. Just remember to stick to the core concept – keep the weight centered and close to the rucksack frame!
Step 1 – Layout your gear
This crucial first step allows you to visualize how you can begin packing your rucksack and give you a sense on how you can distribute the weight.
Step 2 – Prepare the gear to pack away
It’s important to think about how you can save space and minimize the size of items – this will prevent them from expanding or shifting within the rucksack. In our example, we have duct taped our extra pair of boots and compressed our socks and t-shirts.
Step 3 – Start packing from the ground up
Begin by placing lighter/bulkier items in first at the bottom. If you put heavier items here like boots or water, weight is poorly distributed and the weight will pull you back. In this example, we are using a sleep system (sleeping bags) and rain gear.
Step 4 – Start packing the bulky and heavy items
Important note: Remember, you want the bulk of your rucksack weight to be center mass to your frame and the body. This should be as close as possible to the middle of your back so the weight rests on your shoulders when you pick it up. In this picture, we are putting in our extra pair of boots and fighting load carrier. Continue placing lighter items in around the bulkier items – ensuring that weight remains evenly distributed.
Step 5 – Do a weight check
As you continue packing your rucksack, it is helpful to put it on after you pack items to ensure it feels right on your back. Pay special attention to if you can feel too much or too little weight on a side, or if weight is “pulling you back”.
Step 6 – Top it off
As you work near the top, ensure that your water source is packed in the rucksack laying down as flat as possible. This will keep the water from shifting around.
Step 7 – Double check
Make sure the weight is evenly distributed by walking with it – videotape yourself! If you loosely pack your rucksack, items will shift over the course of your march – potentially causing injury to your back, legs, and even neck. The rucksack should look box shaped, and all straps should be as tight as possible.