How To Pack For A Military Deployment

I spent a little bit of time today, getting my uniforms together, and building my "72 hour" bag for my upcoming deployment.

I'll most likely finish packing the night before I leave ... that's just how I roll. But at least I was able to start getting things ready while I was home today. And even better, my 3 year old daughter Jaiden spent about 25 minutes helping me .. and that's not even "help" in quotations ... she actually did help me.

One of the 1st lessons I learned about Army support 6 or 7 years ago, is that when you go to the field, you should pack your clothes in gallon sized ziplock bags before putting it into your rucksack. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way, back in 2007, that this rule also applies when preparing for a regular deployment to a fixed base. When I went to Iraq the first time, for some reason I just stuffed all my clothes into my rucksack, and big "body bag". When we got to Al Udeid, Qatar, I took my little backpack with a couple of sets of PT gear with me through customs, so I'd have something to wear while we waited for our flight to Iraq. The rest of our bags were loaded into big bins near the flight line ... uncovered bins ... and of course it rained for two of the three days we were there. You can probably guess the rest of this story. When it was time to leave, I dug through my bag for an ACU uniform, only to discover that they were all wet. So, I wore a wet uniform on the plane. Then had to turn in pretty much all of my clothes to the laundry the 1st day I was in Iraq ... fortunately, there was a very quick turn around. But still, that flight was no fun.

This time, I'm applying some of the lessons I learned back then.

Jaiden and I sat down with a box of ziplock storage bags, and a couple of piles of clothes. She would grab a bag, open it up, and we would both repeat:

  1. First a T-Shirt

  2. Then some Underwear

  3. And finally, don't forget the Socks!

We made 7 bags.

Then we did the same thing with PT gear:

  1. One Shirt

  2. One Shorts

  3. One pair of Socks

7 more baggies:

I also got some of those bigger 4-gallon bags, in which I was able to get 3 uniforms, and most of my long underwear.

My 72 hour backpack has 2 sock/t-shirt/underwear bags, 2 Pt gear bags, one bagged PT sweatshirt, one bagged PT sweatpants, and a pair of tennis shoes tied to the outside. There's still plenty of room in the pockets for my phone, netbook, and Kindle. I'll be wearing one uniform, and will put my gortex jacket, and shaving kit at the top of my rucksack, so I can easily take it out when I get to Manas.

The rest of my uniforms, extra boots, jackets, etc., will all be in either ziplock or other waterproof bags, in my rucksack, waiting to be unpacked, nice and dry, when I arrive in Afghanistan. And I think I've actually packed efficiently enough this time, that the only thing I'll need to put in my other big rolling "body bag", is my flack vest, helmet, and gas mask. Heck, I'm almost tempted to just pick those up at Manas, and go with just the ruck sack ... but I'm sure I'll be able to find a few other useful things to stuff in there.

I'm looking forward to a relatively easy trip.

And if you've got any military "vacations" in your future, I hope you found this helpful ... don't forget the ziplocks!


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