Using Your Pack in Water


To Do Today:

  • PT – Cardio – Rest // Strength – Powerlift series (heavy/hatemax)
  • Waterproof your ruck/pack with a 1-day patrol load

Water Survival With a Pack

If packed properly, your pack will float and is your key piece of equipment for staying afloat and overcoming water obstacles. If contents are properly waterproofed, the pack can support you (with a combat load) in the water. Buoyed up by a waterproofed pack, you will eventually emerge from the water with all your equipment (e.g., boots, helmet, flak jacket, weapon, survival items) ready to rock.

Your pack floats based on a scientific principle known as Archimedes’ principle. This principle states that an object submerged in a liquid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the liquid displaced (pushed aside) by the object. If the weight of the displaced liquid is greater than the weight of the object, the object floats. If the weight of the displaced liquid is less than the weight of the object, the object sinks. For this reason, you should not try to hold yourself or your equipment any higher out of the water than they would naturally float; doing so wastes both energy and body heat.

Preparing Equipment

Before packing your pack, you must prepare your gear/equipment. Tape or pad all sharp edges and equipment corners. Ideally, your gear/equipment is placed in plastic bags and the plastic bag is then placed inside a waterproof bag. Waterproof bags are not completely water tight; henceforth, the added protection of first wrapping the gear/equipment in a plastic bag, then placing the plastic bag inside the waterproof bag. Large plastic bags (e.g., trash bags) work well for bulky equipment (e.g., sleeping bags, field jackets, shelter halves, gas masks). Small plastic bags work best for small items (e.g., shaving gear). If items like a gas mask or weapon must be carried outside the pack, cover it with a separate purpose-made waterproof bag.

Tying Waterproof/Plastic Bags

Try to remove the excess air from the waterproof/plastic bag before securing the bag’s opening. If filled with air, the bag can burst if pressed from the outside. Perform the following steps to tie a waterproof/plastic bag:


Packing the Pack

Place filled and tied bags inside the pack. Carefully handle sharp items (e.g., tent pegs, poles) to prevent puncturing the bag. Place items in the pack in order of expected use. Close the pack and its compartments. Attach sleeping mats or bags as high as possible on the outside of the pack.

Swimming With the Pack

A useful technique for propelling yourself forward while wearing a pack is the combat travel stroke. This technique allows you to float nearly horizontal and to propel yourself forward with bicycle-style kicks and breast stroke-style arm sweeps. To execute the combat travel stroke:

  • Body position. Keep the upper part of your body prone to the water, let your legs dangle horizontally, and keep your face up.


  • Arm action. Extend your hands out in front of your waist. Sweep your arms slightly downward and back 90 degrees to propel your body through the water. Move your hands back to the front of your waist. Repeat.
  • Leg action.  Continuously move your legs in a bicycle-like movement, bringing your knees up high and step out.
  • Breathing Keep your face out of the water during the stroke, and breathe freely.

An alternative is to remove your pack and swim with in front of you.

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