I picked up a military surplus MOLLE II backpack (rucksack?) that has three good sized compartments on it. I think the lower one is designed for bedrolls or whatever. Obviously, one can put anything anywhere, but I was wondering if there is a specific layout that the military uses for these backpacks, because, presumably, that would be the most efficient and effective, accessible, etc.
If you have time, would you please tell me what you carry in those backpacks and where it goes? I probably won't need all of what you guys use, but it would be helpful to have a "blueprint" for when I'm packing my stuff. It would also help to make sure that I dont overlook anything important.
First to get onto the same page. The term rucksack (which I shorten to ruck) is synonymous with backpack, at least in its larger hiking/ backpacking variety. Unit's often have standard operating procedures for all kinds of things including how to properly pack your ruck. [This brings us to two questions. First why do units have SOP's. We have them because we have some really stupid people and we are obsessive compulsive. Also we have them so we can at least in theory find essential pieces of equipment in another individuals stuff. Stuff like first aid kits, radios, etc needs to be able to be found by anyone. Secondly should your group/ family have SOP's. I would say that you should probably have some. It doesn't matter if everyone keeps their spare underoos or hygiene kits in a standard location. However essential stuff like first aid kits, maybe spare ammo for your common weapons (you do carry the same stuff, right?), the group emergency radio, etc is probably good for anyone of you to be able to find in another's stuff.] You don't necessarily carry the same kit or have the same needs as X battalion X regiment Infantry so I'm not going to tell you how they pack their rucks. However I will try to give some ideas to help you out.
I think about two main things when it comes to packing a ruck. First I look at any excessively heavy items I may have. A big radio, a huge cast iron frying pan you are carrying up to the cabin, a spare case of ammo, etc would all apply. This stuff has to go as close to your body and as high as possible. You want it basically centered over the upper part of your back so it carries as well as it possibly can. If it is to one side or the left it is really unpleasant to carry. Having this stuff toward the bottom or outside pulls the bag back and down which is hard.
Next I pack based upon what I will likely need access to. You don't want to have to dig all the way to the bottom of your bag for your water bottle or granola bars. For example your rain gear should be very accessible. The little pouches on the sides of your bag are a great place for rain gear as well as your flashlight, first aid kit, snacks and food you will eat through the day, etc. Your cooking stuff and dinner chow might go toward the top of the main pouch because after you get to camp the first thing you will do is making dinner. After that is your sleeping bag with bivy so you can get that set up. In the bottom might be your spare clothes because you don't plan to change anything except maybe new socks in the morning.
My packing usually goes like this:
Side pouches are filled with my rain coat and poncho as well as a bunch of snack foods and a small first aid kit. Weather depending I might have a bit of cold weather stuff like a silk weight top and a fleece cap in there also. In the main compartment the bottom is my extra clothes in a waterproof bag. Next I toss in the food I am carrying but do not plan to eat throughout the day. On top is my sleeping bag because in the Army I usually open the main compartment when it is time for me to go to bed so I want it on top. Depending on the conditions I might have my fleece jacket up top also. My foam sleeping pad is strapped on top. I stick my camelback under the flap for the main pouch to keep it off my back. If I was carrying ammo that wasn't in my chest rig/ LBE/ whatever you want to call it I would have it in the upper part of the main pouch because it is heavy. If I didn't have a chest rig/ LBE/ whatever you want to call it I would keep extra ammo in a side pouch so I could get to it fast. Considering I carry 7+ mags whatever bandoleers or extra loaded mags I had would be more for follow on missions in a situation where we planned multiple operations without resupply.
I hope this helps.