This is a little fieldcraft trick that the Marine Corps taught me. When you go to the field for several days at a time, it is rarely necessary to pack a full change of clothes. You really only need to change out the base layers of clothing that are in direct contact with your skin in areas where you sweat a lot; namely your socks, underwear, and t-shirt.
In this article I will show you how to pack these items into a single “skivvy roll” that helps keep your pack organized in the field. You will find this quite useful during the Jäger Course.
First, gather the components; one t-shirt, one set of underwear (I use silkies, they’re great for preventing chafing), and one pair of socks. Lay out the T-shirt flat with the sleeves extended.
Next fold the t-shirt in thirds vertically, pulling first one sleeve to the opposite side, then the other.
Now lay out your underwear and fold it in half vertically. Place it on top of the t-shirt as shown below.
Next lay your socks across the top of the folded shirt as shown below. Make sure that the openings are facing outboard.
Now start rolling the whole thing up from the bottom. When you get to the top you should have the open ends of the socks sticking out.
Finally, take one of the open ends of the socks and turn it inside-out on itself, covering the roll as shown. Then do the same with the other sock. The end result is a torpedo-shaped roll.
There you have it. The advantage of skivvy rolls is that they keep your pack organized, and you can quickly assess how many changes of undergarments you have remaining. It also helps when you get changed in the dark; rather than poking around your bag with a flashlight looking for each item, you can simply reach in and grab one roll, getting changed without needing to use any artificial light.
The only question remaining is how many skivvy rolls should you pack? That answer depends on how comfortable you want to be. If you really wanted to, you could change undergarments every day for maximum comfort (and if you have poor quality undergarments, this may be necessary to prevent chafing). However, I recommend planning to change once every 2-3 days. This drastically reduces the amount of clothes you need to pack, which translates to less weight you need to carry. And let me tell you, changing just these three items after three days of patrolling makes you feel like a new man.
I take this a step further and only bring one skivvy roll plus one extra pair of socks, regardless of if I’m out for 3 days or 2 weeks. I do this by sanitizing the set that I’m not wearing. When the set that I’m wearing gets nasty, I switch out and repeat the cycle, cleaning the other set. This can keep me going for quite a while with minimal weight. The goal is not to make me smell nice, but rather to keep me clean enough that I don’t chafe, rash, or blister due to prolonged exposure to moist clothes. The extra pair of socks is in case my socks get wet because I needed to ford a river or hike in the rain.
Remember to waterproof your skivvy rolls, along with everything else in your pack. I’ll be writing an article on field sanitation in the near future. Use this little trick to help you prepare for the upcoming Jäger Course in May.