Your browser is out of date.

You are currently using Internet Explorer 7/8/9, which is not supported by our site. For the best experience, please use one of the latest browsers.

Latest News Military Packaging: Past and Future
The History of Military Packing

Military Packaging:
Past and Future

Bags and films approved by the military play a critical role in protecting products from moisture, corrosion, and environmental factors. The Department of Defense (DoD) ensures that military packaging is safe, cost-effective, and efficient.

The military has honed its preparation standards, shipping standards, and produced structured military expectations.  

military packaging

History of Military Packing 

In the early 1900s the most common shipping containers for military supplies were wood boxes, crates, kegs, and barrels. These containers were heavy-duty, sturdy designs, generally built by craftsmen. Some of these, if they were properly cared for, may still be around today. 

Beginning with World War II, the military had failed to recognize that the packaging they had been using would not meet their needs for overseas operations. Therefore, many shipped items would arrive wet (no waterproofing), damaged (busted crates or cardboard had failed), rusted (no vapor protection). Most all the items would be deemed critical during this time and the military would need to rethink their process which would also include not over-packing and a new system to ensure proper marking.  

There would be many changes over the years as all packaging guidelines would vary due to end-user needs, distance and time required to ship, and most importantly climate conditions. Some shipments could use lightweight/less durable packaging due to less shipping time required and contents, while anything going overseas would need more care. Shipping methods also made a big difference.  If shipping in containers, space is a big issue, so the package type/packing materials might need to be more durable due to no wasted space. 


Types of Military Packaging  

Military packaging consists of preserving and packing items with enough backings to withstand transport and stationary storage. However, there are four main categories of guidelines for different MIL-SPEC packaging standards that play substantial roles in the process. These standards cover different sizes, sensitivities, visual aids and policies: 

1.Marking Packages 

For shipment and storage, packages must have clear labels. This section of standards sets the bar for markings that can resist the elements and direct the items to the proper recipient. These specification standards are detailed in MIL-STD-130, MIL-STD-290, and MIL-STD-2073-1. 

 These stipulate the placement or size of bar codes, shelf life, warranties, warnings, and special instructions, among other things. Not every surface can retain legible markings and not every ink or paint can suit a container, so the DoD goes over acceptable ways to communicate the package details. 

 These standards even cover procedures for unconventional packages like bundles and unit loads, demonstrating multiple possibilities for ease of identification. 

 2. Palletized Loads

Transferring unit loads of material on pallets requires specific guidelines in binding the items and stabilizing them. The DoD regulations for palletized loads help organize and secure collective quantities, using MIL-STD-129 and MIL-STD-290. 

 Making the best use of available space, the formations of the loads should stick to an appropriate size, pattern, type, wrapping, and system. The pallet boards also meet rigorous requirements so the lumber and structure can bear the weight of the items. Strapping, supports, and separators must also adhere to specific criteria, and you can follow the palletized methods to avoid complications in your military business dealings. 

3. Protection of Electrical and Electronic Parts, Assemblies, and Equipment

The Electrostatic Discharge Control Program's instructions cover the handling of items that static electricity could impair. These reactive items can break from electrostatic discharges that human touch, processing devices, and some plastics can transfer. MIL-STD-2073-1, MIL-STD-2073-2 and MIL-PRF-81705E cover the packaging standards associated with electrostatic discharge. 

 Piezoelectric crystals, discrete semiconductors, and micro-circuits are all parts that the military often ships, but these parts need a unique kind of packaging. These standards lay out the precautions necessary for shipping them, and protective covering can block these goods from damage. 

4. General Packaging Practices  

Standard practices for military packaging encompass documentation and production. This is the primary section that informs contractors on the makeup, types, and styles of bags and barrier material for packaging. MIL-STD-2073, MIL-STD-129, MIL-STD-1686, MIL-STD-3010, and MS20003 are standards that detail these practices. 

These parameters can assist operational demands and minimize environmental impacts during shipping. From containers to quality assurance, the general packaging procedure expounds on the expectations of the military. 

standard practices for military packaging

Ideal Packaging Solutions 

When it comes to packing/packaging equipment, there are many variables that determine what should be used. If there is a chance the equipment could rust, you want to use vapor protection material. In some cases, you may even need to add a vent. For example, unprotected equipment metal parts shipped over the ocean would corrode as a result of contact with salt air or saltwater. Ground shipping may not be as susceptible to corrosion unless there was prolonged exposure to inclement weather.  

While there are many standards for equipment (size), there will be a need for custom covers.  Ground equipment/vehicles may be standard size, but this might not be the case for drones.  You could pack the drone in a shipping crate, but the wings would have to first be removed.  You would need custom covers for each wing. 


Reef Industries, Inc. manufactures a broad range of industrial plastic packaging and custom laminate packaging. These high-performance products are often an ideal choice for special, unique or difficult packaging requirements. Griffolyn® custom laminate packaging, engineered to protect equipment or machinery, can be designed for almost any circumstance. Additionally, stock cover materials are available for immediate delivery. Tubing, bags and other specialty items are also available, as are special performance features such as corrosion inhibition and anti-static properties.