I have to start out by saying this is the most quality piece of gear that I own – and if you know how much I love my Garmin Fenix 3HR, you know that means a lot. That statement sets the stage for how this post is going to go. Quality. The folks at GoRuck have put some serious thought and effort in to the design of their packs (btw they call it a Ruck so I may use different terminology here and there throughout this post) and they didn’t miss a single detail in the design and construction.
I want to point out something early on because if you don’t read the rest of this post, I want you to understand one thing. This Ruck is pricey. It’ll cost you north of $250 (they offer different styles and sizes). But I’ll tell you this is the last pack you’ll need to buy and it’s worth every penny. I personally put off buying this for months before I pulled the trigger and after I got it in the mail I kicked myself for not ordering it earlier. I say this to tell you do not let the price scare you. This is one purchase I guarantee you will not regret.
I have the 21L GR1, and that’s the Ruck that I’ll be talking about. But GORUCK does make a 26L GR1 which is obviously a bit larger. They make a GR2 (which is larger, has more pockets and more MOLLE), and a massive GR3 (which is even larger than the GR2). They also make a Rucker which is basically the GR1 but without the laptop compartment. Lastly they make a Bullet Ruck which is a more slim version of the Rucker.
Anyways, let’s dig in to the GR1…. When I got the GR1 and pulled it out of the box I was shocked at the quality of this pack. I immediately noticed the material, the zippers and the stitching in particular. It is made using a very thick, strong material (1000 denier CORDURA®) that feels like it could withstand being pulled behind a truck going down the highway.
The YKK zippers are super strong and bulky (in a good way – they don’t feel cheap whatsoever). The zipper pulls have a strong plastic sleeve wrapped around them to keep them quiet but more importantly allow for easier grip – especially if you’re wearing gloves. Opening the ruck doesn’t feel like your going to rip the zipper off like some cheap packs that I’ve got.
The Ruck is made in the greatest country on earth – The United States of America. It is strength tested with over 400 lbs so it’s built to hold some serious stuff. It will be your last Ruck you ever purchase (unless you want to buy a second because they’re so freakin’ awesome).
The GR1 comes with a compartment (which is the pocket closest to your back) specifically to hold a laptop. Within the laptop compartment (on the side that hits your back) is a Frame Sheet (which is removable if needed) that keeps the pack rigid and also protects the laptop. There is also a false bottom that prevents the laptop from hitting the ground if dropped.
For GORUCK Challenges, this laptop compartment can be used to store your weight plate (if you have one – and depending on what size it is). Also, another great feature that you’ll see all on this Ruck are the MOLLE attachments – basically webbing that is sewn in to the bag that allows you to strap things tightly to the bag. The MOLLE attachments are on the outside and inside of the GR1. This is another great place to strap a weight plate as you want the weight up high, and you definitely don’t want the weight to move (especially when you are doing reverse bear crawls up concrete stairs). Having the ability to strap the weight down is a great option – again depending on size of plate and personal preference.
There are two large internal pockets and one external pocket which are great for keeping smaller things organized and in their place. There is an exit port for your hydration system tube which is a must when doing a GORUCK Challenge. The straps are very padded so are super comfortable when wearing for long periods of time.
Something about the GR1 that I didn’t realize how nice would actually be till I had it was the fact that it opens up flat. I never realized really how much of a PITA it was to dig something out from the bottom of a pack. Since the GR1 lays and opens flat, you can easily get to that small thing that you neglected to put in a pocket so it fell to the bottom of the Ruck. Lastly, the GR1 is also rainproof. When Cadre tells you to go jump in a swamp and get wet head to toe, it’s not going to keep that nasty swamp water from getting inside, but it will prevent a short rain shower from soaking everything inside.
So I’ve rambled on and on about all the killer things the GR1 has. But there has to be some negatives right? Well… I’ve had it for a year now and there is only one thing I don’t like about it. It sometimes makes my back warm. Sounds weird right? So I’m a backpacker and have hiked many trails including all of the Appalachain Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. Backpacking packs have lots of breathable material along the area your back hits the pack. Some packs are even designed with tight thin mesh that stretches tight so your back hits this and not the pack at all which allows air to circulate between your back and the pack. Due to the durable construction and material that is used for the Ruck it doesn’t provide that breathable air pocket between your back and the Ruck. I completely get it though – this meshy breathable material is not durable. I’m sure this is something that has crossed GORUCK’s design team… do we make a more comfortable pack that is more breathable but sacrifice durability? I like their decision. This pack is designed to go through war and it certainly lives up to it’s expectation.
You will not find another pack as durable as this one with the extensive attention to detail. I carry this thing most everywhere I go. It’s my daily laptop bag, my Ruck for working out, my weekend bag when we go to the lake, my carry on when I fly somewhere, my Spartan race clothes bag, etc., etc., etc.. Just last year I took it to the Tetons and couldn’t resist getting a pic of the GR1 in front of the peaks. No matter what Ruck you get, you’ll find this superior quality and attention to detail. Go buy one and let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Feel free to post pictures and tag us on Instagram @jacd.us. Happy Rucking!