Don’t like reading? Watch this video! (Note that 6L water is a requirement for some events during hot weather; check with your event leads)
GORUCK bags are fantastic. You may look and think they’re a bit spendy. You get what you pay for; they are made in the USA, by a veteran-owned company, and if you shred your ruck, send it in and they’ll repair or replace it. That’s pretty sweet, and it means they hold value well if you ever want to unload it (or buy the next version in that irresistible color.) GORUCK runs sales on major holidays, and sometimes does Christmas in July. Ask your local rucker, they’ve probably got a 10% (or 15%) off coupon code. Vets, first responders, and teachers all get discounts.
GORUCK makes the Rucker, a bag designed for events and training. It’s got an inner sleeve for a ruck plate, hydration bladder loop built-in, and is sized right for what it does. I love mine, and have used both the 20L version which should be enough space, and the 25L version which allows you to pack a little bit extra, even if you shouldn’t.
They also make the GR1, in two sizes: 21L for PAX < 6′ tall, 26L for those taller. The GR1 is the baddest laptop bag in the business. If you want a bag you can use for every-day laptop carry and the occasional event, it’s hard to go wrong. I don’t use my GR1 for training or events, as I prefer keeping it clean and not having to empty out all my work stuff every time I want to ruck. Which is often.
All of that said, you can do an event with anything that’ll survive for 12+ hours. I’m a fan of the 5.11 Rush24 and Rush12. I did my first event with a Rush24, which was a bit big. The Rush12 is probably the right size for training and a Tough. This bag on Amazon gets a thumbs-up from Mettle Forger, who knew his stuff better than anyone. At $40-60 it’s worth a shot. Amazon is awash in cheap (and inexpensive?) ruck options these days.
I have to give a shout to Condor packs, as some of the Churham PAX are big fans. $60 for a ruck that some tough dudes give a thumbs-up to? Why not!
No matter what bag you get, you’ll want a waist strap. Bear crawls with 30 pounds of weight hitting you in the back of the head are no fun. Padded, not padded, GORUCK, Condor, no-name Amazon.. figure out what works for you.
Ruck plates are sexy. They keep the weight close to your back and can allow you to move it up higher. A no-frills 30-pound hunk of steel will cost about $45 when ordered ~6 at a time if you can find a fabricator (see below). The GORUCK plates are great with the dual handles and make good coupons in general. SHplates are works of art. The Titan Fitness plates are popular now too if they fit in your ruck – hard to beat a $45 price point shipped. See this comprehensive article at ADR for a comparison on how they all fit in a Rucker v1 or v2.
I’ve had a metal shop make no-frills plates for me. Find a local branch of Metal Supermarkets or similar, get at least 5 of you together and ask for:
- Hot rolled bar stock, 8″ x 0.750″, cut to length 11.75 – this is 20 pounds
- Hot rolled bar stock, 8″ x 0.375″, cut to length 11.75 – this is 10 pounds.
It helps to get a metal grinder and take the rough edges off. Then you can wrap these two together to get 30#, or keep an extra 20 in and use it to overtrain.
You can also get some barbell plates at Play It Again or Academy and rig something up in a pinch. I saw a guy show up at an event and use boxes of 9×19 as weight. Maybe not the best plan, but illustrates that you can get creative.
I used to talk about bricks, but that’s now so old-school as to be forgotten history. Stick with plates.
“What shoes should I wear” is a common enough question that it points out the obvious — whatever works for you. Running shoes are fine. You may want something like a Hoka or Hurricane or Kayano with plenty of cushion. I wanted something with more ankle support for events, so I’m in a Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid [update: I was.. now I’m in a similar Vasque boot that doesn’t make my little toe numb]. Get something that drains well. GORE-TEX is great for everything except being submerged. Which you will be. Don’t go for waterproof; go for fast draining. The GORUCK MACV-1s are popular.
Cotton = bad. Wool = good. Smartwool, Darn Tough, Injinji, DryMax are all commonly cited. Compression socks or calf sleeves might not be a bad idea. I like wool Injinji’s or DryMax and then calf sleeves.
If you start rucking enough, you’ll want to read Fixing Your Feet, or check out Jonathan Savage’s pages on taping and blister prevention. Callouses are not good things! They are early signs of problems. Blisters are late signs. Try to fix the underlying shoe/sock fit issues and avoid getting a blister in the first place.
Don’t overthink it. I like long pants for the Tough. Mine are Tru-Spec, I’ve also used Vertx. They are tough and dry pretty well. You don’t need to spend $120 on the Triple Aught or the GORUCK Challenge pants, but you could. As with socks, synthetics or merino are a better idea than cotton everywhere.
Layers are good otherwise. It could end up being much colder than you think. Especially if you’re wet. A windbreaker is required if the overnight temp will be under 60F.
I like to keep an extra shirt of each type (long/short sleeve) in my dry bag, unless one or the other is clearly superfluous.
Dry bag. Get one. The ones with the one-way air expulsion are nice. Put your extra clothes, windbreaker, keys in it. Ziplocs work too but I find this more convenient (or in addition to).
Get some reflective bands. Required. A hydration bladder too. The Source ones are great; you can pay more for the FDE version GORUCK and others sell or get this one on Amazon. I see plenty of Camelbaks too. Get something you KNOW will last. If your bladder bursts mid-event, you’re going to have a bad (and unsafe) time. Enough that a 1L Nalgene has been added to the packing list.
Fact: you can’t finish a ruck event without a carabiner on your ruck. Well.. maybe you can. But what’s the harm?
Having 12′ of tubular nylon webbing in your ruck may come in handy. Never know what you’re going to want to rig up. I’ve used a runner or length of webbing in every event I’ve participated in.
Check out some other gear lists and resources: