GORUCK Rucker Review

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Let’s review the Rucker backpack from GORUCK.

GORUCK Rucker 2 - fitness backpack
Here’s the GORUCK Rucker (2nd version). This is the best fitness backpack. Read on to find out why…

Rucking for fitness? Which of GORUCK’s backpack models do you need?

You’ve probably been considering the GORUCK GR1, or another of the GORUCK backpacks.

The Rucker is the ultimate backpack as fitness tool – and is a far better choice than the GR1 or Bullet for this purpose.

Why? That’s what we’ll explain in this review.

In this review of the Rucker we’ll take a close up look at Rucker Versus GR1.

GORUCK Rucker The Rucker is the best choice for a fitness backpack. With top and bottom handles, frame sheet, hip belt compatibility, and more - it's the right tool for the job. It's also cheaper than some of the other options because it skips the unnecessary frills like a laptop compartment and false bottom.
GORUCK Rucker 3 The newest version of the Rucker is now available. How has it improved? Less abrasive straps, improved frame sheet, reflective stripe, and a lumbar pad - our review ruck is on order - check back soon for full details - for now click through to see the details.
GORUCK Ruck Plates The best weight for your GORUCK backpack is the ruck plate. Yeah, they are expensive - but the take up the least amount of room so you can pack useful items and they are quite secure in the proper GORUCK rucksack.
GORUCK MACV-1 Rucking Boot Footwear for rucking? Wear any shoe that is supportive and comfortable. But, if you try the MACV-1 you'll be doing yourself a favor. It's a spot-on mix of support and cushion - great for the heaviest exercises in this program but also outstanding for miles and miles of weighted ruck marching.
GORUCK Sandbag & Ruck Training Program There's an amazing variety of tough workouts you can do with little more than a weighted backpack, a big bag of sand - and some fiendish creativity. Let Cadre DS show you the way in GORUCK's Sandbag & Ruck Training.
Spearhead Tactical Belt (Coyote / Coal) The Spearhead Tactical Belt is easy to adjust and doesn’t slip or stretch over extended time and use.

GORUCK Rucker Review on YouTube

Why read when you can watch?

Here’s a short overview of the Rucker, from our YouTube channel:

Plate Pocket – High Or Low

Much of the appeal of rucking for fitness is how it turns walking into a full body workout.

You throw some weight into the backpack, and now your upper back and traps are in the game.

Ideally the weight is high up in the ruck – and the Rucker has an elevated plate pocket so you can do this easily.

GORUCK Rucker with Elevated Plate Pocket
That’s a 30 Lb Rucker plate. It goes into the elevated plate pocket. High on your back is where you want the weight for the maximum fitness effect.
GORUCK Rucker 30 lb plate into pocket
Just slide it in…
GORUCK Rucker 2 - Flap
Then close the velcro flap.

(There’s also a lower plate pocket – you can use this to keep the weight lower, if desired, or to add extra weight.)

With two plate pockets – high and low – this is the most flexible ruck configuration for fitness.

GORUCK Rucker 2 with 30 lb plate inside.
You can also put this big ole 30 lb GR1 plate into the lower pocket. It’s the same weight, but taller and thinner.
GORUCK Rucker with plate in elastic pocket
With the GR1 plate in the lower pocket, the weight will be lower on your back and that’s less of a workout (but it’s still going to get your upper body into the game.)

(The GR1 and Bullet only have the lower elastic pocket option.)

Handles, Handles, Handles, and more Handles

The Rucker (the 25L version at least) has handles galore.

GORUCK Rucker Review - Top Handle
The top handle. It’s not quite wide enough for me to get a two hand grip (I can get a nine finger grip or so.)

There’s a handle on the top – and the bottom.

GORUCK Rucker Review - Bottom Handle
Handle on the bottom

This makes it easy to grip the ruck for the overhead press.

Don’t underestimate the importance of this.

It’s quite difficult to properly grip any of the other rucksack models that don’t have two handles.

Can you just grab the rucksack material? Yes, but then it feels like a very asymmetrical grip.

Consider also that if you are using Ruck Plates (and especially the form factor that used to be called “Expert Size”) you can’t necessarily grip the plate itself inside the ruck – they are short and don’t run the whole length of the ruck.

The handles are decently wide – but I still can’t get a full 10 finger grip on the top or bottom handle.

The handles are certainly wider than that of the Bullet and are about the same size as the GR1.

There’s also side handles – which make it great for a suitcase carry.

GORUCK Rucker - Side Handle
Side handles are convenient. Get the version with side handles.
GORUCK Rucker Review - Side Handle
On the 25L model, there’s also handles on the sides. Get the 25L version.

(Only the 25L version of the Rucker 2.0 has the side handles.)

When I first saw all the handles on the Rucker, I thought it looked cheesy.

But, function trumps form every time when it comes to fitness – the four handles on the Rucker is the right approach.

Hip Belt Compatibility

No hip belt?

I’ll make you a believer in 10 seconds flat.

GORUCK Rucker Review with Padded Hip Belt
Using a Rucker for PT? You MUST get the padded hip belt. It keeps the ruck in place when doing bear crawls, ruck push-ups, and more. It’s also handy for long distance rucking as it puts some load onto the hips and off your back.

Throw a Ruck Plate in and do some bear crawls (where your hands and feet are on the ground and you move on all fours).

The ruck is going to slide forward and conk you in the back of the head.

Sure, you can crane your neck and sort of slide the ruck back into place, but it’s a pain.

– because it’s gonna keep sliding forward, over and over.

GORUCK Rucker 2 - Hip Belt view 2
Another view of the padded hip belt. It’s the side MOLLE that makes this usable on the Rucker.

The hip belt prevents this – you can tighten it down and it helps ensure that the ruck stays in place on your back.

GORUCK Rucker Review Padded Hip Belt Weaving
The Padded Hip Belt (Left and Right) is weaved into the side MOLLE. It’s quite secure.

(The sternum strap or chest strap is highly recommended for the same reasons).

GORUCK Rucker Review - Sternum Strap
Get a chest strap / sternum strap too. This helps you vary the load as you march – and it helps keep the ruck secure to your body when doing PT.

Therefore you really need a ruck that has the side MOLLE and the length to make the hip belt a feasible option.

The Rucker checks both those boxes.

The bullet has no side MOLLE, nor is it long enough (at least for me).

The GR1 has side MOLLE and is long enough, so you certainly could get a hip belt for that.

Olfactory Experiences

The ruck is gonna be dirty and stink, at least much of the time.

If you use it the way it’s intended, it’s gonna be dirty, sweaty, or both.

1000D Cordura doesn’t breathe very well – and when you wear it for any amount of time, you end up with a bad case of sweaty back.

GORUCK Rucker Review - Stink
I can’t show you a picture of stink – but this is the normal amount of "sweaty back" you get with a 1000D Cordura rucksack. You ain’t gonna wash it everytime you use it…

This of course means the back panel on the rucksack is soaked as well.

You can wash it, de-odorize it, or (my favorite lazy man’s technique) dunk it in the pool to rectify the situation.

Then it has to dry-out, which can be an extended process.

And if you are like me, you aren’t necessarily going to wash it every time you use it.

(I use my Rucker 5 days a week, on average.)

Consider the GR1 – I use that for personal and business travel – because it has the excellent laptop compartment with a false bottom.

I can’t lug a backpack that stinks into a client’s office or onto a flight.

Hence I keep the GR1 pristine and use the Rucker for fitness.

(The other benefit is I’m not constantly unloading my GR1.)

Lastly, consider also that if you are doing pull throughs, ruck over the shoulder toss, and other exercises the ruck is going to get dirty or sandy as well.

Other Factors

Those are the major reasons that make the Rucker the best option for fitness backpack.

But, it has a lot of other lesser features that really help too.

There are two grommets at the base – to drain water quickly.

GORUCK Rucker Review
The Rucker has two large grommets on the bottom – to let water out in case of immersion.

(Side note, the 1000D Cordura makes these “rain resistant” but definitely not water proof – wrap your electronics in plastic if going the distance in wet conditions.)

Why would our backpack become filled with water? Some cadre at a GORUCK challenge event might route you through any convenient body of water…

The Rucker has nice, luxuriously padded shoulder straps.

GORUCK Rucker - Shoulder Straps
The shoulder straps on the Rucker are wide and padded. This helps distribute the load and your hands shouldn’t be getting numb or tingly. That said, these are 1000D Cordura – you’re gonna get strap burn even through a shirt – when rucking for a long time.

In comparison, the Bullet has thinner, less padded straps.

After 6 hours with 30 lbs in the Bullet- I get tingly hands – obviously it’s compressing a nerve.

GORUCK Rucker Review - Straps
The shoulder straps on the Rucker are thick and wide. This helps distribute the load, and make things more comfortable.

I don’t have that problem with the wider and thicker straps on the Rucker – it distributes the load over more surface area.

The Rucker also has something called a frame sheet too.

Like the GR1, it has a reinforcing panel made from a light, but somewhat stiff plastic on the interior of the back panel.

This is one of my few criticisms of the Rucker 2.0 – the frame sheet doesn’t work well when used with the high plate pocket in the rucker.

The new ruck plate form factor is what GORUCK used to call the “Expert” plate – it’s short.

So, when using the top pocket you get a curled over framesheet that isn’t really doing what it is supposed to.

On the other hand, if your ruck is fully packed with a lot of items, it works as desired.

(You can also opt to use the lower plate pocket to solve this issue.)

GORUCK Rucker Review - Patch Velcro
It’s got a place for a patch, of course.

GORUCK Rucker – How Did I Test?

How did I arrive at all these conclusions?

Extensive testing on the ruck march – and in GORUCK’s Sandbag and Ruck Training program.

I started out using a Bullet (after considering using my GR1).

I quickly learned that the Bullet wasn’t gonna cut it – and picked up the Rucker.

I also did a variety of short, medium, and long (18 mile) ruck marches in all sorts of conditions.

GORUCK Rucker 3.0

You can get an outrageous deal on the Rucker right now – they are selling the 2nd version (AKA Rucker 2.0) and at the end of October 2020 the new version will arrive.

What will the Rucker 3.0 bring?

There’s no official information yet – but rumors say it’ll have a softer, less abrasive material on the straps and back panel.

This will cut down on the possibility of the pack rubbing you raw around the shoulders and lower back.

(This is a very real problem because 1000D Cordura is quite stiff and abrasive.)

It’s gonna have handles (of course) but will probably add a built-in reflective stripe on the back – for safety at night.

Overall, we’re excited to see how GORUCK further improves the Rucker.

Check back here in October 2020 and we’ll have a full review as soon as we can.

Spearhead Tactical Belt

Tactical belts are used to hold your equipment like knives, firearms, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) equipment so they should be tough enough. Good thing GORUCK Spearhead Tactical Belt is and so much more. It has a minimalist look with extreme durability with a no-slip locking mechanism that keeps the belt in place all-day.

GORUCK Spearhead Tactical Belt Coal - Etched firearm
GORUCK Spearhead Tactical Belt Coal – Etched firearm

The Spearhead Tactical Belt is wider than the regular Spearhead belt providing additional stability and support. The strap is 1.75″ wide, weighs 84-132 grams depending on size, and has a strap break strength of over 2,000 lbs. It has a GORUCK logo carved into the buckle made from T6061 Aluminum.

GORUCK Spearhead Tactical Belt Coyote - Etched worn
GORUCK Spearhead Tactical Belt Coyote – Etched worn

GORUCK Rucker – Best Fitness Backpack In Summary

When it comes to fitness, the Rucker rules.

It’s cheaper compared to some of the other GORUCK packs, but more importantly it has features specifically for fitness workouts.

Handles, an elevated plate pocket, padded straps – and more.

Get the Rucker and you can’t go wrong.

Save the GR1 for your laptop and travel…

GORUCK Rucker 20L
This is the GORUCK Rucker – the "Gym on your Back". Specifically, this is the 20L size that doesn’t have side handles. Get the 25L if you can (which is what is shown in the other photos.)

Photo Credits

Some product photos on this page are property of GORUCK.

This website is not affiliated or associated with CrossFit, Inc. CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc.

GORUCK Rucker Review - Top Handle Grip
I can’t quite get a two hand grip on the top or bottom handle of the Rucker. Maybe the next version…

Affiliate Disclaimer

We are an affiliate of GORUCK. If you buy training programs or gear after clicking the links in this article, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps us to bring you in-depth information and content on these training tools.

GORUCK Bullet with Ruck Plate
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