Let’s review the Rucker backpack from GORUCK.
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 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.
(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.
(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.
There’s a handle on the top – and 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.
(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.
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.
The hip belt prevents this – you can tighten it down and it helps ensure that the ruck stays in place on your back.
(The sternum strap or chest strap is highly recommended for the same reasons).
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.
The ruck is gonna be dirty and stink, at least much of the time.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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 – 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.
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 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…
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.
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.
Tim is the founder of FitAtMidlife.com – an avid gym rat for 30+ years, he’s a reviewer of many, many shoes – and founder of the Speed Bag Gathering – the world’s only gathering of speed bag punching enthusiasts. See more gym reviews at Tim’s YouTube channel.