You need a GORUCK pack to ruck, right? No, however, your rucking experience will be made or broken by the bag you use. So, this is the most important piece of equipment you may own. The following are the essentials for your bag:
If your bag can do that, then you are good to go.
A word regarding the weight in your bag: if you bend down to tie a shoe, an unfastened weight could smack against the back of your skull. So you need it to stay close to your back, as high as possible and secured in a way it stays put. Nevertheless, the weight of most laptop compartments will slap against your back over many kilometers, irritating you. Protect your belongings.
When you add it all up, you can see why people choose GORUCK backpacks for ruck sacking, such as the GR1 or the Rucker. The bag is cozy and the weight is securely fastened. My recommendation is to purchase a Rucker if you have the money to set aside a bag only for your workouts or a GR1 if you want something much more adaptable. (See also GR1 v. Rucker.)
Look for something with lash points inside the bag if you detest GORUCK bags. MOLLE being preferred, and Mystery Ranch being the only other brand I recommend for comfort.
I’ll also discuss the plate pouch from Shaddox Tactical in this section to help with weight safety within backpacks. These are padded pouches that hold a weight plate and secure to MOLLE or other anchor points in your bag.
Generally speaking, you can use any weight that fits safely inside your bag. Bricks, kettlebells, and sandbags are all effective. Ruck Plates, made by GORUCK and a few other less expensive brands, are the industry standard. Spend the money on the ruck plates if you have a Rucker so that they fit correctly in the bag. This is a summary of the available weights:
Indeed, ruck plates are the greatest choice. The ones made by GORUCK are easily accessible and excellent. Non-GORUCK options are good, and way cheaper, but still need to be finished as smoothly/well. (Other options: Titan Fitness, Yes4All — be sure they will fit your bag, the sizes are different.)
Bricks: before GORUCK sold/made plates, they advised this. The benefit here is that these are cheap and readily available. But you need to do some work to make them a good option. Mainly you need to duct tape them together and cover them in duct tape so they don’t destroy your bag. (See more: wrapping bricks, securing bricks.)
Sand: I guess, but only if it is in another bag. Just filling your bag with sand is a bad idea. But if sandbags are something you work out with already, they can be used. But securing them is really the difficult part.
Water/Beer: get a bunch of water bottles, or cans of beer and fill your bag. Always acceptable, but careful not to spring a leak. The beer option is GORUCK approved, historically speaking.
Kettle Bells: a lot of people have these. They could be better. They are large, and hard to secure. I think beer cans is a better option.
The deal with weight is that it is ideally carried between your shoulder blades, nice and tight to the back. That’s easiest done with a Ruck Plate and a Rucker. You’ll spend more time with any other bag, or weight option, trying to achieve that same fit. You’ll be far more comfortable if you can get the weight in that spot.
Ah yeah, the main way to spend money on Rucking once you drop bank on a GORUCK bag and Plate is to keep buying clothing! This is Under Armour’s entire business model after all. I’ll break this out by category.
Footwear: GORUCK boots are amazing (see my MACV-1 review) and they are my preferred/primary shoes for Rucking. They look like boots, wear like sneakers. Supportive and comfortable. For non-boot shoes, the GORUCK I/Os beat all fitness/trail running shoes I have tried. All GORUCK shoe options are ugly, but they work because they were designed for this. I cannot recommend any other shoes right now.
Socks: Darn Tough socks are what you want for your feet. The Micro Hiker Light is the line to look at for boots, for shoes the Hiker No Show Light Cushion is amazing. Get some, and take care of your feet.
Bottoms: This is all weather dependent and rucking location dependent. I wear shorts mostly here in Houston, but I almost exclusively wore pants in Washington. If I am Rucking somewhere with poorly managed trails, pants it shall be. Of all the items I have tried, GORUCK’s gear gets top nods from me. The Training shorts and Simple Shorts are both great, while the Simple Pants are an item you should own anyways but are excellent for rucking. Outside of that, I wear the Western Rise Movement shorts a ton and they work out great.
Tops: I typically wear a long-sleeved t-shirt in the cooler days here or a t-shirt the rest of the year when it is sweltering. For t-shirts, I have found the Western Rise Session and the GORUCK Training shirts to be my favorites — no preference between them. For long-sleeved shirts, the Under Armour Tactical UA Tech Gear has been great for me with subtle colors and a light wear. During cold Rucks in Washington, I would often toss on a half-zip of some sort (GORUCKs are great, as are Beyond Clothing). And sometimes an even warmer layer like the Outdoor Research Ascendant or Grid Fleece — but really any active insulation layer (like a soft shell or fleece) will do to warm you up. I will also toss a Simple Windbreaker to help with warmth, as I always keep that in my ruck.
Sunglasses: if you are Rucking on the street and not in the woods, you should pack some sunglasses. The glare off the roads can be killer. I prefer polarized. Go with what you got.
Headwear: I’ve went through an absurd amount of headwear testing for Rucking. I almost always wear a hat, usually because I Ruck well before I have done my hair and vanity is a thing.