Choosing the Right Backpack for Rucking: An Ultimate Fit & Size Guide

What is rucking?

Engage in rucking and you’re looking at a high-intensity exercise. Born out of military practice, rucking is the action of walking or hiking with a loaded backpack. Note that the term “rucking” hails straight from the military term “ruck march”. This technique is a regular training method among army forces worldwide.

Indeed, rucking successfully combines cardio and strength training. But to be clear: we’re not talking about simply strolling around with a bag on your back. When doing it right, you will be carrying a backpack loaded with extra weight. Now, that’s where a solid, reliable rucking backpack comes into the picture. Hauling around an overloaded school bag just won’t cut it.

Why the focus on rucking backpacks, you may wonder? Let’s break it down: Proper weight distribution. Unlike regular backpacks, those designed for rucking can handle heavy loads while still being comfortable. Remember, when rucking, you’re likely to be carrying an added 10% of your body weight – at a minimum. Imagine the stress on your body and your bag alike!

Another point worth noting is that rucking also boosts your calorie burn. Did you know that rucking can burn up to twice the number of calories as regular walking? Now that’s some serious fitness power! What’s more, no gym membership or pricey equipment is required. All you need is your body, a backpack, and some dedication to get going.

So, as you take on the challenge of rucking, consider the backpack you’ll be strapping on. Evaluating for performance and comfort will be key. Not every bag is built for the burdens of rucking. In the following sections, we’ll delve into the distinctive features marking an ideal rucking backpack, and shed light on a few popular brands meriting your attention. Lastly, we’ll guide you in fitting your rucking backpack to your body and your unique rucking aspirations. Stay tuned to get the most out of your ruck march endeavors.

Why is a specialized backpack important for rucking?

When you start your rucking journey, the choice of backpack is more critical than you might initially believe.

You could be thinking, “It’s just a bag filled with weight, right?” That’s where you’re not entirely correct. A regular backpack might seem to work, but the optimal rucking experience requires something meticulously crafted for this high-intensity task. It isn’t just about weight bearing. A quality rucking backpack aligns with your body, contributing to your comfort and enhanced performance.

Let’s delve into the reasons.

One primary factor is the distribution of weight. In a regular backpack, the weight tends to drop down, leading to unwanted stress on your lower back. In contrast, specially designed rucking backpacks have a unique load carriage system that encourages equal weight distribution across your shoulder blades and torso.

Secondly, durability can’t be compromised. The best rucking backpacks are robust, designed to withstand the rigors that this exercise demands. Regular backpacks might give up mid-ruck, but a rucking backpack stands strong under heavy load and prolonged usage.

Part of durability is weather resistance. You’ll be outdoors, exposed to varying weather conditions. Rucksacks built for the job are typically water and wind-resistant, ensuring your load stays dry and safe.

The fit matters too. Rucking backpacks come in different sizes, with adjustable straps. Hence, you can always get a snug fit that won’t bounce around during your exercise.

Finally, remember, part of the rucking experience is about the freedom to move. With a traditional backpack, your shoulders, spine, and arms might feel restricted. Rucking backpacks, on one hand, provide better mobility, allowing you to maximize your workout efficiency.

In this light, it’s fair to say that the right rucking backpack isn’t merely beneficial – it’s essentially a part of the exercise itself. And as you delve deeper into exploring popular brands and their offerings, you’ll get a clearer picture of why a specialized backpack holds paramount importance. So, stick around as we discuss these essentials next.

Features to consider in a rucking backpack

In your quest for the perfect rucking backpack, it’s crucial to know what features to look for. You’re not just choosing a bag, you’re selecting a partner for your intense exercises. It needs to be as tough and resistant as you are.

Durability is one of the foremost aspects to consider. You’ll be loading this backpack with some serious weight and subjecting it to rugged conditions. Hence, it should be constructed from high-quality, tear-resistant material.

Next up is weight distribution. A good rucking backpack evenly distributes the load across your back, reducing strain on your shoulders and improving your efficiency. Remember, poor weight distribution can result in pain and muscle injury.

Water resistance is another crucial attribute. Ever embarked on a rucking journey in unpredictable weather? Your backpack needs to protect whatever you’re carrying from getting soaked. And, if it’s rain or shine, your gear should remain dry and safe.

Let’s talk about size and fit. It’s not just about how much weight the backpack can carry but how well it accommodates your body. Look for adjustable straps and a snug fit. A backpack that bobs around on your back not only disrupts your workout but can also result in discomfort and injuries.

Also, consider the compartment design of the backpack. A well-designed backpack offers separate compartments for carrying various essentials. You might want a spot for your water bottle, separate from the compartment carrying your weighted items.

You need to remember, a great rucking backpack is not just about appearance. It’s essential you scrutinize these mentioned features and choose carefully. It should be tough, ergonomic, and designed specifically for rucking. The backpack you choose becomes an extension of you during this rigorous exercise. So it’s well worth taking the time to choose wisely.

Top brands for rucking backpacks

It’s important to note there are a handful of brands that dominate the rucking backpack market. These names routinely pop up in user reviews and fitness blogs due to their superior quality, user-friendly design, and practical features. Let’s dive in.

GORUCK. A brand literally built around rucking, GORUCK sets the standard for tough, versatile rucking bags. Their training and event experience give their products the edge in terms of durability, ergonomics, and practicality. Check out their GR1 for its blend of spacious interior, laptop compartment, and all-important back support.

5.11 Tactical. Originally a clothing brand catering to law enforcement, the 5.11 Tactical extended their range into backpacks, and the rucking community loves it. Their Rush 12 model built a strong reputation for its 24-litre capacity, sturdy 1050-denier nylon construction, and 16 individual compartments.

CamelBak. A brand synonymous with hydration solutions, CamelBak has cornered a niche for those long, dehydrating rucks. With the Motherlode model, you’ll get a generous hydration bladder and integrated drink tube along with its rugged design and ample compartments.

Here’s a simplified comparison table:

BrandNotable ModelKey Features
GORUCKGR1Durable, ergonomic, laptop compartment
5.11 TacticalRush 1224-litre capacity, 1050-denier nylon, 16 compartments
CamelBakMotherlodeIntegrated hydration system, rugged design, ample compartments

How to find the right fit for your body and rucking goals

Selecting a backpack that’s tailored to both your body and rucking goals is immensely important. Improper fit can cause discomfort, possibly leading to injuries, while the wrong capacity or design could hinder your progress towards achieving your rucking objectives.

Getting your backpack’s fit right starts with considering the length of your torso, not your height. Many rucking enthusiasts mistake height for the determining factor in backpack size — that’s not the case. Brands like GORUCK, 5.11 Tactical, and CamelBak offer packs designed for different torso lengths —you must find the measurement that fits you best.

To measure your torso length:

  • Start at the C7 vertebra, the bony bump at the base of your neck when you tilt your head forward.
  • The ending point is at your hip crest, found by placing your hands on your hips to form a ‘V’ shape.
    Your torso length is the straight line in between these two points.

Once you’ve gotten your torso length, look for backpacks that match your measurement. Also, make sure that the shoulder straps and hip belts are adjustable according to your body shape. A snug fit is crucial to evenly distribute weight, avoiding pressure points that can cause discomfort or pain.

Then comes the part about aligning with your rucking goals. Here’s a simplified guide.

Goals (Hours/Week of Rucking)Recommended Backpack Capacity
Light (1-5)20-30L
Moderate (5-10)30-40L
Intense (10+)40-50L

If you’re rucking lightly (around 1-5 hours a week), a pack with a 20-30L capacity works fine. For moderate ruckers (about 5-10 hours a week), 30-40L backpacks are more suitable. Intense ruckers (10+ hours) will best benefit from 40-50L packs.

Identifying the right compartment design is key as well. Look for packs with laptop compartments if you plan on having your tech gear with you, or those with dedicated hydration reservoirs if hydration is a priority for you.


Choosing the right backpack for rucking isn’t just about style or brand. It’s about finding the perfect fit for your body and your rucking goals. Remember, your torso length is key in determining the right size. Don’t forget to check for adjustable straps and hip belts for a secure fit. The backpack’s capacity should align with your rucking intensity, be it light, moderate, or intense. Lastly, consider the backpack’s compartment design. Whether you need a laptop compartment or a dedicated hydration reservoir, it’s all about what works best for you. So, keep these points in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the ideal backpack for your rucking adventures. Happy rucking!

What determines the right backpack size for rucking?

The right size for a backpack is primarily determined by your torso length, not your height. It’s crucial to find a backpack that matches your torso measurement to ensure a comfortable and efficient rucking experience.

How do I measure my torso length?

Measure your torso length from the most noticeable vertebra at the base of your neck when you tilt your head forward, to the point in your lower back which is horizontally level with the top of your hip bones.

Why are adjustable shoulder straps and hip belts important?

Adjustable shoulder straps and hip belts are significant because they help in securing the backpack snugly to your body. This ensures a better distribution of the weight and increases comfort during rucking.

How do I determine an appropriate backpack capacity for my rucking goals?

The ideal backpack capacity depends on the intensity of your rucking goals. Light ruckers may opt for smaller capacities, while moderate and intense ruckers may need larger backpacks. Always consider your specific need when selecting a backpack capacity.

Why should I consider the backpack compartment design?

The compartment design of a backpack can meet individual needs such as carrying a laptop or a hydration reservoir. They can provide organizational benefits and enhance the overall rucking experience.


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