Is the GORUCK GR1 Worth It in 2019?

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Is the GORUCK GR1 Worth It in 2019?

Nowadays it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of EDC tactical backpacks that are available for purchase. But there was a time when your options were more limited, and when the very concept of everyday carry wasn’t well-known. Back then it took a few pioneers to break tactical bags out of the purely military silo and into the civilian eye. GORUCK was one of those pioneers, founded by a former American special forces operator who wanted to bring the quality of gear he expected during his service in his everyday life outside of it. Born out of necessity, the GORUCK GR1 paved the way for a new age of tactical bags and gained a cult following all its own. But is that decade-old bag still worth it in 2019’s competitive market saturated with new EDC bag brands?

Why Was the GORUCK GR1 So Popular?

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A decade ago, finding a good tactical bag was harder than it was now, and the GR1 in particular was built to an extremely exacting standard of quality, and it was made in the United States. In many ways it became the benchmark by which other tactical packs were judged. And part of why it was so popular was that it had a footprint that worked whether you were out in the field or in an urban environment. But at its heart it was still a tactical bag, made of super-durable 1000D Cordura nylon fabric that wouldn’t fall apart after a few uses like regular civilian book bags of that era. Plus, it was made to be comfortable when fully loaded, letting you take it along as you "rucked" around with your bag day in and day out.

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The GORUCK GR1 is still a well-made bag in 2019, but its main problem is the same as it was a decade ago: it’s bloody expensive. In fact it’s only gotten more expensive over the years, increasing in price at least 20 to 30 percent. If you want one right now, the retail price is $395, a tough pill to swallow for most. And while you definitely get serious quality for your purchase, there’s so much competition in the EDC tactical bag market in the present day that it’s hard to really say that the GR1 sets itself far enough in front of the pack to justify it.

Even as a "rucking" bag, there’s plenty of other options out there in 2019. And while GORUCK does sell specially-designed weight plates that fit seamlessly into their bags, you can take those weights or other ones of your choosing and place them into more modern bags to get basically the same experience at a fraction of the cost.

Buy ($395) 


Other Backpack Options to Consider

With a prohibitive price being one of the biggest shortcomings of the GR1, these alternatives all come with a lower price of admission. Many of these recommendations feature similar high denier nylon, made-in-USA construction, and comparable styling.

  • EVERGOODS Civic Panel Loader CPL 24: Perhaps the closest modern analogue to a GORUCK GR1 is the EVERGOODS Civic Panel Loader bag. In fact, the brand was started by one of GORUCK’s original co-founders who teamed up with a former Patagonia R&D engineer. The result is a bag that specializes in urban carry, but features fewer military-inspired cues and more outdoor functionality in its design DNA to make it one tough, versatile pack. For starters it packs a water-resistant punch, with 500D DWR-treated fabrics making up the exterior and special YKK zippers that can keep the pouring rain at bay. And where many people find the GORUCK GR1’s shoulder straps to be too stiff for their liking, the CPL 24 features special Zotefoam padding to make "rucking" around with your gear or training weights inside of this bag a much more pleasant experience overall. (Buy: $225)

  • Recycled Firefighter Battalion 12L/24L: The Recycled Firefighter Battalion 12 liter bag provides similar low-profile tactical backpack aesthetics that’ll fit you whatever the mission, in a smaller size for everyday carry (the Battalion also comes in a 22L version as a more direct comparison to the 21L GR1). It’s also built tough like the GR1, with 1000D Cordura nylon construction and reliable YKK zipper placement throughout. It’s also made in the United States. But what really sets this bag apart is the ease of access to your gear that it affords, because it features straps that let you swing it out in front of you on the go. The interior is also designed to be high-visibility, letting you quickly identify what you need without having to rummage around the pack too much. (View on Amazon)

  • Brown Buffalo Conceal Backpack V3: For a similarly bombproof, premium bag experience with exceptional fit and finish, a custom made bag might be the way to go. The Brown Buffalo Conceal V3 is discreet tactical backpack that’s made-to-order, using premium materials like 1000D Cordura and ballistic nylon, sewn in the USA in Costa Mesa, CA. Available in 19L and 26L varieties, these spacious bags come equipped with dedicated sections for tech like your laptop and phones, and your stationery. There’s even a concealed pocket for your more precious valuables like cash or your passport for international travel. While The Brown Buffalo’s craftsmanship is on another level, it doesn’t come cheap (though, it’s still $100 less expensive than a GR1 today) and because of the demand, it sells out every month. Check the site often for availability, and it’ll be worth the wait. (Buy: $295)

  • Topo Designs Daypack: The Topo Designs Daypack is an interesting mix of modern tactical durability and classic heritage designs with its combination of durable 1000 and 1050 denier Cordura nylon and gorgeous Horween leather construction. It lacks the telltale tactical MOLLE loops on the exterior like those on the GR1, but many EDCers can get by without needing modularity or even prefer fewer tactical design cues to keep discreet when traveling. And with a dedicated sleeve for up to a 15“ laptop in the bag itself, you can take your work with you in this bag no matter where you find yourself. It’s also made by hand in Colorado, USA. (Buy: $169)

  • 5.11 Tactical AMP10 20L: If you liked the mild tactical styling of GORUCK bags, consider 5.11’s recent AMP series as an affordable alternative. The AMP10 presents as a small day pack, but modularity lets you turn this bag into what you need. On the exterior you’ll find 5.11 Tactical’s innovative HEXGRID system, which offers more carry options for external attachments than the GR1’s standard PALS webbing. And the hook-and-loop lining inside of the bag allows for internal placement of pouches and bags within bags for weight distribution and organization purposes. There’s a full 20 liters of space inside of the bag, and if you carry a firearm there’s also a dedicated concealed carry pouch with hook and loop for a holster set up. (Buy: $170)

  • DSPTCH Daypack: With its heavy duty 1680D ballistic nylon exterior, the DSPTCH Daypack is theoretically even more durable than the GR1, and it can be had at a fraction of the cost. This made-in-USA low-profile pack looks the part for urban EDC, with a few utility-led design cues taken from tactical packs as well. The durability extends to how it takes care of the gear you place inside, with a suspended laptop compartment that can fit up to a 15“ device, and closed sell foam padding in the interior as well. And with substantial foam padding in the straps as well as ventilation for your back during carry, the DSPTCH Daypack is made with your comfort in mind too, especially for extended trips. (Buy: $198)

We know the GORUCK GR1 is beloved by many in the EDC community. Do you think it’s still worth it in 2019 given the price increases and boom in similar bags? Let us know in the comments below.

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Discussion (22 total)

Like I've already stated below all of the GoRuck products are top-of-the-line and have no equal in the industry. Sure there are other bags that feel the same niche that Goruck offers, but what Goruck offers is bulletproof construction with a no BS warranty and their product is designed to be tortured and combat carried (in fact it is and has been carried in combat).

As for the cost increase over the last decade. That's because things that are made in America are inherently more expensive. Especially when they're handmade. American Craftsman demand top dollar for their trade and when the economy is doing well prices go up when economy is not doing so well the prices go down. Also as the company grows it takes on more employees which means it now has to provide different services. That overhead is reflected in the price of the product.

Now as for you can take weights of your choosing or other weights and put them in any bag and perform the same task as you can with Goruck and they're specifically designed plates. NO YOU CANNOT. The reason that I say this is because if you look at the way the Goruck plates are designed. They go into a compartment within the Goruck bags. That compartment is secured with a purpose built-in strap designed to retain that load. If you were to take these weights or any other weights and put them in any back of your choosing you're going to have problems of load shift. What I mean by load shift is as you walk your natural gate you move from side to side forward to back. During this natural movement whatever is in the pack that is not purposefully secured will begin to move backwards and forwards and left to right with your natural movement. If you were to make a sudden change in direction as a left or a right or to turn around that momentum of the load shift can cause injury or the very least discomfort. Goruck solved this problem by designing their bags and providing a weight system of a variable weights that can go into their bags in these specifically designed compartments. I spent 20 years of my life in the United States Army walking around with my house on my back, carrying that giant tick (Ruck aka "backpack") all over this god-forsaken Earth. I can say with 100% certainty got to go rug bag with goruck weights in it has no equal. now I'm sure someone will chime in saying "well I can put weights in my bag and then pack things around it", okay so now you're carrying around unnecessary weight that is an unknown weight and now you have to weigh it somehow and deal with the bulk of it. With Goruck you already know what they way you already know what the weights weigh. You put them in the specifically designed compartment put the strap down over it and go, when you're done you pull the weights out
and you're done. You can go back to using it as a pack.

Now as for Goruck products for travel. Again I have no equal. I myself prefer the GR2 and the Rucker. When it comes to air travel I don't like to fly with checked baggage. It weighs you down and slows you down and is nothing more than an anchor. Everything that I travel with is carried in the GR2. IT is so organized because of all the zipper compartments and multi-level compartments. It in fact has a dedicated laptop compartment meaning I can travel anywhere with just one bag. That includes multiple changes of clothes, extra set of footwear, toiletries all my electronics and charging devices, camera and a book or two along with the other items that we all carry. I've traveled all over the United States including Alaska and Europe and I've had absolutely no issues or wants when it came to traveling with a GR2. For shorter trips consisting of one to two days the goruck Rucker feels the spot again with no issue it's much smaller than the GR2 but everything's the same he don't feel like you're dealing with a different bag because everything within the drug line has the same platform the size is just different.

As for the price yes they are incredibly expensive but you're only ever going to buy one and unless you go to combat or do stupid things on a regular basis you'll never have to replace it. That's the difference between Goruck packs and other bags. I've got 20 + packs and probably another 10 bags that I bought always looking for the perfect bag. Since I've purchased the GR2 and the Rucker I haven't purchased any other bags because. I found for a lack of better words the Holy Grail, two bags that do do it all.

as for those who want to purchase one with the price is the only thing holding them back goruck normally does it twice a year you'll have a sale where you can get 30% off on some of the bags and 20% off on the others.

GR2 $495
Rucker $195 - $265

For a decent said of luggage do you want to spend about the same.

Travelpro Inflight 2 Piece Spinner Luggage Set- $327

but when it comes to luggage it's a single-use item you're only going to use it when you travel and not in your day today. With the garage products you do use them everyday if you carry a bag or a pack. If you decide to go out on a hike for the weekend or even go camping you're not going to drag your luggage with you you're going to have to take a pack which is going to require you to buy luggage and a pack of some kind. Both travel and fun are handled by the gr2 or any good product for that matter without taking up space in your home the relatively the same money.
+1 to all the good words about GR1, but I wouldn’t say that the quality is without issues. Mine GR1, for example, always had multiple loose strings - something that I’ve never seen on other bags.
Have those strings caused any functional issues? Or are they just cosmetic?
I'd agree. Plus, there are plenty of bags that have the same, if not better quality.
I totally understand paying a ton of money for a pack, especially if you live in a city, go outdoors, and travel often. For me, I couldn't justify a GR1 and wasn't a fan of the styling either. These days, if I'm in that $400+ range I'd be looking at more exotic materials than Cordura (nothing against Cordura, it's great, but the material alone doesn't usually warrant $400+). These days I'm into Dyneema ($$$) for the waterproofness and ultralight weight, but also am fond of Arctery'x AC^2 bags (Granville, Nomin etc). Back in the day I opted for a 511 RUSH12 for that style of bag.

I guess we're spoiled with options though -- so many great bags in this post
Exactly what I was thinking. 5.11 and like brands offer the same stuff for much cheaper. You can even find Knock-off's using cordura and decent stitching for half the price of brands like 5.11. I personally think its a brand recognition thing. People buy one type, they stick with it because they had a good experience. GR can definitely be a well constructed pack, but that doesn't mean it's still worth the price tag on today's market.
Oh I get it. The Dyneema bags are stitched together with nylon thread and Dyneema has it's issues as well. If it rips or tears you're screwed and because it's do thin very few packs are 100% Dyneema. They are Dyneema woven into nylon and UV exposure is it's big Achilles heel. If ultralight is your bag of chips go for it. Like the 208 year old 1911 cordura is just as tough as the lastest wiz bang gadgets/fabrics out today but just seems to out last all the newest and greatest. To each their own.
As much as I like tactical bags and as much as I'd always wanted to check out the GR1, its steady cost increase over the years simply priced me out. I do like seeing the passion people have for GORUCK gear, though!
Here's what you have to consider though it's made in the United States with all the regulations in all the pay that American Craftsman demand that increase only matches the economy. when the economy is suffering prices come down when the economy is doing well prices go up. Any of the goruck products that they offer are all top-notch and they have no equal.
FWIW, 2/3 of the alternatives are also made in the US
I got my GR1 used and never regretted it. And it's not just its functional adaptability (daily bag or weekender or rucking) that impresses. It's ability to blend in no matter the setting is a key feature. Its bullet proof and subtle, a hard combo to find.
yeah, the GR1 did nail that blend of utilitarian, discreet, subtly tactical, subtly outdoors design DNA that lends to its versatility further
I'm sorry, but $400 for a backpack that is 99.99% used for regular city commuting is ridiculous. I have 3 Cannae packs that I rotate through for weekend trips, daily commuting and 3-day camps, and they're all awesome and 1/4 the price.
I really like the discussion going on right here and the fact that the everydaycarry.com guys are involved 👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽!

I have more bags than a lady actually, Rush12, MOAB 6, Fjällräven Kanken all black, Tasmanian Tiger TT essential packs (cute little 6L and 9L sleek tactical Molle backpacks in cordura which I HIGHLY recommend at just 50€). A pacsafe slinger and too many small gear pouches like these from Nitecore, Manhattan portage etc etc etc..

I've always been looking at the Goruck since I've seen it HERE first... The price point was holding me back. Plus I hate waiting and I'm impatient (quoting Jay-Z in big pimpin) when it comes to shipping from US to Germany + f* taxes....)
And I only earn regular or even at the lower end of IT....

Well, reading this discussion, I thought let's check out eBay and I found a new GR1 for 300€, asked the guy for a discount + a 10% voucher I just pulled the trigger and got it for 250€ (275$ ?!)

I don't mind spending (my last hard earned) bucks on QUALITY handmade products! Sometimes like I this case I even like to pay for a name or well not really but the definitely for the American Craftsmanship!!!

Compare it to a Louis Vuitton or a f* HÈRMES for 60k 🤣🤦🏽‍♂️🤦🏽‍♂️🤦🏽‍♂️🤦🏽‍♂️ (my friend works there in IT - earns nothing 🤣 - he could afford 2,5 BELTS from them with one month's salary 🤫)

When I pay a comparably high price for something, I plan it to last forever, this way it doesn't hurt too much! Like my Zippo solid Titanium which I EDC or two small Sebenzas.. I don't have kids yet but this stuff is gonna be passed down once!

I'll follow up on a new post of my actual EDC when the GR1 will have arrived.

Peace Out my dear EDC Enthusiast Friends 🖤🖤🖤

It's an excellent bag. But for that price, I think there are now more functional, far more comfortable, and with great features (expandable, organization, etc....) with the same lifetime guarantee. And, some are cheaper.
Love my GORUCK GR1 and GR2 bags!
I bought an SK26 and a GR2 back in the day, I didn't like the GR2 for my purpose, actually hated it. The SK26 is a slick no molle GR1. I love it, in fact, I love it so much that I bought a GR1 Shooter Ruck, a normal GR1 with all loop internal back panel. The GR1 Shooter is my work bag as a cop, the SK26 is my overnight bag or weekend bag. Then the GR3 came out and holy hell, the price was tough to swallow but it is my current goto travel bag for any longer trips. I also have a goruck shoulder bag, kit bag, and 3 pairs of pants, 1 pair of shorts. I don't drink the koolaid, I shoot that @#$ up like heroin.
Bought my Recycle Firefighter Battalion 12l about the same price as the Goruck Bullet, but with a rigid velcro panel and a large pouch.

Any regrets so far. Great quality, enjoyed more the front pocket of the battalion than the bullet.

Right now the 24l (equivalent of Goruck GR1) is $169. I dont see how the GR1 worth so much more just for the lifetime guarantee.
As an Eagle Scout who has done tons of survival training and spent most of my youth backpacking in the mountains... You don't need a $400 backpack to get quality. Just do some research. I have a 20L and a 40L pack, both MOLLE ready, easily organizable, each cost about $40, and both of them have stood up to tons of abuse. I disagree with the notion of buying a name.
Whole lotta nope. I'd never pay that much for something so simple. I've had a couple 5.11 packs since my days in the military, and I could care less if they look "tactical" now days. They are purpose designed and get the job done, and have done so for years. If I want a discreet pack, I'll look into much cheaper options. But now days, school kids wear things like 5.11, and so do hikers and people who frequently tour my neck of the woods, so it really just blends right in.
Definitely love my GR1. While the price is steep, it’s worth the investment. I’ve beat the hell out of my bag and it still looks brand new. Plus goruck is a solid company! Great article!