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Hands-on With the GORUCK Rucker 3.0

Mikey Bautista
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Hands-on With the GORUCK Rucker 3.0

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It’s been a long, almost two years of isolation and sedentary existence. Like most people I’ve learned to cope with the monotony with curated retail therapy—a bit (un)fortunate that I’m right in the middle of everything EDC. But inspiration and change can strike from anywhere, and in my case it was a simple question in one of the EDC bag groups on Facebook: “what’s the big deal with rucking?” GORUCK themselves have an official and detailed answer for what rucking is, but simply put, it’s walking with a weighted rucksack/backpack, a function most of their bags are uniquely designed to do.

But like with tools it’s always best to use the right one for the job, so it is with GORUCK’s bags. Specifically, their latest Rucker 3.0 released towards the end of 2020 is a culmination of purpose for rucking, or as it’s advertised, having a gym on your back. That last bit was particularly appealing, especially with nearly every gym in my city closed for the better part of two years. That Facebook thread filled up with anecdotes of people who hated running or cardio in general knocking off consecutive days of multi-mile rucking. The thought of being able to do regular, versatile cardio started to sound increasingly appealing; and as an added bonus, it was also the perfect excuse to add another bag to the collection.

The core of rucking is simply a weighted backpack, which means almost any bag that can hold some sort of weight like books or canned goods (or even sacks of rice in my case, see below) should do, but the Rucker 3.0 is purpose-built for the job. It’s immediately evident on the outside, with handles on each side of its 1000D exterior and box stitched at every stress point that allowed me to use the bag as a weight for a number of resistance exercises. New to the 3.0 is a reflective stripe in line with the front slash pocket that gives you more visibility when rucking at night, which I bolstered even more with CountyComm’s glow marker patch.

GORUCK’s signature clamshell opening for its main compartment leads into the next unique Rucker feature: a suspended plate pocket able to hold up to a 30lb Ruck Plate, along with an elastic pocket for accessories like a hydration bladder or other gear you need to segregate in the main compartment. On the interior of the front flap are GORUCK’s usual two sizes of mesh pockets for further organization. Along the top is a Velcro opening to pass through a hydration tube, and on the bottom are grommet drain holes also unique to the bag, since a lot of the specialized GORUCK events involve plenty of exposure to water.

By far the biggest difference on the 3.0, however, is the new back panel and underside of the shoulder straps. Rather than constructed from the same 1000D CORDURA as the rest of the bag, user feedback has led to the use of 210D High Tenacity CORDURA nylon for these important, high-friction areas. The result is a vastly comfortable carrying experience, with next to no friction burn and far less damage to sensitive clothing fabrics. Add to that an additional 10mm of lumbar foam padding, a redesigned full-width frame sheet, and an included sternum strap, and when cinched in high and tight the Rucker adhered itself to my back on both walks and workouts.

The use of 210D is a game changer for GORUCK, leading even Jason McCarthy, GORUCK’s founder, to say that the Rucker 3.0 is the most comfortable rucksack he’s worn. After rucking nearly 40km (~25 miles) in a week I’m inclined to agree, and why I would recommend the bag even in an EDC capacity. 20L is a great size for everyday use, there’s plenty of space on the inside for a laptop in a sleeve so you don’t even miss the dedicated compartment in the GR1, and MOLLE-compatible webbing everywhere on the bag allows for limitless customization and modular expansion for whatever you need day to day.

The extra comfort with a less abrasive material is a fantastic final touch to an already feature-packed bag. And if it finds its way onto all future GORUCK bags, that means you can have the best of both worlds of heavyweight ultra-tough exterior materials along with comfort and abrasion-free everyday use. Now combine that with minimalist options like my favorite Slick, much-needed additions like the top quick-access pocket on the GRXC1, and more compact sizes like the new Bullet and their Tactical FP1 sling, and GORUCK can evolve their bags from just a gym on your back to be the best bags you can use, period.

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