The Interwebs are full of “ruck 101” posts.. why start another one?
Great question. The answer probably lies somewhere between hubris and helpfulness. You be the judge. Anyway, here are my thoughts.
Why in the world should I do one of these? It sounds awful. 12 hours of being beat-down? No thanks.
It’s not about that. It’s about you, contributing to your team. It’s about the people to your left and right. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. Sound familiar?
Watch the video above and you’ll get some sense of it. Sign up and you’ll understand. You can do it. Your team will help. That’s all the “why” you need. On to the “how.”
If you want a TL;DR on gear, check out How to Ruck on a Budget.
GORUCK bags are fantastic but pricey. You get what you pay for; they are made in the USA, by a veteran-owned company, and if you shred your ruck, send it in and they’ll repair or replace it. That’s pretty sweet, and it means they hold value well if you ever want to unload it. GORUCK runs sales on major holidays, and sometimes does Christmas in July. Ask your local rucker, they’ve probably got a 10% off coupon code.
GORUCK makes the Rucker, a bag designed for events and training. It’s got an inner sleeve for a ruck plate, hydration bladder loop built-in, and is sized right for what it does. I love mine.
They also make the GR1, in two sizes: 21L for PAX < 6′ tall, 26L for those taller. The GR1 is the baddest laptop bag in the business. If you want a bag you can use for every-day laptop carry and the occasional event, it’s hard to go wrong. I don’t use my GR1 for training or events, as I prefer keeping it clean and not having to empty out all my work stuff every time I want to ruck.
All of that said, you can do an event with anything that’ll survive for 12+ hours. I’m a fan of the 5.11 Rush24 and Rush12. I did my first event with a Rush24, which was a bit big. The Rush12 is probably the right size for training and a Tough. This bag on Amazon gets a thumbs-up from Mettle Forger, who knew his stuff better than anyone. At $40-60 it’s worth a shot.
No matter what bag you get, you’ll want a waist strap. Bear crawls with 30 pounds of weight hitting you in the back of the head are no fun.
Ruck plates are sexy. They keep the weight close to your back and can allow you to move it up higher. A no-frills 30-pound hunk of steel will cost about $45 when ordered ~6 at a time if you can find a fabricator. The GORUCK plates are nice with the dual handles. SHplates are works of art.
Bricks are cheap and easy. They also help form a “shelf” at the top of your ruck. You may want a ruck with internal MOLLE in order to make this work well (which means an extra $100 for GR1 vs Rucker). Otherwise you’ll have to go to work on a DIY way to secure a hunk of bricks in your bag.
At minimum you’ll want to bubble-wrap the bricks with a few layers. Beveling the corners is a good idea too – there are videos out there on how to do it.
“What shoes should I wear” is a common enough question that it points out the obvious — whatever works for you. Running shoes are fine. You may want something like a Hoka or Hurricane or Kayano with plenty of cushion. I wanted something with more ankle support for events, so I’m in a Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid. Get something that drains well. GORE-TEX is great for everything except being submerged. Which you will be. Don’t go for waterproof; go for fast draining.
Cotton = bad. Wool = good. Smartwool, Darn Tough, Injinji, DryMax are all commonly cited. Compression socks or calf sleeves might not be a bad idea. I like wool Injinji’s and then calf sleeves.
If you start rucking enough, you’ll want to read Fixing Your Feet, or check out Jonathan Savage’s pages on taping and blister prevention. Callouses are early signs of problems. Blisters are late signs. Try to fix the underlying shoe/sock fit issues.
Layers are good otherwise. It could end up being much colder than you think. Especially if you’re wet.
Get some reflective bands. Required. A hydration bladder too. The Source ones are great; you can pay more for the FDE version GORUCK and others sell or get this one on Amazon. I see plenty of Camelbak’s too. Get something you KNOW will last. If your bladder bursts mid-event, you’re going to have a bad (and unsafe) time.
Fact: you can’t finish a GORUCK event without a carabiner on your ruck. Well.. maybe you can. But what’s the harm?
Having 12′ of tubular nylon webbing in your ruck may come in handy. Never know what you’re going to want to rig up. I’ve used a runner or length of webbing in every event I’ve participated in.
Check out www.pathfinderrucktraining.com for a great program run by Dora out of Charlotte. If you miss the sign-up window you can still see the standards and do some DIY challenges. You don’t get a cool patch unless you sign up. At the end of the day, it is all about the patches.
Locally, The Crick does a ruck at 0615 on Saturday. Phoenix has been doing EC regularly as well. Other AOs will spin up ruck ECs as events draw near.
This ended up being a way longer post than I intended. I’m not sure I actually saved anyone any time.. oh well. Enjoy it nonetheless.