The GORUCK GR1 is the brainchild of former Army Special Forces Sgt. Jason McCarthy. After transitioning out of the military and going to college Jason fell back on an idea he had about a backpack that in his words “What lived on was the idea for a bag that you could use in Baghdad or New York City, that would be tough enough for Special Forces, but that I could use in NYC without looking like I was still in the military.”. Out of this concept was born the GORUCK GR1 and as they say, the rest is history.

I first heard about GORUCK and the GORUCK Challenge (The Challenge was developed to test the durability of the GR1) about eight years ago when I was looking for something to challenge me as everything had fallen into a routine with no direction. It was still early in the evolution of the Challenge and GORUCK as a company but I found a couple of videos of the Challenge and watched them over and over. Finally, I decided that what I needed to do was participate in a Challenge to break me out of my rut. I have to say that at 53 years old the GORUCK Challenge seemed pretty daunting but I committed myself and started training and got a GR1. As this article is about the GR1 I’ll jump ahead and say that despite some setbacks including a back surgery I did compete a GORUCK Light at age 55.

The first thing you notice about the GR1 when you open the box and check it out is the rock solid feeling. There’s nothing flimsy or weak feeling about it from the zippers, material, shoulder straps, it just feels tough. I still get out and ruck with it from time to time but its primary duty is as a travel/EDC pack.

Its simple design works well for air travel carry on where it fits either in the overhead or under the seat. The GR1 comes in both a 21 liter and 26-liter size; my GORUCK GR1 is the 26 Liter version. Specifications are as follows for the 26-liter version from the GORUCK website:

  • Weight: 3.2 lbs
  • Dimensions: 12”W x 20”H x 6.75”D
  • Laptops to 17”
  • External Slant Pocket: 11.5”W x 12.5”H
  • Internal Cordura Pocket: 11.5”W x 6”H
  • Internal Mesh Pocket: 11.5”W x 12.5”H
  • Internal Elastic Packet: 11.5”W x 11”H
  • Laptop Compartment: 11.5”W X 17”H
  • Material: 1000D Cordura
  • Lifetime SCARS guarantee
  • Made in the USA
  • Price: $395.00

I like to pack mine in the following manner for travel. In the exterior slash pocket I keep a fire hood and facemask, I like to keep the rest of the pocket empty whenever possible for a pocket dump when passing through security. The internal Cordura pocket is where I keep my extra glasses, Passport, a small flashlight, notebook/pen, and a small charger with cables for my phone. The mesh pocket will usually hold my dopp kit, some snacks, and other items I don’t want to have to search for. The main compartment will hold my clothes med. gear, and any other larger items. The elastic pocket is where I usually keep my I pad. In the laptop sleeve, I have a ballistic panel. The pack carries comfortably and I’ve added a sternum strap for stability when I’m running from terminal to terminal to catch a flight. Even though there is molle webbing on it I usually keep it slick with the exception of a carabineer. Keeping it slick makes it easier for when I have to stash it under the seat instead of the overhead.

The GR1 is one of my top three go-to packs, it has traveled with me from coast to coast as well as overseas. I’ve gifted them to friends and recommend them to people looking to only buy one pack. If you check the website there are some discounts available for military, first responder’s students, etc… If I could only keep one pack it would be my GORUCK GR1. 

Art Dorst is the owner of A. Dorst Consulting & Training Services and is a Senior Consultant for LaSorsa & Associates.  He served in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard, and is a retired municipal Police Officer, NRA Instructor, and is currently a security provider/trainer.