GORUCK was founded in 2008 by a former Special Forces soldier and their flagship product was the GR1. Jason McCarthy, the founder and CEO of GORUCK, described the inspiration for the GR1 as 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” (GORUCK).
Today GORUCK offers several variations of the GR1, but the original pack remains as one of their most popular rucksacks. While the price for a new GR1 can be steep ($295 at the time of writing this review), it can turn out to be a worthwhile investment. After several budget backpacks have failed and broke apart on me, I decided to take a chance with the GR1 and it would end up being one of my best gear purchases. I use my GR1 (21L size) as a dedicated school bag, but have also used it for the range and the outdoors. The GR1 has already been reviewed here on The Loadout Room, but I will be further describing the GR1 through my most recent use while in Utah, Arizona and the Rockies in Colorado. Specifications won’t be explored in-depth in order to keep this review short and sweet, but can be viewed on the official product page; instead I will be reviewing its features that I found to be distinctly superior to others.
- Weight: 3.2lbs
- Material: 1000D CORDURA®
- Hydration Bladder Compatible
- Laptop Protection Sleeve Fits Up to 17”
Available in 21L or 26L
- Made in the USA
Durability & Toughness
While there are lighter packs available for the purpose of hiking on day trails, there are few more durable than the GR1, and that’s a feature I’m glad to have. At times, I found myself traversing through thick brush with thorns or scrambling through boulder fields; though I myself may have received a few cuts and nicks, my GR1 and its contents remained secure. A lighter minimalist pack would have been susceptible to rips and tears.
Another feature I was grateful for was its water-resistant material. In a hurry to maximize daylight for my trail, I overlooked waterproofing the contents of my GR1 and was met with light showers. I was relieved to find that none of my photography equipment had even a trace of water that may have soaked through cheaper packs.
Maximum Use of Space
Admittedly I was not a fan at first of the rectangular box-shape of the pack. However, this design helps with maximizing the storage space of the pack. The pack opens flat, which allows users to better pack their gear as well as being able to easily access any of it at any time.
Simplicity & Versatility
Sometimes, more is less, and less is more. God knows how many times I’ve been stopped at the TSA screening point for the EDC knife or multi-tool that was lost in my pack’s 20+ compartments. The GR1 has just four zippered compartments: one exterior compartment in front of the pack, two zippered compartments behind the flap, and a hidden zippered laptop sleeve on the back. Having less compartments translates to the GR1 having more room in each compartment. For example, I use one of the interior compartment to store first-aid equipment and the other for smaller gear such as my phone, compass, map, etc.
The pack isn’t riddled with MOLLE webbing as we sometimes see with other military-style packs. Instead there are just three rows of MOLLE webbing on the exterior of the pack, three rows in the interior, and a single row on each of the straps. MOLLE webbing is convenient because of the added ability to attach more pouches for customization as well as tie-downs or clip-on equipment like a flashlight, multi-tool, tourniquet, etc. The GR1 has just enough webbing for the pack to be versatile, but not to scream “MILITARY” for those of us who like to be discreet at times.
If you like the look, need a pack that can be used in a myriad of situations, and are looking for quality construction in a pack that will last, then this may be the pack for you. Perhaps the only hurdle stopping you is the expensive price tag. If that is the case, one of the great things with GORUCK is they do have discounted periods for most of their gear, usually around federal holidays. Even better, GORUCK offers a 25% discount for “All. Who. Serve.” This long expansive list includes all military personnel (active duty, reserve, veterans, spouses, dependents), law enforcement, firefighters, EMT, government employees (teachers, certified teacher aides, principals) and even college students.
Additional reassurances are that the GR1 comes backed by GORUCK’s Scars Lifetime Guarantee in the unlikely event it breaks, and customers who aren’t pleased with the GR1 can return it with free shipping within 30 days as long as the pack is in like-new condition.
If you have or decide to get the pack, let us know what you think!