My GORUCK Bullet Ruck 15L Review – THE Best “Intro” Ruck?

If you’ve recently grown interested in rucking (which you probably have, otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now), the activity’s relatively low barrier to entry is likely appealing to you.

Sure, there is a lot of interesting ruck gear you can load up on, but at the end of the day, as long as you have some decent rucking boots/rucking shoes, bag/ruck, and something to weigh your bag down, you’re pretty much set.

…but…man. Rucks can get expensive! 

I know when I was looking for my first “real” ruck that I had to sift through a lot of bags that looked like (and were priced like) expensive travel luggage…when all I wanted to do was carry around 20 or 30 pounds worth of ruck plates.

Thankfully, the GORUCK Bullet ruck was there to bail me out!

Truth be told, my Bullet and it’s 15-liter capacity, certainly can accomodate my laptop, some notebooks, and a few other items (and would likely receive fewer condescending stares than my worn and aged “personal item” on my next flight), but I bought it with one major intention in mind.

Rucking

Let’s discuss why the GORUCK Bullet is the best “starter ruck” for rucking enthusiasts and why it makes for a better “investment” than some cheaper and more expensive options.

GORUCK Bullet Quick Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Fits perfectly when packed with 20-30 pounds (combination of weight plates/change plates).
  • Enough utility to practically and comfortably fit laptop and a few edc items. Would consider using as a “personal item” while flying.
  • Built-in reflectors provide more than adequate visibility in pitch dark condition.

Cons

  • When the bag is “perfectly” adjusted with little plate movement, shoulder straps become a chronic annoyance during longer ruck outings.
  • Not ideal for rucking with heavier (over 30 pounds) or numerous (more than 2) plates. Extra weight(s) must be strategically placed and secured to stay put.
  • If your ruck burpees and ruck muscle-ups aren’t totally “clean”, you’ll smash your head!

What Can You ACTUALLY Use the GORUCK Bullet Ruck (15L) For?

Point blank, I purchased my GORUCK Bullet because I wanted a smaller ruck to load with my specifically designed ruck plates.

That’s it…that’s the tweet!

While I mainly use the Bullet to ruck 4-5 days per week, in the last few months, I have incorporated it into more “dynamic” workouts that involve “ruck” versions of traditional exercises (Ex. “ruck burpees”, “ruck muscle-ups”). I will cover these activities in much more detail below, but, long story short, the Bullet is decent in these areas.

On occasion, I have gone out of my way to test the Bullet as a type of everyday carry bag. I generally do not prefer the traditional “backpack” style when purchasing these bags and, for this reason alone, I personally would not purchase a Bullet if this was my main focus/purpose.

As it is, the dedicate laptop pocket is a welcome addition, although unless your laptop is just the right size, it’s going to move around a little bit and won’t have the luxury of a padded travel experience. My 17” HP fits snuggly into the pocket and stays perfectly in place, while my 15” Macbook is a bit too small and moves around a little too much for my liking.

goruck bullet

Regarding carrying capacity, besides my HP, it’s not difficult to fit a few decent-sized hardback books, notebook, and a change of clothes in the main storage area (the items that any self-respecting co-worker hauls around on a daily basis). 

The front pocket accommodates another medium-sized softback book with ease.

You’re probably more efficient than I am at folding and packing your clothes, but I don’t try to push things. The last thing I want to be known as is the guy with the absolutely loaded, arrowhead-encrusted day bag (that possesses the distinct smell of metal ruck plates).

…but you do you!

One final observation, I don’t have a ton (ha!) of weights, but want to demonstrate what a few different weight combinations look like in Bullet.

A 10-pound plate in the front, zipper pocket. Probably the most secure arrangement.

A 20-pound ruck plate. The standard weight required for GORUCK event participants who weigh under150 pounds.  

A 20-pound plate and a 10-pound plate. The standard weight required for 150-plus pound participants in GORUCK events.

My two 20-pound plates.

This is what my 2 20-pound ruck plates and 10-pound ruck plate look like all packed in (with the 10-pound plate in the less-than-ideal webbed pocket)

This is the weight I use to prep for the Norwegian Ruck March. Because participants must complete the march with a ~24.25 pound load, the a 20-pound plate, plus the 1.62 pounds the Bullet weighs (without added weight) and a 1.25-kilogram (2.75 pounds) plate just gets me over the requirement.

Overall, I consider the 15L Bullet to be a rather versatile bag that is packable enough to be your day pack, but will likely be one of your favorite training toys, instead.

How the GORUCK Bullet Handles CrossFit/”Dynamic Rucking” 

If I were writing this article as recently as 2 years ago, this section almost certainly wouldn’t exist. However, in recent years, with the popularization of incorporating rucks into CrossFit workouts and with the rise of the GORUCK Games and events such as TOUGH and HEAVY, more and more people are likely using their rucks to deadlift and thruster or wearing it while performing pull-ups or squats.

If this ain’t you, I’m sorry, but…

I’ve been in the middle of an Olympic weightlifting cycle for some time so I’m not performing as many metabolic conditioning (metcon) workouts or CrossFit-style WODS, but I decided to give a couple workouts from the GORUCK and CrossFit archives a try to see if the GORUCK Bullet was the tool for the job.

(NOTE: I’m only focused on how the ruck felt, was able to stay in place, did not excessively hinder or burden me. The fact that the workouts were really hard for unconditioned me isn’t the ruck’s fault!)

Chicken Little is a GORUCK Memorial WOD in memory of Wyatt Hatcher. Truth be told, it doesn’t include a lot of movements involving the ruck, but it does require somewhat regular periods of getting into and out of the ruck. 

During the ruck run periods, the Bullet was easy to get into and out of without wasting much, if any time. I never hit a snag and am confident that in workouts where ruck removal is going to be a constant component, the Bullet will be my go-to. Additionally, running in the Bullet is as comfortable for me as walking is. At my “in-between” level of tightness, there wasn’t too much movement/flailing from the 20-pound plate.

As the workout winded down, I threw in some squats and burpees while still wearing the ruck from the previous round (I had, like, 3 minutes left to go…so…why not?) I’m not really experienced with the ruck version of these movements and while the squats went fine…

…the burpees were…well…kinda like this…

I understand that there is more of an “art” to performing burpees in a ruck, but I wanted to experience what it would be like while under heavy fatigue (at about the twenty-third minute of this workout) when form starts to break down. The laptop compartment, which is perfectly acceptable for ruck plate use during walking and running is just not up to the job during movements like burpees.

(so if you have been looking for an excuse not to do burpees…pick up a Bullet ASAP!)

Also, in case you’re wondering, I was 60 meters short of completing 5 rounds 🙂

I also wanted to see what gymnastics movements were like in the Bullet so I decided to give the “ring complex” from the 2023 CrossFit Semi-finals second workout a try. 

As you will soon realize, my rings set-up isn’t ideal and I don’t have enough space for a traditional kip or to completely straighten my legs at the bottom. As it is, ring dips and toes-to-bar were not a problem in the Bullet; the weight stayed where it needed to. However, I experienced a similar issue with the muscle-ups that I did with the burpees (if you demand “clean” muscle-up technique, please close your eyes!)

The 10-pound ruck plate (I physically couldn’t complete the complex with a 20-pound plate) slammed into my neck or the back of my head on every rep. My wife (who is a pretty legit CrossFitter) had less trouble with these, but proved that you either have to have really clean muscle-ups to avoid bashing your head (or at least be cleaner than me) or you’ll want to wear a football helmet when performing these.

I understand that the GORUCK Bullet is under GORUCKS “Travel Rucksacks” and that the athletes from the semi-finals workout were likely using RUCKER 4.0 “Training Rucksacks”. As such, I don’t want to pick on it too much for not being ideal for somewhat niche (ruck burpees) and very niche (ruck “ring complexes”) movements. 

Long story short, if you can master the ruck burpee movement and don’t plan on performing ring muscle-ups in your ruck, the Bullet should serve you well!

A Good Backpack for Rucking?

I have no way of knowing what the average weights are that people use for their rucking ventures. I know that most men and a lot of women at GORUCK events are packing 30-pound plates into their rucks. Others are regularly using (a lot) more than that.

…but I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of rucking enthusiasts are topping out at 30 pounds. If this is you, look no further than the GORUCK Bullet (15L, to be precise).

A 20-pound ruck plate easily slides into the designated ruck pocket while an additional 10-pound plate (or even smaller, 2.5-pound, 5-pound, and/or “change” plates) can securely fit into the outer, zipped pocket.

With a little effort (and a little trial-and-error), I can fit between 22 and 30 pounds, split between 2 plates, into my Bullet without experiencing any excessive plate movement, bouncing, or piercing into my back. 

I have been prepping for the Norwegian Ruck March and have added a few long (2-plus hour) ruck ventures to my current fitness regimen. I ruck with a slightly heavier weight (~24.35 pounds) than what is required when participating in the march (24.25) and don’t notice the actual weights on my back (I mean, I feel the effects of the weight over time, but not the weights themselves). 

A bigger/heavier ruck (Ex. would probably feel bulkier than necessary for this type of venture, while a smaller (ex. “essentials bag”) might not present sufficient cushioning against or capacity for holding the requisite plates.

I do find that there is a slight trade-off between the perfect, unakwakard fit of the bag and overall rucking experience in the form of the shoulder straps slightly digging into my upper arms and back over the course of a long ruck. When I experience this, I make slight adjustments, moving the straps a few inches across my shoulder. This provides relief for ~20 minutes…when I experience similar irritation…and I move them back to the starting point.

Heavier loads, where I can’t fit all of the requisite plates into the front pocket or the laptop area, aren’t nearly as comfortable to move with. If you plan on regularly rucking with ~35-plus pounds, you may want to start looking into GORUCK bags from the GR series (GR1, GR2, etc.)

GORUCK Bullet (15L) vs. GORUCK GR1 (26L), GORUCK Rucker Long-range (39L), Tasmanian Tiger Essential Pack MKII (9L)

One of the hardest things about picking a ruck is determining just “how much ruck” you need. 

If you’re not familiar with bag sizes and capacities (and, let’s be real, who actually is?) how in the hell are you going to know whether a 15-liter capacity ruck is going to be enough…especially when you can get a 39-liter monster for less than $100 more (or a 9-liter for about half the price)?

To help sort this out, let’s do a quick rundown and comparison of how the GORUCK Bullet compares to a few different rucks/ruck sizes. 

GORUCK Bullet vs. GORUCK GR1

The GORUCK GR1 is the company’s “flagship” ruck (the website has even dubbed it as the “GOAT” of rucks). It is easy to see why it has this reputation as it’s versatility is on par with the Bullet’s…only it has almost twice the capacity! For those looking for more of a “true” day bag (bordering on a legit travel bag) and/or who want to ruck with over 30 pounds, the GR1 is a good option. However, it wouldn’t be my first choice for dynamic rucking workouts.

GORUCK Bullet vs. GORUCK Rucker Long Range

The GORUCK Rucker Long Range has a large capacity, but doesn’t necessarily feel like a big bag. It is surprisingly compact for it’s size and its dedicated, sturdy plate pouch/sleeve does an excellent job of keeping heavy, solid items in place and off your back. 

Despite its size, it lacks the versatility of other, smaller rucks. It’s obvious that the bag is intended for those participating in GORUCK’s elite “Selection” event as well as the less-demanding, (but still brutally difficult) “Heavy challenge. It can be thrown around and will drain well, but running in this thing is a little awkward and gymnastics movements are much more difficult than in the Bullet,

GORUCK Bullet vs. Tasmanian Tiger Essential Pack MKII

The overlooked Tasmanian Tiger brand’s Essential Pack MKII is an excellent little bag for light rucking and very comfortably fits smaller ruckers (this is one of my wife’s favorite bags). A 20-pound plate fits like a glove and there is very little movement of the weight, even on more variable terrain. 

The brand doesn’t lie when it says that this is for “essentials” as you can’t really fit too much and the bag isn’t quite sturdy enough to inspire confidence during dynamic workouts. The Bullet easily “beats” it in these two areas (but what do you really expect out of a bag with a less-than 10l advertised capacity)?

Don’t get me wrong; I really like all of these bags. However, all of them are outstanding at the thing they’re supposed to be outstanding at. In contrast, the Bullet is excellent at just about everything I prioritize in a ruck.

Construction, Comfort, Looks

Construction 

As with just about every legit rucking product, high-quality Cordura makes up the vast majority of the Bullet’s outer (backpack straps) and inner areas. In addition to be a resilient, durable material, the 210d Cordura back panel reduces friction against the body (I always wear a shirt with mine…but…have fun with this one if you don’t!)

On the outside, the front zipper opens and shuts with ease while the top handle makes it easy to grab and toss in the car. The internal webbing pocket/meshed pocket serves as simple separator while the internal pocket (which most people will use for their laptop or for a ruck plate) is adequate, but never seems to fully secure the item placed within it.

As much as I don’t use the Bullet as my edc bag, I trust it’s construction enough to accommodate my (sorta) expensive computers. 

Comfort

As mentioned in the CrossFit and rucking sections above, the GORUCK Bullet is very good at what it needs to be good at. Nothing is worse than oddly placed or secured ruck plates smashing into you and/or bouncing all around while rucking or during more “dynamic” rucking workouts. 

…and this doesn’t happen in the Bullet.

When the Bullet is appropriately packed and secured, I have experienced slight discomfort from the shoudler straps on longer rucks. I have not experienced this during dynamic workouts, shorter rucks, or more casual use.

Looks

Unlike many others, I don’t (and don’t really plan on) use my rucks for non-fitness ventures. Heck, I don’t even use my rucks to transport my gear to and from the gym! As such, the appearance of Bullet isn’t overly important to me and practicality is a much bigger priority.

The arrowhead “solar system” design…can’t say I’m a yuge fan of. However, knowing that these illuminated bad boys are keeping me visible in near-pitch black conditions (which is common where I live as there are no street lights) makes me appreciate their quirky look and arrangement.

The iconic GORUCK patch is a conversation starter where I live in Europe. Serious fitness enthusiasts are ofttentimes aware of the brand, but, in most cases, have never actually come across any of its gear.

(..when I put it that way,I guess I should shave and get a haircut or something, being an unofficial brand ambassador and all!)

Final Thoughts

I’m sure I’m not the only one who doubts myself when I happen to really like and rave about the same stuff that everyone else really likes and raves about. 

(yeah, I always tried to be that “I liked them before they were cool…now they suck!” kid back in middle school).

…but I really can see why the GORUCK Bullet gets so much love and attention. 

Yeah, it’s a generously priced, “entry-level” ruck, making it accessible to most people. However, as it turns out, this is far from the only reason to opt for it.

If you want the option for a bag to load up for a short trip or to double as a work bag, this 15l backpack has you covered. 

If you want to ruck with low-to-moderate amounts of weight or perform a plethora of dynamic movements, using your ruck as your primary implement (remember the “equipment-free” days of Corona when gyms were closed…), the Bullet has you covered.

…and if you decide that rucking really isn’t for you (how??!!!) the Bullet isn’t a yuge investment to gamble on. Worst case, there is a lot of demand for these bad boys on the secondary market; you’ll always be able to find someone to purchase yours at 75-85 percent of the original price tag (although I would not recommend purchasing via the secondary market as you won’t be protected by the Scars Lifetime Guarantee!)

Sometimes the most obvious choice is the choice. 

To continue on that whole “obvious choice” trend, the same can be said about the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers. Check out our review of these excellent all-around shoes.

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Tom, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, ISSA-CPT, PN1-NC, DPA, CAPM has been CrossFitting for over 10 years. He has participated in a number of team and individual CrossFit competitions across Europe and the United States. He was the 2012 Chick-fil-A Race Series champion (North Georgia Circuit) and has put together a few gnarly garage and basement gyms in his time!

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