GORUCK GR1 (26L) – Our Review

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⭐️ Best All-around Ruck: 88/100

GORUCK’s GR1, touted by the company as “the greatest (ruck) of all time” is the company’s flagship product of its flagship line of bags.

Primarily designed as a “travel ruck”, the GR1 nevertheless can be (and has extensively been) used for “traditional” rucking purposes as well as for more “dynamic” types of ruck workouts.

Sporting higher-end materials (with a higher-end price tag to match) and one of the best warranties we’ve seen in the rucking industry, there isn’t much not to like in this bag that truly has something to please everybody.

Pros

Refined multiple times over the last decade-plus while maintaining classic features

Capable of serving as an everyday carry bag or training ruck

Lifetime warranty; GORUCK will repair any damage and/or will replace damaged items

Cons

Not the largest load capacity

Internal pocket is stable, but not overly secure when performing ruck workouts

Not the most affordable ruck on the market, especially higher-end models

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Overall Score

88

Rucking

90

Dynamic Rucking

80

Load Capacity

75

Everyday Carry

95

Materials

95

Price

75

Customer Reviews

96

Customer Service

95

How we test & score products

The Rucking Company

That’s the title GORUCK has bestowed upon itself.

In some ways, this branding can seem a bit…strange. After all, as of the 2024, it is the Official Apparel and Sponsor of CrossFit.

I don’t know about you, but “rucking” isn’t exactly the first thing I think of when I think about CrossFit…random semi-final, CrossFit Games, or Rogue Invitational events notwithstanding.

On the other hand, there aren’t too many manufacturers of expensive hiking backpacks that have gotten so popular over a relatively short period of time. And as their popularity has grown, GORUCK has continued to add new bags to their growing list of offerings.

Of all of the rucks in their current lineup, though, all roads seem to lead back to the O.G. of the group…the GORUCK GR1.

Despite later iterations of the GR series being more focused on things like training durability, max capacity, and organizational functionality, the GR1 prides itself on its “made for anything” status.

I have my own preferred uses for rucking gear (which generally lean more towards “dynamic rucking” over “pure rucking”) and think there are some slightly better options for these purposes. However, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with the GR1.

…and if you’re someone who values versatility and overall functionality in your rucks, the GR1 might be just what you’ve been searching for…

Rucking

Right off the bat, it’s obvious that the GR1 was designed with a bit more intention and deliberation than your typical backpack or even other bags “designed” for rucking.

Most bags might have a decent load capacity and even a nice little place to slip some dedicated weight for the journey into, but few have a the robust frame sheet that provides both comfort and stability whether you’re on the 1st or 12th mile. This hard plastic separator is built in to the rear of the bag, slightly contouring to the back and fitting into its natural grooves.

(Ideally) A ruck plate is placed in the corresponding pocket directly adjacent to this plate. The plastic serves as a constant barrier between the plate and the back, ensuring that any constant “thud” “thud” “thud” that you would otherwise experience with every step is minimized.

This may seem like something odd to devote an entire opening section to, but if you haven’t experienced a ruck with this type of feature, your world is about to be changed if you pick up the GR1 or something similar.

The internal Cordura pocket isn’t nearly as robust as the padded internal pockets in the “Rucker” series bags, but I have found that it secures appropriately-sized plates rather well. It’s not billed or advertised as a ruck plate pocket…but we know better. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who buys this bag without just this task in mind.

As with some of the other larger GORUCK bags, I’ve tried placing a smaller (10-pound) plate up in the smaller, horizontal internal pocket. It…works, but it quickly becomes obvious that this is not the intended purpose of this pocket. It feels really awkward when its up there by itself and even if you have another plate to off-set it, the overall weight distribution is just off.

Both GORUCK-branded ruck plates as well as off-brand plates (Yes4All, to be specific) fit just fine in the pocket. However, being that the GORUCK standard plates are designed with the GR1’s exact dimensions in mind, these fit perfectly. The difference is apparent.

I find most rucks’ straps to be sufficient, particularly for short distances, but pretty uncomfortable as the miles begin to creep up. Many of GORUCK’s bags (to include the GR1) benefit from employing just a bit more padding on the bottoms of their straps. I find these to be more comfortable on my shoulders over time (although, let’s face it, when you have 30-plus pounds strapped on your back for extended periods of time, they’re gonna get sore!).

On a related note, GORUCK claims that the GR1’s shoulder strap Cordura “doesn’t irritate skin or chew up apparel.” I can confirm that none of my workout shirts have been eaten up by my ruck, but I’m pretty reluctant to take it for a long ruck shirtless or in a tank top. I’m pretty confident my shoulders would come back really torn up and red.

I haven’t been on any super long outings where I had the need to load my bag up with food, water (other than a small bladder or water bottle), or other “essentials” so I can’t really speak to the utility of the smaller, internal mesh pockets for the purposes of rucking. I…guess they’re nice to have…?

Overall, I would say that the GR1’s light-ish overall weight and bulkiness combined with the rather secure internal pocket and padded shoulder straps make it a solid option for ruck outings that the vast majority of people are thinking about (15 miles or less with 40 pounds or less). If your regular sessions top out at these numbers, the GR1 has you covered.

Rucking Score : 90

“Dynamic” Rucking

Despite what you may think about GORUCK’s bags, they’re not all designed to be thrown around, swung, and lifted in a way where one could classify them as, like, a “complete gym in your bag”. As a ruck marketed as a “travel ruck” as opposed to a “training rucking”, the GR1 isn’t exactly trying to play itself as the latter…but this reputation, nonetheless, continues on.

Despite this, it’s not like the GR1 isn’t capable of holding up in more “traditional” rucking workout or even for use in CrossFit-style metcons. After all, the “Ruck” event from the 2019 CrossFit Games involved GR1s…exclusively.

…but I wouldn’t consider running in a ruck and changing out weights every few minutes to be all that “dynamic” in nature.

(Now whether it was hard or not, especially for those who finished the 6K with an ending weight of 50 pounds in under 25 minutes, is undisputed!)

The top handle immediately turns the GR1 into a glorified, odd-object-esque kettlebell-like piece of equipment. It’s easy to get two hands on it and swing while the overall size of the bag makes it easy to navigate through the legs at the start and end of each rep.

Not having a corresponding bottom handle isn’t ideal, but it’s not difficult to grasp the bottom with a semi-closed hand to perform movements like overhead presses, thrusters, and front squats, so long as you maintain a pretty good grip on the top handle at the same time.

Additionally, there are no side handles or drainage holes so if you’re at an event where you’re going to be submerging yourself or otherwise getting your ruck really wet…it’s gonna stay wet.

Although the interior sleeve isn’t padded, as mentioned in the previous section, ruck plates nevertheless stay put pretty well, ensuring the challenge is more in the movements themselves as opposed to constantly trying to wrangle a moving plate.

The fact that the weight remains pretty well stabilized is also beneficial during “bodyweight” movements (pull-ups, push-ups, squats, etc.) performed with the GR1. When getting a little more skilled in terms of these exercises, you have to tighten things up a bit (both the ruck and your form) if you want to pull off muscle-ups, either from the bar or on the rings

Thank goodness; you’ll be ready for action the next time CrossFit repeats the second 2023 Semi-final workout!

I think the area where I appreciate my GR1’s Cordura the most is during these types of activities. When I’m simply walking or running in my ruck, I’m never too concerned it’s going to catch on something and I don’t load it enough where a legit busting is going to take place (I’m not going hard enough, I know).

In contrast, during ruck metcons, I’m constantly dropping my ruck at the end of each set of/round of swings, thrusters, etc. or throwing it off as I move from “ruck on” to “ruck off” movements. Between the ruck repeatedly hitting the ground, I appreciate that it has withstood a steady dishing out of punishment without batting an eye.

Overall, I would say the GR holds up pretty well for the vast majority of “standard” dynamic rucking needs. If you’re thinking about participating in something like a GORUCK “Basic” or even a “Tough”, I think you’ll be just fine. “Ingress” is a joke so the GR1 would be more than sufficient for these events.

Dynamic Rucking Score: 80

Load Capacity

The GR1 isn’t going to fool anyone as doubling as a “fit all your stuff to go backpacking through Europe for 6 months” type of bag. The GR2, GR3, and even the Rucker-Long Range more suitable for such an outting (and even these, with their ~45-liter high ends would be pushing it). Instead, the 21 and 26-liter (mine is the latter size) are more in line with what you could expect to fit in something between a big “personal item” or a smaller carry-on.

Unlike some other rucks (most notably, the larger Rucker-Long Range) the GR1 opens completely flat and does not include any center, dividing “barriers”. I find that this ensures that you’re really able to use all 26 liters and space isn’t wasted (effectively reducing the load capacity in many situations).

Load Capacity Score: 75

Everyday Carry

To be honest, writing about everyday carry is probably my least favorite thing to do. Of all of the things in the world that people LARP about, I have to LARP about, like, carrying my work stuff in a backpack somewhere every day.

(which I have no problem with and I know millions of people do! I did this for about 15 years…after I finished high school!)

As it is, I have an idea of what makes a bag suitable for these purposes and am happy to report that the GR1 checks a lot of boxes.

For one, you don’t have to worry about being “yuge backpack kid” with the GR1. Even my large(r) 26-liter model looks pretty normal, even in more casual settings.

(GORUCK’s “Rule Number 1” is to “always look cool”. When it comes to bag/backpacks in none-fitness settings, I’d much prefer to “always look normal” than “cool”.)

Interestingly enough, I have utilized both the designated laptop pocket (located in a special zipped pocked on the very outer edge of the bag) and the internal Cordura pocket to hold my most precious cargo. I feel comfortable with my larger PC in the internal pocket, but my smaller Mac slides around a bit much for my liking.

If you do have intentions of using the designated laptop pocket (actually, it is technically referred to as “Laptop Protection” on the GORUCK site…interesting), and have a larger (~16-inch) model, be sure to go with a 26-liter option. Apparently, it will be a really tight (and possibly impossible) fit in the 21-liter bag.

There is another, smaller zip pocket located above the “laptop protection” on the exterior of the bag. This is a nice spot to smuggle your phone, wallet, and/or keys if you’re trying to avoid the classic “bulging pockets” look (which I have personally perfected over the years)!

Like the majority of GORUCK’s bags (and all of their “travel rucks”) the GR1 opens flat. This may not seem like that big of a deal on paper, but when considering that other options are either “top-loading” bags or “open flat”…before immediately crumpling over, it’s a very convenient inclusion for packing your stuff.

If your “everyday” requirements extend a little further, be mindful that with a 26-liter capacity, you’re not getting “everyweek” space. I can fit a few days’ worth of clothes and a couple of other smaller items (ex. books), but this wouldn’t be my only bag for a week-long excursion. Granted, I’m terrible at folding and organizing my clothes…but…are you really that much better?

Overall, the GORUCK GR1 is well-suited for everyday carry needs, so long as your needs are pretty “standard” and aren’t overly excessive. I don’t use the bag for these purposes, but you probably will.

Everyday Carry Score: 95

Materials

One of the main areas where GORUCK doesn’t scrimp on is the materials they put into their rucks. The GR1 is no exception and, when considering the prices these go for on the secondary/used bag market, people are really confident in their longevity and quality.

A mixture of Cordura blends (1000d and 500d) makes up the majority of my bag (although other options include the lighter, but slightly less durable Ripstop Robic material). In my opinion, this is what really “makes” the bag (as well as some other GORUCK products, such as their Ballistic Trainers). It’s such a resilient material and I never have any concern about my bags getting beat up, yet alone torn.

Probably the main area I’m ever most concerned about with my bags are the zippers. They seem so inconsequential, but if one craps out, you’re pretty well screwed (especially if you’re in a rush and its stuck in a “closed” position). While I’ve had a slight problem with one of my Rucker – Long Range’s YKK zippers on its smaller pocket, I have had no issues with these same zippers on the GR1.

A quick rundown on the rest of the GR1’s materials goes as follows:

I wouldn’t say the non-Cordura internal pockets, particularly the mesh pockets feel overly strong or stable, but at the same time, I don’t worry about stuff busting out (in the few instances where I have stashed stuff in those areas).

Overall, with GORUCK’s bags, you’re paying for the name and for the materials. We could debate the “value” of the former for days, but I think the latter is priced well, especially considering how confident the brand is in the materials and what they’ll do to ensure their integrity isn’t compromised.

Materials Score: 95

Price

When it comes to price, GORUCK is pretty much never going to be the least expensive option. In many cases, it will be one of the more expensive options.

The GR1 is no exception.

Depending on the color and size selected, you’re looking to shell out a little over $300 for the bag. If you opt for some of the higher-end variations, you can run things up close to $700!

With that being said, there is normally some type of color and/or size combination on sale, in many cases, significantly. For example, at the time of this writing, four different color options (three of which are pretty tolerable…sorry “Hot Pink”!) are discounted ~33% (the 21-liter can be had for as low as $215).

These sales aren’t as frequent as the very common GORUCK shoes discount events, but occur often enough for me to give the price score a slightly higher rating than I otherwise would have.

For almost $100 off, I can dig it

Price Score: 75

Customer Reviews

Despite not having a major presence on any large retail websites, the GR1 has amassed a lot of reviews. With ~2080 reviews on the GORUCK main site (plus another 11 on Rogue), there is a bit of social proof with this bag. Considering that less than 100 of this total rated the bag below 4 stars…well…who am I to argue against the will of the people!

Clocking in at a collective 4.8 out of 5, I would say that the masses are pretty happy with their respective GR1 purchases!

…not “Eloy” (gosh, man…why did your parents do you like that?!), though. He is NOT happy with his…product…?

Sorry, Eloy!

Customer Reviews Score: 96

Customer Service

I’ve had some mixed experiences with GORUCK’s customer service team over the last year, however, all of my less-than-stellar experiences seem to be long in the past; my encounters are definitely trending up.

The company’s general shipping and return policies are pretty good. For just about all items (usually not to include “closeout sale” items) you can easily return your item (GORUCK will even pick up the tab for shipping costs!) up to 30 days after purchase.

Additionally, GORUCK’s Scars Lifetime Guarantee is really a nice “insurance policy” for your gear. As long as you don’t intentionally set fire to or take some hedge clippers to your bag, if it gets damaged, GORUCK will repair it and return it to you for free. I do not have personal experience with this process, but a fellow participant at GORUCK event I attended told me about the positive and seamless first-hand experience he had with this process.

These more objective criteria aside, I have experienced some minor frustrations with certain procedures I have made when ordering items online, but nothing major. In contrast, I have had a few different “refund” experiences (one involving a wrong shoe size, another involving an event that I was going to be unable to attend) that all resulted in very satisfactory outcomes.

I will say that even in my slightly more frustrating encounters, I was always dealing with a real person who acted like a normal person and not like some unempathetic AI chatbot. This alone puts the company ahead of so many others.

Customer Service Score: 95

Who is the GORUCK GR1 really for?

The GR1 really is a good, “universal” type of ruck. However, there are definitely people who would enjoy it a bit more than others.

Everday Carry Bros

As far as that reliable, go-to bag that you use for stuffing your laptop, a few documents, and maybe even a water bottle and change of clothes in, you could do a lot worse than the GR1. Its combination of load capacity, organizational convenience, and unassuming minimalism, contribute to its “day-in, day-out” style of reliability.

Lightweight Rucking

The GR1’s laptop compartment isn’t robust enough to convince you that you’ve got a legit ruck plate pocket in your bag, but when combined with the robust, plastic frame sheet, does a pretty good job of stabilizing 20-40 pounds worth of metal.

At this weight, you can still maintain a large degree of comfort while moving at a fast pace without feeling particularly burdened down or awkward. A bigger, heavier bag just feel like overkill at these weights.

Not for Serious Dynamic Rucking

You can definitely use the GR1 as an accessory piece during functional training exercises, but there are better, dedicated training ruck options to toss around, swing, and perform thrusters by the hundreds(!) with.

How we reviewed the GORUCK GR1

As the weather has gotten nicer this year, I have started to spend a lot more time outside. I have turned a lot of “normal” outdoor activities (ex. taking the dogs for a walk) into an excuse to “go rucking” with my GR1.

I have also given the GR1 a try when my current CrossFit programming has called for different types of odd-object movements (usually involving a sandbag) when I do not have an appropriate substitute (ex. light ruck cleans instead of sandbag cleans).

Of course, I have also incorporated the GR1 into my normal rucking routine (a few sessions each week combining Air Runner rucking sessions as well as forest trail sessions and poorly paved trail outings). I don’t go into an office every day so I haven’t technically used it for much everday carry, but I have put a number of packing combinations to the test!

GORUCK GR1 Alternatives

If you’re not quite sure if the GR1 is the bag for you, check out some alternative options that are similar to it, but different enough to possibly provide exactly what you’re looking for:

Best Alternative

GORUCK Rucker 4.0

GORUCK’s latest Rucker offering, the 4.0 is specifically designed for both “pure” and “dynamic” rucking. The bag of choice for any GORUCK event or ruck training.

If you’re luck for a bag with a load capacity similar to the GR1, but with added durability (not to mention a padded ruck plate pocket) for more vigorous ruck training, the latest iteration of the Rucker line of bags is what you need.

Pros

Hard, padded ruck plate sleeve perfect for dynamic rucking

Drainage holes and handles to handle all types of rucking

Multiple size and load options

Cons

Not ideal for everyday carry

Ruck plate pocket may be overkill for non-dynamic ruckers

Capacity Alternative

5.11 Tactical RUSH24 2.0 Backpack

The other “rucking company” you may have heard of, 5.11 Tactical’s bags have less flash and generally come at a lower price, but get the job done in a comparable manner.

Pros

Interior storage system is efficiently designed

Significant built-in hydration system

Extensive exterior MOLLE attachments

Cons

Ruck plate sits somewhat awkwardly without a dedicated sleeve

Not as extensive warranty protection

Brand Alternative

GORUCK Bullet

A bag that could be described as the GR1’s “little brother”, the Bullet is designed for lighter everyday carry, but can still hold its own as a training ruck for less complicated and involved workouts.

Pros

Hardcore Cordura material is exceptionally durable

Laptop sleeve robust enough for light rucking

Compact enough to qualify as a “personal item” on the plane

Cons

Most models lack a hard-plastic back panel

Lower load capacity

Frequently Asked Questions

Who would dare question the GR1? Well…if you want to, have at it!

Yeah, I would. Although it is marketed as a travel ruck, as long as you're not loading, like, 50-plus pounds into your ruck, it can serve as a dedicated "rucking ruck" just fine.

No, I wouldn't. I mean, you can definitely use it for these purposes (as numerous CrossFit Games-level athletes have done), but if this is your sole purpose, I would suggest the Rucker 4.0 instead.

Yeah, I would say so, especially if you're serious about your rucking aspirations and/or have legit use for it as an everyday carry bag. Something like the Bullet is less expensive, but it is much easier to outgrow. You could easily get the GR1 and be done with buying rucks forever.

The GORUCK GR1…”The Greatest of All Time”…?

It would take a lot for me to claim that a bag other than our beloved Rucker 4.0 is my favorite bag…yet alone “the greatest of all time” (as GORUCK describes the GR1). I may be more of a “training ruck” than a “travel ruck” type of guy, but…the GR1 ain’t the greatest in my book.

That being said, for the majority of people (who use their bag for a lot more everyday carry and travel and a lot less ruck thrusters than I do), the GR1 is going to be the much more practical and (probably) the much better overall option.

Worst case, there is a good bit of social proof and cache with sporting a bag that has “the greatest of all time” associated with it. With the GR1, you get to do that!

Summary

Overall Score

88

Rucking

90

Dynamic Rucking

80

Load Capacity

75

Everyday Carry

95

Materials

95

Price

75

Customer Reviews

96

Customer Service

95

How we test & score products

GORUCK GR1

GORUCK’s GR1, touted by the company as “the greatest (ruck) of all time” is the company’s flagship product of its flagship line of bags.

Primarily designed as a “travel ruck”, the GR1 nevertheless can be (and has extensively been) used for “traditional” rucking purposes as well as for more “dynamic” types of ruck workouts.

Sporting higher-end materials (with a higher-end price tag to match) and one of the best warranties we’ve seen in the rucking industry, there isn’t much not to like in this bag that truly has something to please everybody.

Pros

Refined multiple times over the last decade-plus while maintaining classic features

Capable of serving as an everyday carry bag or training ruck

Lifetime warranty; GORUCK will repair any damage and/or will replace damaged items

Cons

Not the largest load capacity

Internal pocket is stable, but not overly secure when performing ruck workouts

Not the most affordable ruck on the market, especially higher-end models

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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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