Thoughts on fit, function and form after 3 months with the GORUCK GR1.
Two years ago, I ordered a GORUCK Radio Ruck. I’d been nursing a serious case of gear lust for the GR line for awhile, and finally decided to pull the trigger on a pack. I initially decided on the Radio Ruck because, at the time, I was practically carrying all of my work stuff to and from work every day, but feared the GR1 would be overkill.
When the pack arrived I was instantly in love.
I took it to work, on hikes, on fishing trips, and on over night trips. All the while, there were a few things I didn’t really care for: 1) the pack didn’t open all of the way open like the larger models, and 2) it always seemed a bit on the squat size. (Both of these issues have since been remedied by GORUCK with the addition of the full length zipper and a modification to the volume of the bag.) After four months I caved and sold my Radio Ruck.
Over the course of a few years, I tried two other tactical packs, along with a host of hiking oriented packs, and none of them quite covered all of the bases like the Radio Ruck. The two tactical packs, while tough, stuck out in the office and public environments. The hiking packs, while great on the trail, didn’t travel well or lend themselves to what I needed for my EDC. So in July I headed over to Huckberry.com, and sealed the deal on my GR1. In the three months since its arrival, I’ve carried it to work 90 percent of the time, on several long hikes, on two trips on the Trans American Trail, and several short travel trips. It really excels in every role I’ve decided to throw it into to, and I’ve yet to find the GR1‘s weak spot.
This pack is nearly bombproof. Rarely would I say that a pack breaking-in is a good thing, but the initial rigidness of the Cordura takes several days of carry to break down. Even after this period of “softening up,” the pack still holds its structure very well. The frame sheet and padding pair with the rigid bottom to make a great platform that helps the pack to sit upright.
My pack arrived looking like a work of art in the terms of stitching. After being crammed into 4x4s, thrown around campsites, and spending a few nights as a pillow, it looks no worse for wear.
While not waterproof, the GR1 does maintain a very high level of water resistance. Mine has been soaked on several occasions during this particularly rainy summer, and I’ve never noticed any moisture in the main bag or laptop compartment. Only once did a minute amount of moisture manage to be noticeable inside of the front pocket.
The GR1 has the ability to stay high on my back despite any load or activity I subject it to. This is due to two distinct features that truly make GORUCK unique among competitors. First, the shoulder straps share the rigid properties of the rest of the pack. This is by no means a negative quality; they quickly form to the user and the thick padding holds the pack bag high on the back without requiring the user to tighten the straps beyond a reasonable level. The straps are connected to the main pack bag with thick webbing pieces that make a single flex point over the shoulders.
The second aspect of the GORUCK’s unique ride is the frame sheet. After my experience with the Radio Ruck, I see that this small addition makes all of the difference. By keeping the back padding rigid it keeps the entire rear panel tight, while totally negating the sags and flops of a normal frameless pack.
For Pt. II of the review, I’ll cover organization and the duality of the pack in its fulfillment of my two main purposes for it.
photos by David Carney