Road Test | GORUCK GR 1
Over the past month or so there have been a lot of people searching for reviews on the GORUCK GR 1 and getting directed to Carryology. We figured with so many people looking for it, we may as well oblige and give you the review!
Fortunately we found that one of our readers, Greg Nelson, has had a long relationship with his GORUCK via the ‘What backpack do you use?‘ post and Greg was able to offer us a very detailed review that should answer all your questions, so click on for a review of the GORUCK GR 1.
When the need arose for a heavy duty, solidly constructed backpack that could withstand the rigors of heavy loads and harsh environments, I began to research some of the larger military carry manufacturers. I even purchased several just so I could field test them personally. They were mostly well built, functional and strong, and despite the diversity of design and manufacturing standards, they all had one thing in common. They looked tactical. Which isn’t so bad when you’re out in the field, but not the most amazing look when you’re in a suit walking to your office.
Military bags are designed to be deployed in harsh environments. Unfortunately they are too overt for the casual carryologist. Thereʼs no doubt theyʼre solid and bombproof; and they look it. Which is why the GORUCK GR1 caught my eye with its clean lines, sharp edges and simple colorway.
The GR1 was larger than I expected, but thatʼs a welcome surprise. Externally, the pack is about minimalism. No bottle holders or pouches, save the front drop pocket hidden beneath a zipper flap. The MOLLE webbing, betraying its military heritage, is done in a way that’s unobtrusive and subtle. The webbing on the straps serves a practical design purpose, allowing them to bend to the wearer. Lift one of the straps and open the 90-degree YKK zipper to reveal the laptop or hydration compartment. Versatility that’s yours to determine.
I carry a 13-inch MacBook uncovered that slides in with ease and a 17-inch would also fit without trouble. The hydration bladder tends to bulge in the compartment when the pack is full but it’s not a huge problem, considering you will deplete the contents as you go.
The lack of external compression straps has not impeded the load-carrying capability. The zippers always close easily, no matter the bulge. Elastic cord or webbing can always be added to the MOLLE attachments too if needed.
The absence of a sternum strap is inconsequential. A protective and structural rigid sleeve inside the back panel means the pack rests high on the shoulders. Even when fully loaded it doesnʼt pull on the straps. When running and cycling itʼs comfortable and it stays put.
When new, the pack showed some distortion of the 1000D Cordura fabric. Kind of like heat blisters, I believe this was just the material wearing in as Iʼve not had a repeat nor has it compromised the appearance of the bag.
In a nice touch, the top can be opened and folded halfway if you only want to access the top part of the bag – particularly useful when it’s leaning upright. The hard reinforced frame of the bag,while not padded like a dedicated camera case, still affords some protection and allows compartmentalised packing of gear.
This pack’s pedigree just demands abuse. Itʼs built to last and it dares you to prove otherwise. So how does it stand up? Itʼs been exposed to heavy rain for long periods and the contents have stayed dry. I wouldnʼt call it waterproof in a literal sense but it holds up to unexpected downpours and sprays effectively. Itʼs been dragged over rough surfaces with nary a mark. Iʼve stuffed it with heavy winter clothing and still found room for my boots. Cameras, batteries and other photography gear stay securely in place and emerge unscathed.
Now for the crunch; the GR1 doesnʼt come cheap. $295US for the flagship of the brand, but to witness the thoughtful design, craftsmanship and attention to detail and the bag’s practicality and durability is to realise good value. I have no regrets about the expense as I feel confident the GR1 will meet a variety of needs for a long time.
The weight of the unloaded pack is hefty too, topping the scales at 1.5kg, but that’s to be expected with the 100oD Cordura material used. For me the GR1 is simple, it’s low profile, it holds a ton of gear and it moves with me. It looks good, it doesnʼt draw attention by screaming military or camera gear and it takes abuse without complaining. It has the military pedigree without the overt tactical appearance.
Unlike other carry relationships and one-trip stands Iʼve had, this ruck will go with me for life. Iʼm already coveting the GR2, but that’s another story. For more info, head over to the GORUCK website where youʼll find more information on the company and its expanding range in the news section.