Carry Awards

The Carry Awards – Best Carry On

by , January 9, 2013

Best Carry On - Goruck GR2

“Our favorite Carry On for traveling the world with only one bag”

We can’t think of a better Carry On bag to travel the world with. The GR2 fits everything you need, blends in to anywhere you go, and can be customised with modules to most configurations you desire. If you’re a OneBag convert, the GR2 let’s you carry on everything, yet still present in front of a client or fancy hotel lobby.

This is not a cheap pack, but when you consider that the price includes a commitment to keep the bag in service almost no matter what you get up to, for life, it starts to feel like great value.

The GR2 is a large pack, which better suits a larger wearer. However it also has several smaller stablemates (including the cult GR1) if you don’t need to survive out of your bag for quite as long.

Goruck have more commitment to their product that almost any other brand, and we’re stoked to see them win Best Carry On.

  • Domenic

    An awesome ruck (back pack) and an even better (made in America) brand. I have two GR2′s. One I use for work and the other I use for play and training. I’ve taken my first GR2 through mud, barbed wire, hiking, dragged it, kicked it, thrown it, etc. I take it home, wash it off and you’d never know it had just been through hell and back. I can take my GR2 through an obstacle course race loaded with 30-40 pounds of bricks on the weekend, wash it off, load it with paperwork and take it into a meeting on Monday. I’ve done a lot of research and used many different bags trying to find the one that fit my lifestyle. I have yet to find a bag anywhere that is it’s equal.

    • rfb

      That’s not so hard actually. Nothing against the Goruck packs, sure they’re great. And nothing against the people behind the brand, who have been serving in the field.

      Just saying that

      a) most people who buy this $400 pack will NOT load it with bricks and do “obstacle course races”

      b) sth as cheap as the standard issue German Army backpack which can be bought for less than 80,- Euros (plus a few bucks for the sleeping pad that doubles as a kind of back padding when folded up) does the same – I promise ;-)

      Again, I’m sure the packs are nice, but most military grade packs will do just as fine for a fraction of the cost. Apart from the made in America part the Goruck guys built a little bit of fashion and a cult around it, and that’s also what you pay for.

      • Dustin

        Military packs do not do just fine when you bring them into a professional environment. The point is that the Goruck rucks are tough as nails yet present a crisp professional image in the office. Brains and brawn where you’re focus seems to center on brawn. Also due to the typical proclivities of those that participate in the Goruck Challenge (several thousand people), a very large number of those that buy a GR2 actually WILL load them with bricks and do obstacle course races. The point is their versatility and durability while they retain business-class style.

        • rfb

          To each their own :)

          I just always find it funny when people stress the ability to pack some bricks when they’re trying to justify the money spent on their cool new bag – bags a fraction of the cost do THAT just as well.

          As for your other argument: Again, to each their own. I’m wearing tailored suits from fine Italian cloths. Even if you gave me the pack for free and the money it costs on top, I would never even consider a backpack in a professional office environment. IMO that screams “college kid who can’t afford a nice suitcase and/or weekender to go with their suit and/or has zero style whatsoever”.

          Enjoy your backpack :)

  • http://www.loadedpocketz.com Blaine Ballard

    I love you guys, but it’s hard to take this category seriously without the excellent travel bags from Red Oxx and Tom Bihn being in the mix.

    • Ando

      Thanks for chipping in Blaine.

      We did open nominations up for the industry panel and readers to vote for any brands they loved, and while Tom Bihn and Red Oxx certainly featured, they were not anywhere near the votes of our selected nominees.

      While both brands make functionally strong bags, I think many readers and panel members feel that neither have that style or èlan that elevates them beyond mere utility.

      Our favorite bags not only help you carry better, they also help you feel better, which often means a strong element of style.

      • http://www.loadedpocketz.com Blaine Ballard

        Ando, style is a very subjective thing and certainly the panel is entitled to their opinion. Personally, I think the GR2′s suitcase-like profile isn’t all that visually stunning and overall the bag is pretty plain. Of course, it’s the square shape of the GR2 that makes it also easy to pack and organize which is one of the reasons why people love it so much. That and the build quality.

        With that said, one man’s “plain” is another man’s “elegantly simple” which I’m sure is your take on the design. Maybe I’d feel differently if I reviewed one and spent some time with it. Hard to say.

        We also have to agree to disagree on Tom Bihn lacking “style and elan”. I’d admit that they have some love it or leave it designs but the Smart Alec, which I recently did a write up on, is a beautifully designed product. I also like the Synapse and the Ristretto.

  • Spencer

    Just carried my brand new GR2 for a week-long trip to France. Living out of the bag was so EASY. Love how the zippers allow the bag to open fully.
    Pack light, move fast!

  • Domenic

    @ rfb

    Its a shame when people put so little value on made in America products and sell out to the lowest price.

    GORUCK makes awesome gear that is guaranteed for life. Not many brands out there stand by their product like that and there is a reason for that. I buy GORUCK for several reasons but first and foremost it does whatever I need it to whenever I need to do it and I’ll never need to buy another. A rare commodity in an age were most products aren’t designed to last.

    • rfb

      FYI, first of all I’m European. I care about where my stuff is made and under what conditions, which affects how I vote with my Euro with every purchase I make. I don’t mind paying for quality. I happily pay 16 bucks for a deodorant made in France, just as one out of many examples. As to Made in USA: If what I want/need to buy isn’t available from a EU manufacturer or the quality/features I want aren’t available, I happily buy from US companies often importing the stuff myself including all the hassle with expensive shipping, heading to the customs office, paying taxes and all that.

      TBH as long as the work conditions follow certain standards, I as an EU guy don’t see why a Vietnamese person shouldn’t have the same rights to employment etc. as an American – we are all human! That’s another story though. You care about jobs in YOUR country that’s fine.

      Now I don’t know if you know this, but there’s plenty of manufacturers who build great backpacks in the US, from the top of my head there’s: Eberlestock, Tactical Tailor, Specops Brand, Eagle Industries, Mystery Ranch, Kifaru (both featured on this site), TAD, BDS Tactical, Tactical Assault Gear, BLACKHAWK, The Camelbak MAXIMUM GEAR (which is their tactical) line is assembled in the US with some imported products (so not Berry compliant), Kelty, London Bridge Training.
      Again, this is just from the top of my head and just from the realm of military packs (as I used to be in the infantry and was/am kind of a gearnut). Some/many of these brands offer lifetime warranties too, some have begun to manufacture (some of their stuff) off shore, Eberlestock and Eagle Ind. I think.

      If you think those products don’t stand up to the same abuse, maybe you should try one :)

      Again: I’m not hating on Goruck. I’m sure the packs are great and I’m not saying they should retail for $100 either. I am JUST saying, that they are a basic (of course well executed) construction that you could get for a little less from other companies – made in USA and lifetime warranty included. You pay a little extra because of hype/cult. I use an Apple Computer, Phone and MP3 Player so I don’t blame you for that, I was just pointing sth. out.

      Most of the manufacturers I just mentioned offer more or less plain black backpacks, more or less tactical looking. Many in the same price range of the Goruck actually have a REAL load bearing system in the back, not just some joke of a plastic sheet. The materials used are pretty much the same across the board: 1000d Cordura, nylon webbing, YKK Zippers, Fastex or some other kind of high quality quick release buckles.

      You wanna buy Goruck packs and love them? More power to you. But to claim that they are the only company doing stuff this way is outright BS, sorry :)

      • Chad

        You are correct, to each their own, but most of those other packs have compression strap diarrhoea.

        Today’s consumer wants more from a manufacturer than just the final product and Steve Jobs new that and so does Jason McCarthy. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Why buy a Rolex when you can get a Casio instead right?

        I never lost any respect for wearing a rucksack to work but then I don’t have to wear Italian cloth suits either…

      • Tal

        Buy goruck try it and trust me you understand why we love this baby! Thanks

        • Derek

          Complete your first Challenge with a Jansport, then do the same with a GR1 then we’ll talk.

  • Patrice

    @rfb

    You seem pretty knowledgeable on the subject.
    Any brands you would recommend that would be more easily available in Europe (I live in France)?

    For the record, I really do like how the GR2 looks, and would probably enjoy one, but as you mentionned the price tag is really high.

    • rfb

      Thanks dude, it’s all just my opinion though :) Also I might be biased, because a) I don’t use backpacks in an office context and b) I was in the military so I adapted myself to military packs and don’t need tons of fancy organizer pockets to carry my stuff.

      In a backpack I’m looking for durable materials, high quality construction, and a load bearing system / straps that make carrying a load comfortable for my back. Every backpack is comfortable with 10kg, even for hours. It’s when you pack more and carry it longer that good packs seperate themselves from the rest. And that’s also when a plastic sheet as a “backplate” starts to suck :D

      Brands I hadn’t any issues getting my hands on in Europe include Blackhawk Tactical and Camelbak Maximum Gear. I can recommend both brands. The Camelbaks with Futura Harnesses (from the Mystery Ranch Co-Design) are awesome IMO, great bang for the buck.

    • http://www.loadedpocketz.com Blaine Ballard

      Patrice – just to add to what rfb said, the packs he’s referring to in the Camelbak line are the TriZip and the Linchpin. Both are great packs with superior load bearing capabilities due to the MR harnesses but arguably they are very tactical in appearance. My favorite office friendly pack from Camelbak is the Urban Assault. Very good organization and in addition laptop friendly,

      • Patrice

        Thanks guys!

        I don’t use a backpack in an office context either (doesn’t really match the suit and tie style), but I’d still use it in a urban environment (and won’t be carrying bricks in it).

        And I must admit, the Goruck still has the best looks :)

  • Ken

    I agree with rfb on the point that the consumer is paying a little extra for gorucks due to hype/cult. The comparison of gorucks with Apple is relevant because they share certain similarities although they are entirely different products. Both feature high quality materials and construction. Both also feature a somewhat minimalist modular design upon which additions could be made to suit the consumer’s personal preference. However, both are also pricey and for that price point I feel that alot more innovation could be injected into the product. Apple plays up its retina display while goruck plays up its durability and service. But there are better screens out there such as those used in the google nexus 7 with way more pixel density as well as fellow bagmakers using the same 1000d cordura with lifetime warranty. The latter costs lesser than gorucks or Apple. I do not mind paying a premium price if I see something innovative, functional and aesthetically pleasing. But I will not pay extra just for hype. Just some personal insights :)

    • http://www.loadedpocketz.com Blaine Ballard

      Ken/rfb – When GoRuck is compared to a cult it reminds me of a post I recently came across where someone compared Jason McCarthy (GoRuck’s founder) to Tyler Durden. That made me laugh.

      Coincidentally, it’s been reported that soup has been mysteriously removed from the menu of many Bozeman area eating establishments. ;-)

  • Edward

    Another European here (excuse me if my English sounds weird at times).

    Why did I buy the GR2 and voted for it?

    [Note: sorry for the length, this explanation/justification turned almost into a review. I added a tl;dr at the end if you want to skip.

    I decided to buy the GR2 without trying it first (something I seldom do) for a few reasons :
    -the size, at the limits of what is allowed as cabin luggage in airplanes
    -the square shape
    -the two compartments
    -it can open flat + many internal mesh pockets
    -the top pocket (more on that further down).

    The price is steep, but as long as it is fairly shared between the people working at Goruck and I can afford it, I do not feel I am feeding some greedy fat cats.

    I use it to travel on week-ends between France and Switzerland, and on a recent Christmas trip to South Africa (the main incentive in getting a new bag, big enough to hold some essentials if my main travel bag gets lost).

    What I got is a tough bag whose size and proportions hit a sweet spot where everything fits just well and rigid enough to keep its shape whatever the load. As I expected, the top pocket is perfect for my wallet, credit card, sunglasses and small items, is never compressed or crushed (like a front pocket would be) and is easy to access. A very good design. The compartmentization makes fitting everything sorted easy (separating wet from dry stuff for example) and nothing hangs outside the bag (another important point I forgot to mention).

    The GR2 is not extremely comfortable, but it is confortable enough. I need to make a little more muscle to carry it when its whole 47 liters are full, or I need to pack lighter. For week-ends, or flying overseas, it is not a big deal. But I have yet to take this bag on a full day trek, and compare how to fares compared to a similarly loaded bag with a good hip belt. I do not have a high esteem of hip belts, they do not offload enough the weight, restrict movements and add new sore points, but I do not think I have tried a good, well-designed one on a quality bag (I would love to try a Bergans with the “Spine” system you wrote a feature about last August – what happened to those? Anything new on the subject?). But yeah, I do not expect the GR2 to fare well on an 8-hour walk.

    As for the look, it can make me NOT buy a bag, but it will never be the reason I buy one. The “GR2 explained” blog post on Goruck’s website did a better job at convincing me than the image and marketing around Goruck (the “tacticool” vibe, the challenges, the bricks, the Marines culture – hey, as a good-for-nothing European, it bothers me more than anything).

    Would I have got that from a standard issue German Army backpack? I doubt it. A military medical bag may having done the trick, but they are far more difficult to find.

    tl;dr : the GR2 is really, really well-designed, and does not have much competition – feel free to prove me wrong.

    • AA

      It desperately need a waist belt though!

  • https://www.goruck.com/Origins jason

    I find this kind of gear-dork dialogue really interesting and informative, so thanks to all for chiming in. @rfb you got some passion for this stuff, I love it. Maybe we’ll get you with the messenger bag. You never know, though I’m sure there will be less expensive options out there once we launch :)
    As for the GORUCK hype thing, I’m not sure you’re paying for that – after all, our rucks cost the same today as they did in 2010 when we first started selling them, before the GORUCK Challenge even existed. Maybe people heard about us because of the hype of the Challenge, though, so it’s an interesting point.
    Edward – thanks for reading GR2 Explained – those posts take me forever so it’s always really gratifying when people tell me they get something out of anything I post.
    –jason (GORUCK founder)

    • https://www.goruck.com/Origins jason

      And I say gear dork with total love since I consider myself one, too. Sorry and hope that was clear :)

      • http://www.loadedpocketz.com Blaine Ballard

        Me? A Gear Dork? Moi? Yeah, OK.

    • Edward

      Hi Jason,
      Explanations are always useful.
      About that… I think you have not really explained the lack of hip belt on such a large bag. Your “better make a bag sit high on the back” rationale sounds weak when everybody else does differently, and worse when you realize the weight ends up on the lower part of the back anyway.

      This is the only design choice you did that looks like a cheap decision to save costs. Everything else is so right.

  • hjk

    Was there not enough votes for the incase nominee? It looks well-designed too and more importantly, quite lightweight at 1.5 kg. Will probably check it out locally if and when it comes out in “Spring 2013″…

  • Anil A.

    I think you’ve got to factor in usage as much as anything g else. Sure stuff from MR or other brands with hip belts etc may be better bags for hiking or running with bricks or whatever. But that doesn’t make them better than the GR2 for travelling. This award was for best carry on.

    A carry on doesn’t automatically require hip belts but it does require easy access to pack and great organisation. Which this bag has. All those complicated harness and framing systems aren’t likely to do you any favours on an aeroplane or checked in.

    That said as much as I love my GR1 I’m in no rush to get the GR2 due to the cost and weight. I think if I travelled more I would. I use a porter 46 currently and the organisation is just not there.

  • Grant

    Personal lifestyle bag…a winner. Not for office pro though unless you cycle to work and its de rigor to wear sneakers at work. (Which is most places in the Bay Area where I live and work!) Want to look like a winner going places at work?…always leather, whatever style..

  • Audrey

    Will you be reviewing the Brenthaven Broadmore backpack any time soon? I’ve seen this refined backpack on the manufacturer website and thought it may appeal to professionals that don’t mind using a backpack if it’s polished enough to be “professional.” Kudos to GoRuck for the best carry-on award. I’m getting an SK16 (slick version of the GR Echo) for travel (casual and business).

  • Susan

    I love this website! I’m in the market for exactly this kind of pack. A backpack of generous size that works as a carry-on (i am living abroad, traveling frequently), that also feels good on my back ( considering how much I walk I must have a good waist belt). Also needs to be profession-looking enough to occasionally attend meetings with me, fresh off the plane/bus. Not easy.

    I’m currently using a knock-off North face i bought for $20, but its definitely not professional and it is of course falling apart completely.

    The GR2 looks amazing and the pockets, MOLLE are amazing, but the price is too much for me. I say this even as I’m considering the MW Rambler, which wins on how pretty it looks outside…

    Are you planning to review the Timbuk2 Aviator backpack soon? That is very much in the running for me, as the looks work, and it seems well-designed for travel. Only drawback is the limiting 28L size.

    Thanks for such a great site!

    • Audrey

      Susan, GoRuck also manufactures the slim line that has no exterior MOLLE webbing, hydration exit port, or exterior Velco patch if you’re still partial to their rucks for the office. I’m partial to GoRuck and will be adding to my collection I started, but there’s also Brenthaven Broadmore backpack and the soon-to-debut (in a few weeks) Minaal.com travel bag that is a duffel/backpack/briefcase. I’m a minimalist so 20 liters is good for my travel needs.

      • http://www.minaal.com Jimmy

        Audrey! Thanks for the mention. We’re stoked to make our first appearance on Carryology via your post.

        Definitely aiming to be in the running for these awards in future.

        Jimmy
        (co-founder, Minaal)

        • Audrey Arketa

          You’re very welcome, Jimmy. Looking forward to a great product debut from Minaal.

  • andyang

    hello there everyone.

    i am from Malaysia. i would like to know where can i buy Goruck backpack other than from their own webpage.

    i am interested at the SK40. is the SK40 stated correctly as 40L? because the dimension is smaller than the GR2 and the GR2 is also 40L.

    please advice me.

    thanks

    • Audrey

      Sometimes Context Clothing http://www.contextclothing.com/brand.php?brand=Goruck has GoRuck items. I haven’t seen any GoRuck items in Amazon.com, but if you’re looking for a brick and mortar store that sells GoRuck, I have not seen any; GoRuck markets its products online.

      SK40 (stripped down version of the GR2) has a 40-liter capacity http://www.goruck.com/en/sk40, and it is the largest of the Slick Ruck line. However, on their website the dimensions 12”W x 20”H x 6.75”D (1,620 cubic inches or 26.5-Liters) is the same as the SK26. This is probably a typographical error, but you may want to email GoRuck HQ to verify the dimensions http://www.goruck.com/en/contactus

      The GR2 from the Original line also has a 40-liter capacity http://www.goruck.com/en/gr2 and is also the largest in the Original line of rucks with dimensions of 12.5″W x 22”H x 9”D (2,475 cubic inches)

      The only other online store that I’ve seen sell GoRucks (new and pre-owned) is the eBay store. Sometimes you’ll get a great deal on a ruck and other times you may pay more than retail, regardless of the ruck’s condition based on how the auction goes. Here’s the URL for the current listings as of today http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=m570.l3201&_nkw=goruck&_sacat=0

      If you’re concerned about online shopping with GoRuck, I’ve already bought several items from them and all items arrived in pristine conditions. No matter where you purchase a GoRuck ruck, it is covered with their lifetime guarantee and despite any abuse you dish out on your ruck, they can repair it for you.

      Hope this helps.

      • andyang

        dear Audrey,

        thanks for the precious information there.

        really helps me.

        what model of Goruck backpack you bought? mind sharing?

        and does Goruck have promotion / discount for their bags?

        thanks
        andy

        • Audrey

          You’re very welcome, Andy. My first GoRuck backpack was the GR Echo this June when they offered the Foliage Green color. It’s my EDC ruck for work, hiking, anywhere; I just switch out the contents for whatever I’m using it for that day.

          I’ll be buying the GR0 (aka “The Zero” it’s the new 20-Liter ruck styled exactly like the GR1 but 6 liters smaller) for road travel (20 Liters is all I need for any length of time when I travel). This upcoming trip will be at least 8 weeks long, so it will take great discipline to pack it all into my ruck.

          Another option is the 32-liter Kit bag they now market and just recently in Limited Edition colors. This would complement my Echo or my GR0 if I need to carry work gear with me on this road trip coming up.

          From the time I’ve been following the company, GoRuck never has never had a sale on their items, but you can try the other websites I posted to see if you can find a slightly more cost effective alternative.

          If you’ve never bought one of these rucks, let me say that you will own it for life. It’s THAT tough. Once you have it in your hands, you’ll see what I mean.

          In my last post I had forgotten that at one of their past events they held (the Nasty they call it) they had a shop there where their gear was sold. To my knowledge, that is the only “store” GoRuck had offline.

          For more ideas, Google “GoRuck” and read other websites’ articles about the gear (i.e., how others pack their rucks, what they use theirs for, how durable the ruck really is, etc.).

          Carryology was the first I’ve ever heard of the company and the ruck. AWESOME website here!

          • Andy

            Hie andrey. Thanks again for the info.
            I am currency looking at the SK40 to use as my business trip and travel trip for my overnight and even 2-4 days of trip.

            And is not cheap for this bag.

          • andyang

            audrey,

            do u think a 26L or 40L can use as my business trip pack for 3-4 days?
            things i will fit in are:
            1 pair of sandal
            1 long pants
            3 short pants
            4 shirts
            1 toiletry bag
            1 towel

            please advice

            thanks

  • Audrey

    Andy,

    A disciplined traveler can fit all you listed in less than the 26-liter bag, but even not knowing the contents of your toiletry kit, men typically carry less than women when traveling.

    Assuming you wear a set of clothes that cuts down on what you pack and carry. Also, I’ve found that using a folding envelope (i.e., Eagle Creek Fold-It 15 or 18) will keep your pants and shirts pretty much wrinkle free (you would probably need the slightly larger 18″ size folding envelope). Any other clothes including underwear and socks I’ve packed in a half cube or tube cube depending on the quantity.

    I love rucking and when I travel I only use my ruck and it’s usually my 16-liter or 20-liter capacity size. When you use a GoRuck ruck, it’s rugged enough for a total load out and can be washed.

    When you lay out your clothes and determine that you can cut out some items (do you really need a new pair of pants for each day, or can you get away with just two and just swap out the shirts?), you’re packing is lighter and you can travel with just the one ruck not worrying about keeping track of more than one piece of luggage.

    What’s nice about GoRuck gear is that the laptop compartment on the back side is separate from the main compartment and is heavily padded so assuming you’re not tossing your ruck all over while you travel, your electronics in that compartment are safe while traveling. I’ve even taken my ruck out in rain and my iPad in that compartment never got wet or even damp.

    For packing ideas, see GoRuck’s website and look at the graphics as well as the Explaining the GR-1 and other sized rucks. Also, if you have a Tumblr account (or not), look for blogs from PackLite http://packlite.tumblr.com/ <— here's that link. To save time on PackLite's blog, above the heading, look for ARCHIVE and click on that to get each month's postings at a glance. You'll find pictures of rucks and what people list as the contents. Some even have pictures of the ruck, how it's packed step by step, and the list of contents.

    Good luck.

  • andyang

    dear Andrey,

    thanks for the blog.

    which pack is that beside the car inside 1 of the photos?

    and the 1 that the guy carrying on the back (3rd photo from top)

    and which pack do i get? the 26 or 40?

    pleae advice. :)

    • Audrey

      http://therandompost.com/post/59486226199/one-week-long-road-trip-one-backpack <— if you're referring to this post (ruck on ground beside car tire) that ruck is the GoRuck GR1, which has a 26-liter capacity (more than enough for your packing list).

      http://packlite.tumblr.com/post/66215254936 <— in this post Cadre Garet is rocking a SK40, a stripped down version of the GR2. The difference between the Slick Line and Original Line of rucks (SK40 vs GR2) is the SK40 doesn't have the external MOLLE webbing (4 x 6 on the front panel or either side), no hydration exit port, and no exterior Velcro to affix a patch. Other than that, the SK40 and GR40 have the same capacity: 40 liters, both have internal MOLLE webbing, and both have the external compression on each side of the ruck. This is a HUGE ruck and typically they suggest it for someone 6' or taller.

      I suggest the 26-liter GR1 from GoRuck if you're only looking at the 26 and 40-liter sizes. They now market a newer version, The Zero (GR0) that is 20-liters. That's the ruck I like for backpacking (backpacking requires more gear than the clothes you're packing).

      Also, go to GoRuck.com to read the backstory on the rucks and see more pictures.

  • andy

    hie Andrey,
    i manage to get my goruck SK40. already used for my business trip for 3D2N.
    is was awesome. really like the design and the fully open wide of the pack when packing.
    hopefully can help me to carry my up coming 1 week trip. :)

  • AA

    Now I actually own a GR2, I can say it’s way, way too heavy to be ideal carry on luggage. The lack of waist belt is murder on the back too. Shame.

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