- Buyer's Guide
GORUCK GR2 VARIANT: YOMP-ENGINE No1
Equally passionate about outdoor pursuits and gear hacking, Neil Stevens has delved deep into the world of carry modding, spending months at a time tweaking, testing, and honing carry setups to best suit his needs. Through his blog YOMP NOTES he shares his carefully modified carry setups for EDC and outdoor use. And when it came to a rugged pack that could handle a lot of gear in a variety of settings, Neil turned to his trusty GORUCK GR2. But it needed that personalized touch to get it just right.
Discover Neil’s step-by-step process to creating his ideal GR2 setup, republished below…
THE EXTERIOR MODS
I bought my first GORUCK as an EDC MULE, I use it most days and I’ve become quite attached. At about the same time I was looking at other bags for hiking, one thing led to another and I wondered how the GORUCK GR1 would work out as a rucksack for this purpose. So, I made some simple mods to test the theory!
1. I added a sternum strap stolen from another rucksack
2. I added a waist belt also stolen from the above rucksack
3. I added a Tactical Tailor admin pouch
I packed the GR1 with my usual day hiking gear and off I went.
A full day hike, 10 miles with approximately 20lbs of gear including food and water, the GORUCK performed better than perfect. Any issues? One! Not big enough, especially for use in winter where extra bulky clothes would be needed.
Enter the GORUCK GR2!!!
This choice would be perfect, basically the same bag (familiarity of platform) but bigger than the GR1 21L and with the extra front compartment (DIV2) that I earmarked for carrying extra clothes. The GR2 would be the chassis for the YOMP-ENGINE No1.
GORUCK GR2, PERFECT BUT NEEDS MODS
I decided on the 34L version in Ranger Green.
Over-engineered is good, I like over-engineered, I like my gear to be as tough and as bad-ass as I will ever need. The GORUCK GR2 fits my criteria. Construction and design is better than perfect but the GR2 is built with another purpose so to coax it into being the rucksack I wanted, mods would be needed.
THE GR2: A MULTITASKER
This rucksack was going to have to do more than just look cool while out in the backcountry. It would need to multitask and if I’m honest, I really like the clean, simple, boxy, utility chic of the GORUCK model, so although straps and buckles were needed, I didn’t want to see anything permanent, giving me the option to remove everything and field strip it back to a rucksack I could use for one-bag travel and all that entails.
STERNUM STRAP – ENTER THE MOLLE MONKEY
While testing the theory of using a GORUCK for an extended, cross country length of time, I used an old sternum strap. This worked great and definitely proved its worth but didn’t match. At the beginning of the project, one of my goals was to customize the rucksack sympathetically so when finished, it would look like it had just come from the factory with these features included. I would need a new sternum strap in Ranger Green to match the rest of the webbing. This was also the case for the detachable compression straps and waist belt. These I designed and Molle Monkey Tactical kindly made for me.
Rightly or wrongly and I’m no buckle expert, I’ve never been impressed with the standard issue on the GORUCK. I’m talking about the shoulder strap buckles. Try as I might, I can’t find any makers’ brands on them so it leaves me to believe they are strong and great quality but no name options. But my primary issue was color and I wanted something easier to use with more charisma. I chose ITW GhillieTEX Ladderlocs in Coyote brown. A beautiful slick design with a hole for paracord, just to aid those shoulder strap adjustments.
The GORUCK GR2 gives us plenty of pockets to organize and stash but I found, especially when wearing gloves, that the front slash pocket was difficult to use. I’ve added a small but perfectly formed utility pocket for a wallet, keys and phone etc. This was a lucky coincidence as it was a pouch that I’ve owned for years but worked just great in style, construction of materials and color with the Ranger Green GORUCK. This is a small Utility Pouch by Flyye Industries in OD green.
To carry the coyote colorway through, set by the replacement buckles, I decided to remove all the exterior zipper pulls and replace with coyote brown, gutted 550 paracord. I’ve added a split ring to the left hand zipper pull for the main GORUCK compartment, basically so I can tell quickly which is left and which is right hand. As yet I haven’t bothered with this on the secondary compartment as I don’t use it as much as the main, so it’s not such a problem.
I consider one of the most important assets to a rucksack to be the compression straps. I remember when they were introduced to the civilian market and thought they were a god-send! This was a really important factor when I was considering the GR2 but thought that at least I could add my own, how hard could that be? : ) So, why compression straps? Three reasons:
1. They compress up space when space isn’t used
2. They compress up gear so it doesn’t swill around in the bag and therefore on your back, especially when running or moving through awkward terrain
3. Use them to strap gear to your pack. From jackets to tents, to camera tripods to a rifle
It was key that one way or another, a compression system was made possible. Having had a good look around online, I couldn’t find a system of component straps that worked for me. Mostly color was the issue, I needed them to match the look and feel of the GORUCK model. So I designed my own and again had them made by Molle Monkey Tactical. It was a lot of fun to design this system along with the other straps mentioned and working with MMT and a month or so later, I had the straps in my hands ready to fit.
My system is based on loops. Loops sewn into the seam of the bag that would accept the straps via a Mash hook at one end and a split bar, side release buckle at the other. This allowed for quick release, adjustment and field stripping for one-bag travel. But for these webbing loops, was I really going to unpick my beloved GR2 and sew these in myself, by hand?
Then one fine afternoon, out of the blue GORUCK SCARS emailed asking if I wanted help with my water drainage grommets, something I was discussing with friends on Instagram at the time. I said yes please and asked if they could help with the webbing loops for the compression straps to attach to. Unbelievably they agreed. I think they wanted a friendly guinea pig to try the new service on. : ) A few weeks later a parcel from GORUCK SCARS arrived and what a perfect job the SCARS team had done. It all turned out as I’d hoped it would; better in fact.
(Now I was going to write about the design process here, but I think that needs a post of its own, soon).
As I understand, this is all to be part of a new service of custom upgrades that we’ll be able to request. The drainage grommets will be a standard, along with extra carry handles, ruck base MOLLE fields and compression straps. I think the last will be different to my request, as I already had my own straps. As I write this, I think the SCARS CUSTOM DIVISION (My name for it) is still in development, so I’m also looking forward to seeing what other custom features they will offer.
As mentioned above the SCARS CUSTOM DIVISION also very kindly fitted drainage grommets for me, X6 thereof in fact. Three in the rucksack base and three in the secondary compartment (DIV2). We all know we need drainage holes but do we know we know? GORUCK don’t include them on the GR2 and as I write, I’m not sure why but I do know I need them. In my part of the world there is water everywhere and it rains all the time, even in the summer. If I fall in a lake, cross a river or just get caught in the rain, all of which I’ve done, I know a rucksack can fill up pretty quickly and I want to get rid of that water just as fast. X6 military spec drainage grommets will do the trick fast. I know, I tried it in the shower. : )
This part of the build, the GORUCK GR2 variant is now complete, until I change it or think of something better, in which case I’ll update.
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