- Buyer's Guide
What You Need to Know About GORUCK’s Move Offshore
It’s been a long, sometimes rocky road for GORUCK to get to where they are today. But they’ve persevered, developing an amazingly loyal following, and a reputation for creating some of the toughest US-made packs on the market. But like any good business, they’ve needed to adapt and change to keep progressing. And just announced today, GORUCK are introducing a big change. They’re moving the majority (but not all) of their bag manufacturing overseas to Vietnam.
Here’s what you need to know about the move…
Why the offshore move?
Elite, not elitist
In 2018 GORUCK announced a price increase that sparked a lot of debate in the carry world. And understandably so. With a GR1 increasing from US$295 (already pricey) to $395, GORUCK’s were fast becoming out of reach for most folks.
Why the jump? Well, it seemed that GORUCK’s vendor costs were increasing at an unsustainable rate. As an example to provide some behind-the-scenes insights, in 2010 GORUCK ordered around 1,000 units of various products (three packs and a hat). In 2019, they ordered around 39,000 units. Such a huge increase in scale should result in decreased costs per unit. However, over that time they’ve had a 38% cost increase from their vendors. As an example, a unit costing $100 in 2010 would now cost them $138 averaged out. Projecting for future cost increases, you’re looking at unit costs and related price tags that at some point will become too high for the every day person. Like, say, another jump to a $495 GR1!
GORUCK has always been about inclusivity for anyone who wants to join their community. And super-high price points like the above make GORUCK gear inaccessible for a lot of people. Not to mention skewing the perception of GORUCK as a more elitist, fashion brand. And that’s not what they’re about. Elite quality? Definitely. But they’re a brand that believes in building a sense of community, encouraged by training and rucking. And all of that centers around having top-notch, reliable gear that will back you up when the going gets tough. Gear that shouldn’t be inaccessible for the majority of people.
So GORUCK needed to find a solution that would maintain their stringent quality criteria without exorbitant manufacturing costs. And the answer was to move most of their pack manufacturing offshore. A move done, reluctantly, by many US brands before them.
Same quality, bigger scale
As we all know, manufacturing overseas makes it easier to ensure higher quality at scale. GORUCK’s factory in Saigon has an exceptional infrastructure at the ready for scalability. And GORUCK’s quality control manager is overseeing the production every step of the way, with their own quality control system in place. Samples have been put through the wringer and they’ve come out with flying colors. So that’s exceptional news. And we’re sure the community will also be scrutinising the new wave of packs with just as much vigor.
Of course, that’s not to say American manufacturing can’t produce exceptional quality. The legendary hard-wearing durability of the US-made GR1 is evidence of that. But time, labor, and oversight costs are prohibitive when producing the gear at scale. Costs such as hiring more quality control managers and increased line inspections all add up. Additionally, vendors can struggle to find skilled labor to support scaling up, resulting in increased charges to offset their own step up costs.
How their product will be affected
While offshore manufacturing makes sense for large-scale production, that doesn’t mean GORUCK are giving up their American manufacturing completely. It offers a variety of benefits, from easier vendor communication and quality oversight due to proximity, to low minimum order quantities, bringing gear to market faster, and supporting American jobs. As such, GORUCK will continue to utilize their American vendors for smaller-scale items.
Limited edition GR1’s will continue to be made in the USA, while black GR1’s and a few other colorways will be made in Saigon. The same will apply with the Rucker and GR2. The reasoning behind the decision is that GORUCK will build gear in the USA when it provides more value through customization and limited edition colorways and features, while large-scale pieces will be built overseas to ensure quality while keeping costs down. GORUCK will state where each piece is built so customers can decide which ones they want.
The black USA-made options currently on their website are all that remain from domestic production. When they’re gone, Saigon-made versions will be sold at $295 for the GR1. The Limited Edition GR1 USA-made options will cost more, but will no longer cost $395. Many Limited Edition pieces will come through the GORUCK Workshop. These pieces will be pre-ordered, with delivery roughly around three months. This will allow GORUCK to better gauge demand before moving to production, thereby reducing inventory holding costs.
GORUCK will always pick quality over price, and quality costs money to create, so their gear doesn’t come cheap. However, with the change they also won’t see the price inflation they were forecasting for current and future American production. And rest assured their Scars Lifetime Guarantee will still apply to both Saigon-made and USA-made gear.
Will any US jobs be lost?
GORUCK’s founder, Jason McCarthy, has confirmed there will be no employee loss at GORUCK due to the manufacturing move.
In terms of GORUCK’s vendors they are highly diversified, and while he doesn’t have direct line of sight into them, Jason thinks the move will decrease their volume temporarily but that there will not be any employee loss on their end either.
Honing on all fronts
Rucking is an integral part of GORUCK’s brand. Challenges and events are key to building their community. And GORUCK wants to encourage more people to embrace active, healthy lifestyles and develop lasting friendships within the community. Make no mistake, they value USA-made manufacturing (hence why they’re continuing to incorporate it going forward). But they don’t want the brand focus to be on American manufacturing. Instead, they’re putting training, rucking, and community front and center to help them grow according to their most important brand values. A brand focus complemented by the move to offshore manufacturing that balances the business side of things too.
Keeping things US-made is hard, especially at scale. And it’s an obstacle many brands have faced before. With its offshore manufacturing move, GORUCK aims to deliver its ‘bomber’ quality without elitist pricing. And we respect that. And the fact that they’re not losing any employees and maintaining their lifetime guarantee also feels like a really positive outcome.
This would have been a tough call – ‘US-made’ was at the heart of GORUCK for so long – but we think it’s something GORUCK will handle with class and care. So we’ll keep everyone posted, and take a good look at the new offshore packs when they come through, just to make sure they’re as awesome as the originals.