- Buyer's Guide
RUX: This is Not Your Average Gear Box
It isn’t often that we come across a product that is almost entirely proprietary, but when we do, it really grabs your attention. The RUX is one such product.
RUX Life is a fledgling outdoor lifestyle company from Squamish, Canada, who while young, has a rather astonishing pedigree amongst its ranks. CDO Tony Richardson and COO Jamie Bond cut their teeth at Arc’teryx and G3 respectively (in fact, Tony was at the heart of designing the Khard 30, which won one of our earliest Carry Awards), while CEO Andre Charland has an extensive background in product engineering, including projects acquired by design powerhouse Adobe.
They’ve just launched their first product, the RUX, via crowdfunding. We were privileged to test out one of their first prototypes.
Enjoy our world exclusive first look at the RUX storage system.
What is RUX?
Is it a duffel bag? Is it a backpack? A tote? A box? Perhaps a storage bin? Fundamentally, it is an all-in-one, and an impressive one at that, even in prototype form. Make no bones about it, this product aims to reduce your need for multiple different bags, buckets, and boxes in your garage, basement, and cabin. The RUX is created by outdoor enthusiasts, for outdoor enthusiasts. The premise in essence is simple and seeks to reduce time packing/repacking your kits, by giving you the ability to take your gear with you directly from storage to adventure. The RUX was born out of both ingenuity and frustration. Andre and Tony embarked on creating a product that solved problems they were seeing in personal pursuits, as well as their professional partnerships.
They designed this hybrid product from the ground up to maximize function, from the fold-up capabilities to the ‘design for disassembly’ mantra that RUX Life holds dear to their process. Every part can be replaced individually as opposed to ‘wasted’ when one causes an issue. Personally, I think that is an admirable approach and one that I hope more and more outdoor companies begin to really factor into their design and manufacturing process. It can feel deceitful when a company promotes itself as an outdoor nature-focused brand, without investing in the protection of the outdoors at the foundation of your DNA. I’m glad to see RUX championing that cause.
Not only that, RUX is aesthetically pleasing: it is minimalist, tidy, and streamlined. With Scandinavian, Japanese, and West Coast influences, the RUX will fit in seamlessly wherever you store your gear, whether that is a bedroom, a closet, a basement, or a garage. Initially, it will be offered in two colors: Tan and Forest Green. But don’t be surprised to see that palette expand over time.
Rough, tough, and ready to rumble
Built from durable materials (the body is PU coated nylon, and the lid is compressed EVA foam), the RUX is designed to be a one-stop shop for all of your outdoor needs. Compressible, lightweight, and coming with multiple carry options (top handles, side handles, backpack carry), this is an item that RUX Life envisions coming with you from house to adventure at a moment’s notice.
That sounds great in theory. However, we all know that sometimes reality doesn’t match the marketing when it comes to adventure gear. Durability is an absolute necessity for an outdoor product. It doesn’t necessarily have to look immaculate in use, but it cannot let you down in the field. No climber wants to be carrying 40lbs of belay gear to a crag only for the bottom to give way. No surfer wants to be returning with wet gear only to find the back of the car is now sodden. The same theory could be applied to any outdoor pursuit. Just as you expect specialized items to perform, why shouldn’t the storage do the same?
I have gone through countless “tough” storage boxes in my time. So I’m always a little skeptical when those phrases are thrown around. Consequently, I was delighted that in my short time with the RUX it proved to be incredibly resilient. I hauled a multitude of winter gear including my snowboarding rig, and more abrasively, alpine snowshoes and poles. Even with this early prototype, the RUX handled them with ease and did not show any signs of weakness.
It’s extremely weatherproof and waterproof. While not 100% submersible, you could use the main bin as a camp sink in a pinch! I would have no qualms about putting these in a truck bed, or on a roof rack. They handled a pretty severe Nor’Easter comfortably. The base uses a similar laminated foam as the lid and has ridging to help keep it in place wherever you may set it down. The other hardware on the RUX matches this tough exterior. The glass-filled nylon rail that runs around the top of the RUX provides a firm, rigid structure where all attachments find their home. The beauty of this proprietary hardware is its multifunctionality. Accessories are already in production (or the pipeline) such as an EDC pouch, nesting totes, utility straps, and slatwall hooks. With these, there is a multitude of ways to make this your ideal gear hauler. You can attach items on the inside, or the outside, depending on what you need. I think this is quite a unique feature in many ways. Of course, theoretically you can make anything your own, be it removing X or adding Y. But RUX Life designed this product with that functional (as opposed to aesthetic) customization in mind. In fact, their chief design officer even wants people to customize it with their own additions, “[I] love the idea of people being able to modify it and make their own system with it” – this further echoes the ideological foundations, this isn’t just something to buy, it is built for you to use.
During my use, it kept surprising me how chameleon-esque the product is. I found it to be a great package hauler for my half-mile walk to the post office. It was useful for a beer run, and of course for the traditional outdoor pursuits that led to its design. The flat pack feature is what really elevates this from storage box to lifestyle enhancement for me. Packed flat, it easily slides under a seat in your car, into the bottom of a closet, or even a suitcase if you are traveling for your fun. It could conceivably come with you anywhere. It collapses in with ease, and you can then use one of a multitude of straps, including well-designed proprietary push clips that attach/detach to the rail depending on your desired method of use, to cinch down.
In the final product, there will also be newly designed quick-release buckles. These will make that carry change process even quicker than it already is. I really admire the fact that RUX has taken the time to make what works for this product, rather than compromising by using hardware that would get the job done, even if not in the intended fashion. I shouldn’t be surprised considering their team’s experience. But it’s still nice to know the product you are getting is designed to be the best of the best.
The lid/seat cushion/changing mat is surprisingly useful. It is thick enough to provide genuine comfort for either your foot or your behind, and I really enjoyed the hinge feature. Being able to access one side of your storage, rather than having to unpack the whole box may seem trivial. But I can foresee how useful that is from an organizational point of view particularly. On the whole, the access is excellent: quick to throw things in, even faster to pull them out! There were times where the lid popped off from the rail at this hinge joint. The same can be said for the tension in the corner stays, which occasionally bent inwards when the unit wasn’t full. Minor issues that RUX has already addressed with their most recent prototypes.
Those of us who have multiple outdoor hobbies that require kit, also have likely attempted dozens of different storage options. Some might use storage bins, some might use racks, some might even admit to “tidy piles”. We’ve all been there, the night before (or even the morning of) a trip and you go through the bin, rack, or pile to move the contents over to a new bag, roof rack, or truck bed. Regardless of which flawed system that you use, RUX genuinely eliminates this transfer process and allows you to get on with the adventure quickly. At 70L, it is a good size that allows you to transport most outdoor items and accouterments. With its modular carry style, you can take this to any corner of the earth your comfort level will allow.
RUX does intend to add more sizes and styles to their product family as time progresses. This is definitely the beginning of a bigger vision. “We’ve really tried to make RUX a hybrid of a bin and a bag and the foundation of a much larger system,” states Richardson. I can see this becoming a favorite of adventurers at heart. I’m salivating at the prospect of a rack full of RUX. Each one’s contents identifiable by the handy quick-look window (even organized by the QR app if so desired!). Ready to grab and go without as much as a second thought or “Where did I put that?”. I can take it straight from storage, to my car, to adventure. The removal of the “re-packing step” is quite significant to me. It’s not uncommon to change from one well-equipped activity to another within days, if not hours, of each other.
There is no doubt that this is a specialized product. It is not necessarily something for the worldwide masses in the same way a laptop messenger or EDC bag is. However, I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. For those who are serious about their sports, outdoor hobbies, and their subsequent organization, this is a really excellent product that will improve your experience from beginning to end. I’m almost fanatical about products that allow your focus to be on the here and now, or the journey rather than the destination. This is the living epitome of do more with less. The company mantra? “Keep your gear tight, and your plans loose.” I couldn’t agree more.