CHOOSING THE RIGHT RUCKSACK
There are lots of backpacks out there, we recommend a rucksack. It will have densely padded shoulder straps to support the resistance on your shoulders, and it will secure the weight you’re rucking close to your body.
To get started, try what you have at home. When you want to make an investment in rucking, look at the Rucker. It's a gym on your back, designed and built to comfortably thrive with weight.
For rucking, you ideally want the bottom of the rucksack, and the heaviest weight inside the rucksack, to be above your beltline. This will help avoid any unnecessary friction as you move. However, if you secure the weight with a padded hip belt, this can also remove or reduce the source of friction. When in doubt, choose a slightly smaller rucksack and raise the weight inside of it. The Rucker has a built in load pocket that perfectly houses a Ruck Plate for this exact reason.
Shifting the load to various parts of your body while the rucksack is on your back can increase blood flow, and comfort, and allow you to ruck farther while maintaining proper form. Padded Hip Belts transfer some or all of the load onto your hips, and Sternum Straps shift pressure toward the midline of your body. If you’re new to rucking or if you’re doing something significant like the 50-Miler, options are a good thing. Women especially prefer the use of the Padded Hip Belt as opposed to a pure “shoulder carry.”
The relationship between your body, the weight, and the rucksack will determine your level of comfort on the move. Ruck Plates are the best weight to ruck. They’re compact, easy to stabilize, and will stay closer to your back while you’re rucking, which is the goal. No matter how high or how low the weight is, you always want it to be stable.
HOW MUCH WEIGHT?
The weight makes it rucking - the amount and your speed determine the difficulty.
Our recommendation: start with 20 lbs, progress in increments of ~10 lbs., and ultimately max out at ⅓ of your bodyweight. It’s more important to keep proper form than to have more weight. If you’re looking for a greater challenge at any weight, ruck faster.
KEEPING GOOD FORM
Your shoulders are rolled back, not hunched forward like they are when you’re typing. Your neck is up and you’re facing forward, not staring at your feet or down at your phone. Your chest is open and you have a slight lean forward. Then, just ruck how you walk, one foot after the other.
As you progress, here’s the most important barometer. If you feel a tendency to break form, to start contorting your body forward or backwards, either due to weight or time under the weight, you need to either decrease the weight or decrease the distance. If you’re rucking 50 lbs and it’s too much for now, drop some weight as opposed to breaking form to gut out the rest of your ruck.
Lightweight, durable, stable shoes with room in the forefoot for your toes to breathe — that’s the goal. It’s a proven fact that every kilogram added to your foot costs you an additional 7-10% of energy expenditure. But you need support, and even more so in the modern world of asphalt and man-made surfaces. We do not recommend minimalist shoes. And because your feet will sweat and they need to breathe, we do not recommend waterproof shoes or boots.
Special Forces guys are always looking for an edge, and in terms of boots that means as light as possible with breathability and ample support. That’s why we developed MACV-1.
Twenty pounds is a great place to start. A case of beer, or water (8 lbs./gallon), or a bunch of books you have lying around. After your first 2-mile ruck, you might be sore. Or you might not. If not, the weight, distance, or pace wasn’t enough. Try 30 lbs next time. If you are sore, that’s OK. Your body will heal back stronger. Try it again in a couple days. Before you know it, 2 miles with 20 lbs won’t make you sore and you’ll want to either up the weight or increase the distance, or go faster.
OTHER RUCKING TIPS
If you’re sore the next day, don’t worry. Your muscles recover stronger.
Expect to be hungry when you’re done rucking. And thirsty.
If you feel pain (different than muscle fatigue or soreness), stop. There are a lot of potential fixes, the most common one is to reduce the weight you’re carrying.