What is a Rucksack?

What is the difference between a rucksack and a backpack?

Rucksacks have military origins, and they’re built to carry a lot of weight over time and distance. Rucking is the foundation of the United States Army Special Forces training, and rucksacks are built for rucking.

Backpacks, on the other hand, are designed to look fashionable - they feel comfortable when you try them on empty in the store, and they’re mostly associated with school bags or book bags that break at least once a year and end up in a landfill.

A rucksack is not a backpack. No matter what you’re doing, whether it's traveling, training or rucking, if you’re in the military or if you’re commuting on the streets of NYC, your rucksack’s one main job is to hold weight, and do it really, really well.

GR1 rucksack
GR1 rucksack

What makes the best rucksack?

It’s no accident that GORUCK rucksacks can withstand whatever you (and Army Special Forces) subject them to.

High stress points are strength tested at over 400 lbs of force, and most of the reasons why they thrive are hidden.

In Army Special Forces, over all the miles with all the weight, you learn how to choose the right rucksack and then carry it as efficiently as possible so you can save your energy for the fight. Here’s what you would look for:

Performance and Durability Standards

Double passed closure for extra support in the seams.

Reinforced bartacks & backtacks at high stress points.

Dual density foam in the shoulder straps.

Materials like 1000D Ballistic Nylon and YKK zippers.

Features Inspired by Military Rucksacks

Low profile with MOLLE webbing for accessories. You can customize your ruck via the MOLLE webbing to make it yours.

Clamshell opening. This is a feature used with Special Forces army medical rucks and allows ease of packing and ease of access to everything in your entire ruck.

Hydration bladder compatibility so you can drink on the move. This turns a dayruck into a hiking ruck, no problem.

Stable weight. The ruck sits higher on and close to your back so it won’t shift around.

Dual-density, thick shoulder straps to comfortably disperse the load and maintain comfort over the long haul.

Silent tactical zipper pulls - when it’s the middle of the night and you’re on a raid, nobody wants to hear zippers clanging together except the bad guys.

Special Forces Proven

Designed and proven in the harshest conditions known to man by United States Army Special Forces soldiers operating in war zones. The materials we choose thrive in any environment - YKK Zippers perform despite Middle East sandstorms, and 1000 denier CORDURA® is the preferred material for Special Forces rucks due to its strength to weight ratio and durability.

Efficient Design

GORUCK rucksacks rest high on your back and stabilize the weight close to your body, which is the most efficient way to carry weight. It’s actually uncomfortable to slouch forward (like when typing or staring down at a phone) while correctly wearing one of our rucks. It’s natural to roll your shoulders back and stand tall with a rucksack on, improving your posture in the process.

Rigorous Testing

No other company systematically abuses their own gear like we do via GORUCK Events. Tested and continuously improved for over a decade at thousands of events, GORUCK rucksacks have consistenly proven to be the toughest in the world.

Lifetime Guarantee

With GORUCK Events happening all over the world and a high touch promise like SCARS, we have nowhere to hide, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The guarantee we make to you is the same that we make to our buddies headed to war: GORUCK gear is built to Special Forces life or death quality standards. If you break it, we fix it.

Find Your Rucksack

GR1 - The best for everyday carry

The toughest rucksack ever built. GR1's streamlined design and Special Forces quality materials make for the perfect everyday carry (EDC) daypack. Whether you're commuting to school, work, or the gym, GR1 has your back.

GR2 - The best for travel

Patterned after Special Forces medical rucks, with plenty of compartments for organization. GR2 is carry-on compliant, hands-free and built for people who want to travel out of one bag.

Rucker - The best for fitness

We believe rucking is the world's best exercise, and the Rucker is the best rucksack for rucking. Just add weight (we prefer Ruck Plates) to your rucksack, and start training. With ergonomic lumbar support and an all-new, less abrasive fabric, the Rucker is truly the gym on your back.

Don't Take Our Word For It

See what GORUCK Rucksack owners have to say:


"Best pack I've ever owned. Solid and durable, built to last and the quality in workmanship that go into this pack show. I think I finally found my forever bag."

-Chadrick J.


"This is the fifth GORUCK back I've owned. I've done a dozen events and have put thousands of miles on GORUCK products (boots, pants, windbreaker, bags, etc.) and they haven't disappointed yet. The Rucker 3.0 is no exception. For rucking and ruck PT, the Rucker 3.0 is a no brainer and a significant improvement over previous evolutions. The new features (smoother material on the back and straps and lumbar support) aren't just gimmicks but real improvements that make rucking better."

-Paul H.


"I think I've found what could be the best to date small camera backpack. Stuck an old camera insert into my 21L GORUCK GR1 and it seems perfect for a full-size body and 2-3 heavy primes. Holds all kinds of additional stuff too. And the build quality on the little GR1 is so good it can handle anything I'm able to carry. The more weight the better it feels. Works well with the camera body broken down or for quick access with lens attached. Throw a few wraps in and the equipment list can grow. And the simple, clean "bucket design" of the pack allows for just about any setup with additional Dopp pouches, etc. Carried it around the Sierra Nevada last week, tweaked it a little and it just got better day after day. Now I'm hoping to order a GR2 for travel."

-Gustavo B.

Proven by Special Forces

through cities, jungles, and warzones