Read my original nature poems right here!

Read my original nature poems right here!

GORUCK GR1 Review (Travel & Daily Use)

Price
Value
Durability
Comfort
Versatility
Sustainability
Water Resistance
Overall, the GR1 is a "buy it for life" rucksack, which makes it worth the steep price tag. You might travel with a GR2 or ruck with a smaller GORUCK bag, but the GR1 is the perfect intersection of versatility, durability, and comfort. It's my favorite bag, and I use it just about every day.

The GORUCK GR1 is a “buy it once and never again” kind of backpack. I’ve had mine for 5 years as of writing this (update: 6 years..still love it), and I still use it every day. Here’s the too long, didn’t read of my GORUCK GR1 review: buy the bag (if you can afford the high price tag) because you’ll never want another.

I’ve used other bags, but the GR1 is always the most comfortable. It’s too heavy for multiday, backcountry adventures (and wouldn’t hold enough for more than a day or two in the forest), but it’s versatility for travel, everyday use, and fitness give the rucksack plenty of jobs to do. (For multiday hiking and backpacking trips, I’ve used a Kelty Redwing 50 for 6 years–same bag, no replacement needed yet).

I became a fan of GORUCK in 2015 when I did a GORUCK ‘Tough’ Challenge. And while I used my Kelty Redwing 50 for that 12 hour event, I knew I should give one of their bags–built for 12 hour workouts and world travel (from NYC to Baghdad, as GORUCK says)–a shot.

Enter the 26L GR1.

It’s GORUCK’s flagship rucksack, existing somewhere between daypack and travel bag. It’s a bit heavy for 26L, but has unmatched durability as far as I can tell. GORUCK says the GR1 is bombproof, and I believe it. The pack can haul heavy weight and protect a laptop. It’s also perfect to carry on a plane.

I used my GR1 often enough that I bought my wife the same bag. Her ruck sat around for a couple weeks, unsure of its place in her daily carry, travel, and adventure bag lineup. Then she took it to yoga a few times, and never looked back. Like me, she uses it for everything.

Let’s check out the bag…

Everywhere we’ve taken our GORUCK GR1 rucksacks

If you’re going to pay top dollar for a backpack, you’ll want to get good use out of it. I’m never afraid to play rough with my GR1, and GORUCK’s impressive lifetime guarantee gave me some peace about spending so much on one bag. Also, the bag has over 2,000 positive reviews.

Here’s everywhere we’ve taken our favorite backpacks, our GORUCK GR1s…

My wife wearing her GR1 on a flight out of Morelia, Mexico and me wearing mine in Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia. We take our favorite travel / hiking / workout pack everywhere we go.

  • Every day hike for the last 5 years. Rainy, wet, windy, or hot as can be…the GR1 is on my back comfortably hauling all the essentials.
  • Daily carry: yoga, jiu jitsu, dog park, running around town, working remotely.
  • Walking and biking to work for 2 years when I went without a car. Rain or shine, my GR1 was on my back. I even ran 8.5 miles to work one day, very comfortably, while wearing my GR1.
  • Ultra marathon start lines and finish lines–my go-to drop bag on race day.
  • As an author and writer, I bounce around town a lot finding different spots to write. My laptop and Kindle are always safe in the GR1.
  • Visiting friends and family all around the country over the years. For longer trips, I may go with my bigger GR2.
  • Visiting family in Guanajuato, Mexico. My wife used her bag as a carry-on to transport all clothes and necessities for a week-long trip. It fit all of her needs, minus souvenirs. Imagine that: everything you need for a week abroad in one bag. We like the idea of one bag travel. We’re working on it.
  • In Austin, TX, my GR1 was my only travel bag. I flew to Austin in 2019 to run a marathon, staying in a hostel and ‘roughing it’ for four days. Turns out traveling with such a reliable pack isn’t really ‘roughing it’ at all.
  • Crushing stair climber workouts in our apartment complex gym, one of my favorite workouts. If you want to get into rucking (walking with weight for fitness), check out GORUCK’s beginner’s guide.

GORUCK GR1 Pros and Cons

The GR1 is a durable and versatile bag that’s super popular among fitness & travel enthusiasts, the military community, and adventure-seekers.

While my wife and I aren’t members of the military community, we’re definitely fitness, travel, and adventure enthusiasts. Here are the pros and cons of our favorite backpack…

GR1 Pros: Durable, Versatile, Comfortable

  1. Durability: The GR1 is widely hailed for its exceptional durability. I’ve had people stop me and ask if I’m wearing a GR1 and then enviously run their hand along the tough 1000D CORDURA® fabric. That fabric is highly resistant to abrasions and tears. After 5 years, my pack sits a bit more relaxed, but you wouldn’t know how hard I’ve abused it. Truly built to Special Forces standards, as GORUCk boasts.
  2. Versatility: The bag is practical and useful in basically any situation, for any activity. We use our bags for travel, everyday carry, rucking workouts, and lots of hiking. It’s got a “bombproof” laptop sleeve and a few secure compartments for organization. Internal and external MOLLE webbing gives further options for organization and attachment of additional gear or pockets.
  3. Comfortable to wear: It seems a little silly and “duh it should be comfortable!” but if you’ve tried different packs for backpacking, travel, or everyday use, I promise the GR1 will exceed the standard. It’s got a padded back panel and ergonomic shoulder straps, making it comfortable to carry even when fully loaded. Of course, the straps are adjustable, so you can personalize the fit. Finally, you can purchase padded hip belts and a chest strap for long days wearing your pack.
  4. Water-resistant: While not completely waterproof, the GR1 has water-resistant qualities due to its CORDURA® fabric and coated zippers. I’ve used mine in pouring rain walking, hiking, and biking. The only issue I ever had was the bottom of the bag getting wet from my rear bike tire kicking up water. A little soggy on bottom, that’s it. I’ve been pretty impressed with how well the GR1 does in water, so much so that after one particularly rainy bike ride to work I went on GORUCK’s website to see what they were advertising their water-resistance as. GORUCK calls it “rainproof.” In my experience the pack is much better than “rainproof.” For extra protection, GORUCK sells a compatible ruck rain cover. Pair your new GR1 with Lowa Renegade boots for a truly waterproof hiking fit.
  5. Streamlined and minimal design: The GR1 has a sleek and minimal design, perfect for those who value efficiency. It’s great for both urban and outdoor environments and doesn’t draw attention.
  6. Sustainable: While the GR1 is not crafted with recycled materials or sustainability at the forefront, you really will never need another bag once you’ve bought one. Everything I buy, I try to make it last forever. That’s why I love GORUCK: their gear is meant to last a lifetime. Consume less by buying higher quality travel and adventure gear like the GR1.
  7. GR1 Cons: Price, Space, Weight

    1. Expensive price tag: The GORUCK GR1 is pretty pricey compared to many other backpacks. You can buy something as comfortable, or as durable, or as versatile for much less money, but I’m not sure you can get all the benefits of GORUCK’s most popular bag in any other single bag. High-quality materials and American craftsmanship contribute to its price, but it may be a drawback for budget-conscious or more frugal shoppers.
    2. Limited pockets and space: The GR1 comes in 21L and 26L options, which are a decent amount of space, but some may find the size lacking. It has one main compartment, a laptop compartment, and a small internal pocket, but additional internal organization may require separate pouches or accessories. I’ve used mine for week-long travel (the only thing I couldn’t fit were souvenirs), but anything over that (or if I needed more gear for the trip), I’d need a bigger bag, like my GR2.
    3. Heavy for the size: GR1’s durability and quality materials make it sturdy, but they also make it pretty heavy for 21L or 26L. The 21L is 2.8lbs and the 26L is 3.1lbs. Definitely not lightweight, as modern packs go. That being said, I’ve run 5+ miles with my GR1 comfortably, so the weight never really bothered me. If you’re an ultralight traveler or hiker, this may not be the best option for you. If you’re lucky enough to purchase a limited edition GR1 DYNEEMA, those packs are a bit lighter weight.
    4. No water bottle pockets: This is a pretty specific con, but I like carrying water bottles when I travel and hike. It’d be nice if the GR1 had some external pockets for easy water access. This would, however, take away from how streamlined the bag is. While you can add water bottle pockets to most GORUCK bags, you’d want to add them to the back of the bag. If you’re ever going to use a hip belt, you’ll need the side MOLLE attachments.
    5. Limited ventilation: The GR1’s back panel lacks ventilation channels, so my back gets pretty sweaty if I wear it hiking or outside in the North Carolina summer. I honestly haven’t found any bag that doesn’t make my back sweaty, though.

    What are GORUCK’s DYNEEMA rucksacks?

    DYNEEMA packs are regularly recommended as everyday carry (EDC) bags because DYNEEMA lacks the abrasion resistance of GORUCK’s usual bulletproof CORDURA material. These bags are, however, totally waterproof and 15X stronger than steel. They’re also much lighter than GORUCK’s CORDURA used in their core line of bags. In other words, DYNEEMA is a high quality material that is super light, but you might not want to drag it across the ground. For hiking, EDC, and travel, DYNEEMA might be a good choice. If you’ll be rucking and dragging it across the ground, stick with the tougher CORDURA bags.

    Other GORUCK Packs to Consider

    GORUCK builds a range of hardcore rucksacks, and each of them is a little bit better than the others at something. Everything except the GR1, that is. No, that’s not a hard criticism. It’s just that the GR1 is the original GORUCK pack, so it’s the middle ground that works awesome for everything, but not the absolute best for anything (my humble opinion, perhaps). If you own a GR1, let me know if you agree in the comments down below.

    The Rucker for Rucking

    For example, if you mostly want a new rucksack for rucking, I might not choose the GR1. The Rucker would be a better option. They built the Rucker to amend the flaws of the GR1. The Rucker hold Ruck Plates better, making for a much better rucking experience. GORUCK doesn’t often tell people to use bricks anymore (which fill out a GR1 nicely). Instead, they’ve got Ruck Plates that fit sleek inside the Rucker (and a bit looser inside the GR1). A loose 30lbs piece of metal inside a rucksack doesn’t make for fun bear crawls and burpees, so the Rucker is their go-to training pack.

    I don’t own a Rucker, but until I got my Shaddox plate pocket for my GR1, I wanted one!

    GR2 and GR3 for Travel

    Similarly, the GR2 is better for one bag travel. Why? Well, it’s way bigger. But you might not want to ruck around town with such a large pack. It’s a bit more cumbersome than a GR1, and a lot more cumbersome than a Rucker! But my GR2 holds a lot and it’s got way more pockets for organization. The GR2 comes in multiple sizes, just like the GR1. Obviously with more storage and organization, you’ll notice this pack is heavier. But man, I love my GR2. It can go places (and distances) the GR1 just can’t. GORUCK says if you want to travel the world with one ruck, it’s GR2.

    That’s my kind of bag, but I still started with the more versatile GR1.

    GORUCK makes GR3, too. Wow that thing looks huge, but I bet it’s sweet. I’ve never worn one, but I already feel like my GR2 is pretty large. So I don’t think I’ll make the step up anytime soon.

    M23 and Bullet for EDC

    I like my GR1 for everyday carry. I think it’s perfect, honestly. But if you don’t really want to ruck and you’re not using the bag for travel, the M23 looks very cool and might be a better option. It’s modeled after early military packs and looks a bit vintage, all with GORUCK’s exceptional quality. Similarly, the Bullet is a small pack (15 or 16L) that’s best for bouncing around town, or as a small daypack that fits in your luggage. These bags definitely don’t stand out quite like a GR1, which could be a benefit, too.

    Just because I like my GR1 best for EDC, that has everything to do with size and versatility. The quality and durability of these two bags are guaranteed (just like all their bags), so shop based on your activity and needs.

    RPC and Weighted Vest for Fitness Junkies

    I think if fitness and gym training are your biggest priorities (and you want something even more sleek than the Rucker), check out GORUCK’s Ruck Plate Carrier or weighted vest. I have not personally used either of these, but it’s GORUCK and they’ve got almost 2,000 positive reviews between them, so I think you’re in good hands.

    I’ve gotten plenty of good workouts with my GR1, even using stair climbers inside gyms, but GORUCK’s RPC and training weight vest are built for fitness junkies.

    My GORUCK GR1 Review: Buy the bag, it’s worth it

    If you like to travel, hike, commute by foot or bike, get great workouts, and generally let adventure guide you, the GR1 is the pack for you. If you’re worried about size or want more space for extended travel (or bringing back souvenirs), you may upgrade to the roomier GR2, which I also have and use only a bit less than my GR1.

    It’s my go-to, do-everything pack. It might just be yours, too.

    Using my GR1 as a daily carry for soccer practice and taking advantage of the protective laptop sleeve to get some work done at the dog park.

Price
Value
Durability
Comfort
Versatility
Sustainability
Water Resistance
Overall, the GR1 is a "buy it for life" rucksack, which makes it worth the steep price tag. You might travel with a GR2 or ruck with a smaller GORUCK bag, but the GR1 is the perfect intersection of versatility, durability, and comfort. It's my favorite bag, and I use it just about every day.
Overall, the GR1 is a "buy it for life" rucksack, which makes it worth the steep price tag. You might travel with a GR2 or ruck with a smaller GORUCK bag, but the GR1 is the perfect intersection of versatility, durability, and comfort. It's my favorite bag, and I use it just about every day.
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George
Georgehttps://georgecallahan.com
George Callahan is the creator of Pine Tree Poet. He is an author of fantasy stories and an adventure poet. He prefers mountains and pine trees to most other things, and usually takes his dog Cowboy along for the ride.

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SUMMARY

Overall, the GR1 is a "buy it for life" rucksack, which makes it worth the steep price tag. You might travel with a GR2 or ruck with a smaller GORUCK bag, but the GR1 is the perfect intersection of versatility, durability, and comfort. It's my favorite bag, and I use it just about every day.
Price
Value
Durability
Comfort
Versatility
Sustainability
Water Resistance

More Gear Reviews

Overall, the GR1 is a "buy it for life" rucksack, which makes it worth the steep price tag. You might travel with a GR2 or ruck with a smaller GORUCK bag, but the GR1 is the perfect intersection of versatility, durability, and comfort. It's my favorite bag, and I use it just about every day.GORUCK GR1 Review (Travel & Daily Use)