The great thing about our gear is that over time it tells a story. Actually the great thing about our gear is that it is the best on the planet. BUT because it’s the best gear on the planet it gives it the chance to tell a story, not just a good story but a great one. It allows it to tell YOUR story.
My relationship with my GR1 started about 5 years ago. Christmas morning and my cousin had just started this little backpack company. I’m sure Santa was just trying to show some support when he put those two black rucks under our tree, can’t say I really blame him. No patches though, way to go Santa…
Anyways it was then that I started using my first piece of GORUCK gear on almost a daily basis. It was pretty much just like every other backpack, it had yet to change my life. A few months after getting the ruck I get a phone call, some guy name Jason (maybe you’ve heard of him), he said they were launching this thing called a “Challenge” and wanted to know if I was interested in giving it a shot. 12+ hours, 20ish miles, bricks in your bag (stop me if you’ve heard this), oh and he said I wouldn’t finish (he’s kind of a dick like that). So of course I accepted this “Challenge” and was in. At this time there was next to zero information on the internet about how to prepare or get ready for this. There was no info on what to expect either. Honestly you rookies have it easy now, it’s all out there if you just poke around a little. The mystery was part of the fun though. Not knowing what to expect and not having any bricks at my disposal, I loaded my ruck up with some college text books, honestly, I used them more for training for this event than I ever did for school. That’s not too surprising though if you know anything about me or my love hate relationship with school (it was mostly a hate hate relationship but whatever). I’d leave my apartment and run for 5 miles with a 20-ish lb ruck on. At one point a few weeks into training I decided to give Jason a call and ask him what to expect and how to train, his only advice was to “make sure your cardio is on point” and then he pretty much hung up on me. Thanks for that cuz, you were a huge help.
Just about everyone that will read this knows the new ruck feeling. If you don’t, let me break it down for you. It’s stiff and heavy to put it simply. Nothing has any give and because of the durability of the fabric it takes a long ass time to break in. You ruck with it and you think about how uncomfortable it is and you think of ways to stop the ruck from bouncing when you move (let me save you time, the ruck will always bounce, there’s nothing you can do about it). The best way to make your ruck more comfortable is to ruck with it while it’s uncomfortable. It’ll break in, the straps will form to your shoulders as will the back panel. Never underestimate the power of blood, sweat, and tears (and dirt too honestly), as you put the miles in, you won’t be the only thing changing (“better, faster, stronger…” – Kanye West), so is the ruck. The pack doesn’t ever stop bouncing (we’ve already been over this), but as you add miles to your routine you either change the way you move to minimize it or you just stop noticing it. I honestly couldn’t tell you which one it is, but does it really matter?
My first event came and went, shoutout to class 050 OKC, I finished (suck it Jason). Full disclosure, I didn’t do this with style or grace as some of you who know me probably are assuming. I decided it would be a good idea to fill my hydration bladder with Gatorade instead of water, long story short, half hour into the welcome party I was puking my guts up from all the sugar. Don’t do that kids, it’s a bad idea. Regardless, I received my flame patch, not to get too off subject but the old school flame patch makes you pretty cool, if you don’t have one and your friend does, they’re cooler than you. It is definitely something you should bring up to them frequently and make sure they don’t forget it (RIGHT BLOCKUS?!?). I digress… Next thing I know, my second, third, fourth, tenth, fifteenth and twentieth events had come and gone too. And man had I put this thing through the ringer with almost no issues. It got banged up along the way. A couple scuffs here and there, nothing too major. During my Heavy, I went to go tighten up one of my straps and the thumb loop came undone. So I sent it off to SCARS after that and got it back like a week later. Not only had they fixed the thumb loop, but they replaced all the zipper pulls and even patched up a spot on the front that was starting to show a little more wear than what they liked. Honestly, I was fine with the spot but whatever. After a few more events my bricks had started to wear a hole in one of the corners where they would rest while moving so I went to my buddy’s house and installed a grommet hole–No biggie. This not only stopped the hole from growing, but allows water to drain quickly, only downside is that it lets water in too, but water gets in regardless so it doesn’t really matter.
As years went on, my ruck faded out a bit and some of the thread turned from the original black to like a red color, I honestly think it looks pretty cool, but maybe I’m weird. Bricks wore a hole in one of the corners too, not a problem, added a grommet, now I have a drainage hole. I’ve taken my ruck on SCUBA trips in the caribbean and Mexico and all over Ireland. I couldn’t imagine traveling without it. Not necessarily because it’s the only bag out there that can handle what I have put it through (even though it is), but because at this point it is part of me and part of my story. The gear we make isn’t supposed to stay pretty and perfect, it is supposed to be used and abused. If you beat it up, that’s what SCARS is for. A perfect bag is one that has no story to tell and that’s not what we are about.
Maybe the ruck is only as important as what you carry in it. I mean that’s what it is built for. That being said, my EDC is pretty simple. I never leave home without my shades, Ray-Ban Aviators, they’re an American classic and go with everything (if anyone at Ray-Ban reads this, I’ll take some free shades anytime, wink wink, nudge nudge), even if they don’t go with everything, I wear them with everything and I live at the beach, so who cares. I always have my GoPro with me, selfies don’t happen on their own. GORUCK Wire Dopp for my chargers and checkbook (I never write checks except for rent, there has to be a better way at this point, I’ll worry about it when I’m out of checks I guess). I never leave home without a hoodie, one of my GORUCK zip ups is easy enough and at this point they’re super soft because I’ve beat them up. My GR2 Field Pocket holds my DSLR along with it’s charger and an extra lens, I wouldn’t say I take with me all the time, truth is that I don’t take enough pictures with it, I have plans to change that. Outside of that it’s normal stuff, pens, markers, computer, nothing too special. That’s enough about that though.
I think the best thing about my ruck isn’t so much the story that down the road I am going to be able to tell about it, but it’ll come back to the people I met while wearing it. Some of the best times I’ve had, I have had while wearing that ruck and meeting new people. Whether it is at a GORUCK Challenge, traveling through Ireland, just hanging out at the gym, or on a 12 mile bike pub crawl with 200 other crazy people. This thing one way or another has brought people together, and that’s kind of cool.
I know the day will come where my ruck will die and I will have to retire her (yes, it’s a her, no she doesn’t really have a name, but it’s definitely a her). And honestly, when that day comes I’ll probably be pretty upset. Good news is this though, that day isn’t anytime soon. I’ve been through a lot with my ruck and I am going to go through a lot more. She might get retired from events soon, and honestly she’s earned it. If she has to sit out from time to time in order to be able to keep going that’s fine. More adventures await for the two of us and honestly, I couldn’t imagine using anything else.