Selection Teaser AAR and Control Measures

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You’re making it too easy on us Selection Cadre and I want that to stop. I want you to pass but you’ve got to earn it and bring your A-game and we’ll bring ours and we’re holding up our end of the bargain. There are tons of participant AAR’s floating around and tons of Cadre AAR’s as well I’m not even gonna link’em because everyone seems to ignore’em but I’m an eternal optimist and I believe in you to do so much more than you thought and somewhere out there someone is listening and wants to learn they just don’t know where to get the info from and nobody wants to stake a claim that’s definitive and say do it this way so this is that post on the gear side of GORUCK Selection with a bunch of universal truths thrown in for free and you’re welcome for that ha ha. Maybe you’re special or different and they don’t apply to you but unless you’ve done something like this before you’re wrong. And I say that because anytime I didn’t listen to those who had come before me, to the guys who had been there and done that, I paid for it in pain and pain is wisdom’s muse.

If you bring no pride you’re way ahead of the game and not quitting is not enough oh wait this is a gear post. Control is an illusion but one worth mastering and the only way to do that is to control what you can and accept what you can’t unless, of course, you can. Before an event like GORUCK Selection there are two major things you can control and one of them is your gear.

We make you think you need so many things you don’t. Sometimes we even force you to bring them. Dry clothes and a hundred pairs of socks and what else you name it. If you think you need all that stuff for a 48+ hour event, you’re wrong.

We dump your gear because it’s stressful for you to put it back in the way you had it and we give you no time to do it. You assumed this was something you could control, your pack job. So we ruin it. If this matters to you, you won’t make it.

And in the process of ruining it we can tell if you’re the type of person who might make it to the end and the Cadre betting starts but that’s another story. What you bring and how you pack tells us a lot about you and whether you’ve actually tested your own system. I’d estimate that 99% of the time the Cadre are right 100% of the time about who definitely won’t finish and that’s based only on what you bring and how you pack it we don’t even need to look into your eyes yet.

Rule #1 and no gypsy camps and the things you bring won’t get you through but they better not cost you mission success. Gear failure of any kind has ramifications both mentally and, less importantly, physically. When something breaks we Cadre see it and we use it as a way to prey on what you’re already thinking which is this sucks why did that have to happen now and welcome to the world and the Cadre are Murphy’s Ambassadors at every turn because not only can it be worse but it will be worse just wait you’ll see kind of deal. Lose your attachment to hope and you’re on the right path.

I’m rambling now, so I’ll cut to the chase. Here is a partial packing list that I would bring to GORUCK Selection, and why.

  1. GR0 with drain holes and iron or steel in the back panel to make the weight requirement. The weight has to be smooth so as to not destroy the rucksack and so that it feels comfortable and stable on my back. The Special Forces curse is the bigger the ruck, the more stuff you carry and you don’t want to carry more than you have to. When not if your ruck gets wet and everything inside it gets wet, it gets heavier and do you really want to carry more weight you don’t have to. To be clear: no, you do not. Also an important note is that I’m 6’4” and the GR1 fits me perfectly ‘magine that and I would not use it for Selection. It’s too big.
  2. 3x Source bladders and one Nalgene and I would test all my Source bladders before showing up. Water is the only most important thing you have to have throughout your stay with the Cadre at Selection. We will ensure that you have water to drink and pain to feel and literally water for you is more important to us than even the pain we will subject you to because your body needs water and it will require discipline on your part to drink it all the time think of this as the only slice of heaven you’ll see and get used to not seeing it through your bladder hose. Bladder failures are not extremely common but they are common enough. I want to take zero chances on having water available at all times. Plus, the bladders weigh nothing when they’re empty. I would use the Source bladders because they’re the best out there and it’s easier to have the hose in place and disengage the bladder and remove it from your ruck when you have to put your ruck on the scale or refill them. This is much less stressful than removing the entire bladder plus the hose. I would also have a Nalgene bottle and I would show up with it empty because I don’t want to do the Welcome Party with any extra weight and you cannot weight your ruck with any fluids in it. Hence dry weight. But just in case all of my bladders broke or Murphy’s Ambassadors gave me too little time to mess around with my ruck and changing out a new bladder but I still needed water fast – insert my Nalgene. I would also have an attachment on the exterior of my ruck where I could put my Nalgene bottle but I would not start the event with the bottle in it. I would start off with it in my ruck so it doesn’t flap around at all.
  3. Second in importance to hydration/water are your feet. One pair of boots, worn. One pair of socks, worn. One pair of broken-in back up boots in my ruck and one replacement pair of socks in my ruck. Replacement socks is different than comfort item socks because of a perspective shift, not because the socks are different. My back-up boots would be doubled up in dry sacks plus 100 mph tape in my ruck and here’s why. The boots I’m wearing are my primary, for an event like Selection and all the miles, there’s no way I would want to use anything with less stability. Plus I’m used to wearing boots while rucking and all the best ruckers in the military which is home to the best ruckers in the world wear boots but maybe you’re special and maybe running shoes are for you even though I will tell you right now you’re not special and running shoes are not the right answer. No, I’m not gonna get into which boots you should wear I’ll just say the right person could finish GORUCK Selection in Chuck T’s it’s more about what’s in your head and your heart but that said I want to do whatever I can do to make my feet less miserable. The 100 mph tape (no need to bring the whole role) is to do any repairs on my boots and insert a PACE Plan aka Primary/Alternate/Contingency/Emergency Plan. If something happens to the boots I’m wearing like they start to fall apart then I’ll switch to my alternate pair. If something happens to those as well, I’ll use the 100 mph tape to repair the better of the two failing pairs of boots. Then I’ll drive on. Socks. Yeah yeah bring 100 pairs got it because whenever you want to change into some fresh ones we’ll let you and do you really believe that. Try this one instead: if you need a fresh pair of socks you won’t make it. In the off chance you’re given a little bit of time to yourself, if you want a fresh pair of socks take the ones you’re wearing off, wring the water out of them, and when you put them back on, they’re fresh.
  4. Pants. No way I would wear shorts. And don’t bring pants with tons of big open pockets and stuff, I recommend performance pants of some kind with top loading (like jeans) pockets. Ensure your pockets are empty over time anything in them will create friction against your leg and you don’t want that plus you don’t need anything in them. Sand will get in big pockets and you don’t want to ruck with extra sand. Ensure they fit well and ensure you have a belt. You will lose a lot of (water) weight during Selection, you don’t want your pants to start to sag or you’ll look like a gypsy camp and we hate that and when we hate things that’s more attention for you and attention breeds pain. Hence wear a belt. I would have a second pair of pants in my ruck. I would also bring a pair of Ranger Panties and have them in my ruck. It’s pretty easy to blow out the crotch in a pair of pants. Given that we’re mostly a civilized people it would be nice to have a back-up pair identical to the ones you’re wearing. Ranger Panties are in case both pairs of pants really, really fail or maybe because if I’m sentimental about one thing on this it’s Ranger Panties and you can probably cut them even though they’re really small and lightweight and won’t take up much space at all.
  5. Underwear. No thanks there’s a reason it’s called going commando because commandos don’t wear underwear because crotch rot sucks and commandos are, well, commandos. Use Vaseline to prevent chafing but no matter what chafing will happen just accept it. I would bring one squeeze tube of Vaseline and put it in the exterior slant pocket of my GR0 and re-apply to those spots anytime I had the chance, which won’t be often.
  6. Shirt. Whatever, it’s not that important, wear whatever I guess if it wicks a little that’s fine but no amount of performance Gucci is really gonna help you here. I’d bring one extra one just in case it rips or tears. The main goal of your shirt is to keep your ruck from touching your skin.
  7. Hat – nope, the second you hit the water it’s gone. I might have one in my ruck, though, for something like The Long Walk.
  8. Morale patches. Nope. It’s just one more thing to make you special in the Cadre’s eyes and you don’t want that. Special breeds attention and attention breeds pain. Extra pain, that is.

What you bring represents who you are and you can’t fake it. Your gear and your eyes tell all and this is basic math for the Cadre and our job is to weed out the unprepared and do it fast and we’re really good at it. If I set out to pass GORUCK Selection, it would take me 6 months of total dedication to be and feel ready – best guess. I would show up with as few things as possible accepting that complexity is the enemy of success and I would bring humility into an evil and powerful world that does not want me to succeed and once I’m there I would think to myself do your worst because I know you will and then the sharks would silently circle and then they would attack and sharks find out fast what you’re made of so show up ready for a fight I promise you you’ll get one.

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7 comments

  1. Edgar says:

    Thank you for the good article, I have been using your fitness program and it does work, dedication and attitude made a huge difference add to that support from my family and there you go, I shave minutes from my run and ruck, added weight and miles and it’s just getting better I feel in great shape. I still saving to get my rucksac, the time will come. Again thank you.

  2. Santiago Pliego says:

    Jason,

    Thanks for a great and helpful post. I have one question, though:

    For a few weeks I’d thinking that the GR0 would be the perfect rucksack for Selection precisely for the reasons you wrote––it’s big enough for what you need but small enough to keep away what you don’t.

    However, after reading your packing list, my question is, would all of that (pants, 3x source bladders, etc.) fit in the GR0?

    I found myself with a bit of extra cash and I want to spend it wisely in my first GR bag (with Selection in mind).

    Thanks for everything.

    All the best,
    Santiago

    • jason says:

      A full Source bladder and an empty Nalgene bladder have some volume to them. The other two Source bladders are empty and thus taking up almost no room. By putting the weight in the back panel, everything will fit easily into the main compartment. Even if you put the weight in the main compartment and it’s dense weight, you could still fit everything you need. So, in short, yes.

  3. Mark says:

    Darnit! Just convinced me to buy my 4th Ruck! I’m only 5″9″ and I’ve used my GR1 for Challenges and my Bullet for Lights. I also have a GR2 for travel and EDC during coaching seasons. I was eyeing the GR0 for my December Challenge. Guess its on my Go list now!

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