Bullets are streamlined, tough, and super useful when you’re in the mood for their services. And we could do a lot worse as inspiration for the 10L Hydration Bullet Ruck. It’s a simple and highly functional dayruck, comfortable when rucking, at our shorter Events or Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) Events, and just about any time you’re on the go and don’t have a laptop.
We built the ruck around the dimensions and functionality of a standard 3L bladder, and we added a second compartment for other stuff. Monster’s bigger now than he was and imagine that, so he’s basically like hey I double dog dare you to try squeezing me in there for old times sake or whatever. Yeah, yeah Monster you’re a stud now, got it.
Kids these days, eh?
Rule #1 of Special Forces is Always Look Cool and that mandates a simpler design than hydration bags don’t call ’em rucks I used in the past. Form follows function and a forced trip to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater after white water rafting with my dad in a summer of my youth meets setting up my kit efficiently in war with Special Forces meets GORUCK’s product design meets rucking around cities all over America and the world. Who isn’t the product of their different experiences it’s just funny how yesterday’s seemingly unrelated lessons collide today.
I can’t help but think of “a simple black bag, comfortable in any and every environment imaginable,” which was the first line the GR1 Explained post from several years ago and sorry to quote, ummmm, myself who does that? it’s just that the comparison is the elephant in the room or at least in my head. Especially since the 10L Bullet Ruck has come to replace the 26L GR1 for me, in some instances. I travel with a 40L GR2 everywhere I go (more on that later). GR1 is great when I have my laptop and for rucking/training with more weight. GR1 is wider though still low profile and has a back panel that offers additional stability. The Bullet is pretty much my stuff-it-in-and-go ruck. It offers the the option for much less commitment because you can’t carry as much baggage with you hah! speaking literally not metaphorically at all.
Let’s talk about the Special Forces curse and what happens when you have a bigger ruck. You have more space so you fill more space and before you know it you got 100 lbs of the lightest weight necessities money can buy and what’s heavier a pound of feathers or a pound of lead. My grandfather got me with that one back in the day and of course a pound of lead is heavier ha ha joke’s on me and attention to detail is key.
The 10L Bullet Ruck is GR1 pared down. Some functionality is lost, some simplicity is gained.
The shoulder straps have bartacked webbing on them. Over time, the more you wear it, this allows the straps to conform to your body while still maintaining their basic form. The padding stays in place and the straps don’t warp even though you tug and pull on them every time you put the ruck on and take it off. And webbing always allows for customization via such things as sternum straps.
Our rucks always look naked to me without a patch on the front. So I get why other companies stamp their logo all over the place, it makes their products “pop” more like our red reverse flag pops in this picture. I prefer our way because you can customize the ruck with the patch of your choice. Sure, I wear t-shirts with GORUCK all over them (by GORUCK’s standards meaning they say GORUCK) and that’s my choice because I love GORUCK and am proud to represent who we are and what we stand for. Back in the day, people, especially really experienced businessmen, told me I was crazy and that I had to put external facing logos on our rucks. Then I asked them who made their suit and why can’t I tell by just looking at it. They all sorta pulled the Jules Winfield “it’s an interesting point” line in response to why Marsellus Wallace threw Antoine out of a window for giving Mia a foot massage. But I know that they disagreed and that’s OK. Probably the rucks would have sold just fine if they said GORUCK on them somewhere. The world’s full of contradictions and don’t be surprised if someday some gear we build says GORUCK on it somewhere externally. Like our sandbags do. If you want to represent GORUCK more, earn a Tough or a Light Patch or something and put it on your ruck. We’re proud if you do that and hope you wear it with pride. But it’s your choice.
The hydration part. Small but important tip. For longer rucks, bring a Nalgene bottle as well, and use it for any fluids you want to put electrolytes in. Nalgene bottles are easy to clean and easy to mix powder into. Do not ever put Gatorade or any powder in your bladder. Source bladders are much easier to clean than the others on the market (not to mention more reliable), but sugar breeds bacteria and there are a lot of moving parts in a bladder where sugar hides when (more like if) you clean it. They make tablets and you can put a bladder in the dishwasher – I do anyway – but once you put sugar in there it’s done in my book. Don’t do that. There are no hidden parts to a Nalgene bottle. Mix away and it cleans easily.
The front slant pocket is a staple, complete with a silent zipper pull and easy access to small stuff.
MOLLE webbing on the front lets you put a carabiner and I’ve seen people attach a GR1 Field Pocket as well.
I always hated that cling clang sound that happens when two metal zipper pulls hit each other. Since they do it in a way that mirrors the rhythm of your gait, you get used to it and if you’re really good you get used to it fast and the goal, of course, is to tune it out. And is that a good goal? It’s labor intensive for us to gut 550 parachute cord and melt a rubber pull around it. It’s also a superior product and we like getting as close to perfection as humanly possible. Our pulls are silent so whether you’re rucking around NYC or Baghdad, nobody including you hears your zippers coming before you get there wherever there is. And in case it’s cold out, you can still wear gloves and pull them easily. Not like wearing special gloves and working an iPhone. With our zipper pulls you can wear any gloves you want, they’ll work just fine the old fashioned way.
Same logic to the end of the cinch strap. If you don’t create a loop out of it, it’ll get stuck in the buckle when it’s fully extended and then you have to try to pick it out with your fingertips and that sucks. The loop gives you something to grab onto and if you’re bored on your ruck that would be weird but maybe you’re a Cadre you can rest your thumbs in there, too. It actually happens ask Joel sometime lol.
Two compartments. Similar to GR1 except the construction and functionality are different with the Bullet. You put your 3L bladder next to your back, and we’ll talk about that one first.
The bladder compartment does not open flat. We found this unnecessary for this compartment only and in fact less functional – it was more time consuming for no major gain. Top loading a bladder (or newspapers or a rain jacket) is easier when the compartment only partially opens at the top because it requires less time to zip open or closed.
There’s an exit on the back panel for the bladder hose.
And a built in retention on the shoulder straps for the hose.
When the bladder is in its compartment, this provides some structure to the ruck itself, though there is no hardened back panel. By that I mean there is no hard plastic sheet built in that provides rigidity to the ruck. We thought about adding this (which is present in GR0/GR1), but we found it unnecessary when you’re carrying less weight, up to ~30 lbs or so, in the Bullet. Plus, it would have added a significant amount of labor, materials, and therefore cost. And not having the back panel greater differentiates the Bullet from GR1 (and GR0).
It’s a simple process to put a bladder in a ruck and use it correctly. More simple if you’ve done it before and oh how I wish someone back in the day explained life’s basics in a basic way to me. Gear requires so much testing to get comfortable with and if you don’t know where to start you feel like an idiot and I’ve spent a lot of time in my life feeling like an idiot and I’ve learned a lot of stuff the super hard way which led to a lot of experienced dudes pointing their fingers and laughing at me. Iron sharpens iron style and you won’t get any fingers pointed from me anymore unless they’re at myself and that’s usually pretty funny, too.
Suspending your bladder from the top is always the preferred technique. Here’s the thing, though, the opening of the bladder (that tan cap you see) has to face away from your back, as pictured above, for maximum comfort. In the military you’ll often hear older dudes tell younger dudes yep, that’s a technique. Usually what they mean is you’re an idiot. What I’m saying is that there are two techniques in this case, and the only correct one is to have the smooth side of the bladder next to your back with the opening facing away from your back. Here’s why.
Same Standard 3L Source Bladder on each side of the Bullet. On the left the smooth back side. On the right, the front side and there are some things that you do NOT want pressing into your back on the bladder on the right in any way, despite the padding in the back panel. The small things in life often bother us the most because they’re the most annoying. Hangnails, mosquitos, that whistling sound from your window on the highway if it doesn’t quite close all the way. The setup here that will annoy you, though, is completely avoidable.
Summary: smooth side next to your back, opening cap facing away from your back. Too easy.
When you suspend the bladder, you’re letting gravity do the work for you and since it knows what it’s doing all of the time that’s a good thing. Your hose draws H2O from the bottom of the bladder, pictured above. This is also the part you do not want even remotely pressing into your back. Since this bladder is lying flat, you can even see the air bubble at the top of it since gravity causes it to rise to the top of the water. You do not want that air bubble anywhere near where the water is being drawn from.
Master gravity by putting the button in the hole after you loop it through the top of the bladder. If you don’t, what happens is that eventually the bladder sinks down in the ruck and you go for some water and you get air bubbles or you and the bladder collaborate on a new song called the slurpee. And that’s not what you want, so master gravity.
That was easy.
‘Merica and you’re ready to ruck.
But wait I can’t ruck with out a sternum strap, right?
Then Rubin shows up and what the hell kind of friends do I have he’s almost as weird as all the 1st Groupers I know like Bert and the helicopter and Garrett and the monkey something and all their buddies that are infiltrating the Cadre ranks now. I digress.
Rubin (6’2″), time to totally redeem yourself so just stand there and do your best Jack Barley with that sternum strap on so we can show people what it looks like. Don’t smile, Monster’s got you covered on that one and you’ll never make it as a male model if you smile too much and what a life that must be. You’re well on your way now and that beard’s a nice touch. They’re in I’ve heard.
So here’s the thing on sternum straps. They’re sometimes helpful some of the time and the MOLLE webbing allows you to attach one if you want. Personally, I don’t like them because they compress the ruck’s weight more across my chest, which makes breathing harder. That said, they do distribute the weight differently so it’s nice to alternate, sometimes, between having the strap connected and not. You’ll have to try it out to see what I mean.
My roots as a soldier have impacted our definition of what a piece of gear ‘needs ’ because less is more and more is lazy. Soldiers wear body armor and on the front of that body armor I had things like a pistol and magazines and frags. Using sternum straps (or hip belts for that matter) would have gotten in the way of my ability to access that much more important stuff and seconds are life. So I got in the habit of never using them. With much, much heavier weight let’s call it ~75 lbs. or up I would happily use a hip belt and a sternum strap for long movements. Maybe some day we’ll design a ruck that has hip belts hint hint and I’m also aware that the Cadre and I are not the only ruckers out there. ~75 lbs. is a lot of weight, more than I would recommend to anyone who wants to ruck for fitness’s sake or to train for one of our Events (other than Selection).
Bottom line: try the sternum strap out if you want. If you never use it, don’t keep it on there because when it dangles all over the place it looks like a gypsy camp and gypsy camps are a total violation of Rule #1 and I hate those kinds of violations.
Drain Holes. We did not build them into the original rucks. The downside to having them is that things can get in through the drain holes, though over time I think this risk has not proven itself to be extremely relevant. The other calculation we made with the original rucks which by the way we internally call the OG’s (Original Gangstas) is that it’s relatively easy to get drain holes added yourself and it’s impossible to have them undone once they’re already in place. Maybe you don’t like the way they look, maybe you don’t care. For the Bullets, it makes sense to have them, for the OG’s we want you to decide.
Only a million more pictures to go and you wanted it you got it and there better be no additional questions in the comments section when this is all said and done ha ha.
These Gear Explained posts take me forever and it’s a balancing act like Lou in his Chuck T’s as calm as ever. My take is that you can scan this post as fast as you want and just look at the pictures because who doesn’t love a picture book that’s easy. But I’m also targeting the gear dorks of the world, and I’ll proudly call myself one of ummmm us, with as much information as you can possibly handle. I think there is a small percentage of people out there who influence a lot of people’s decisions on gear and on life. If you’re still actually reading, this probably means you, at least on the gear part. You’ve got more questions than most, you’re more critical than most, and really you just want to know the why’s. You can agree or disagree with the trade-offs or the final product but there is value to you in the knowledge. I’m fascinated by the process of building stuff and the more we do this the more I learn that a lot of people out there not just me are very turned off by companies that post one picture and a price and assume you think it’s so cool and worth it.
Google and the Internet have made information infinitely and readily available and this has changed the nature of the relationship between builder and buyer. You demand more information about everything and GORUCK is at the forefront of sharing more. Big companies are stuck in the past by defaulting to retail communication even though they’re online, Amazon has become a bazaar that doesn’t care how you present your own brand, for better for worse, and retailers don’t know how to sell other brands in their shops. Consumers walk in and compare aesthetics and price and maybe you already have an idea of a brand you like. There are no stories, no explanation of the gear and why things cost what they cost or even how brands differentiate themselves. And if you tell me it’s on the hang tags I’m gonna drop the mic. Can you imagine how effective it would be if, for instance, outdoor retailer A, B, or C actually explained to you what the tradeoffs were between rain jacket 1, 2, or 3. Across brands, of course. It would be a lot of work on their part, work they presumably think is not worth doing. I think they’re wrong.
Retailers don’t get it yet, the changing landscape of consumer expectations that is. But they will, in time because like G.I. Joe says, knowing is half the battle. And people just want to know, it’s why we all ask our friends and we’re either jaded by high prices or we look for the most value i.e. the lowest price in the absence of reliable information. In the future, comparisons will be infinitely easier I just want that to come sooner than later.
So anyway, Lou is 6’3” and the Bullet fits him. He’s not smiling because the class isn’t quite where it needs to be. Not to worry, they got there.
And Emily is 5’5” and the Bullet fits her, too. Kind of like how it’s hard to take a bad picture of Monster, the streamlined Bullet seems to fit all shapes and sizes.
Back to the Spring of 2013, I slowly traded in my GR1 for the Bullet as Java and I were leading some Events, mostly Lights. So the Bullet it was, partially because I wanted to field test the prototype Jack surprised me with from Bozeman. Also because it was hot out, the Bullet was more streamlined, and I didn’t want to carry more than I had to so I could focus more energy on making my classes all they could be ha ha. So I stuffed the essentials in there – water (for me and Java yes we shared), a rain jacket, cameras, stuff like that. Then trial and error began all over America.
That’s an open mouth lick from one of the greats right there. You’re welcome.
For sizing, I’m 6’4” and 100 lbs less than Lou (love ya man) and I love the fit, too. When rucking, the more weight you’re carrying the more important it is to get the weight up on your shoulders and back and not let the ruck sag down. So cinch your shoulder straps down so the ruck rides high on your back. This makes the ruck more stable (no bee-boppin’!) and the more stable the ruck the happier you’ll be about the weight. Over time you get used to moving out as if your ruck were just an extension of your body.
Like Brett above (5’2”) with a perfectly cinched down ruck riding high on her back at one of the Peace and Love Lights getting ready for some team-building after rucking to that frat house or whatever that place was but it was fun.
So yeah, using the Bullet at one of our Events like Light is cool but what about the beer and rucking is a social sport. Try talking and running sometimes that never works for very long. Rucking and talking and beering work just fine but our lawyers who are part of the destruction of the world ha ha will have me tell you to obey all local laws and don’t ruck and drink and don’t speed on the Interstate and don’t jaywalk and you get my point. When you want to pack out a 12 pack in the Bullet, you’ll appreciate the consistent feature of all our rucks where it opens flat.
Anyway, we started rucking some 5 Pack 5K’s. 5 Pack because you already drank one and we brought extra because Java loves a good party and beer does a body good and everyone loves it and life is short so live it up. You’d be surprised how easy it is to get people to come to a party, any party, where you tell them there’s beer. Be. That. Guy. and on a completely different note if you ever make a mistake or do wrong by someone, bring them a case of beer and say you’re sorry. That will get you everywhere because nobody does it sorta like how nobody hand writes thank you cards anymore and if you do it’s that much more powerful.
Derek, 6’1″ gets the whole live life to the fullest thing and Java praises those who get it. You’re welcome, buddy.
Like I said life is short and live it up. So when it came time for Monster’s Cadre training, Heavy here we come but Monster’s tiny little legs and his need to sleep 20 hours a day got in the way.
So sleep all you want in your papoose just don’t forget to pay attention to what’s going on around you it’s the only way to learn anything stay alert stay alive.
And rucking Monster around is pretty fun and I’m sure I’ll always smile thinking about those days which are no longer these days he’s gotten so big he’s probably GR2 size now so maybe those days can be these days for a little while longer.
Speaking of GR2 (40L), it’s my go-to travel the world with one ruck but I always take two rucks so I throw a Bullet in there so that I have a smaller dayruck when I get there. Anywhere there is. Luxuries luxuries and it’s funny to see Monster all scrunched up in one and unfortunately he’s too big for TSA now so I’m back to driving most everywhere. Unless I have to fly and when I do that I pack the Bullet in my GR2 with my GORUCK grey t-shirts and a pair of blue jeans and my laptop’s in its bombproof compartment and I have no doubt that when I practice stuffing Monster inside the Bullet it makes him appreciate when that’s not the case. That’s called perspective or something and we should all be so lucky to have it so you’re welcome, Monster, you’ll thank me when you’re older.
The Bullet’s back panel lacks the rigidity (equals stability btw) of our original rucks like GR1. That rigidity is what allowed us to include more pockets and even MOLLE webbing on the interior of GR1. With the Bullet, there is no back panel so if we would have included the sheathed elastic pocket in the ruck, it would have pulled on the sides of the ruck in such a way that would have make it looked warped. So we didn’t do that. We didn’t add MOLLE because a loose sheet of Cordura does not have ample ability to keep a loaded Field Pocket stable. If we put webbing at the top, what would have happened is you would have attached something to that webbing and the weight up top in the ruck would cause the ruck to sag from the top. A lot. That would have changed the way it fits in a bad way. So we didn’t do that.
We spend 95% of our time on the last 5% of our gear because we are proud to build the best. That’s why so many of us field test new stuff before you ever see it. Randomly it’ll pop up at an Event or I”ll have various prototypes for 6 months and in that 6 months we’ll change almost nothing but it’s a form of nothing that’s important to us. The Bullet took a lot less time than GR1 to get right, and a lot less time for me to completely sign off on, though. I almost felt like I had to find something wrong with the first version they gave me, but it was tough. Probably because Bozeman (specifically Spencer) got so comfortable with our original rucks over the years that further simplifying the patterns was a lot easier than creating an entirely new system like it will be when we get into framed packs or something. The construction techniques for building the shoulder straps and how they attach to the ruck itself and how it opens flat are all very similar to the construction of GR1. And the execution for the ruck itself is easier. Removing the complexity of the back panel saved a lot of labor and a lot of time both in development and execution. And now for how to pack it out.
Two is one and one is none. So if I’m doing anything worth shooting, like I dunno a GORUCK Challenge or something, I bring two cameras. If one gets destroyed and I’m tough on things so it happens, then I have another. I pack them out each in a padded GR2 Field Pocket and close it up. As iPhone cameras have gotten a lot better, sometimes I only bring one big camera anymore since the iPhone can capture atmospherics with a wider shot. For those interested, on the D7000 in the black Field Pocket I have a fixed 35mm lens (which is usually a fixed 55mm except when I’m doing gear shots like I was when I took this shot with my iPhone btw and I think you can tell that) and I also have an 18-24mm lens on the old D90 with the broken reader covered with duct tape. Like I said, I’m hard on things. The 55mm is my go-to but sometimes it’s not wide enough to capture the atmospherics. The 18-24mm is great for that since it’s so wide.
Color and patch coding pockets for easier reference.
And the two zippered pockets let me organize a little more. Up top in the closed pocket I put my keys and my wallet and sometimes my phone. I don’t like to ruck with anything in my pockets. And in the mesh pocket all my little goodies like 2 Snickers bars (I overdid Peanut M&M’s a couple years back though I still love ’em), an energy shot, my coozie for the ruckoff after the event and my sunscreen so that in theory I don’t get as burned as I did after the 1,000th Challenge. Thank you GORUCK NorCal it’s not your fault I’m an idiot. It’s better to have and not need than to need and not have but either way sunscreen only works if you put it on.
And the iPad. So this is more for traveling around a city not during an Event though some Cadre download maps onto theirs and give their team leaders mission briefs off of them. That’s a pretty cool trick I’ll have to try. But when traveling with electronics in a bullet, you need to have a case or something to protect them.
With an iPad, I use a hard case and it fits just fine and I could throw my two camera set up on top if I want to and it all would fit.
And every time I pack Monster knows what’s going on he’s smart like that already. When he’s old enough to ruck 15 miles or so you’ll see him at any or all of the Events I’m at.
And one more tip. The hydration bladder section can hold things besides just a bladder. When on the road I throw magazines or newspapers in it. And when I’m Cadre and it might rain, I throw my rain jacket in there. If it starts raining hard enough for me to want a rain jacket, I don’t want to open up the main compartment where I have all my other stuff.
And all that’s nice but why did we build the Bullet in the first place. So nice of you to ask. We were developing GORUCK Nasty as a military-inspired obstacle course. Everyone’s done those kinds of events, whether Tough Mudder or Spartan Race, and we wanted to design the perfect ruck for them, whether you wanted to pack out water or bricks or liquid bricks or whatever. Some people don’t want to ruck, some people do. We prefer to ruck because harder is better and not to mention who wants to wait for the next water station to appear when you can have everything you need on your back? Maybe beer, don’t tell our lawyers. Anyway, our original rucks work great because they’re low-profile, it’s just back to the Special Forces curse again. More room, more weight is always how it works out. So we wanted to simplify GR1 and out came the 10L Bullet.
As for Monster’s thoughts, it’s probably his first love after so much time in it, eh?
Right after GO is RUCK and rucking is central to our roots and our gear and our events. People with military experience know all about rucking, what we’re doing at GORUCK is breaking it down, Crayola style, for everyone. You gotta start somewhere and the 10L Bullet is that start with a lot of additional functionality to it. Above are some rucking set ups. Top left: 2 bricks and a Nalgene. Top right: 4 bricks and a Nalgene. Bottom left: a 20 lb Filler bag (it will fit a 20 + a 10 or a 30 if you squeeze it in just right) and bottom right: a full 20 lb sandbag. 15 lbs is the minimum weight I would recommend to anyone who wants to start rucking. You don’t know it but you’re used to rucking when it’s called something else or you think about it as hey I’m gonna throw a backpack on and walk a bit. Maybe to school maybe to work. That’s actually called rucking in our lingo and rucking is the next big thing, way bigger than it already is just you wait.
Then Monster’s like did I hear the word wait because that’s not gonna happen too much longer kinda like that guy in Terminator 2 who got shot and then told the SWAT guys he didn’t know how much longer he could hold the microchip over the detonator but he held it long enough for them to get out and good on him honor lives forever.
So the Bullet’s ready and look at those eyes Monster just wants to ruck and no question mark who doesn’t.