Building GR1’s in Bozeman, Montana


GR1 takes 3.5 hours of labor to build. Per GR1 — and that’s when it’s done efficiently by sewers who have spent months learning how to do it. We often get asked what machine spits GR1’s out. Before we got into manufacturing, I would have asked the same question. I also would have wanted to know why GR1’s — or anything else, even things of really high quality — cost so much. The truth is that there is no machine to spit them out, and American labor is really valuable, and it’s located in America, so we pay a lot for it. The process to build GR1’s is long and drawn out, involving multiple machines and highly trained sewers. Machines, even when attached to computers, create nothing, and can be bought. Skilled labor must developed over time and — to create something of extraordinary quality, everyone involved has to put their heart and soul into it.


Every single piece, every component to a GR1 that is sewn to another piece, has its own pattern piece. Meaning that it must be marked, traced, and cut as its own pattern piece. Then it is systematically sewn to other pieces, in a specific order, in a specific way. It’s trial and error, and it’s an art until it’s a science. The art part took us 1.5 years with GR1, now it’s science.


The pattern markers – a giant sheet that outlines every pattern piece — are overlaid onto sheets of Cordura and we follow the lines with the saw. Carefully, of course. Pieces are then stacked and ordered, and assembly begins. As for the machines — yes, they help, the Blue Streak II is ubiquitous at the factories I’ve visited, including GRWH, but it doesn’t power itself, and it’s only as good as its operator.


Which is, of course, always the case. If you’re ever under the impression that sewing is easy, or that it doesn’t require physical strength, then you’d be in the same camp I was in before I saw the process with my own two eyes. When the day comes that we can offer tours —  I can’t wait to see the same look of surprise as people see that it’s a really difficult job to sew our gear really well.


Slowly, components come together, and are ready to be sewn to other components.


The bartacking — a heavy cross stitch that looks like a row of zig-zags on the MOLLE webbing and at other high stress points — requires a special machine and a lot of additional time, effort, and energy to ensure precision. Only our physically strongest sewers are given this task.


You’ll find lighters all over our factory. Very quick exposure to a flame is the only best way to ensure that the end of a row of stitching will not fray. Quick disclaimer: even our military-grade, best we can find materials are not fire resistant, and if you burn them, you will create a hole. For more on this, see our Scars lifetime guarantee.


The straps are bartacked in (which allows them to withstand over 400lbs of pressure) and the ruck is sealed. By the end, the process that is a labor of love has made one ruck, and there are many more to go. I never used to understand why some places thought they could charge so much money for things that, in theory, I could buy for less money elsewhere. Our hope, and our aim, is to say and to show that sometimes, you get what you pay for, and it’s worth it.

24 comments

  1. Chris S says:

    This is by far the best pack I have ever had in my 31 years of life. Love the feeling when I put it on for a run. Overall a 10 for sure without a doubt;

  2. MattBH says:

    This is really helpful to see the process. Just used my first GORUCK bag over the last few days (a Radio Ruck) and the quality, strength, and durability are pretty mind-boggling.

    Kudos for choosing to create good jobs here in America and offering a product we can be proud to buy.

  3. Jim Whittle says:

    Ordered a GR1 Nov.2nd. Can’t wait. Really enjoy all the postings and background stories about GORUCK. Hope that tour might happen when I visit Bozeman next summer.

  4. Steve Velasquez says:

    I am a VERY proud owner of the GR1. I had planned on using it for the GORUCK CHALLENGE this year, but unfortunately my shoulder had another agenda – but there is always next year!

  5. Dustin says:

    Very informative and gives more understanding to those who look at my GR1 and Echo and say, “You paid HOW much? Why?” Now they will know, aside from my stories of their ability, strength, and endurance. They may no believe me, but this page and a GRC will turn them to believers!

  6. Greg says:

    Quality construction means durability, as anyone who has used a GORUCK pack will attest. The investment will pay dividends for a lifetime of use and abuse.
    My GR1 is aging with me.

  7. Jim Whittle says:

    Received my GR1 and it’s the BEST built pack out there. Jason, you’ve assembled a steller crew in Bozman. Be sure to tell them for me that they are very talented. Your concept, code and determination are succeding.
    Repeat customer for sure.
    Jim – Bend, Oregon

    • jason says:

      Jim, Thanks for the kind words — I’ll pass it along to our team in Bozeman. They’ll likely expect a beer or two on the house in reward, which of course we have.

  8. Kip says:

    Jason,

    Awesome bag. Best I’ve ever owned by far. Used it for class 45, a few mud runs and it is breaking in nicely. I plan to purchase a GR2 in the near future. Not because I really need it but because it is the best goddamn bag on the planet. Well done.

  9. Sean Rorie says:

    Hi Jason I have ordered and saved for a GR1 and a Gr Tac and a GR Feild cannot wait for them too arrive all the way over in Australia.The quality of the Goruck products is a stand out for me.In the future I have heard that customisation will be offered and some new colours, but blacks pretty nice.Glad its american made by a great crew.

  10. Todd Smith says:

    I just put in an order for a GR1. I really appreciated this article as it put a human element on the build process. Showing the hard work, skill, and dedication that our American brothers and sisters are putting into my new bag. When I carry it, I will be thanking them each and every mile. Especially when my new GR1 is loaded. American craftsmanship is alive and well in Bozeman, Montana!

    Sincerely,

    Todd Smith

  11. Mike Buksa says:

    I received my GR1 yesterday. The quality of the construction is obvious and I know that it will age with me and my family over numerous adventures. I looked at this article again thinking of the hands in Montana that built it. Thank you all for crafting a perfect piece of gear!

  12. Kevin says:

    Hi,

    I’ve been using an Osprey Atmos 50 for the last 5 years, and I’ve found it to be a great size for fieldwork. I’m a paleontology major at Montana State University (in Bozeman!) and find myself in the field, and abuse my bag pretty bad. I’ve been looking into getting one of your packs, something around the same size as my Osprey, yet something I could possibly use for everyday to and from class. Are you open to visitors so I could get a gauge on the pack size and what my needs would require?

    Thanks!

    -KT

  13. Morgan says:

    I ordered a GR1 and Field pack as well. It will be replacing a backpack brand that i’ve used for almost 30 years. I really like the good workmanship and that it will truly stand up to the tests I will put on the bag. I’m a pretty rough guy and will truly appreciate a nice durable pack. One more thing, the design is perfect. It will go through hell but still look nice. Looking forward to it. Thanks in advance.

  14. Dustin M. says:

    I have just ordered the GR1 and CIVVY KIT BAG and I am stoked!!! to get them here. I am a former BLM Smokejumper and very familiar with the time, effort, and foresight that it takes to R & D a ruck, then prototype it out and mass produce it. So seeing this process brings back many fond memories of helping out in our loft building PG (personal gear) bags and pack-out bags, the best time of my life. I am sure this is the last ruck I will have to purchase for some time based upon what I have seen, outstanding job folks.

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