FWA Number 1 – The Goruck GR1 Backpack

It was only just over a year or so ago that Goruck inspired an almost cult like devotion from an ever growing following, and then amidst reports of quality issues and out sourcing of sewing operations to Korea the bubble burst for more than a few forum based EDC addicts. The last few months has seen Goruck diversify their original line of four various sized bags with sleeker “shadow” rucks with do not have the MOLLE webbing and lower cost, lower spec rucks which lack the bells and whistles of their more illustrious stable mates, suck as separate laptop/ hydration compartment, internal pockets and an added rigidity panel. These newer rucks come at a lower price point, in a variety of colours and sizes and even styles, check out the civvy bag to add to the already available brick bag.

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I was lead to Goruck in my quest to find brands to work with for a retail venture, we had discussions but at the time business was really booming for them and they didn’t feel the need to put their products into too many retailers, nevertheless I was fortunate enough to pick up their original and signature Ruck ,the GR1, as part of these discussions for an extremely good price and it has been my constant companion in the 15 months since.

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The GR1 is a 26 litre mid sized pack made from super tough 1000 Denier Cordura material, which is basically as close to tear proof as you get. The pack is completely constructed in the USA, designed with Special Forces troops in mind and tested by those self same Specialists in the field and in the form of the famously arduous Goruck challenges, this is not a pack for the faint hearted. My particular pack came in the original black, it is slim, sleek, sits high on the back yet carries the load close and looks the part in pretty much any setting from the office to the tundra.

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The outside of the pack, although not technically water proof is water resistant and I can assure you that it will keep your sandwiches and phone dry in the event of an unexpected downpour, I know this because I live in England which pretty much makes me an expert on crap weather. There is no denying that it looks good too, it looks tough, military and utilitarian but in a stylised manner, almost like a military pack from a near future sci fi movie or post apocalyptic computer game but it is very masculine, nothing wrong with that unless you intend on picking one up for your good ladies birthday gift. I would advise against it. Added features on the exterior are long rubber coated zip pulls which are easy to grab even in the most awkward and fumbling situations, a large entry slanted front pocket for easy access to your passport, phone, notebook or a snack, a small patch of Velcro for attaching a patch of your choice and three rows of MOLLE webbing for compatible accessories and karabiners etc…

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Inside the pack is where you really learn just how well thought out this bag is. The main compartment opens totally flat which, believe me, makes this bag such an effortless joy to use on an aircraft, if you have ever spent any time becoming frustrated when looking for your earphones in the bottom of your carry on whilst your fellow passengers barge past you in the narrow aisles then you will thoroughly appreciate this feature. At the top of the main compartment you have a smaller zipped webbing compartment, ideal for medications and things you need swift access to, under this is a larger zipped webbing compartment to secure larger items. On the opposite side on the main compartment, and backing onto the rigid portion of the pack, is a slip pocket ideal for folders, notes or tablets and all this is before you even look at the cavernous main compartment.

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On the back side with a thickly padded and rigid compartment ,ideal for a 17″ laptop or a hydration system, with another easy grab zipper which open across the top and down the full length of one side of the bag. The only slight criticism I could make here is that, due to the padding, the back can become rather sweaty on the back on a hot day.

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The GR1 is an ideal size for versatility, it can be an EDC day pack just as comfortably as it can be packed up for a few days worth of travel. It is tough as nails and in the 14 months I have had mine it had handled numerous domestic trips all over the country as well as trips to Indonesia and Japan where it was used as carry on luggage. Most importantly to me is that it comes with me every day to work, it carries my notes, my lunch, my stationary, my lunch, my small medical kit and my flask of green tea. Now this might sound like a simple task which could easily be performed by pretty much any pack but what makes the GR1 so awesome is that I don’t have to think about it or consider whether it is wearing out, it still looks pretty much like it did when I unwrapped it 15 months ago and it is backed with the Goruck life time guarantee.

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The Goruck GR1 is an extremely worthwhile first entrant into the list of First World Artefacts through materials, design, quality and endurance. There are most likely better technical packs but I’m not a very technical guy and I’m pretty sure that if the world ended in a nuclear winter then all that would survive is and army of cockroaches, all carrying Goruck packs.

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