Packing and Preparing for a GORUCK Challenge

The GR1

I had some difficulty writing this post as I wanted to avoid sounding like all the other posts about what people bring, wear and eat during the challenge. Hopefully this post will give you some guidance as to what the real mentality you should have when preparing for a challenge. As the challenge is shrouded in mystery to newcomers, so is the packing list. It is easy to question the purpose of each item and the significance of the team weight as well as the BRICKS.

There is no right or wrong answer in what you bring with you, but some things make life easier, other items create a challenge. Some people tend to take the preparation stage too seriously and overwhelm themselves with minute details. The key to properly outfit oneself for the challenge lies in keeping things simple.

GR1, Echo & Brick Bag

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate 

Throw your preconceived notions out the window and refer back to my original post regarding the philosophy of the GORUCK Challenge. This is a team event and to get through the challenge, all items whether its bricks, food or water become property of the team.

Packing Your Ruck

Before the challenge begins, I would highly recommend either buying or borrowing a GR1 Ruck. With the new requirement of 4 bricks under 150lbs and 6 if you are over, the GR1 fits the bricks and any “lickie and chewies” comfortably. While the echo and radio ruck are extremely well made bags, they will make fitting your new best friends difficult. The GR2 will fit everything and then some, but you don’t really need the extra space.

The Bare Essentials

Your new friends

The Bricks

BE SMART is all I can say. Don’t cheat yourself and bring less. Don’t wrap them up with duct tape and wire and bring them on an airplane or leave them by a trashcan in lower Manhattan. Stack, wrap or otherwise glue your bricks together, whatever feels most comfortable to you. I like to cover the bricks in Gorilla Tape and use the MOLLE webbing on the interior of the bag and thread velcro through to keep the bricks secured and high on my back.

Team Weight

Creativity is the name of the game when it comes to the team weight. Anyone can find a kettle bell to bring along for the challenge. Find something unique, something that will make the other teams jealous. It is a safe bet to relate your team weight to the city where the challenge is taking place: Boxing Gloves for Philly, Fire Hose for NYC or a wedge of cheese for Wisconsin are some good examples. Disclaimer: don’t bring cheese or any perishable items, by the end of the challenge you will understand why.


Bring it. Duh.


Lickie & Chewies

The debate over the best water bladder to bring for the challenge spans many threads and leaves many broken hearts. A Camelback 100 oz water bladder has treated me well. Make sure you fill up the bladder before hand, otherwise you could be using pond water.

Food and Sustenance 

Don’t overpack. This challenge isn’t a 5 day hike into the wilderness. I usually have food and gels left over after everything is said and done. You know what tastes good, has good texture and benefits you. Don’t think that “thermal” bar will help you after wading through the Schuylkill at 0300 in the morning (whoops).

Hmm this challenge seems pretty tough, I better pack an extra 20 pairs of socks to be safe..

Cover Yourself

The clothing to wear to a challenge depends on the climate. For warm weather challenges, a pair of shorts with running shoes and a long sleeve tech shirt should be fine. When the weather takes a turn for the worse and you are face with below freezing temperatures, you need to be more prepared.

My GR TAC and Headlamp

The single most important piece of clothing for a cold weather challenge is your wind breaker. You will be cold. This item at least keeps some of your body heat in. I usually couple this with “Cold Gear” Under Armour and a few wool layers on top. I supplement the windbreaker with tights, compression shorts and running shorts. I also will wear the “toe socks” and  have never had a problem with blisters.

For every challenge, run or otherwise, I have worn my GR TAC hat. This is a marvel of engineering. I can’t speak highly enough of how well this, like every GORUCK product, has held up through all the elements and abuse I put it through.

Body Coverage 101

Make sure you bring a headlamp as well so you can see while you are aimlessly wandering in the dark. Any kind will do, you aren’t spelunking.

Don’t over pack. Please. Your ruck will get heavy with the extra clothes you think you need and don’t actually end up using.

Mental Preparation 

After it is all said and done, you could have all the Gucci gear and the headlamp that can fire lasers, but it won’t matter if you don’t work as a team. Mentally prepare yourself to push yourself through anything you face along the trek you are about to embark upon.

At the end of the challenge you all end up the same way: cold, wet hungry and with a better bond than you ever thought possible.

The Aftermath

  1. #1 by Carl on November 17, 2011 - 12:36 PM

    Thanks for the great post and quality info! I will be stationed in Japan shortly, and during my first month there, the Tokyo GoRuck Challenge will be held. I can’t think of a better way to be introduced to the city than that. I am not in terrible shape, but I am concerned I am not ready for it, and being in the Navy I have not spent a tremendous amount of time running under a loaded pack. I am going to tackle some upgraded training here for a month or two and then reconsider signing up. Thanks again!

    • #2 by cklein32 on November 17, 2011 - 1:11 PM

      Hey Carl!

      Thanks for reading! I would really recommend doing the challenge no matter what. As I stated in my post, this is extremely team oriented. An individual does not carry the team, nor do they become a burden. In any way. I promise. I have been through 5 and I have seen individuals who we never thought would finish hold the patch with a tremendous amount of pride. Everyone wants you to finish, including me. You will thank yourself for it. in the end, its all mental. If you want to talk more about it, I would be happy to! I’ll send you an email!

  2. #3 by Carl on November 17, 2011 - 9:51 PM

    Thank you so much. I am checking wiht my sponsor to see if I will be able to make it, and if he says I should be able to, I am going for it. When I finish, I will give you a shout out for the motivation!

    • #4 by cklein32 on November 17, 2011 - 11:30 PM

      I hope you do! I would love to be in Japan, but it’s Japan and its hard to get too! Let me know if you need anything else!

  3. #5 by Nate G on November 18, 2011 - 11:41 AM

    In 4 Months from RIGHT NOW I will have just completed GORUCK Boston, and I can’t wait!! This is my first adventure challenge and I’m anxious to get going, thanks for the great write up!

  4. #6 by Go.HikeWorld™ on December 8, 2011 - 11:42 AM

    Reblogged this on GoHikeWorld.

  5. #7 by Adam on August 23, 2012 - 2:13 PM

    Interesting article. One of the better ones I’ve read. I’m thinking about doing a Goruck Challenge but I’m nowhere near fit enough yet. Any suggestions on a training programme to get ready for it? I’m thinking of 12 months to go from a bit above couch potato to the challenge.

    • #8 by cklein32 on August 25, 2012 - 2:40 PM

      Hey Adam! Honestly, the best training is just getting out there and putting some miles on your legs. I do a variation of workouts from P90x, gym workouts and sandbag workouts. It all comes down to being mentally prepared to take on whatever is thrown at you! Thanks for the comment and let me know if you have any other questions!

  6. #9 by Dominic C on February 25, 2013 - 4:26 PM

    Thanks for the great information. I will doing and finishing my first GoRuck Challenge in a couple of weeks in San Francisco. I have purchased everything, but a wind breaker. Do you have any suggestions that worked for you?

    • #10 by cklein32 on February 25, 2013 - 5:01 PM

      Hey Dominic!

      Thanks for reading! Any wind breaker will do. I would look at EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports) or REI. You don’t need to spend a ton. You just need something to keep your body heat in.

      Let me know if you have any questions!

  7. #11 by joey on March 27, 2013 - 12:13 PM

    I have a brand new Echo that’s too small for me as I’m over 6′ tall. It’s brand new out of box and I’m looking to sell it for $185. if anyone is interested.

  8. #12 by redraven88 on August 4, 2013 - 6:35 AM

    Badassery. Rockin the ITS TACTICAL patch.

  1. What to Pack for GORUCK Challenge – My AAR | Ruck.Beer

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