Best Backpack for Rucking – Introduction
What’s the best backpack for rucking in 2023?
Rucking is a great way to get fit, lose weight, and strengthen your legs.
In simple terms, rucking involves walking briskly while carrying weight in a backpack or wearing a weighted vest.
The actual weight carried depends on your fitness and how far you’re planning on walking, but most beginners should start with about 10 percent of their body weight.
With more load on your muscles and joints, rucking delivers a great workout without having to break into a run.
As such, it has the potential to be more joint-friendly than most high-impact fitness activities.
However, it’s far more effective than just going for a regular walk.
Rucking originates in the military and is how soldiers get from A to B with all their essential kit.
They load it into backpacks and walk – often many miles and over challenging terrain.
Rucking for fitness is a little easier; the loads are invariably lower, and you won’t have a drill sergeant yelling at you!
However, to go rucking, you’ll need a way to carry some weight.
A weighted vest is a good option, but you’ll probably get more benefits from using a backpack.
After all, once you’ve got a good backpack, you can use it for hiking or just carrying your groceries home from the store.
You can’t do that with a weighted vest!
In this article, we discuss what to look for in a rucking backpack and share six of our favorites with you.
What to Look for In A Rucking Backpack
Are you wondering what to look for in a rucking backpack?
These are the details that matter!
In theory, you can use any old backpack for rucking, but many packs are only made for casual use and not toting heavy loads.
If you want your backpack to last for more than a few workouts, you need one that’s strong and well-constructed.
So, look for heavyweight materials such as canvas and Cordura, and backpacks with reinforcements in high-stress areas.
Strong zips and buckles are also a must, and waterproofing is a welcome bonus.
All of these features will add to the price of your backpack but will save you from having to replace it every few months.
Plus, the last thing you need is for your rucksack to fail mid-ruck, spilling weights all over the floor!
Nothing saps your energy and willpower like an uncomfortable backpack!
Even a few extra pounds on your back can turn your workout into a test of pain tolerance.
So, when looking for a rucking backpack, ensure the shoulder straps, back panel, and waist belt are sufficiently padded.
And yes, a waist belt is vital. Using one allows you to spread the load between your shoulders and hips, making the load much more comfortable to carry.
It goes without saying that all these straps should be adjustable so you can achieve the perfect fit.
Backpacks come in various lengths.
If you are tall, you’ll have no problem carrying a longer backpack.
But having a shorter torso means your pack could hang down over your butt and rub when you walk.
If possible, try your pack on before you buy it.
That way, you can be sure it fits properly.
If that is not possible, make sure you can return or exchange it if it’s not a good fit.
The capacity of a backpack is generally expressed in liters.
A 20 to 30-liter pack is suitable for day hikes, whereas a 40 to 50-liter pack is more of a weekend hiking pack.
60-liter packs are mainly used for longer expeditions, but some military backpacks are rated up to 100 liters.
The right-sized pack depends on what types of weights you are planning on carrying and what other activities you want your backpack for.
For example, weight plates are heavy but compact, so you don’t need a high-capacity backpack.
But, if you are going to load your pack with bulkier household objects, water bottles, etc., you will appreciate the extra space afforded by a larger-capacity pack.
Military or civilian backpacks
Just because rucking originates in the military doesn’t mean you have to get a military-style backpack.
Military packs are strong and built to last, but they usually only come in a few colors (e.g., olive drab, black, and khaki), and comfort and added features are not usually a priority.
Civilian backpacks are usually lighter and more comfortable but may not be as hard-wearing.
However, you’ll probably have a wider choice of colors and lengths.
A simple single-compartment backpack is all you really need for rucking.
However, some extra features may make your workouts more comfortable and enjoyable, including:
- External pockets for your phone, keys, snacks, etc.
- Hydration reservoir compatibility for hands-free drinking.
- Compression straps to secure the load
- Chest strap to help keep the shoulder straps in place.
- Removable internal frame/back plate.
- MOLLE attachment sites for adding extra pockets and pouches.
- Velcro patches for customizing your backpack.
The 6 Best Backpacks for Rucking
Now you know what to look for in a rucking backpack, here are six of our favorites, all tried and tested just for you!
#1. 5.11 Tactical Backpack Rush 24 2.0
- COMPARTMENTS - Tactical Backpack featuring 29 individual inner and outer...
- DURABLE - Made from durable 1050D nylon, this military backpack is...
- TACTICAL - Molle compatible with the wrap-around molle/5.11 slick stick web...
- DIMENSIONS Main Compartment 20" x 12.5" x 8", Front Admin Pocket 12.5" x 11" x...
- NEW 5.11 RUSH 24 2.0 - Can be used as a military or army pack, range bag,...
The 5.11 Tactical Backpack is a military-style pack with impressive specs.
At 37 liters, it has more than enough space for bulky weights and any extras you wish to carry.
There are lots of external pockets, and the inner compartment has divisions so you can keep your weights away from whatever else you’re lugging.
The back panel and straps are heavily padded, and the MOLLE attachment points mean you can add whatever extra pockets you need to the outside of the pack.
Compression straps mean you can cinch down the load, so it stays close to your back.
This Rush 24 2.0 Molle Pack from 5.11 is also hydration reservoir compatible.
#2. GoRuck GR1
GoRuck backpacks are made specifically for rucking.
They have compartments designed to hold your weights so that they won’t move or rub against your back.
GoRuck packs are quite understated and would look at home on a commute, although they’re still more than capable of handling a hiking trip.
The GR1 is the smallest GoRuck pack available and has a capacity of 21 liters.
However, larger, more spacious models are available.
The only real downside of GoRuck packs is their high price.
However, they’re definitely built to last and should provide many years of reliable service.
#3. MT Military MOLLE 2 Large Rucksack with Frame
- MT US Large Field Ruck Set: consists of a rucksack, two sustainment pouches, a...
- Large Rucksack: It provides up to 4,000 cubic inches of space. In legacy...
- MOLLE ii Large Pack Frame: The frame is contoured to comfortably fit closely to...
- Side Sustainment Pouch: The two detachable side sustainment pouches provide an...
- Molded Hip Belt: The large frame is fitted to the hip belt with four attachment...
If you need a large backpack for rucking and hiking, this pack is for you.
With its 65-liter capacity and external frame, this backpack can hold enormous weights with ease.
Hopefully, the same can be said about your legs and back!
This is a traditional military backpack designed for real-world use.
It has all the features you’d expect, including large internal compartments, removable external pockets, reinforced stress points, and plenty of MOLLE attachment points for customization.
While this pack may be overkill for most fitness ruckers, if you want to ruck like a soldier, this backpack is one of the best.
However, the MT Military MOLLE 2 is so large that you’ll probably have a hard time filling it.
#4. Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 24 Backpack
- CATALYST 26 - Designed to handle whatever the day throws at you; the super...
- QUICKLY ACCESS ESSENTIALS: Need to keep certain items within reach? The zippered...
- TECH-FRIENDLY ORGANIZATION - Stay connected and organized with this pack's...
- SUSTAINABLE YET TOUGH - We believe that embracing sustainability shouldn't come...
- Expert Pack Makers - We build with the best materials available and the most...
This 24-liter backpack from Mystery Ranch is ideal for the rucker who wants to be incognito.
It’s available in six different colors and, as the name implies, has a very urban rather than military design.
However, despite looking like a commuter backpack, it still has all the features you need for comfortable rucking workouts, and it’s built to last.
24 liters is the ideal capacity for a day’s hiking, and your weights won’t move around much as there is a separate compartment to keep them secure.
The Urban Assault 24 is a nice-looking pack that won’t look out of place in town but works well as a trail pack, too.
#5. Kelty 30 Redwing Tactical Backpack
- Hydration compatible
- Laptop sleeve
- Hybrid-loading u-zipper design for ease of gear storage
- Single light beam aluminum stay
- Removable waist belt
The Kelty 30 Redwing Tactical Backpack is a military-inspired pack that’s ideal for rucking.
It has a thick, padded yoke harness and waist belt, so any load can be carried with ease.
It’s constructed from military-grade Cordura with reinforcements in all the relevant stress points.
The large central compartment has a divider to keep your weights separate from the rest of your gear.
There are several smaller external pockets to keep your valuables safe.
Available in black and forest green, this is a highly functional, good-looking rucking backpack.
#6. Alice Pack Army Backpack
- The ALICE Pack Universal Size consists of a Pouch with draw cord closure and...
- Army ALICE Butt Pack Features 1000D Material with extra interior lining For...
- ALICE Pack System Belt, Individual Equipment ,The Individual Equipment Belt was...
- ALICE Rucksack System padded and easily adjustable shoulder Straps help relieve...
- All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE) introduced in 1974...
The Alice Pack is more than a backpack; it’s a fully adaptable gear-carrying system.
You can add or remove pouches and pockets to the main pack according to your needs, giving you a load capacity from 30 liters to well over 50.
Mounted on an external frame, the main backpack sits securely on your back, and the waist belt ensures the load is spread between your shoulders and hips.
Alice packs are a bit old-fashioned and don’t have much padding or many other features or functions.
But, in terms of customization and an authentic military experience, they’re tough to beat.
Alice pack Army Backpacks are also made to military specs, so they’ll last a lifetime.
Best Backpack for Rucking – Wrapping up
Rucking is a great workout and an excellent alternative to running.
It’s potentially easier on your joints and a better option for heavier exercisers than pounding the pavement.
However, to go rucking, you’ll need a weighted vest or a backpack.
You can use almost any backpack for rucking.
Still, as your weights increase, you’ll appreciate the padding and carrying capacity offered by a good-quality rucksack.
Comfort is very important during rucking, especially if you plan on toting heavy loads or doing longer workouts.
So, pick your backpack for rucking carefully.
Use the information in this article to point you in the right direction.
Once you’ve got your pack, load it up and get out the door.
Rucking really is as simple as that!
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