GORUCK GR1 The History Of Military Backpack


GORUCK GR1 history and details: The original piece of gear that started everything. This company was started by a Special Forces Green Beret, who when he finished his tour of duty, decided he wanted to create a backpack that was made of really strong material, had straps that were wider and more comfortable but also really strong connections between the straps and handle to prevent tearing. So let’s have a look at GORUCK GR1 history.

The History And Birth Of The GORUCK GR1

Let’s find out about this journey. Jason McCarthy, the founder of GORUCK and GORUCK TOWN. At GORUCK, they make military-inspired gear… so it’s patterned after the gear he had in Special Forces. They removed anything that was excessive, bore it down to the bare essentials, made it as durable and military-grade as they could, and did it in the United States. They offer a lifetime guarantee.


The goal with GORUCK was to create something that was a timeless classic and there’s no way to do that without involving an extreme amount of work/quality. They wanted something that’s going to last forever, that people are going to be proud to wear. So sure, you can go by a bag for a fraction of the price and every year you can buy a new bag for a fraction of the price but it’s not the same. They wanted to make things that you care about.

The Birth:

So Jason started GORUCK GR1 when he was still in the United States Army Special Forces and the idea was to take all of the stuff that he had because the military has the best stuff and Special Forces has the even better stuff, and pair it down. To create the best rucksack that could thrive in any environment, not just Baghdad but also New York City. To do that, he leveraged a lot of his buddies to field test everything. Sort of drew upon the knowledge that he had at the end of the day, being an end-user and an expert at breaking things!

That’s where GORUCK, this tactical molle backpack, came from.

Jason’s Background:

So he was in West Africa, in the Ivory Coast, he was married at the time and was looking for something to do. He was transitioned out of the military and into a private sector. He was on leave during Christmas in 2007 and did some consulting for a period of time on security-related services. At this point, there was the concept of a GORUCK.

The Inspiration:

So GORUCK GR1, sort of, takes inspiration from the rucksack we would fill in Special Forces when we would go on missions.
You pack them with everything you need:

  • Bombs
  • Explosives
  • Extra batteries
  • Extra radio
  • Everything

You put them in the trunk of the Humvee, just in case.

Just in case what, you ask?

Just in case your mission goes to hell, your vehicle’s disabled and you have to fight. You have to have everything that you need at that point in time.

His Background:

Jason wanted to be a doctor.

But he gave birth to the GORUCK GR1 instead. It was meant to be a brand, it was never meant to be just a backpack company. By brand, I mean it’s meant to be one of the most respected brands in the world. It’s either this or it doesn’t exist. The hardest part was that he didn’t know how to sew anything, other than maybe a uniform if he really had to. Took them forever to design a logo but with a little persistence, it got done.

When Did This Journey Start?

GORUCK started in 2008 and for two years worked every day, almost all day, earning one dollar.

Where Did The Business Sense Come From?

Special Forces shaped his life forever.

The classic mission of Special Forces, for instance, is to move into foreign territory and link up with indigenous forces. Then train them and conduct massive scale war type operations. And how to get other people to do things for you is challenging. Especially in these types of places. So this taught him how to solve problems, how to rely on yourself and people that you trust. Business college in Georgetown’s Business School played a role in his success and he met a lot of people that are now instrumental in GORUCK.

Who Is Java?

Java is the love of his life. His balance. Java’s his dog, his chocolate lab and they go everywhere together. He’s been to 48 states with Java. If he couldn’t go somewhere with Java, it’s almost certain that he won’t go there.

What Is Jason’s Balance?
 He gets the balance question every day. He does something with Java… go for a run, go play in rock creek or wherever we are… it just kind of clears his head and the need to think about work doesn’t exist.

Let’s get into the details of the pack:

Got Stitching?

The stitching everywhere on this pack is either double-stitched, back-stitched, or box stitched. I mean even the pals/molle webbing on the actual shoulder strap are all back-stitched, so you’re not going to have an issue. Even if you did have an issue, these have a lifetime guarantee so if you have any problems (from what I understand) all you have to do is send the bag in. They actually like to hear the stories of how you actually did manage to mess this bag up.

Side Note: If you never watched any of the GORUCK challenges, those speak for themselves for the quality of this pack.

Got Zippers?

Another feature that I really like, is the heat shrunk polls on the zippers. I like the choice of size of the zipper for the main opening. When you first get it, they are really stiff. I will say after about a week roughly, they loosened up to the point where they’re not overly loose to where you feel like you can just yank them out.

The Exterior of the Pack:

First, right off the front, you can see the three rows of Molle pals webbing. At the bottom, you have a single piece of hook and loop on top I’ve just decided to put an IR flag. Then you’ve got the main pouch, in the front which actually runs almost to the bottom of the pack which is a pretty substantial amount of room.

Side Note: Now the materials on this pack you’re looking at 1000D Cordura.

This backpack is not waterproof, you can’t leave it at the bottom of the ocean for like three weeks but you can go out in a drenching rainstorm and nothing gets wet. I mean this thing is designed to go through mud, go through really challenging situations, and come out just fine.

The Interior Of The Pack:

Moving on to the inside and what I would like to call the front lid of the pack, you’ll notice you have two organizational pouches. The top pouch, I will say, doesn’t really look like that big of a pouch but as you’ll see later when I show you the GR0, that I have loaded out for how I carry EDC, you can actually fit quite a bit of material and items in this top pouch.

The lower pouch, being the fact that it’s as large as it is, it’s actually very nice that they made it mesh. So that way you can see what you’re going after in this pouch. It goes pretty much all the way down the front lid of the pack and there’s plenty of expansion room depending on the size of the items that you’re actually going to be putting in here. Side note: As perfection does, eventually it spawned a smaller version of itself. The GR0. The 21 liters GR0 as opposed to the 26 liter GR1. Read more here about the GR0.

All right, so the original intent of GR1 was that it had to be able to thrive in Baghdad and in New York City. So for us, quality is and was always a matter of life and death and because of that, we build this in the United States of America.

Now let me show you the ruck.

Now I got this GR1 set up for daily use for an overnight trip. A patch of my choice as always, GORUCK USA, why because ‘Merica, that’s why.

Side Note: The Molle attachment system. These are basically a webbing used by the military and was designed for the military. It lets you attach all sorts of accessories to the outside/inside the bag.

When I travel through the airport, the front slam pocket comes in handy when I’m going through security. Take my phone, take my wallet and I shove them in there. I don’t have to put them in any bin because it’s dangerous, someone might steal it.

I don’t like that, also I want to keep it secure inside my ruck.

Packing The GORUCK GR1 For A Trip:

All right. Let’s open this up so it lies flat. It’s a great feature to allow you to pack better, to pack in a more organized way.

  • You can pack big boots, GORUCK gray t-shirts plenty (those are awesome too. Soft.)
  • You can fit your field kit or a vanity/makeup bag (for the ladies).
  • There is a GR1 field pocket inside and you could attach it in but I usually don’t.
  • You can fit a Nalgene bottle as well, which can slide into the top Molly.
  • Got a knife? don’t fly with that, airport security confiscate it. So, I’ve got a sharpie in its place.
  • Now in the sheath pocket:

I’ve got a blank yellow pad notebook just in case I get some real inspiration on my flight. I also have my iPad inside in its protective case, awesome.

Main Compartment #2:

Okay, now moving to the other side of this main compartment. I’ve got my power chargers for my iPad, my iPhone, and my computer. Okay, so here’s the deal on chargers and such (because I am a neat freak). It’s kind of like when you have soup right, soup belongs in a bowl. It doesn’t belong in a sandwich. So it’s okay for this to be a little bit of wire mess inside there because it’s a nice neat compartment and that’s okay. Just wrap your wires as best you can so it’s all nice and neat in there.

Top Pocket, Inside Top Flap:

Got little stuff… got my sunscreen and then I got keys… easy access so I can what?

Laptop Compartment:

All right, now another major, major features to GR1 and to all of our original rucks is this back panel laptop compartment. You can see from the image, I’ve got my MacBook Pro and it’s easy in / it’s easy out when I’m traveling through security.


  • Don’t literally put a bomb in there. Don’t literally blow up a bomb around this compartment.
  • It’s just super padded, super protected, and you know I breeze through security, makes traveling easy.
  • Roughly about a quarter to a half-inch of substantial padding in the back.

Packing For A GORUCK Event:

How to get your GR1 set up to do a GORUCK event.

  • If you already earned it, add your “rough patch”, bam right there.
  • Front slant pocket, I’ve got lickies and chewies, specifically fun-size candy. The more fun the better.
  • Attitude is everything.

All right, on the front rows of Molly you got two specific reflective strips Velcro’d in, and I’ve got my mechanics gloves in case cadre say something like, “hey bear crawls, go!”

All right main compartment, dry bag.

You know this is for something you don’t want to get wet. When something gets wet it takes on more weight, you don’t want something to take on more weight if you don’t have to.

Now hydration.

This is key to your GORUCK experience, so to say. You want to make sure you have two options, you’ve got your three-liter bladder and you’ve got your Nalgene bottle. Now the three-liter bladder is primarily for water only. While you’re on the move, you’re drinking out of the tube which is in the front. I’ve got it suspended from the top rows of Molly which is a 550 cord button attachment and then I’ve got my Nalgene bottle right here. It’s easy in, it’s easy out and when I’m on the move I can just slide it into that sheath pocket and I’m good to go.

Front Flap – Inside

Lying the pack flat we have this compartment where I’ve got two Koozies, one for yourself, one for your friend. If you’ve got two friends you give them both up that’s the rule of the Koozies at GORUCK so bring more than just for yourself. < the Same place where we talked about the cords and wires above.

All right in this top pocket, I’ve got another dry bag, this is for my wallet and my phone, don’t want those getting wet and I’ve also got my headlamp right there.

How To Trace Your Bladder Tube

So now I’m going to trace you through how this tube here works to get to the exterior. See it’s going through a compartment underneath the carrying handle. Secure it to the shoulder strap with the I.T.W. web dominator so it’s not flapping all around everywhere you know, making me look like a gypsy camp. Gypsy camps are bad. All right, and then in what’s sometimes called the laptop compartment, (do not bring a laptop to a GORUCK event) I’ve got a slab of steel right here so this is a good spot for your weight, it’s next to your back – that’s the preferred technique and you know I put it in once I don’t have to mess with it or think about it throughout my entire GORUCK event experience.

So I zip everything up and I’m good to go. All right, we just walked you through the GR1. The GR0 is five liters smaller than the GR1 other than that it’s identical. So if you’re under six foot then the GR0 probably the one for you!

I would say it’s your one ruck to rule them all.

Click HERE To View GORUCK GR1 Backpack For Yourself!


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