At the end of 2020, GORUCK released the all new version 3.0 of the Rucker. This model had a lot of hype around it from GORUCK as they consistently stated that it was the most comfortable Ruck they have ever used. That’s a statement for sure. But GORUCK only initially released the smaller 21L model, which is a touch too short for my longer torso. So I impatiently waited for January to come around and GORUCK to release the 25L variant.
After putting over a hundred miles on this pack, with a lot of weight in it (both 30lbs and 45lbs plates), I can confidently recommend this without any caveats. And I agree with GORUCK’s stance on comfort — this ruck is a distillation of everything GORUCK has learned over the years into one bag in the best way possible.
It is quite something to use.
First things first, let’s talk about what is new with the bag — I am specifically focusing on the 25L model, but will try to note what is 25L specific and isn’t. Here’s the new stuff:
- Black Reflective stripe across the front of the bag. This isn’t the most reflective thing ever, but it’s a really nice add. It looks solid, is a lot of surface area and reflective enough that it will help a lot of people out so they don’t have to add a bunch of yellow strips to the bag.
- 210D on all the areas which touch your body. This is a smooth to the touch nylon, and GORUCK says makes the bag wearable without a shirt — do keep in mind they are a Florida company so you know. Anyways this is perhaps one of the biggest changes because it means there is no longer concern for destroying your clothing. Kind of…more on that in a minute.
- Lumbar Support Pad: this better matches the curve of your back, as it protrudes from the bag to offer more comfort but having the bag rest nicely in the small of your back. I think the big thing to know here, is that sizing the bag becomes more important with this change.
- Ability to securely hold two plates (25L only): with the second plate pocket sized for the 20lbs ruck plates, and the larger one holding 30 and 45lbs plates. This does mean that the 25L loses the elastic pocket.
- All new frame sheet, much stiffer. Like, so much stiffer.
- Training Sternum strap which is wider and rougher than the standard GORUCK sternum strap. It rests very comfortably against your body, but chews at your shirts where it touches them.
- Hip Belt (standard on some setups). Similar change to the bag, with 210D nylon on the inner surface. I don’t use this, so no comments on it.
Overall these changes are robust and make this an entirely different bag. Take that frame sheet for starters. In the older Ruckers if you had weight in the bag and tried to lean it agains the wall, the frame sheet would bend. In this Rucker 3.0, it does not bend at all. That’s quite something.
In Use Pros
The thing about this Rucker is that it is less about each change individually and more about the culmination of all the changes. I ruck almost every day. In January I rucked all but three days, ditto February. Typically, I ruck an average of 3.2 miles per day. So I use the crap out of these bags.
Here are the pros as I see them:
- The new 210D fabric is fantastic. It keeps your clothing from getting bound up by the 1000D of the past, while really not making any trade offs. It is really nice against your body and I love it. It does change temperatures much more rapidly so it will feel cool when you first put on the bag, and then quickly heat up. It also shows and grabs sweat easily. It helps to mitigate your shirts riding up your back, but does not eliminate that issue.
- The lumbar support truly is a game changer, perhaps the new framesheet plays into this as well, but it makes the bag much more comfortable for much longer periods of time. If this were the only change, the upgrade would be worth it. It fits comfortably and makes the entire bag apply more even pressure against your back.
- The new plate pocket setup is great. You can slide in a 45lb or 30LB plate and do so securely and carried comfortably in the bag. I don’t have a small enough 20lbs plate for the front pocket, but that pocket does hold other goodies just fine. The entire plate pocket setup is the best GORUCK has had since the tried and true first generation.
- I love the new reflective stripe as it is something you should always have if you are near roads, and now it looks nice on the bag instead of something added on. If I rucked in the dark, I would want a touch more than just this, but it is substantially better than nothing while not destroying the look of the bag.
Don’t let the short list of pros fool you, these are massive changes to the bag. In use the bag is more comfortable than any other GORUCK option (I’ve used the 1.0, 2.0, GR1, GR2, and Bullet Ruck for rucking) and it’s not even close and gets closer to the comfort of something like the Mystery Ranch bags with just 20lbs in them. The 25L offers the best weight versatility of any Rucker as well.
I love this bag, butlove is an understatement.
In Use Cons
There are a couple things worth mentioning on the con side though, but each of these are relatively minor as compared to the pros:
- The reflective stripe should be more reflective. I get that black looks good, but if you are putting it on the bag, a silver stripe would be way better for safety. I would have loved for this to be an option like it was on the Speed Ruckers, and I would have selected silver for sure.
- I hate the training sternum strap. It can be replaced, but it is a net bad change. It is really rough against your shirt, and it is really hard to adjust when you are using the bag. It is more comfortable being wider, but not enough added comfort to be worth the trade offs of using it. I am replacing mine. It is pilling my shirts, and causing me problems adjusting it, and it also doesn’t hang nicely when not in use, just bad all around.
- I worry about the long term durability of the 210D fabric. I often will set my bag down on that side against concrete and brick and I am waiting for the day I put a scrape into the fabric. It hasn’t happened yet. Still worth the trade off.
The only true issue worth worrying about is the second one. That sternum strap is no good. GORUCK still sells the classic one, or you can easily find others online. Either way, replace it — I have an older GORUCK one I will be replacing mine with.
While the Rucker is cheaper than the GR1, the trade off between the two has always been things like the laptop compartment or frame sheet. So for the 3.0 I have a few thoughts on selecting this bag as not only your rucking bag, but as an EDC bag as well:
- 210D: for EDC the 210D is the biggest win (and I would be surprised if it doesn’t show up in the GR models at so point it has on Bullet Rucks) as this material will keep the wear on your clothing to a minimum.
- Laptops fit in the larger plate pocket (15” and 16” MacBook Pros). The issue is that the velcro strip makes it not trivial to take the laptop out.
- iPads fit in the smaller plat pocket, depending on your case.
- Handles: the downside is the handles. While the reflective strip is still there, it’s subtle enough not to matter for EDC, but those handles — there’s too many and it is just silly.
If you can only afford one bag, and want to be able to work out with it and EDC it, this is a better option than the GR1, barely. If you ruck in the morning then head to the office, I think you need two bags. I personally wouldn’t EDC this bag, but that’s only because of the amount of handles.
If you ruck, you would be silly not to buy this bag if you can afford to do so. It really is the best rucking bag I have ever used and it makes 45lbs seem like no big deal. I could see a lot of people loving it for travel and occasional EDC as well.
It’s an amazing bag, and I highly recommend it. Get one.
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