When I picked up the excellent LBT Daypack 14L v2, I was excited to try my first bag with a fully loop back. I had good success with it on the laptop sleeve I had picked up for the ASAP, and generally felt like the hook backed pouches work far better than I would have imagined.
Turns out, I love hook back pouch systems. And there’s a popular one to modify GORUCK bags: the GR1 Shooter Conversion Sheet from Ruck Customs. I grabbed one to try out, and see how well this would work for one of the all time great bags.
What It Is
This is actually a pretty simple mod, and I would imagine you could build it yourself, but it’s not so much money that it was worth even considering doing that for me. This is a Kydex sheet (very rigid, but not brittle, plastic), cut to the form/shape of the GR1 such that it will fully take up the back panel of the bag. There’s a mini, and full, model — I tested the full — where the mini only means it covers the PALS webbing at the top.
The Kydex sheet has two MALICE clips riveted to the back, so that it can be weaved into the PALS webbing as a MOLLE accessory. And then the entire face of the sheet is covered in adhesive velcro loop. So once installed all you see is a clean panel of velcro loop.
Overall, it looks stellar and nice once in the bag. However, on the backside of the panel I feel like the fit and finish could be a touch better. I would be fine if I had made it, but for something you are buying it feels homemade. Having said that, it fits in my GR1 perfectly, and does exactly what it says it does.
I was concerned that it would add a lot of bulk to the bag, but it is fairly minimal once installed, and it sits securely in the bag. That said, it does add a bit more weight overall to the bag, and GR1s are already trending on the heavy side — buyer beware I guess.
Why & Use
Ok, so let’s get to the nitty gritty here. The entire reason for this is to unlock the world of hook backed pouches for GORUCK GR1 users (unless you own a Shooter variant, which already has loop back inside). Hooked backed pouches are standard pouches which have hook side velcro on the back, so you can stick them to panels like this. This allows you to really quickly add and remove pouches, while also allowing you to position them precisely where you want.
5.11 Converters to make a Field Pocket ‘stick’.
This is a vastly better system than MOLLE pouches. However, the downside here is simply that under the right conditions, they could come off. In practice I have not seen them fully come off, but I have seen them slightly start to peel away.
The Shooter Conversion sheet for the GR1 nails the execution of this. In fact the Kydex rigidity really aids in keeping the pouches in place, and looks really clean and organized when the bag is open.
Place as random as you want.
However, that rigidity is a point of annoyance for me. Because the GR1 then does this when curving on to your back:
The frame sheet in a stock GR1 is significantly less stiff than Kydex. So when you pair this together, you have a sheet inside the bag, which isn’t bending with the framesheet while you wear the bag. Leaving the bag to wear very odd, and frankly not great, as the bag has an odd articulation point inside the main compartment causing the base of the shooter conversion sheet to jut out from your body.
Without my doodles.
New GR1s, not yet broken in, or using a Kydex replacement framesheet might not have this issue to this extreme. But I do on my well loved 11+ year old GR1. And I suspect it will always be an issue with this material choice.
I love the utility, but the implementation feels like a miss when wearing the bag.
The concept is great for GR1 owners, but Kydex is the wrong material choice for the GR1. Since the bag already has a framesheet it seems like using a rigid foam material would drape with the bag — not fight against it — and make for an even better setup inside the GR1.
As it is, this modification makes the GR1 not really feel like a GR1. So unless you want to make your own out of a more flexible material, I would focus on getting a shooter model of the GR1 if that’s a functionality you are looking for. And I’d say GORUCK should think about more hook backed bags (15L Bullet would be ideal for this) as they are pretty stellar in practice.
So if you really want this, and don’t want to roll your own, I’d suggest the mini variant instead as it should reduce most of my complaints, but you get far less surface area for attaching pouches.