Note: GORUCK sent me this item for review.
This is the one GORUCK bag I have been most skeptical of, so when I was offered a chance to check out this bag, I took it. The GORUCK GR2 26L in Multicam Black blew away my expectations of what I thought this bag was and is, and quickly found a spot in my bag rotation.
This bag is a killer do-all type bag. Whether it is EDC to the office, holding all the things while you drag the kids about, or anything else life throws at you. The only thing I didn’t get to test this bag for is travel, but I am fairly certain that for those who pack light, this will be a bag they love — read on to see why.
Size & Materials
Rather recently, GORUCK changed their GR2 lineup from a 1000D Cordura base material, to a 500D base material with a 1050D Ballistic Nylon bottom on the bag. The addition of the ballistic nylon takes GORUCK back to its roots — the original slate of bags had this same design. The thinking is that the 1050D ballistic can better handle abrasion if it is being drug about. I’ve never noticed a pro or con one way or the other, but ballistic is slightly easier to wipe clean than Cordura so it’s nice to have that at the bottom of this bag.
The bigger change is moving the primary bag material from 1000D to 500D. This change is a bigger deal than you might think, and is a net positive for the GR2. This is already a heavy bag, and moving to 500D helps reduce that weight slightly. More than that, the 500D material has far less structure, allowing the bag to look less rigid and less box like on your back.
Taking this even further — one of the biggest complaints with 1000D is that it is rough feeling and ‘destroys clothing’. With 500D this is drastically reduced, and generally feels non-abrasive. I suspect it might still cause undo wear on some clothing, but not more than any other bag I’ve used.
These changes are a positive for the GR2 lineup, and it’s great to see GORUCK sticking with them (they have released many batches now with 500D). I’m a fan.
This is a fairly standard sized bag (almost the same footprint as the 21L GR1), but it has more depth than your standard backpack. A GR1 21L with some junk in the trunk, if you will. Here’s how that breaks down:
I often say to think of the GR2 26L or the GR34L as “X Liter GR1, with an extra section”, but as you can see above, it’s more nuanced than that. The GR2s are 12.5” wide, but the difference between the 34L and the 26L is quite stark. It’s 2.5” shorter, and 1.75” shallower. That’s quite something and really shows how compact this bag is.
It’s only half and inch deeper than the GR1 26L according to the website dimensions…
’OG’ 26L GR1, next to 26L GR2. The ‘OG’ GR1 models have slightly different dimensions than the current ones.
This is where the GR2 26L starts to walk away from the other GR2s — because by staying under 7.5” in depth, the bag stays shallow enough that you can easily maneuver while wearing the bag. And on your back, it’s a night and day difference in the feeling of bulk you get from a 34/40L GR2 to this GR2 which feels thin by comparison.
I am very picky about what bags I take into the office with me, and what I do and don’t like. I love the GR1, but recently found that it lacks the organziation and compactness that I want out of my EDC bag.
This GR2 26L is not compact, but it offers me so much organization and space — I found I cared very little about the larger feeling bag, and instead have loved taking it to the office. I’ve never tried taking another GR2 as my EDC bag (though many do) as they always felt too large to try. This bag strikes the right balance, offering good and fast access organization in the front compartment of the bag, with a great laptop sleeve at the back.
The main section is mostly empty for office EDC, but this allows me to easily stow my lunch, coffee, or anything else which comes with me, or needs to come with me on an ad hoc basis — this has been a constant struggle for me with other bags. Often I will bring packages with me to the office — GR2 has been the only bag which easily accommodated those extras as well.
Crucially: this bag doesn’t look big. If it’s not filled to the brim, it looks smaller than the 7.25” depth rating would suggest, while still carrying everything you need and want to the office. If I took transit or a bike in, where I might want some backup clothing, this bag would be my first choice for that. As it is, this bag is vying for my go to office bag slot already.
With Father’s Day around the corner let’s talk about how this bag works in that capacity. It’s rare for me to head out the door with my kids and not have a bag with me.
Kids necessitate gear. Gear requires great storage and carry — you need a damned good bag. The difficult part about the GR2 is understanding the best ways to load it out, and not load it out. Once you figure this out, you are off to the races with this as a dad bag — I only have to pull out one pouch to convert from office to dad mode.
Here’s how I set this up for kid duty and office duty:
- Front slash pocket: keep it empty, keep it ready for whatever. This is usually a trash can of receipts, candy wrappers, and whatever nonsense my kids come up with.
- Front admin: this is my gear, and the gear I might need to help my kids. Rain jacket and Shemagh. Lip balm, and Aquaphor. A small first aid kit and a flashlight to find all that is lost. And tissues, so many tissues. I usually keep a couple chewy bars in here for me, or the kids. And lastly a mini wiredopp with charging cables, a zippo, and miscellaneous pens and anything else.
- Main section: I keep this mostly empty when I run out with the kids, unless I am hiking and toss in a monocular and a few other odds and ends like water bottles. The only other items I keep in here is lens cloths to help my kids with their sunglasses, and a half dozen Shout wipes because kids.
- I use a Small Shadow Pocket to keep office chargers, and cables in, which I pull out of the bag typically when I am out for a day with the kids.
I always default to getting my gear close to my back with most bags, but the GR2 is best used in reverse. Keep the gear in the slim admin front of the bag — that’s my stuff and the resources for dad duty. The main section is for the kid gear. Their rain jackets, or sweaters. Their pool towels, extra shoes, sunscreen, or all the other odds and ends. Doing this optimizes the space really well in the bag — making it very easy to focus on the kids.
Isolation Use aka Traveling at Home
Shortly after getting this bag to test, I contracted COVID-19 and needed to isolate from my family in our house. I grabbed the GR2 26L as it had all my office gear in it still, and crammed it full of some clothing and toiletries.
I then spent the next week straight living in and out of this bag. And while I wasn’t carrying it around airports, I was constantly grabbing gear in and out of it. To keep the small room I was in as tidy, and my mind sane, as possible — I was constantly packing the bag, stowing it and then pulling it back out again to get gear in and out.
It worked incredibly well. The small size meant I wasn’t tripping over it, and yet it has so much easy organization that I wasn’t getting frustrated getting to the items I wanted at any given point.
I walked away from that week knowing I was in trouble, because I think this may become one of my top go to travel bags — and I have a lot of those bags. I really liked this bag for this use, and suspect that if you are a light packer, this would quickly find its way into your rotation as a onebag travel bag. I would certainly choose it over the much larger 34L for how I travel.
I really like this bag. The 500D makes the zippers work better, the bag flop more so that it doesn’t look like a suitcase on your back — and it feels really nice. This is a great looking bag, and like all GORUCK bags it is durable and handles a heavy load of gear exceptionally well.
More than any of that, this bag is very useable — giving you just enough organization to stay tidy and keep things handy, while still offering loads of space to store the rest of the more bulky gear.
I’m a very big fan of this GR2 26L.
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