GORUCK bags have gone through a lot of changes over the years. There’s an entire community of people who hold the information that I am not sure GORUCK holds about when changes were made, and what they were. There’s an equal amount of people who hold different beliefs as to when the perfect GORUCK bag combination was met and shipped.
To simplify things, I want to break the “GR” lineup of bags (those that are GR0,GR1,GR2,GR3) down into roughly five evolutions of the bag:
- The OG: this is a large category with a lot of nuance, but generally this is before GORUCK started making bags overseas, and before they started directly attaching the strap to the top of the bag. Instead standing the strap off the body of the bag with two huge slabs of nylon webbing. This is the GR1 I originally wrote about, and the one that kicked off the craze. These are no longer made.
- The New Gens: I’ll include the Vietnam runs on this because I like controversy. But these are generally the non-special edition models you could buy in all 1000D. They have slight variations over the years, but generally nothing to really make or break the bags. They are rock solid, robust, and effectively the ‘no-longer-a-boutique-shop’ variants of the OG bags. These might still be made, it’s entirely unclear. (To note: the major difference with the Vietnam bags is the color variation on the material.)
- 500Ds/Slicks/Shooters: I’ll clump these together as they are the New Gens (mostly) but with slight changes that also drastically change the bags. Either they are all 500D and thus smoother, but floppier. Or they are slicks which look not as good and may oh may not be 500D. Or they are Shooters which have a superior interior setup, but are hard to get. Good bags here, but generally the changes are pretty obvious. These are still made at random cycles, probably (Reddit seems to say they hear 500D is no more, but my thinking is Huckberry seems to get runs of it a lot), mostly not on GORUCK’s main site, but through distributors.
- Heritage: Then came the Heritage bags, there was a first run of these which are easily identified as they have a non-removable patch on them. The current versions are very nice bags, which are the New Gen bags with leather and waxed canvas body materials. They do have a quick access pocket added to them under the handle at the expense of the water bladder passthrough. These are simply a more stylish variant of the new-gen bags, with a huge premium. Still made, I am pretty sure.
- And Now 210D: I’ll caveat this by saying that I’ve not used the GR series with 210D, but I do have a Rucker (multiple) with it. So I know what it is, and isn’t. This is the New-Gen bag, with the inside of the shoulder straps and the back panel fitted with 210D material, instead of the 1000D material. This change is not as straightforward as people might think. So let’s talk about it.
GORUCK has been testing the 210D panels on the Rucker line for a while now. The idea being that they wanted to create a material for people who don’t want the 1000D chaffing against their skin. If that seems silly to you, I should note that my wife had this issue and rucks in long sleeves because of it — so it’s both real, and not fully solved with 210D as her Rucker is 210D (the arm swing is what gets you if the bag is wider than your back).
The outcome of this experiment from GORUCK on the Rucker is generally really good for the Rucker. Here’s the benefits of 210D from me, someone who rucks 6 days a week:
- The backpack is zero break in with the new back panel.
- It’s much easier to slip the bag on and off, as your clothing doesn’t get caught.
- It’s generally much more comfortable to wear, as the bag doesn’t grip your back as much.
- It has held up just fine, with no visual degradation in the material surface I can see.
There are two downsides:
- The 210D is more form fitting to your body, and thus wears closer to your body. There’s generally a
“warmer” feeling from this against your body, and perhaps less airflow. I say perhaps, but I mean: less airflow on the Rucker with the lumbar pad. Perhaps, in the sense that the GR lineup is not using the lumbar pad, so maybe it’s better breathing there. This matters because;
- I have found that the 210D material loves to wick moisture into it. This is where my greatest concern lies, because with less breathability in the back panel, you’re going to build sweat up faster. My Rucker sucks that sweat into the back panel, and doesn’t dry fast at all. Adding to that, the Coyote Brown on my Rucker means that there are visible wicking marks along the material. It looks not good.
The only other note I will make is that while 500D and 1000D are rather matte in their sheen, 210D is very much ‘satin’ in sheen. It does have sheen, and you will notice it. It looks less premium, it feels less durable, than the rest of the bag. It’s not any of those things, that’s for sure, but looks are looks — looks matter.
I’m torn, and while I want to test one of these bags, I am going to hold off for different colors (if they come), as a black GR1 isn’t something I would use right now. I welcome this change to the lineup, but hope they keep the full 1000D bags in rotation as well even if just a couple times a year drop.
For most people, the 210D back panel is the right decision. Don’t shy away, just know the downsides as well as the upsides. As of right now, I still think the Heritage is the best model GR1 GORUCK sells, but the 210D is likely more compelling for someone who wants extreme durability without needing to worry about their clothing. Or suffering the price of the Heritage.