GoRuck GR1

The GoRuck GR1 touts itself as “The World’s Best Rucksack Backpack”, but what does that even mean? After almost 5 years of owning one, let me explain why I think it’s still the best backpack on the market.

Let me preface this by saying that the GR1 is not cheap. At almost $400USD, it’s an investment. Some may criticize that you don’t get much for your money either, just a few small pockets and a large open area. Those of you looking for a bag with all the bells & whistles, including an advanced built-in organization system, move along. If you’re into “choose your own adventure novels”, continue reading.


Jason McCarthy developed the GR1 after leaving the US Special Forces with the desire to bring some of the functionality found in his military gear back to his everyday life. Personally, I’m not one to gravitate towards “tactical gear”, perhaps you feel the same, but don’t let GoRuck’s marketing jargon scare you away from considering this seriously great bag.

I have a passion products that are not only designed to last a lifetime, but also can be used for multiple purposes. It doesn’t take much to figure out that these bags are tough, just look at the hell-ish “GoRuck Challenges” people put them through. As far as multi-purpose use, the GR1 offers a ton of mounting options while at the same time keeping an unassuming and almost minimalist look.

That leads me to 3 of my favourite features of the GR1.


Open Clamshell Design

By far my favourite feature of the GR1 is how it opens up. With a complete “clam shell” zipper, you can lay the bag out completely flat, just as you would a suit case. Whether you’re using the bag for travelling, as a diaper bag or to take to the gym, it’s easy to efficiently pack and also access anything you need.

If I know there are times I’m going to need but I’m going to be limited for space, for example on an airplane, I keep them closer to the top. The zippers are plenty strong enough to hold the flap half open, even when loaded with gear, without unzipping and causing a mess.

“PALS” Webbing System

PALS webbing” is a standardized webbing system used to attach smaller equipment onto load-bearing platforms, such as vests and backpacks. The GR1 has webbing tastefully placed around lower portion of the exterior, as well a few rows on the interior. This allows you to attach any number of accessories transforming it from a sleek bag for office or travel use, to something capable of taking on a hike or camping trip.

My personal bag is loaded up with a heavy duty carabiners from Omega Pacific on the left and right sides to strap things like water bottles, hats and kids toys to. On the inside, I often strap a Field Pocket to the top webbing for use as a dopp kit when traveling to keep it easily accessible at the top of my bag. Personalize your bag for however you plan to use it!

Rainproof Design

As someone who exclusively commutes by bicycle, often with a laptop, it’s extremely important that the contents of my bag stay dry. In the past I often used “dry bag” type backpacks, or placed my technology into separate dry bags within my bags.

The GR1 was the first bag I owned made out of Cordura. It felt porous and I had a lot of trouble believing that my gear would be safe. After getting caught in a few substantial downpours, my fears subsided as I realized everything in my bag was dry by the time I made it to work. I’m not saying that your laptop would be safe if you would submerge it in a lake, and I would probably still use an additional dry bag if I was taking it on a trip where I know I could get stuck in a downpour for hours on end, but for your every day use, rest assured that your tech is safe.


Like I first mentioned, this bag has served me well for almost 5-years of hard use and still looks brand new and ready for the next 5. It’s backed with a “Lifetime SCARS Warranty“, if you somehow find a way to hurt this bag.

I had this bag in my “shopping cart” for months before I finally took the leap and purchased it, simply because the price. For those in the same boat, let me tell you that it’s worth it.