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Gear Not Stuff: Rucking Gear

The best gear for a long ruck.

Gear Not Stuff: Rucking Gear

Post Summary

  • A list of gear I'll be using for a 50-mile ruck and why—from the ruck to the shoes, food, and accessories.
  • P.S. Weigh in with your favorite rucking gear in the comments.


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    • GORUCK: Maker of the best rucking gear (not stuff).
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The post

Today is the second Friday of the month. Which means it’s time for Gear Not Stuff.

The concept for Gear Not Stuff is simple.

We live in a world of mass consumerism and have more stuff than ever. As I explained in Scarcity Brain, the average home contains 10,000 to 50,000 items.

If we want a new thing, we no longer have the pause of traveling to a store to buy it—we can buy it right from our computer, phone, TV, or even yell to Alexa.

Our shift to material abundance has changed our relationship with our possessions—and curious forces are now leading us to acquire more stuff than we need.

For example, online retailers stole tactics from casinos that lead us to buy more faster. (These tactics have probably worked on you if you’ve ever bought some crap and immediately regretted buying said crap. More on that here.)

When we get overwhelmed by how much we own, we often seek minimalism.

But minimalism, you’ll know if you read Scarcity Brain, has failed us. Luckily, I found a smarter way we can get more from less.

In thinking about how we can make smarter purchasing decisions, I’ve begun delineating between gear and stuff.

Stuff is a possession for the sake of it. Stuff adds to a collection of (too many) items. We often buy stuff impulsively to fix boredom or stress or to solve a problem we could figure out creatively with something we already have.

Gear, on the other hand, has a clear purpose of helping us achieve a higher purpose. Gear is a tool we can use to have better experiences that make us healthier and give our lives meaning.

This month’s Gear Not Stuff: Gear for my 50-mile ruck

I've got an 80k/50-mile ruck in Normandy on June 1st.

The average ruck doesn't require much planning. Just load a pack and go. But this changes over really long distances—you need to think more (much more) about gear.

I'll be carrying a 20-pound plate in my ruck. Add gear, and the pack will weigh between 25 and 30 pounds.

Historic weather averages suggest it'll be 62 Fahrenheit when we start at 7 pm. Then it'll hit a low of 50 at 5:15 am and reach 60 degrees around noon when we (hopefully) end.

Today, we’re walking through the gear I'm using for this ruck. The big rule:

  • Less is more.
  • Any extra weight from gear is extra weight across an estimated 100,000 thousand steps. Ounces add up.

Let's roll ...

GORUCK Rucker 4.0 20-Liter Ruck

Its weight sleeve keeps a 20-pound ruck plate tight against my back. That's the most efficient way to load a ruck.

The 20-liter ruck is lighter than the 26-liter version, and it has less surface area to rub on my back.

I've toyed with the idea of using a Ripstop Bullet ruck. But I'd need to have the GORUCK SCARS team, who customizes rucks, add Molle webbing to the side panels so that I can attach a hip belt.

Hip Belt and Sternum Strap

As a team of researchers in Israel noted, "Shoulder strain appears to be one of the limiting factors of (rucking)." Applying heavy loads for a long time can lead to soft tissue and nerve issues.

I'll be well under the 55 to 75-pound loads the Israeli researchers used in their study (this is one reason I recommended people stay under 50 pounds in The Comfort Crisis).

Still, 30 pounds for 50 miles is a lot of time with weight hanging off your shoulders.

Enter the hip belt and sternum strap. They take load off of your shoulders.

For example, you can use a hip belt to shift most of the weight to your more powerful, robust hips instead of your shoulders.


Shoutout to the 2% community.

Whenever I mention blisters, the ultrarunners and thru-hikers of 2% mention Leukotape as a better alternative to Moleskin.

A word to the wise: Pay attention to the 2% comments section.

Momentous Fuel

It won't be that hot, and I probably won't sweat much. But still, we lose electrolytes and water just through heavier breathing.

Momentous Fuel will help me replace some of those electrolytes. Plus, each pack contains 120 calories. That becomes meaningful during long events where eating real food is challenging.

One of the foremost researchers on hydration, RJ Maughan, said: "There are many situations where intake of solid food is not possible or is deliberately avoided and, in these instances, the inclusion of electrolytes in rehydration beverages is essential."

Maughan also noted, "The palatability of the beverage is important." Momentous Fuel tastes good. And it's easier to remember to drink something that tastes good.

The North Face ThermoBall Vest/Fjallraven Abisko Padded Vest

I've had two North Face ThermoBall vests for over ten years and even took one to the Arctic for a month. They're light, warm, and easy to wad up and pack away.

Fifty degrees isn't that cold, especially when you're moving, so this should provide enough warmth without adding bulk from sleeves.

Sadly, I don't think this product is available anymore. The best comp is the Fjallraven Abisko Padded Vest.

Injini and GORUCK socks

Injini socks are those weird looking toe socks. Yes, they're kind of creepy—but they're also great for preventing blisters.

I'll use Injini's lightest, liner-style sock and likely cover it in GORUCK's Merino Challenge socks.

That combo should help prevent blisters.