What is a Rucksack?

What is the difference between a rucksack and a backpack?

A Rucksack & a Backpack may seem like they are interchangable, but Rucksacks have a set of distinctive qualities that set them apart from just any old backpack.

Rucksacks have military origins, and they’re built to carry a lot of weight over time and distance. It comes from the German words “Rucken” meaning “back” and sack meaning “bag” or pack. Rucking is the foundation of the United States Army Special Forces training, and rucksacks are built for rucking. Your rucksack’s one main job is to hold weight, and do it really, really well. Because of this, they should have superior construction. No matter what you’re doing, whether it's traveling, training or rucking, if you’re in the military or if you’re commuting on the streets of NYC you are carrying weight.

Backpacks, on the other hand, are designed to look fashionable - they feel comfortable when you try them on empty in the store, and they’re mostly associated with school bags or book bags that break at least once a year and end up in a landfill.

What makes the best rucksack?

It’s no accident that GORUCK rucksacks can withstand whatever you (and Army Special Forces) subject them to. High stress points are strength tested at over 400 lbs of force, and most of the reasons why they thrive are hidden. In Army Special Forces, over all the miles with all the weight, you learn how to choose the right rucksack and then carry it as efficiently as possible so you can save your energy for the fight. Here’s what you would look for:


1000 Denier Cordura is the preferred material for all Special Forces Rucks because it is resistant to the rigors of everything, including war. It's tried and tested. You also want high quality zippers like YKK Zippers.


Dual-density, thick shoulder straps to comfortably disperse the load and maintain comfort over the long haul and won't dig in to your shoulders.


Double passed stitching for extra support in the seams, reinforced bartacks & backtacks at high stress points like the shoulder straps.


As we mentioned earlier, there are lots of backpacks out there, but we recommend a rucksack because of their superior quality. It will have densely padded shoulder straps to support the resistance on your shoulders, and it will secure the weight you’re rucking close to your body.

To get started, try what you have at home. When you want to make an investment in rucking, look at the Rucker. It's a gym on your back, designed and built to comfortably thrive with weight.

For rucking, it is ideal to have the weight as high on your back as possible, so a rucksack with an elevated plate pocket is best. This will help avoid any unnecessary friction as you move. When in doubt, choose a slightly smaller rucksack and raise the weight inside of it. The Rucker has a built in load pocket that perfectly houses a Ruck Plate for this exact reason.



We believe rucking is the world's best exercise, and the Rucker is the best rucksack for rucking. Just add weight (we prefer Ruck Plates®) to your rucksack, and start training. With ergonomic lumbar support and an all-new, less abrasive fabric, the Rucker® is truly the gym on your back.



The Ruck Plate Carrier™ is the most streamlined and efficient way to add weight to your workouts. Built to carry Ruck Plates® and nothing else.



The toughest rucksack ever built.GR1®'s streamlined design and Special Forces quality materials make for the perfect everyday carry (EDC) daypack. Whether you're commuting to school, work, or the gym, GR1 has your back.



Patterned after Special Forces medical rucks, with plenty of compartments for organization.GR2®is carry-on compliant, hands-free and built for people who want to travel out of one bag.