My first introduction to “rucking gear” was when I was about 12 years old.
You see, I had an older brother; as they do, he wanted to impress the girls by getting big and strong.
So, he decided to add more weight to his evening jogs (what about regular ol’ strength training, bro!?)
But back then, rucking backpacks didn’t exist (at least not in our world!) So he proceeded to add weight to his old backpack, aaaaaand off he went!
As expected, it did not go well! Having that weight pounding on his back wasn’t what his body signed up for!
LESSON LEARNED: When you want to carry heavy loads, selecting the appropriate gear is crucial for both safety and performance.
In this article, I’ll go over the essential pieces of gear as well as some items you might want to pick up if you want to accelerate your training!
Honestly, the first two are really all you need to start!
- A ruck plate
- Rucking boots and socks
- Padded hip belt
- Sternum strap
- Pockets for water bottles
- Reflective ruck bands
Want to up your training? Pick up these, too!
- Rucking Vest
- Sand medicine ball
- Sand jerry can
- Sand kettlebell
- Ballistic shoes
Rucking Gear (From Essentials to Nice-To-Haves)
When choosing your gear, learn from my brother and prioritize items that are SPECIFICALLY built for rucking.
These options are typically designed with materials and features that can withstand the challenges of the activity while providing the support and durability you need to excel in your rucking journey.
1. Rucksack or Rucking Backpack
To start rucking, you need a reliable and durable rucksack or rucking backpack designed to carry weight and withstand rough conditions.
Ideally, look for one with 2 plate pockets for weights. That way, as you progress and can carry more weight, you won’t have to buy another sack.
GORUCK is an amazing brand that offers various options to meet your specific requirements.
2. Ruck Plates
No rucksack is complete without ruck plates or a weighted implement to help build strength and endurance during your rucking sessions.
Ruck plates are available in different weights (from 10 LB to 45 LB), so choose one that suits your fitness level. If you’re unsure, starting with a 10 LB ruck plate is a solid initial choice.
3. Boots For Rucking (Or Shoes)
Footwear is crucial for preventing injuries and ensuring comfort while rucking.
Cheap ol’ running shoes are not a good choice here as they are not designed to withstand the impact of this activity.
Invest in a good pair of ballistic trainers or rucking boots, and your WHOLE BODY will thank you!
4. Rucking Socks
If you’re going to invest in the shoes, you might as well RUCK (see what I did there) some quality rucking socks as well!
They will provide cushioning, moisture-wicking properties, and ventilation to keep your feet comfortable and blister-free!
TOP TIP: Find socks made of Merino wool. They will provide great odour and moisture control.
5. Padded Hip Belt
A padded hip belt helps distribute the weight of your ruck evenly across your hips and lower back, reducing strain on your shoulders.
Make sure the belt is adjustable for a snug and secure fit.
6. Sternum Strap
The addition of a sternum strap adds stability to your rucksack, preventing it from shifting while you move.
This strap also helps to balance load across your chest, reducing stress on your upper back and shoulders.
7. Water Bottle Pocket or Water Bladder
DRINK YOUR WATER! Staying hydrated during rucking sessions is essential.
Opt for a low-profile hydration bladder or a water bottle pocket that will securely hold a large enough bottle to keep you hydrated throughout your session.
8. Reflective Ruck Bands
It is not essential, but if you plan on training at night, reflective ruck bands are a good idea (unless you want to get hit by a truck!)
It should be noted that most rucking backpacks have reflective elements as well so these may not be necessary.
9. Rucking Vest
A weighted vest can be a valuable addition to your training gear.
Wearing one will help you build strength and endurance by increasing resistance during STRENGTH TRAINING and other workouts.
Just to be clear, a rucking backpack and weighted vest are not meant to be worn together and can be used interchangeably.
10.Sand Medicine Ball, Jerry Can or Kettlebell
Incorporating a sand medicine ball into your rucking training regimen can provide a versatile form of weight-bearing exercise.
You can do various exercises, such as overhead slams and rotational throws (FUN), to target and strengthen specific muscle groups.
A sand jerry can offer a unique way to add weight to your rucking routine effectively.
This training tool, designed to simulate the jerry cans used to transport water and fuel, helps build functional strength and stability.
They are easy to transport and can be filled and emptied quickly, making them an excellent choice for on-the-go training.
Integrating sand kettlebells into your rucking workouts provides many benefits, such as improving cardiovascular fitness, strength, and power.
From exercises like kettlebell swings to goblet squats, sand kettlebells offer a wide range of drills that can be adapted to your workout routine.
11. Ballistic Trainers
Ballistic trainers may be your secret weapon when it comes to rucking gear.
They are designed to give you 3X the support and stability no matter what you’re doing.
What does that mean for you? You won’t have to worry about sore feet when you’re out on the RUCKING TRAIL!!
What is Rucking?
Quite simply, rucking is walking while carrying weight on your back. Period.
In fact, I bet you’re already a Rucker and didn’t even realize it!
Have you ever filled up your backpack with things and then walked somewhere with it?
FAQs Regarding Rucking Gear
What gear do you need for rucking?
The only gear you need for rucking is a rucksack (or rucking backpack) and a ruck plate. Comfortable footwear, a hydration system, a padded hip belt and a sternum strap are also good to have.
Will rucking build muscle?
Yes, rucking can build muscle, primarily in your shoulders, back, and legs. Using proper form and gradually increasing the weight and distance you ruck is important to see the best results.
What is normal weight for rucking?
The weight you should carry while rucking depends on your fitness level and goals. For beginners, start with 10-20 pounds of weight in your rucksack. As you become more experienced, you can increase the weight up to 30-45 pounds.
Can I use a regular backpack for rucking?
While a regular backpack can work for rucking, I don’t recommend it. A dedicated rucksack is designed for heavier loads, comfort, and support by maintaining proper weight distribution.
Can I ruck in running shoes?
You can ruck in running shoes, but I recommend investing in a GOOD pair of supportive runners that are designed to withstand the impact of rucking (especially if you plan on running with a weighted backpack.)
Before You Go…
Now that you’ve picked out your favourite pieces of rucking gear, here are a few more tips:
- Take the time to break in your footwear before going on long rucking sessions to avoid blisters and other discomforts.
- Next, focus on clothing. Opt for moisture-wicking materials to help keep you dry and comfortable during your ruck. You also want to dress in layers as you may get swassy and need to remove some!
- Pack enough water and snacks to keep you hydrated and fueled throughout your ruck. Opt for nutritious, slow-releasing energy snacks such as nuts, whole-grain crackers, and dried fruit.
- Consider bringing safety and navigational items like a small first-aid kit, a map or GPS device, and a fully charged mobile phone. These items can provide invaluable assistance in case of an emergency or if you find yourself lost.
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