“Necessity is the mother of invention,” so the modern man had to figure out a way to travel with a boatload of supplies. Thanks to military backpacks like the GR2 RUCKSACK, you can travel the world with all the gear you need for two weeks or longer.
The name GORUCK is a combination of “go” and “ruck” implying action and energy with a purpose. It’s the mantra of the armed forces and fundamental to the GORUCK’s existence. It’s also the inspiration behind the company’s founder, Jason McCarthy, a special forces veteran who served in the Green Beret after the 9/11 attack. Referred to as rucksacks, their backpacks are made of the highest quality military grade materials and embody the values of teamwork and camaraderie giving civilians a product that is as strong and versatile as the U.S. armed forces. You might even use it as your own go-to survival backpack!
That’s why I thought this review would give you a good idea of what you get, and whether it’s worth buying. So read on…
The GR2 40L backpack has the following specifications:
- Capacity: 40 liters
- Weight: 4.75 lbs
- Dimensions: 12.5″W x 22″H x 9″D
- Material Cordura nylon, MOLLE webbing, Paracord, and YKK zippers.
- Latop size: 15 inches
- Manufactured in: United States.
Quality and Durability
The GR2 is made in the United States by highly-skilled American workers ensuring a product of excellent quality. The backpack’s main structure is fashioned of 1000 Denier Cordura which has a superb strength-to-weight ratio making the bag super tough. The material and all components are designed to withstand the most demanding conditions. They even claim that the laptop compartment is “bomb proof.”
The GORUCK company strictly uses YKK zippers, the same zippers the army uses in middle east sandstorms. You can zip them with a gloved hand and they’re completely silent. The zipper pulls are made of 550 parachute cord. The straps are extra-padded making the external components strong enough to handle the heaviest loads.
Though not technically waterproof, the GORUCK GR backpack are highly-water resistant, so while the bag may not survive being tossed overboard, I could backpack through a tropical rainforest and encounter a few rain showers with no worries.
Despite its ruggedness, the manufacturers didn’t spare stylish good looks. The inverted flag on the front symbolizes the way the American flag would look when carried against the wind by a soldier going into combat, and the bag’s exterior looks classy. To me, this means that the GORUCK is strong enough to survive the battlefield yet fashionable enough for New York City.
GR 2 Internal Organization
With a capacity of 40 liters, two main compartments, a super-strong laptop compartment, and other features, the GORUCK gives you plenty of room for at least a week’s worth of clothing and lots of gear.
The first main compartment is the roomiest, and where I could carry the bulk of my clothing. Neatly rolled or folded pants, shorts, t-shirts, etc. or even a hanging clothes bag should fit in nicely. Shoes can fit in the bottom of the compartment. Whereas, items that lay flat fit into the first main compartment’s elastic pocket. This pocket will hold a folder full of standard-sized documents as well, which can be very handy.
There’s also a Cordura sleeve with an elastic band closure that’s the ideal place for an iPad, notebook, a few magazines, or a paperback. And, the flap cover on this compartment has two zippered mesh pockets for even more organizational options. These pockets are suitable for items like flip flops, wet swimsuits, and dirty laundry. At least, that is what I would use them for. Maybe you have other ideas.
The first main compartment also has a hole on the top for the sipping straw of an added water bladder and MOLLE webbing so Iyoucan add on even more gear. (the acronym MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. It’s a bit of a military thing, but comes in handy when you want to add more things to the pack).
A slightly shallower second main compartment adds versatility to the this pack with a roomy Cordura pocket on the upper region with internal mesh dividers perfect for electronics like cables and chargers. The pocket is easy to access from the top of the rucksack so it’s handy for the things I need most often. Suitable items for this compartment include packing cubes and larger items that won’t slide around.
The second compartment also has two key pockets that would definitely enhance my packing system. The top flap has two more features: a small mesh zip pocket on the bottom, and one small fully-concealed pocket at the top. The first mesh pocket will hold a passport or perhaps a sleeping mask. The second mesh pocket will hold a wallet perfectly, or I could use it for a battery pack or earbuds. These pockets are perfect for quick-grab items like money, credit cards, pens and pencils, or any small items I would use frequently.
The rucksack’s back panel is for a laptop. It’s heavily padded, and a hard plastic frame adds even more protection. Any sized laptop will fit, and there’s also room for an added water bladder. However, both shouldn’t be carried in this compartment at the same time. Another mesh pocket roughly the same size as the ones in the first main compartment is included.
Both the main and secondary compartments have two features I especially like. They both open clam-shell style. This is quite different from a top-loading backpack and makes it easier for me to access everything. All the zipper pulls on both compartments are color-coded so I won’t have to waste time remembering where I put what. Since the GR 2 holds quite a lot of stuff when fully-loaded, this nice touch is especially appreciated.
The outside MOLLE feature and a 3×2 inch Velcro strap are great for adding extra accessories, and when not in use sort of blends in and disappears. Developed by the military, the MOLLE system will allow me to attach and secure field pockets that are available from GORUCK. Field pockets are great for separating a few items from the rest and are useful for things like travel toiletries and electronics like cameras, lenses, and hard drives. I can also attach small things like keys, carabiner, a compass, or a pocket knife to the MOLLE webbing. Additionally, the front has a slant pocket designed for quick access to items like my wallet, keys, or cell phone. It will even accommodate a Kindle, but that might get uncomfortable when the bag is fully loaded.
Both sides of the bag have four additional rows of MOLLE at the bottom. If I don’t fully load the bag, these rows will disappear and give the backpack a sleeker look, and the contents won’t shift around as much. I can also use the webbing to attach a sleeping bag, camera, tripod, or yoga mat.
A vertical strand of webbing along the shoulder straps can be used to attach a sternum strap or the hose of the water bladder so it doesn’t swing around. Finally, a false bottom under the laptop compartment protects the device when sitting the bag on the floor.
Comfort features are especially important. Heavy backpacks can cause people to lean forward and over time, the upper back becomes curved creating the chance of developing neck, shoulder and back pain. GORUCK takes care of this with padded shoulder straps to provide comfort. This also adds to the bag’s durability.
This GORUCK pack provides a well-balanced distribution of weight over the upper back and shoulders and gives overall stability. The backpack is designed to be worn high on the back with the straps pulled taunt. Compression buckles help minimize the weight of the main compartment.
The GR2 is perfect as a carry-on bag. Be advised, though, that at 40 liters and with so many storage features, both volume and weight can be an issue for some airlines, especially when the bag is fully loaded. Always check with your airline for limits. You can also get this information at carryonbagsizes.com. All airlines are listed.
The backpack will fit in the overhead storage compartment nicely on airplanes and most long-distance trains. Best of all, I won’t have to bother with waiting in line at the airport to check on my bag. And once I get to my destination, I can grab my gear and get going with my travels.
Warranty and Customer Support
The GORUCK company offers a unique Scars Lifetime Guarantee. This includes a “you break it, we fix it” guarantee for the first 30 days. I believe this feature adds greatly to the overall quality of this product.
Overall, this bag is great for those who want something super-practical and almost indestructible. Its materials and manufacturing are going to see you through years and years of travel or hiking, and still leave this bag wanting more abuse!
That also means it’s a little on the heavy side for such a pack – at 4.75lbs. However, you have to compromise on weight versus durability. Afterall, lightweight packs always have weaker zippers, less durable materials and stitching and won’t last if you throw them around a lot.
All in all, I would grab this backpack in a snap if durability, practicality, and quality are things you value in a rucksack!
Frequently Asked Questions
The GR2 34L vs 40L – Which Should You Get?
WHen it comes to size, it is really a matter of how long you want to travel for, or how much travel gear you want to be able to fit in your backpack.
The 34L is better for day to day use, or shorter trips. Whereas the 40L is a bit larger, and works well for slightly longer trips, as long as you pack well of course – perhaps making use of packing cubes to maximise your space usage!
GORUCK GR2 vs GR1
The GR2 is the newer version of this rucksack and obviously a better buy for most people because they have improved on it. What have GORUCK added? Basically, they have added more organisation to the newer model. So, if you like to have mesh pockets and other areas to put things, then this is a far better option.
Also, the interior of the GR1 is small in many ways, so this might not suit you if you want a larger interior for packing.