GrowRuck Gear Spotlight Edition 1: Rucksack & Plates
Here it is, the moment that’s been keeping the entire gear channel on the edge of their seats…The very first Grow Ruck Gear Spotlight!!Just as a reminder, @Pack Rat and I will be sending out a new gear spotlight every week as we work our way down the individual gear requirements and suggestions lists. This will contain a whole lot of our opinions. Your opinions may vary, and that’s totally cool. Let’s remember that no amount of our hot air will find a perfect solution for you. That’s up to you to try different combinations and find the things that work best for your needs. As you find those things, don’t keep it to yourself, reply to these posts and let us know. This is meant to be an interactive exercise, not a pulpit for us to tell you what to buy.
Without further ado, let’s chat about rucksacks and ruck plates…When talking about rucking in the wild (not a GoRuck or other coordinated event), the ability to find some weight and a bag to put it in is super easy. I was rockin’ the @Ringer college backpack with bricks in it for quite some time logging my first miles. However, the type of bag and weights necessary for GrowRuck are going to be quite different based on the amount of movement, type of movement, and terrain we will encounter. So let’s talk about what I would consider to be the best option…
Why do I consider this particular bag the best option? Good question!
It’s the Rucker model that they currently sell. If it was the 2.0, 4.0, or 127.3, it’d still be the best available option.
It carries the plate that you’ll need perfectly (30lbs if you weigh more than 150 – 20lbs if you’re lighter than that). Perfectly means that it’s high on your back so you’re not accentuating your F3 tramp stamp. It’s secure inside a Velcro closed pocket so it’s not sliding out and smacking into the back of your melon when performing burpees.
It has drain holes already built into the bottom of the bag (you may need those *wink).
It has 4 handles in the North, South, East, and West positions so you can hoist the bag in a multitude of directions lengthways or width ways.
It has molle attachments for the waist belt (needed) and a sternum strap (also needed). The waist belt comes included in the 25L model.
It has a loop and pocket to secure a hydration bladder (definitely needed).
The zippers are easy to operate using gloved hands (important).
It has plenty of zippered storage for everything you’ll need to carry, but not so much that you’ll be dragging a lot of extra bag around with you.
It’s built like a tank…seriously…not sure if mine is even broken in yet!
It has the SCARS warranty through GoRuck. Lifetime. 0 questions asked. Even if you bought it from someone else, no proof of purchase required.
I know you probably clicked that link and got a little sticker shock when you saw the price, I did too. There’s a little relief we get with F3. There’s a discount code @Jalopy gets every month for gear and events (Here is the February code F3_36ZQ8NMMNT6B). Your best bet to find a better deal would be to find a used model on the secondary market via Ebay or Facebook Marketplace etc.
For those of you with piles of cash just laying around waiting for something to spend it on, the GR1 and GR2 will not be as good as the Rucker model for GrowRuck purposes. I wouldn’t make the mistake of thinking they’ll be better for GrowRuck because they’re more expensive. The GR1 is a little bigger but doesn’t carry the necessary plate very securely or high enough on your back, and the GR2 is just too big to be practical for this event. Neither have drainage holes built in. Both are awesome travel packs. I purchased a closeout GR1 to replace a travel backpack I’ve used for years, but I will not be using it for rucking, that is my Rucker’s job.A quick note on sizing. A brief look over the dimensions will tell you the 25L & 20L models are very similar in sizing. I can tell you from experience while rucking with my GR1 26L(while my Rucker was being loaned)that it doesn’t feel too big or unwieldy. If you’re ginormous, and don’t want to look like you’re wearing your 3rd grader’s backpack, maybe size up to the 25L. If you’re a bit more diminutive in stature, maybe the 20L would be best. However, if you think you’d get more use from one size or the other, choose that one.
The ruck plates portion of this spotlight is real easy. If you want or need the plates fast, and you have @Flower Girl’s credit card, order them from GoRuck. They’ll fit and they have a fancy logo/paint job. For the rest of us who have more sense, hit up our homie @Lube. The plates are less than half price. That’ll give you the opportunity to pick up a couple to train heavier if you want. You’ll have to wait a little for a big order to be taken/made/shipped, but well worth the savings. They are the same exact dimensions, and fit my Rucker perfect. I sanded mine a smidge and took a can of Krylon to it. Now she’s the belle of the ball!Anyone who is currently using a different brand/type of rucksack, we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on performance/quality/price to serve as comparison. Ultimately, we want everyone to have the equipment that best fits their needs and budget, so mo choices = mo better!
Yodel & PackRat
GrowRuck Gear Spotlight Edition 3: Socks
It’s time for another gear spotlight as we get into prime training season for GrowRuck.This week’s spotlight focuses on the unsung hero & one of the hardest working pieces of gear you’ll ever own…the humble sock!Laugh at your own peril! The right sock or “sock system” can make or break your experience with GrowRuck. I personally, would rather go the entire time without pants than have the wrong setup and end the weekend with feet full of blisters. Once the hotspots start forming, it becomes almost impossible to stop. You can cover them with moleskin or duct tape (my personal favorite remedy), but oftentimes the damages has been done. There are more acute pains one is sure to encounter over your lifetime, but none that will sap a HIM’s will so quickly. It becomes much harder to place one foot in front of the other when those feet are rubbed raw by not having the right sock system in place.To layer, or not to layer?Most of you that have spent any time outdoors are familiar with liner socks. A liner sock is the first of two socks that you’d wear in a 2 sock system. It’s meant to pull moisture & perspiration away from your foot and act as the friction barrier between your skin and the outer sock. There are any number of styles and materials liner socks can be found in.
I would encourage trying this type of 2 sock system well in advance of the actual event, and in a long ruck simulation type of atmosphere. You NEED to try multiple systems to see what works for you. For example of what not to do, consider someone who was trying to conquer a mountain objective. Let’s say Mt. Rainier. Let’s also say that this would be the coldest environment that you have climbed in to date. You bought fancy new 6000 meter double boots and trained in them extensively for a few months before the trip. You did this all in merino wool trekking socks without liners because it’s springtime in St. Louis and you don’t want your feet getting too hot. Then, on summit day, you decide to use liner socks because it’s a brisk 2 degrees and you don’t want your feet to get cold. This person(me), would be an IDIOT for doing that. You’d start your first blister around 90 minutes into climbing that morning. Your feet would be covered in them 7 hours later at the summit. Then you’d rush yourself down and be constantly at the edge of tears all the way back to the trailhead for a total of 14 hours of pure misery. Instead of being present in the moment, you’re stuck in misery. Don’t be that guy!
However, this brings up a great point. You also shouldn’t force yourself to use a setup that is proven not to work for you. Time & again, I’ve revisited the 2 sock system, and each time it’s been met with less than desirable results. I’m not a 2 sock guy, never have been, and may never will be. My feet don’t like it. I do WAYYYYY better with a Merino wool sock. That’s it.
This brings us to the next item, the outer sock. This is really easy because there is little/no debate. You will buy or use a minimum of mid-length merino wool trekking sock. Not short or no-show (it will let in too much debris). You can use a mid-calf or over-the-calf length if you need or like some compression. There are some choices in the matter of brand, but I’d stick to one of the big 3 listed in order of my personal preference.
- Darn Tough Men’s Hiking Socks
PLEASE, I can’t stress this enough, get this sorted EARLY! Go forth and get your sock-on
GrowRuck Gear Spotlight Edition 4: Headlamps
Gentlemen of STL – we are back with another spotlight on gear and this week’s star is the Headlamp. @Yodel and I both have had luck with the Petzl models—specifically the Actik on the first link below. Must haves for the headlamp are an extra set of batteries and a red light. You might be wondering why you need the red light—good question. The red light on a headlamp is intended for preserving your night vision while still providing some light so you can see. Additionally, red light modes on a headlamp aren’t as blinding to your PAX, so it is ideal when using a headlamp with a group of people. Also your eyes adjust from darkness to a red light vs a white light quicker. Lastly those Missouri bugs will be less attracted to a red light as compared to a white light and it conserves battery life. But the best reason is you might piss off your Q if you don’t have it.Hopefully you know why you need an extra set of batteries.
Petzl Actik– light and long rechargeable battery life .
The Actik has a bright with good battery life—replaceable batteries(3 AAA)—you can also use their rechargeable battery which is not included with the purchase. My plan is to use the rechargeable pack and have (3) AAA as a backup.
Here is an upgraded model that has 100 lumens more and a bit lighter
Black Diamond is also a great choice and this one is will save you 10 bucks
Another good pick that has high ratings across numerous sites A
Keep in mind that there are many activities to use your head lamp—rucks, beat downs, camping so do not think of this as a one use purchase. I use mine around the house, bbq’ing, etc all the time. But maybe the best reason of all……A man is walking home late at night when he hears a woman’s voice…. …from the shadows call out, Twenty bucks? The man takes the mystery woman up on the offer. They’ve been going at it for a few minutes when a police officer points his flashlight at them and demands to know what’s going on. Do you mind? I’m making love to my wife, replies the man. Sorry, says the cop, I didn’t know. The man replies, Neither did I, until you turned on the flashlight. Aye!
Ok @channel, it’s been far too long since our last gear spotlight. This one is far too important to not get right. With our very own @Yak Trick braving the Texas heat to complete his first GrowRuck, this is a topic that often gets overlooked. I assure you, we will not!
Let’s chat HYDRATION! Specifically hydration delivery systems & the most effective way to deliver that water during GrowRuck.
Ok, we all know we need water to live – check
Do we know how much? Here’s a tip – It’s probably more than you suspect.
The CDC suggests intake of 8 fluid oz every 20 minutes while your exercising in the heat. Some quick calculations tell us that could be up to 48 – 8oz servings(384oz or 3 gallons exactly).
Well, smarty-pants, let trainer Amanda Carlson tell you what she found in her study of college football players preparing for the NFL combine…
“Your ability to perform athletically can decline with a very small amount of dehydration,” says Carlson, director of performance nutrition for Athletes’ Performance, which trains many of the world’s top athletes. “Just losing 2% of your body weight in fluid can decrease performance by up to 25%.”
“The heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood to the body, and oxygen and nutrients can be transported more efficiently to the muscles you’re working during exercise, that means you’re going to have more energy, and the same exercises you struggled with when dehydrated will seem much easier”.
Ok here’s the tricky part…you have to drink enough, but it’s also important not to drink too much. If you exceed 48oz per hour, you run the risk of diluting electrolytes and sodium in your bloodstream(insert witty Brawndo-The Thirst Mutilator joke here), and developing what’s known as water intoxication. Medical News Today describes water intoxication like this…
When a person consumes an excessive amount of water and cells in their brain start to swell, the pressure inside their skull increases. This causes the first symptoms of water intoxication, which include:
Severe cases of water intoxication can produce more serious symptoms, such as:
- muscle weakness or cramping
- increased blood pressure
- double vision
- inability to identify sensory information
- difficulty breathing
- A buildup of fluid in the brain is called cerebral edema. This can affect the brain stem and cause central nervous system dysfunction.
- In severe cases, water intoxication can cause seizures, brain damage, a coma, and even death.
Bottom line: Drinking too much water can increase the pressure inside the skull. This can cause these various symptoms and, in severe cases, become fatal.
Sooooooooo, what can help this from happening?!?! If there was only a way that something made your body hold onto that water and use it effectively…Enter Brawndo…ok just kidding…Enter Electrolytes and sodium. The University of Michigan describes the body’s use of sodium like this…
“Sodium is both an electrolyte and mineral. It helps keep the water (the amount of fluid inside and outside the body’s cells) and electrolyte balance of the body. Sodium is also important in how nerves and muscles work. Low sodium levels have many causes, such as heart failure, malnutrition, and diarrhea. Other electrolytes, such as potassium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, and phosphate, are also important to our body functioning to it’s potential.”
Alright, so far we’ve learned that drinking lots of water while exercising in the heat is very important. We’ve also learned that drinking too much water can be bad. Finally, we now know that sodium and the other electrolytes can be immensely beneficial to staying hydrated and performing up to our potential.
So what’s the best way to ingest water and the necessary electrolytes during GrowRuck? In my and others experience, the answer is multifaceted…
You have to have a hydration bladder. Which hydration bladder you choose is up to you, but after a tough experience in Louisville, I want to weigh in on this. I own and absolutely LOVE my Osprey Hydraulics bladder, super easy to operate, fill, and clean.
This bladder has been a lot of interesting places with me over the years and whenever I’m able to actually break it, Osprey just ships me off another one free of charge. BUT this bladder has a design issue that does not make it ideal for GrowRuck. The button that allows you disconnect the hose is too large and easy to use. This normally wouldn’t be a bad thing, but because of where it’s located, it becomes depressed in your ruck and causes the flow of water to stop. At one point it became completely detached and was found by the cadre 20 minutes later. I met 3 other people who were using this same bladder and experienced the same issue. Avoid using this, unless you already own it and have to. Most people used and had great experiences with this bladder GORuck sells and was clearly designed for use it the rucksacks.
The hose disconnect button is much smaller and facing the side. Not nearly as easy to accidentally disconnect. I tried. A lot! I bought and tested this bladder on my last 5 rucks and rolled, pulled, and dropped it various ways and could not get this thing to stop working. The only bad thing I’ve heard (not personally experienced), is with the bite valve becoming stiff and not easy to operate. The other 2 designs I really like with this bladder are the top & side filling features, and the hose tube abrasion cover.
You also need Nalgene bottles. This isn’t something you should try and save a dollar on. They’re cheap enough already. Buy wide mouth Nalgene brand. Wide mouth, because they’re easier to fill and dump hydration tabs(think Nuun & similar) or mixes like Gatorade powder, or my personal favorite, Skratch Labs.
I heard rumblings they may require more room for water. I’ll probably be packing 2-3 of these and using them to stuff things into unless they’re needed.
Here are a few links to Sodium and/or electrolyte supplements to your water…
Skratch Lab Powders
Now, go forth and hydrate!