Tim Ferriss often asks his guests this question:
What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?
Okay so I’m not one of his guests, and it’s not $100 or less, but if I were one of his guests I’d say “It’s not $100 or less… but the GORUCK GR1 has been my favorite purchase of the past year. I use it every day.”
Note: GORUCK links on this post are affiliate links. (I really do use the backpack every day!)
A few months before buying a GR1, I decided I needed a backpack. I also decided not to buy a GR1. Instead, I got The North Face’s Big Shot. I loved it when it was on my back. Really comfortable. But there were a few too many things that irritated me when it wasn’t on my back.
It was top heavy so it didn’t sit up right. I had to lean it against a wall forward so the straps hang out if I lean it in the hallway. I also had to hold it up when I was packing it.
There might cheaper bags that would fill my needs, but I couldn’t find one.
Looks-wise, the GR1 is clean. It doesn’t even have the GORUCK logo anywhere on its exterior. The bag is the brand. While reading about the bag, I learned the phrase tacticool—almost always used disparagingly. Most bags with the same functionality of the GR1 end up a little too far in tacticool territory.
It stands vertically on its own. This might not be important at all for you. It probably wouldn’t be important for me if I didn’t use it as a gym bag. It can stand up in the locker room while I pack and unpack it.
It opens like a suitcase. Even more helpful if I’m just unpacking the entire thing. This helps a lot at the grocery store. Again, this also might not be an important use case for you. But just know that if you’re looking for the intersection of gym bag and grocery bag, it’s going to make you so happy.
It has the right amount of pockets (for me). All of this is subjective, of course. But this might be the most subjective thing. I’ve read often that people find it doesn’t have enough different compartments.A common answer I’ve seen is that you use attachments and things to customize it. I didn’t do that. I find the three pockets enough.
- The small inner pocket at the top: holds things I use frequently like pens and chargers.
- The large webbed inner pocket: holds the hodgepodge things I don’t use often.
- The outer pocket: holds stuff I jam in there when I forget to put it inside and am on the go. This is usually a notebook or pen.
I’ve had backpacks with a bunch of different pockets. It’s great for that first day of school feeling where you’ve got a place for everything and everything in its place.
By day 4, everything is out of place. I don’t want to have too many places to look for things.
One thing I miss is having a water bottle slot on the outside.
Oh yeah, the laptop compartment.
GORUCK offers a different backpack that’s $100 cheaper which swaps the laptop compartment in the back for an embroidered logo in the front.
I considered getting that, figuring the weighted plate slot on the inside of the backpack could hold a laptop. It actually does hold a laptop pretty well (sometimes I carry a work and personal laptop with me) but it’s harder to pull out on the go.
Like they say on the site, if you’ll be carrying a laptop regularly, get the GORUCK GR1.