Rucking is one of those things that does not require a large investment in specialized gear or equipment. Rucking is simple! Grab a ruck (aka backpack), put some weight in it, and start walking!
With that said, there are some things that make it easier on you to successfully accomplish a consistent and beneficial ruck-training program or even lifestyle. Here is the equipment I use and recommend. If any of you have suggestions, let me know in the comments below.
What you choose to wear on your feet is probably the most important decision you will make. Your feet are critical to rucking, since you’re on them, using them, and relying on them to get you from point A to point B.
The socks you choose are important as well. Stay away from cotton socks. Look for socks that are wicking and will keep your feet drier. Wool is always a good choice and what I wear rucking, even in the 115° summers here in Phoenix.
When choosing your footwear, here are a couple things to consider:
Terrain: If you’re primarily on hardball a good pair of walking or running shoes might work for you. If you’re on uneven terrains, like trails, you may want trail shoes or hiking boots.
Climate: Your climate will also play a factor, either way, you want footwear that is breathable. Try and stay away from Gortex or Thinsulate as they will keep your feet wet with sweat.
Load: The load you carry will also be a factor. Heavier loads may require more ankle support, like a boot, than lighter pack loads.
Several months ago I ordered a pair of Salomon XA PRO 3D trail shoes from Amazon for a trip to Havasu Falls with my son. I liked them so much I bought him a pair too!
They have now stood up to many, many miles of trail hiking and rucking, both on desert trails and on hardball. They are comfortable and offer great traction and support.
A Rucksack (aka backpack or pack)
All you really need is a backpack to get started. Grab one of your kids’ old school bags or pick up a cheap one on Amazon. However, you may go through quite a few depending on how much and what kind of weight you put in it (more on that in a minute).
If you plan on, or are, loading your pack with 30+ pounds I recommend spending a little more money and purchase a higher quality pack. It will pay off in the long run.
The important thing is to find a pack that is comfortable for you! You will be the one wearing it for miles upon miles, so find the one that fits you and fits your intended use.
You can use just about anything for weight, but some things will be easier to carry than others. For example, if you throw a rock in your pack it will give you weight but won’t be comfortable on your back and your pack probably won’t last long before it’s all torn up and full of holes. Here are some ideas you can use for weight:
- Full Water Bottles
- Bricks (Tape the edges so they won’t damage your pack)
Proper hydration is extremely important for all of us, whether you’re rucking or not. Drinking plenty of water and being well hydrated prior to your activity or ruck is the best approach to take. While rucking you should bring ample water with you to maintain your hydration level and have it for emergency purposes as well. You may come across someone on the trail or in your group that is dehydrated… it’s not all about you.
I live in the Phoenix, AZ area. It’s a desert. My personal policy is, “never go into the desert without bringing water.” Every time I leave the house I have water with me; whether I’m rucking, hiking, biking, or driving to the grocery store. It’s what works for me.
My Hydration System
So we’ve covered the essential gear in the list above, now I’ll share some of the extra items I use when rucking.
Reflective Leg bands
I attach these to the molle straps on the outside of my ruck to make me more visible when I ruck at night. Safety is important at all times and making yourself as visible as possible while rucking at night will help keep you safe.