Jason McCarthy, the founder of GoRuck, is pretty used to people asking what rucking is.
In fact, when you visit the GoRuck website, the very first thing you’ll notice is a basic definition of what it means to “ruck”.
However, GoRuck’s mission extends far beyond simply walking around with a heavy backpack. It’s an awesome fitness activity — but rucking gets cool points from its background than anything else. McCarthy is ex-military and it is in that part of his life that GoRuck finds its origins as well as its purpose.
McCarthy, a Green Beret, drew inspiration from the men and women he served alongside to design a line of high-quality rucksacks that could withstand heavy weights and harsh conditions.
In addition to creating a product line, McCarthy made it his mission to employ more special operations veterans than any other organization in the country outside of the U.S. military, according to the GoRuck website.
However, from there, the idea of “rucking” took on an identity of its own. McCarthy invited people out to a “challenge” type event in 2010 with the idea of having people do military-style exercises and drills together while he photographed them using the merchandise.
Something unexpected happened. Among the random group of people who assembled for his challenge, two Marines showed up with backpacks full of beer and the intention of having a great time. It was then and there that the idea of the GoRuck community was born.
How Do I Ruck?
Simply put, Rucking is putting some stuff in a backpack, calling a couple of friends and going on a walk.
The official GoRuck website recommends starting light — 10 pounds if you’re relatively new to fitness and 20 pounds if you’re in decent shape. For perspective, the site lists a few common items such as a 12 pack of soda, which weighs about ten pounds and a gallon of water, which weighs about eight pounds.
A large component of rucking is building community — in fact, GoRuck doesn’t recognize the activity as rucking if go at it alone. Other than that, the specs are hazy. You can determine how many people, how far and how difficult you want to make your rucking adventure.
Rucking is an active resistance training, meaning that it serves not only as a cardiovascular workout, but as a strength builder as well. Some of the benefits the website lists include a stronger heart, toughness and more calories burned as compared to walking without weight on your back.
Less weight at a longer distance will increase the amount of cardio benefit you’re getting from rucking whereas heavier weight will increase the strength training aspect of the activity.
Need proof that it works? Just ask anyone in the military.
What Do I Need to Ruck?
So of course, you’ll need a rucksack, or a backpack to go rucking. GoRuck offers a full line of high-quality backpacks, which are available for purchase on their site.
The back packs are made in the United States of high quality materials and are designed for different purposes — some are large enough to safely carry and insulate a laptop whereas others are made for transporting just water and snacks. They even have children’s options. However, anything that you have lying around at home will also work just fine, especially for your first time.
If you’re more serious about rucking, GoRuck also offers official GoRuck weighted plates to place in your backpack.
The GoRuck Challenge
For ruckers who are looking to take the next step in challenging themselves, GoRuck offers challenges all across the country similar to the one that started it all.
During the challenge, GoRuck Cadre leaders — all of whom are ex-special forces and veterans — will lead groups in fun, team building type activities that challenge them both physically and mentally.
McCarthy talks about how as special forces members in the military, he and his coworkers were charged with making soldiers the best they could be. Now, they do the same thing with civilians through these challenges, he said.
A beginner’s GoRuck Challenge is four to five hours long and consists of 7 to ten miles of activity, whereas a difficult challenge or a GoRuck Heavy Challenge would consist of more than 24 hours of work covering more than 40 miles.
For those who are dedicated to the idea of rucking to raise money for veterans but aren’t comfortable committing to a 24 hour challenge, GoRuck also hosts 5Ks across the country.
For more information on how to start rucking or to find an event or training group near you, visit GoRuck.com.