GORUCK Tough Patch Explained

The GORUCK Tough patch is not for sale. It takes inspiration from the First Special Service Force’s spearhead, and the only way to earn it is to pass the GORUCK Challenge.

The Force was a joint Canadian-American commando unit formed in 1942. “The name ‘First Special Service Force’ was selected to cover an assault force whose handful of men would carry considerable automatic-fire power. It sounded innocent enough…” However, the Force earned the nickname Devil’s Brigade for its devastation of Axis powers in WWII. Though its history is a short one, modern day Canadian and American special operations trace their heritage to this unit.

History matters, as does heritage. In Special Forces, today’s training is based on yesterday’s combat. Today’s SF instructors have been there, and done that: Iraq, Afghanistan, and every other hotspot in the world. I owe my life to those guys (Hornosky, Kean…), and the guys I served with (Josh, Brian, Bobby…), and the soldiers of old who trained the guys who trained me. This is an open thanks to all of them for the lessons they taught me on how to survive, but also how to be a better person. Given that the Challenge is so directly based on the missions and training of Special Operations Forces and the wartime experiences of our Cadre, the Tough patch honors and harkens back to our collective roots in the First Special Service Force. It’s ultimately about the guy to the right and left of you.

The Force’s shoulder patch took inspiration from the Native American spearhead, and our Tough patch is meant to reference, and honor, a warrior spirit still thriving to this day. A spirit found in the military, but also the civilian world. We moved the spearhead horizontal, indicating action and forward movement toward the enemy, drawing a parallel to the GORUCK Reverse Flag. And when I hand them out to someone who passes one of my Challenge classes, I’m always proud to tell them that they’ve accomplished something every bit as hard as any training I ever had for that period of time. For me, the GORUCK Tough community (GRT) is a family, the Tough patch its badge.


  1. Dustin Crawford says:

    I cannot wait to do my next GRC! I must earn this patch just like the original fire patch. I do like this patch much better along with all that it stands for and commemorates. Good livin’!

  2. Uri says:

    I guess I’ll have to do another GRC. Even thought I think the, now vintage, original GRT patch is great, this one is plain awesome.

  3. Clark says:

    Jason it was a blast earning this badge of honor alongside yet another great team this weekend. Thank you for giving us this speech in person and look forward to earning another one shortly.

  4. Edgar says:

    Jason, thanks for the explanation on the historical lineage of the arrowhead. As a civilian I appreciate knowing what it is I wear on my ruck and TAC hat so I can explain to any who ask. I cannot wait to earn my first “new” patch in San Diego to add to my “vintage” GRT patch collection!

  5. Jim says:

    I like the simplicity of the design, and I never realized it til now that the fire on the old patch is the same as the Tough Mudder logo, and I’m glad to see the GRT patch is different. The one thing I did like on the old patch was the Tri-tone black/grey/light grey, but I think I can grow to like how the new patch blends better with the rucks.

  6. Bobby C. says:

    I currently have the original fire patch and the NYC 911 patch, can’t wait to complete the collection with a patch that has such great symbolism! Good livin’

  7. Jim W says:

    Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, etc are about something you do, the GoRuck Challenge is about finding out who you are. This patch represents your commitment to discovering that person inside you.

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