GR2 Travels Explained By Jason

GR2 travels really, really well.  I’m no stranger to the austere, the posh, or the grind of getting to both, but no matter where I’m going I want to get there with as little hassle as possible, find a place to set my bag down and then find an adventure or two.  I hate the traveling part of travel anymore: the lines, the baggage check, separating out my laptop, stripping down at security. When we were designing GR2, our goal was to create and simplify the one travel bag we wanted to take with us anywhere. So that’s what we did.

Inside this bag, on the ledge of my hotel in Shanghai, is everything I took to China with me for 2 weeks. I’m wrapping up my degree from Georgetown’s business school and this was part of it.  Red is the lucky color over here, so I chose our red reverse flag.  Though I was perfectly comfortable having just one bag, my GR2, this is not a lecture in minimalism, as people have different needs when traveling, and there is not one right way to use GR2 or any of our bags.  And that’s the point: mine is mine and yours is yours, it’s the bag that adapts.

GR1 Explained goes into great detail about many of the same features you’ll find on GR2: military-grade 1000 Denier Cordura, silent 550 parachute cord zipper pulls, exterior and interior webbing, and our overall commitment to building the best in the good ol’ U.S of A.  GR1 is a dayruck, GR2 is a weekend ruck.  GR2 is significantly bigger (40 liters vs. GR1’s 26 liters of capacity) and lends itself to slightly different usage, which for me means longer excursions or trips.

Webbing strips on the exterior to allow for additions, and customization.  In my case, simply a D-Ring (carabiner) – which always seems to come in handy.  This system of webbing is the same one I used in the military, which we used to set our gear up with the accessory pockets we wanted.  Those are on the horizon for GORUCK, but we wanted to be able to keep it as minimalist as possible.  My preference is for a streamlined exterior and an interior that allows for maximum organization.

GR2 has two exterior compartments, hence two sets of zippers. This is in addition to the laptop compartment next to the wearer’s back, of course.  We only use YKK made in the USA zippers, with gutted 550 parachute cord and rubber shrink wrapping to make grabbing the pulls easy no matter the conditions.

The two main compartments unzipped simply to show what they look like before I compress them down to close all the zippers.  There is a lot in there.

Special Forces trauma medical bags were the leading inspiration for GR2’s functionality. Our medics would lay their bags out flat, just as this one is, next to the casualty they were treating.  Vital to them was that they could access everything in there as quickly and easily as possible.   Everything had a proper place, in the proper pocket.  Their packs never allotted for clothing as mine does, but the principle is the same: everything in its right place, and the more I use it the more I have a particular place for a particular kind of thing, be it clothes, electronics, books, or beer.

The main compartment, with my blue jeans on top, offers the most volume, and is where I pack my clothing, shoes, and generally anything that will take up a lot of space. This compartment is large enough to accommodate a hang-bag, though I did not bring one on this trip.

Both flaps folded away from the main compartment.  Mesh pockets make it easy to see what’s inside, and we also color-coded the zipper pulls by compartment.  On the top are foliage green pulls, underneath are coyote tan pulls.  People are visual, and there are a lot of pockets in GR2, so this is just one more way to help remember where something is and to differentiate the various options for where to place what.

The main compartment is zipped up, only the exterior flap is open.  Given that there was more space in GR2, we built in one pocket with some additional volume capacity.  On a side note, the yellow seen through the mesh beneath it was my safety reserve in China: 42oz. of Peanut M&M’s.  Their soul mate, beer (aka the latest in advanced cellular repair technology), is housed in the volume pocket.

I took a liking to Suntory (Bill Murray’s quote from Lost in Translation: “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time”), which is actually Japanese but happens to be the most popular beer in Shanghai.  Truth be told I tried them all and this was the one I went with, though Tsingtao was good, too.  The volume pocket houses a couple tall boys perfectly, along with gloves, a watchman’s cap, and sunglasses beneath the beer. Things with volume that you want to have quick access to.  I’m used to “working” out of the top of the bag.  In this pic, I set GR2 down and opened up the exterior compartment to access its top pockets, both of which are open in this picture.  At the very top is a closed pocket (non-mesh) with a coyote pull where I house things like my iPod, spare camera battery, notepad, etc. Things that take up less volume, which would probably sink to the bottom of the volume pocket.

The back panel, similar aesthetics, construction and functionality to all our rucks.  The material is consistent with the rest of the bag (1000 Denier Cordura), and the laptop compartment, which can also hold a hydration bladder, sits next to the wearer’s back.

The ends of the webbing that cinch down the shoulder straps.  The first run of GR2’s we made did not have this loop on them, and we often had difficulties grabbing onto the end as it buried into the buckle. We made this small adjustment to increase the functionality.  If you have one of the earlier GR2’s, you can send it to us and we’ll fix it; conversely, this is a really simple fix at any sew shop which requires no knowledge of our construction techniques.

GR2 has a compression buckle on both sides.  I have used this in the past to hold a sleeping pad, for instance when hiking up Pikes Peak.

The shoulder straps are designed to allow the wearer to carry a heavy load comfortably.  GR2’s are wider and thicker than GR1’s because it will often carry more weight.  The way we integrate them into the ruck itself causes the user to wear the ruck high on their back, which is more comfortable.  Rucks that sit lower take their toll on the wearer’s lower back.  The idea is to get as much weight next to the wearer’s spine as possible for load distribution.  This is also why we build pockets into the top of the ruck that carry weight.  An evenly distributed pack that rests on the top of the spine is always the preferred technique, and allows for much additional comfort, especially over time and usage.  People often wonder why our rucks are so comfortable after extreme use, and this is one of the reasons why.

GR2 is meant to hold more weight, and I use the carrying handle often in airports or just to set it down and gain access to the laptop compartment or the top pockets in the compartments.  With repeated use, especially when traveling, padding increases the comfort the same way that it makes the shoulder straps more comfortable.

The laptop compartment is next to the wearer’s back.  With all of our rucks, this type of usage occurs often. I fold the shoulder strap back and then unzip the compartment, giving me access to my laptop or whatever else I wanted to segregate from the main compartments.

The bottom takes a beating, so we reinforced it.  You’re expected to use it hard, as I do.

This is the only logo you’ll find on or in the bags.  It’s on the interior and meant to be subtle, and it’s always a reminder that GR2 is Built in the USA.  For me, this is synonymous with the brand, and always will be.

Back home in Jacksonville to an empty airport, I took one last picture to answer the most often asked question about GR2.  Yes, it is carry-on friendly, domestic and worldwide.  So travel hard.  Despite the hassle, it’s still worth it.

Find GR2 here.


  1. Uri says:

    Jason, fantastic post. As with the one your wrote about the GR1, understanding the reasons behind a specific feature shows how much work and attention to details you guys at GORUCK put into making your gear super tough, comfortable and the go-to rucks for people that are not afraid of play hard.

    Keep ’em coming!

  2. theo says:

    hey jason, ever thought of using poron for your handle on top of the bag? i have a shopping bag with this poron material in the handles and wow, what a difference this spongy type of material makes.

    another thing, ever thought of making the whole bag of ballistic nylon rather just the bottom of the echo, gr1 and gr2?

    btw, lovely pics and i have made up my mind to get the gr2 soon!


  3. Philip McIntire says:

    I can’t quite put into words how blown away I was during my trip to Italy with the GR-2. I took both the GR-2 and the ECHO, stuffed inside for use as a day pack, on my trip and I have never had such a simplified pack. Although I seemed to just stuff everything in the GR-2 I was able to find everything with an ease that made me smile every time I zipped the bag open. So simple. So versatile. After the challenge I could not stop talking about what you put me and the rest of the guys through; however, after this trip I cannot keep quiet about how much I love these bags. In Starbucks the other day someone asked me about my ECHO and we ended up chatting for over fifteen minutes. With the challenges you opened up for a lot of people a new lifestyle of Good Livin’, but the bags really are something else. See you this weekend for some Good Livin’!
    All the best,

  4. Keith J says:


    Great Intel. However, now I may want the GR2 over the GR1. I travel a ton for work, but also want a RUCK I can run with from time to time. Of course I would get all 3 – and perhaps overtime I will but what do you recommend…Keeping in mind I still hope see you at the APRIL 16 GR Challenge here in DC.

  5. Andrew says:

    Reading this has made me even more excited about getting my own GR1! I now also think I probably will need a GR2 as well, and maybe i can figure out how to get to CO in September. See you Sunday.


  6. Put simply, since I’ve had the GR1 and GR2, I’ve not needed to use any other bags.

    The GR2 is the ultimate travel bag – large enough to sustain me for a 2 week trip away with work and tough enough to endure anything I throw at it.

    The GR1 is the best work bag I’ve ever used, comfortable, tough and practical – I can fit my laptop, change of clothes and all other ancillary items into it, and take it into the field, safe that mud, rain and snow will not damage or ruin what’s inside.

  7. Will Dean says:

    I feel like I have spent much of the last 15 years finding a bag that will fit all my needs and up until a year ago had pretty much resigned myself to needing to replace by backpack at least once a year. Although definitely not the cheapest option on the market, the GR1 is comfortably the best. I use by bag while biking, travelling and commuting. It is durable, comfortable and packs an insane volume of stuff in. Despite my best efforts, it also shows absolutely no signs of wear or tear despite being used daily for over a year now. Will Dean, CEO, Tough Mudder.

  8. Chris Webb says:

    Hi Jason,
    Thanks for the detailed explanation of the GR2’s features and the thought that went into it’s design. I’ve never picked-up one of your packs but the fact that it’s design to ride high on the back and is compartmentalized with that goal in mind is music to my ears. I’ve got two fancy packs that should have taken this into account but don’t and as a result I never use them. I’m sure you have sound reasons for leaving the sternum strap off but was just curious about that. Thanks again!

  9. Mark Negus says:


    Great article! I’m a proud owner of a GR2 and have been for several months now. The bag get’s me to and through school everyday with everything I need and has weathered the DC winter successfully keeping my laptop and other material safe and dry.

    More importantly, the bag has now traveled with me for a 10 day trip to Peru and a 2.5 week trip through Thailand and Vietnam. In both cases, the bag was all that I took with me and it managed to hold everything I could possibly have needed. Doing so allowed me to sail through airports with ease as it fit perfectly in the overhead compartments, negating the need to check luggage. Because the GR2 sits so high on the shoulders it carries the weight of 2.5 weeks worth of clothes and travel gear very well, making the load light and manageable.

    Additionally, I carried the pack along the Inca Trail and found the compartments made all of my supplies easily accessible. The ability to shove a water bladder in the pack was helpful too 🙂

    So far, I’m extremely pleased with the bag and hope to continue to find excuses to take it with me.

  10. jason says:

    A couple questions we’ve consistently gotten deal with both the sternum strap and the waist belt. Or, in our case, the lack thereof. We approach our design with the philosophy that simpler is better, less is more. Whenever possible, we like to let people add on as they see fit. The sternum strap is an example of this. The webbing running down the middle of the shoulder straps allows someone to add an accessory sternum strap. Even though they do help distribute the load of the pack, I find that they constrict my breathing while walking, so I never use them with our rucks, and I never used them back in the day when I was patrolling with some really heavy rucks. That said, some love and want a sternum strap – to each their own – so they can add one. Yes, we’re working on our version of one. The waist belt is a little bit different. Again, back to my patrolling days, I got used to carrying a lot of equipment (aka kit) around my waist. Kit that I needed to be able to access very quickly. The presence of a waist belt always got in the way, whether it was buckled or not. So our focus was to make a ruck that created a stable platform on the wearer’s back without a waist belt. With much larger hunting packs a waist belt is necessary, but with GR2, the positioning of the shoulder straps places the ruck high on the wearer’s back, which is part of the reason why it remains stable without the presence of a waist belt. Moving through busy airports and planes and subways, no waist belt means the bag is cleaner with nothing dangling, nothing to catch or snag on anything. A bag should not look like a gypsy camp, not ever. I prefer cleaner, simpler, and more functional, so that was our focus.

  11. Abhishek says:

    I knew that airport looked familiar. I am a fan of your products. When my barely used Trunk & Co. backpack dies, I will promptly purchase a GR1. Till then, I am glad to know one more thing of value that came out of Jacksonville.

  12. Luc says:

    do you have any pics of the GR2 with nothing in it to see how the compression strap clamps down the bag when empty.
    My concern is when half full is it bulging out for nothing or is the single compression strap ( in the middle of the pack) enough.
    also, I totally agree about the waistbelt, but have you considered having at the bottom of the pack a small 2″ conduit to allow someone to run a waistbelt through should they want to? I have an Arcteryx M30 ( which I’d love, if only it could open from the front) and the waistbelt is running through a cavity at the bottom of the pack so you can take it off.

    Great Pack! gotta raise some funds though . I was eyeing a Mystery ranch 3Day assault pack before stumbling onto your site, but now it will be a GR-2 for my world travels ( i clock >235,000 miles/year on business!)

  13. Zachary Ferguson says:

    I really want to buy the GR@, but I need it 5 business days plus a weekend. I live in Pueblo West, CO. How long would it take to ship?

  14. Michael Dyshuk says:

    So at the last possible moment (two days before flight), I realized that my current backpack just wasn’t gonna cut it for my carry-on to Greece. I e-mailed the sales department about a GR2 and couldn’t be more pleased with how they handled my ordered and processed / shipped it right away to make sure I had it it time. The bag finally arrived literally 35 minutes before my taxi showed up for the airport, keep in mind at no fault of Gorucks’. I didn’t really get a chance to check out the entire bag in details as I was in a rush to pack it, but from what I saw so far and the amount of crap I was able to fit into it, I’m overly impressed at the bags construction, amount of separate zipped compartments, and the massive amount of stuff this thing can hold, while able to be a carry-on.

    Thanks to everyone at Goruck!

  15. Todd says:

    I just bought my first GoRuck bag (GR2) and it exceeded all my expectations! I am a bit of a “Bag Freak” and have purchased several bags in the past year with mixed reviews. I can honestly say GoRuck bags are by far the best bags I currently own. The materials and design meet all of my specs, and satisfied a few things I didn’t know I needed. I have no plans to purchase any other bags and would highly recommend these bags to anyone. Thanks for making such a superior product. I am looking for ward to getting a GR1 and cannot wait until the assessory pockets become available. When are they coming out?

  16. Eric McKenna says:

    My goruck challenge is in Dec, so we started training last week. Today, lost all my water from the tube disconnecting from the bladder. So, can you recommend a hydration bladder for the GR2? Was looking at the camelbak Hotshot or Strom as a replacement. Also, for holding the tube in place, is a GRIMLOC D-ring sufficient.

  17. Will says:

    I can definitely see the inspiration in the bag. Before you open it it looks almost exactly like the Blackhawk Stomp II medic bag I carried in Afghanistan, minus a second compression strap and the waist strap. I always loved the way it opened and how well it organized everything, and wished I could make the medical compartments more useful for my own civilian wanderings. Now it seems you guys have done it for me. Excellent job! Can’t wait to get one.

  18. Pat Devine says:

    Finally got to use my GR2 for something other than training for a challenge. Went on my first deer hunt in upstate NY. Being a rookie, I packed a ton of clothes & gear and the GR2 took it all.
    Have to figure out which GR product would be the perfect fit for going out in the field for the day before next season!

  19. Evan Boeshans says:

    What exactly are the demensions of the laptop pocket, I have a fairly big laptop and want to make sure it would fit.

  20. Aaron Ruff says:

    Is GR2 what students prefer?
    I am a premed bio major, soon to be firefighter. Is the GR2 the right size for me. My radio ruck can barely fit my bio & chem book along with a 1″ ring binder. I was about to go ahead and get the GR1, but it’s about the same size(tiny bit taller and deeper bit more narrow). Does the compression strap shrink the GR2 or is it always full profile? any input appreciated!
    I don’t want to buy the Gr1 and still only be able to fit a couple schoolbooks, with the GR2 I imagine myself wih this giant pack and a I feel lIke I’m about to hike the AT.

  21. sonya says:

    Heya. I’m looking at catching the GoRuck in Philly in October, but I’m torn on which to get. I do some weekends and weeks hammock-camping, so I love the idea of minimalism and one-bagging, but I’m a not-real-big chick (5’7, 140), and I’m afraid the GR2 is going to be HUGE on me. But I love the dividers and space! Thoughts?


  22. Shane says:

    Hello Jason,

    I want to surprise my uncle who is overseas in Afghanistan with something that will be useful for him everyday. Your product sounds very useful but I know nothing about his day to day life there or weather or not he can use this bag well stationed. He is a helicopter pilot I am not sure which one would be most useful to him if he can even use them.

    I love that your product is all USA made and I really hope all the parts used are USA made and it is manufactured in the USA. I also hope you get the government contract to produce these bags for all of our troops. Only the best for our boys and thank you for your service and product.

    In closing I am just looking for something that can help bring my uncle home safely. He told me a story about himself beig in a sticky situation and him reaching for his bag and his zipper not working (not saying the current bags are faulty just that his malfunctioned once when he needed it to work) he clearly made it home for a family leave sadly was the reason for his return but him being home made all of us feel better.

    Looking for advice on which would be most useful for him and his current situation.

    thanks in advance to all,
    Shane W.

  23. jason says:

    Hey Shane, thanks a million for the kind words. Pilots typically have a very small ruck with them when they fly full of essentials, just in case. This would lend itself to the Echo, our smallest ruck, from an operational (ie while running missions) standpoint. That said, when you deploy you need a large ruck simply for transport to and from the country and for travel within the country, which would be GR2. Hope this helps, and tell your uncle to stay safe.

  24. Andrew says:

    So far my GR2 has been traveling with me for a couple of weeks and things have been mostly positive. The only I would change is the compression strap. Instead of one in the middle I would much prefer two, one near the top, and one near the bottom. I know you can’t have everything, but that’s the only thing I would change.

  25. Stuart says:

    Jason – I’m taking a similar trip to Africa for two weeks and was wondering what all you were able to pack in the gr2. I just got a gr1, which I love and was planning to bring that and a duffel but thought maybe a GR2 could suffice.


  26. jason says:

    GR1 + a duffel is known as GR2. The only downside to taking “just” a GR2 is that when you get there, you’ll wish you had something smaller than GR2 to cart around town, ie GR1 or Radio Ruck. I’ve spent some time in West Africa, and I highly recommend that you do not bring two bags for two weeks. It’s a blast, but the less you bring, the easier your life will be. GR2 will work just fine.

  27. goruck says:

    Did you really bring EVERYTHING with you for two weeks in this one bag ? I can understand this being your main bag, but what about changes of clothing and books. I would imagine you need quite a few changes of socks and underwear, even if you wear the same clothes every day. And if you were finishing school, you may have quite a few text books. I have a gr2 and it’s my favorite bag, but being the ONLY bag for a TWO week trip is a stretch. Otherwise great products!

  28. jason says:

    Yup, everything. I’d rather cart fewer things around and make it work. Sometimes that involves doing laundry at the hotel, which it did here. I guess for me I’d rather buy a change of clothes or do laundry if I absolutely have to than carry or check an entire second bag. As for the books – I actually had all the stuff I needed on my computer.

  29. Scotty W says:

    GR2 came in the mail today! Looking forward to traveling on a week long trip to Kansas in the coming weeks. The bag is big and feels extremely well-built.

  30. Scotty W says:

    GR2 performed very well on my business trip. Traveling through the airports carrying the GR2 felt great on my back. Very comfortable the whole time. Again thanks for building an excellent bag!

  31. Bjarne Martens says:

    Hi Guys.
    I have a GR1 which I am very happy with. I am thinking of buying the bigger GR2 for travel. I would like to ask how do you find the 48 liters ? If I calculate I can only find about 38 liters ?

    Regaards Bjarne

  32. Gerald S says:

    Jason – your site says that colors other than black will be coming out ‘Summer of 2012″. I’m looking outside at the sun, hoping to see the packs I’ve been drooling over for the past year available in lovely shades of Taupe, Maroon, and Fuchsia. Er…I mean FDE, Foliage Green, Tan, etc. 🙂 Got any new scoop?

  33. Mikey says:

    I’m five months in to an eight months around the world trip with 13 countries done already. Gr2 and brick bag is plenty of space and I’m even packing 8 changes of undies.


  34. Adam A. says:

    I just wanted to say that, a year into owning it, my GR-2 is the best pack I’ve ever owned (and I’ve owned a lot of them, and even made my own for a while).

    It also barely shows any wear, despite the fact that it’s my EDC bag, grocery getter, travel bag, hiking day pack, and occasional cat bed.

    (well, except for the zipper pulls — my cat thinks the rubber shrink tube is delicious.


    On a trip to Death Valley, it brought everything as carry-on: casual clothes, hiking gear, photo gear, laptop, and still also had room for fancy clothes & shoes for a night in Vegas on the return trip. And since it works beautifully as both travel bag and hiking pack, I have one less piece of gear.


  35. Rexx says:

    Great review! I hope you guys do another sprint run on the Coyote GR2. Just got my GR1 in the mail, love it. I’ve got a Bullet 10L on the way. Keep up the great work!

  36. Jared says:

    Hey guys! Looking into a GR2, and I see on the site that “GR2 no longer comes with compression straps on the sides.” Why is this? Is it part of a larger set of changes to the design? I’m mainly concerned because I already own a tough bag, and was looking forward to attaching it to the GR2 with the straps, as shown on the site, but now it would seem that this isn’t possible…

  37. jason says:

    The main reason is that I’ve been using my GR2 for 4 years and have consistently found the compression buckles to be something excessive. I never use them as I expected to. So, in the “less is more, more is lazy” approach, we’ve removed them. It is not part of a larger overhaul of anything, though. As for the Tough Bag, that, too will be undergoing a re-design that is more of an overhaul. The MOLLE will go away, so will the compression straps, so it’ll be more of a stuff sack, of sorts. My best guess is that 99.99% of the time, the GR2 will serve your needs without the Tough Bag attached.

  38. jared says:

    Awesome, thanks so much for the quick reply! That all seems reasonable. On an only semi-related note, do you know if/when other colors will be in stock for the GR2 (other than black and java). I was a particular fan of the ranger green…

  39. jason says:

    Wolf Grey pretty soon, maybe some Coyote. No plans for anything besides those two colors this year. (In addition to more black, of course).

  40. Jim says:

    Jason, Will the new GR Bag with a hip belt be a contender with the GR2 for travel. Planning a trip to Scotland in Oct. and had thought the GR2 to be ideal. Am I wrong? Also, any hints about a period of time this year that the GR2 would be a steal?
    Love my Bozman built GR1 of Oct. 2011.

  41. Tom Dean says:

    Hey Jason,

    Can you give any info on the hang bag you show in the GR2 Explained Video. Looks like its a Briggs & Riley but I can’t seem to find any simple hang bags like this. Most of them seem to be standalone luggage rather than something that would pack inside the GR2.



  42. jason says:

    I think you’re right but I don’t love that one either. I grabbed it from em’s closet as I was out the door and it made the cut such is life.

  43. Joshua says:

    Hi Jason,
    I’m 5’8” so if I get the smaller GR2, can it still accommodate a hang bag for a blazer/suit?

    Congrats on growing Goruck to where it is today. It’s great to read all your posts and seeing how you grew the company from the ground up.


  44. Sailom says:

    The compression straps are a great place to put shoes/boots if you’re running out of space inside the bag or just prefer not to dirty up the insides.

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