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The Complete Rucking Gear Checklist

Rucking is a fun and excellent way to get in shape, or maintain daily endurance. The premise is simple. Throw a weight in a backpack and start walking.

While this can be accomplished by just these two items, there is more nuance to effective rucking. Some of these items you might not need. Others you will.

The purpose of this list is to provide you with the ability to build a custom rucking kit tailored to you. For more information on rucking, including how to make your own weights, what kinds of boots to wear, and all sorts of useful information please visit our Ruck Hub.

1. Rucksack

5.11 RUSH72 Tactical Backpack, Large, Style 58602, Black

The Rush 72 by 5.11 is a great Rucksack. It is called the Rush 72 because it is designed as a 3 day assault pack. This pack contains the space for everything you would need on a personal ruck if you are taking part in an event such as GORUCK.

This pack comes with an integrated waist belt and sternum strap and is made to hold its contents in a manner comfortable to you. The Rush is also MOLLE system compliant so you can personalize your kit anyway you wish.

What is it?

A backpack designed to carry more weight. This makes your ruck more challenging. Rucksacks need to be more durable in order to handle increased loads while you ruck.

Why You Need it

This is the most essential piece of equipment required to begin rucking.

How to Use it

Grab some weight and throw it in as close to your back as possible and as high as possible. A good rucksack also has a place for a hydration bladder.

Alternative Buying Options

Checkout our full article where we review the Best Backpacks for Rucking. We also included some suggestions below.

2. Ruck Plates

Yes4All 30 lb Ruck Weight – Best Cast Iron Ruck Weight for Walking, Jogging, and Running

Ruck plates are an easy way to add exact weight amounts to your ruck without the guesswork that comes with making your own weights. Simply slide one into your laptop compartment and go!

Yes4All makes affordable ruck plates that are cast iron. They are available from 10 to 45 lbs in 5 lb increments.

What is it?

A big old plate of cast iron to put in your rucksack

Why You Need it

To weigh down your rucksack. Certain events have weight requirments. A ruck plate makes it really easy to make sure you are qualified.

How to Use it

Place it in the laptop compartment of your ruck. Pad the bottom with old clothes or even yoga blocks you custom cut. You want your weights high and close to your body.

Alternative Options

There really are not true alternatives to a ruck plate other than making your own weights. Check out our DIY Ruck Weight Guide on how to wrap bricks or make a sand pill.

3. Hydration Bladder

Source Hydration Bladder WLPS Low Profile - 3 Liter (100oz) Water Bladder with High Flow Storm Valve - Featuring All Hydration Technology Advantages

A Hydration Bladder is almost necessary. The only reason I would say it isn't is that you could bring a lot of water bottles with you. But, you would have to carry 3L of water bottles.

A hydration bladder lets you carry this amount comfortably in your ruck and give you easy access through a drinking tube. This is one of the most recommended pieces of gear among ruckers, cyclists, distance hikers, or any form of endurance activity.

Hydration is the most important aspect of any activity. Without water you die, it's simple.

This Source Hydration Bladder is the best in the business. Not only do you get a low profile 3l reservoir, but it is also made up of antimicrobial plastic that keeps your water tasting fresh all ruck long.

What is it?

A hydration bladder

Why You Need it

It makes the carrying and access to of large amounts of water easy and comfortable

How to Use it

Fill your hydration bladder with water only. This keeps the bladder clean through multiple uses. This bladder will store almost an entire gallon jug.

Alternative Buying Options

There are plenty of hydration bladders out there. You want at least a 2l bladder, but a 3l is recommended. You will go through water while you ruck. Check out these alternatives and our article on the Best Hydration Bladders for Rucking.

4. Rucking Boots

Danner Men's Tachyon 8 Inch Military and Tactical Boot, Coyote, 10 D US

When you are looking for a good pair of rucking boots it is important to look at durability and comfort. Ankle support is another key feature when considering what you want to put on your feet.

You can ruck in shoes, but we would advise against it. Shoes tend to lack the ankle support needed for distance rucking. It is a personal preference but we are accustomed to boots.

Less sore ankles.

The Danner Tachyon Boot is a great example of a rucking boot. It has great ankle support and is rugged enough to handle whatever a trail is going to throw at you.

This boot ventilates your feet well and follows Army Regulation guidelines. While being a full boot they are lightweight and perform great in hot weather.

These boots are worn by military and police and have become one of the most trusted brands in tactical wear.

Personal note. I worked as an EMT for over 13 years and this was one of the best boots I wore during my career. My only gripe was no side zipper.

What is it?

They are boots for your feet.

Why You Need it

Rucking boots need to be lightweight yet durable for a comfortable ruck march.

Shoes can work but you are at more of a risk for sore ankles and sprains due to a lack of ankle support.

How to Use it

Choose a foot, put them on. Lace them tight. If your foot slides around wear thicker socks.

Friction is bad and can lead to blisters.

Alternative Buying Options

There are a lot of boots to choose from. Tactical footwear is designed for people that will be on their feet all day and in adverse conditions. Follow this link for our opinions on The Best Boots for Rucking.

5 Boot Insoles

currex HikePro Insoles

Most of the time the insoles that come inside of a boot or shoe are an afterthought. The boot might fit nice, it might last forever, but what is the point if they are killing your feet?

Buying an aftermarket insole for your boots is an easy way to improve the comfort level for your boots. If you are rucking, you will be spending miles in those boots. Miles on road, miles in mud, miles on rough terrain.

Rucking is an enjoyable activity. You are outside and getting fresh air. The last thing you want is to have to cut your trip short because of foot fatigue.

Good insoles help alleviate and prevent foot pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis. This is that stabbing pain you start getting on the bottom of your feet near the heel. It is common in hikers and runners as well as overweight people with improper heel support.

These Currex HikePro insoles are purpose designed for outdoor activity. They are designed to cushion your feet on the uneven terrain that comes with hiking. 

Hiking and rucking go hand in hand, the only difference is you are hiking with a weighted backpack.

These are the insoles I use in my boots. Combining this with a good tight lace and my feet move very little in my boots. Less friction, less blisters.

These insoles also last all season long. I have to replace them about once a year.

What is it?

Boot insoles for happy feet. Happy feet, happy you.

Why You Need it

Stock insoles are often inadequate for rucking. Aftermarket insoles are an easy way to improve your rucking experience.

How to Use it

Grab some scissors, measure your feet, trim them to fit, replace your boots insoles with better ones.

Alternative Buying Options

Just because I love my HikePro's dosn't mean they are what you need. They are a bit expensive for some people and you can find a cheaper solution. We have included several alternatives that are highly rated.

6. Rucking Socks

MudGear Ruck Socks - Military, Tactical, Work Boot - Black/Gray - Size Small

If you are wearing more than one pair of socks while rucking then you are wearing the wrong socks. Do you put on your boot and notice that your feet slip? That is bad. If your feet are moving in your boots it is causing friction.

Friction is a primary cause of developing a foot blister. If you have ever had a foot blister then you know how painful they can be.

First you feel that hot spot and think your feet are just hot. Then you feel that burning chafing feeling. Then it just hurts to move. This happens because friction has damaged the skin cells on your feet.

A fluid sac develops around those cells to protect them while they heal. It hurts because your body wants you to avoid damaging that area further. And now, your ruck is over.

Good socks along with insoles are the simplest way to lower the chances of developing a blister.

You also want to keep your feet dry. Normal socks absorb moisture, but they dont wick it away. 

These MudGear Ruck Socks are designed to fill your boot for less friction, and wick away moisture to keep your feet dry. MudGear is a brand we love. They make excellent products for mud racers. 

These socks are so tough they come with a lifetime guarantee. They are compression socks so they keep the friction to a minimum. We can litterally ruck for hours in these things and our feet are dry at the end of the day.

If you work in construction or in some other trade skill career and are on your feet all day, these sock are great for that to.

What is it?

Moisture wicking compression rucking socks.

Why You Need it

To keep your feet dry and reduce friction inside your boot. Helps to prevent foot blisters.

How to Use it

You put them on your feet.

Alternative Buying Options

We love MudGear. They are great, and we think you should give them a chance. However, here are other socks we would recommend for rucking. The entire point of a rucking sock is to keep your feet dry and friction free.

7. Hip Belt

Tactical Gen II Battle Belt MOLLE Multi-Purpose Military Heavy Duty Waist Belt for Outdoor Sports(Black)

Some rucksacks like the Rush 72 come with a integrated hip belt. Others do not. A hip belt is important because it takes weight off of your shoulders and keeps the pack tighter to your back.

Your rucksack should be MOLLE compatible for this reason. Many of these belts are designed to be attached to the pack via this MOLLE webbing.

This Gen II Battle Belt is a great example of the type of belt you should look for. It has Molle Webbing and can be attached to most compatible rucksacks.

What is it?

Hip Belt

Why You Need it

Reduces strain on your shoulders and promoted even weight distribution on your body.

How to Use it

Strap the belt to your rucksack. Make sure it is centered and wrapped around your pelvis or just above it.

Alternative Buying Options

8. Rucking Headlamp

2 Pack of Rechargeable Headlamp, 500 Lumens White Cree LED Head lamp with Red light and Motion Sensor Switch, Perfect for Running, Hiking, Lightweight, Waterproof, Adjustable Headband, 5 Display Modes

This is an optional piece of equipment but a recommended one. Say you are going for a distance ruck or even a distance hike and lose track of time and it starts to get dark. You are going to be thankful you have a headlamp.

If your goal is to participate in a GORUCK event, you should probably have a headlamp. These events typically start really early in the morning and end at night. Som GORUCK events last multiple days.

A headlamp is always a good addition to any kit.

GOFORWILD offers a two pack of 500 lumen LED headlamps. They are rugged, durable, and affordable. One for your head, and one as a backup.

This particular headlamp offers 5 display modes and is waterproof. These lights are also chargeable through USB and will last 2.5 hours per charge.

What is it?

A light that goes on your head.

Why You Need it

If it gets dark outside you will want a light.

How to Use it

Place it on your noggin, tighten the strap. Turn it on. Handsfree illumination!

Alternative Buying Options

Here are some more headlamp suggestions. If you are looking to do an all night long event, we would go with the Foxelli Headlamp.

Replaceable batteries are easy to swap in the field and do not require a USB charging cable. The drawback is the light is only 165 lumens.

9. Rucking Gloves

Mechanix Wear - M-Pact Covert Tactical Gloves (Large, Black)

Cold weather is actually a perfect time to Ruck. Gloves help keep your hands warm and help to clear away obstacles in your path.

If you want to participate in endurance events it is a good idea to have some tough gloves to help with some of the tasks and obstacles you will have to navigate.

For example in a GORUCK event carrying a log or other heavy object is not uncommon. Protect your hands.

Mechanix M-Pact Tactical Gloves are perfect for your rucking kit. They are designed to keep your hands safe no matter if you are doing yard work or moving logs on a trail.

What is it?

Tactical Gloves.

Why You Need it

To protect your hands and keep you warm during a ruck.

How to Use it

Put them on your hands.

Alternative Buying Options

10. Anti Chafing Balm

Trail Toes: Phenomenal Ultra-Extreme, Anti-Friction Foot,2 oz

Friction is your enemy. Friction on your feet, your pits, your... you get the picture. If you are going to be out there moving you are going to be generating heat and friction.

Your body will move against itself and you will start to chafe. Anti-friction cream is a the answer to this. 

Apply to areas that are prone to chafing and you will be ready to go.

Trail Toes is about the best anti friction cream for your feet. Apply this to your feet, throw on your ruck socks, put on your ruck boots with your aftermarket insoles and you have become an anti blister machine.

What is it?

Anti Friction Cream.

Why You Need it

To help prevent chafing and blister formation.

How to Use it

Rub it on the parts of your body prone to chafing.

Alternative Buying Options

While Trail toes is great for your feet here are some suggestions for the rest of your body.

11. Rain Jacket

Women's

Columbia Women's Arcadia II Waterproof Breathable Jacket with Packable Hood, Black, Medium

Men's

Amazon Essentials Men's Waterproof Rain Jacket, Red, Large

A rain jacket is always good to have. If you live an an area where it rains you might get caught out in the storm. Having a rain jacket/windbreaker in your ruck is a good idea. 

You will want one that is lightweight and easily stored. The object here is to have an article of clothing to keep you dry and keep the wind off you if you are caught outside during adverse weather.

Columbia is a well known brand for outdoor clothing and they have a great selection of affordable rain gear for men and women such as the Arcadia II for women (pictured above) and the Watertight for men.

What is it?

Rain Gear

Why You Need it

To keep you dry

How to Use it

Keep in your ruck, pull out and pull over when it starts to rain.

Alternative Buying Options

Here are some more choices for easy pull over rain gear. We included the Men's Watertight as well as unisex poncho style pullovers.

12. Reflective Bands

Reflective Band - Made With Genuine Reflexite in America - By Jogalite (Pair of Two)

Reflective bands are an important safety measure that any rucker, hiker, jogger, bicyclist, etc should consider.

These bands allow you to be visible from a great distance and improve the chances of you being seen in poor visibility areas.

Simply put these Jogalite Reflective Leg Bands on your ruck sack and you will be visible. It is also recommended that have a reflective belt (a PT Belt) or chest harness to increase your visibility.

What is it?

Reflective Gear

Why You Need it

So you don't get hit by a car. Helps you maintain visibility in poor weather conditions.

How to Use it

Put bands on your ruck using the Molle system. Wear the chest harness or PT belt on your person.

Alternative Buying Options

Reflective gear comes in many shapes and sizes, here are some of our recommended high visibility equipment.

13. BlisterPod

BlisterPod Advanced Blister Kit (18 Pc. Set) | Made for Sport & Outdoors | Foot Blister Prevention and Treatment, Heel to Toe | Pack Light for Travel, Hiking, Running, Hockey, Soccer, Golf.

In our article How to Prevent and Care for Foot Blisters, we went over the importance of having a plan if you develop a foot blister.

Having a foot blister kit in your ruck is going to save you a lot of pain and aggravation if you get one during a ruck.

As always, don't pop a blister unless you have to. But if a blister is causing to much pain and you have to take care of it, you will be thankful you have this kit.

A BlisterPod contains the following:

  • Gel Toe Sleeves
  • Adhesive Felt Sheet for Donut Pads
  • Sterile Scalpel Blades (Size 15)
  • Povidone Iodine (Betadine) Antiseptic Swabs
  • Gloves
  • Fixomull Stretch (CoverRoll) Tape
  • Engo Patches
  • Hydrocolloid Blister Plasters
  • Cutiplast Island Dressings
  • Skin Prep Adhesive-Enhancer Swabs
  • Easy-to-Follow Instructions

There is even an BlisterPod Ultra 60 Piece Kit​​​​ that doubles as a full first aid kit included. A bit more expensive but worth it for the peace of mind while you are outdoors.

What is it?

Blister Care Kit

Why You Need it

No matter how many precautions you take, there is always a chance you will develop a foot blister.

Having this kit in your ruck will make treatment of a foot blister safe and effective.

How to Use it

Follow the instructions of see our Blister Care Article.

Alternative Buying Options

Here are some other blister prevention products. If you want an enjoyable rucking experience you should do everything to prevent a blister. I hate them.

You never know when you will develop one so it is best to be prepared.

14. Moisture Wicking Clothing

Men's

Under Armour Men's HeatGear Armour Short Sleeve Compression T-Shirt, Black (001)/Steel, Large

Women's

Under Armour Women's HeatGear Armour Short Sleeve Shirt, Black//Metallic Silver, Medium

We all hate to be sticky and sweaty. Not only that buy when your body starts to stick to you, you start to chafe. 

Under your arms, your groin, and even your sides. Any area of the body that starts to rub against itself will begin to chafe after awhile.

That is where moisture wicking clothing comes in. If you are rucking for an extended period of time you will want to wear clothing that wicks away moisture as you sweat.

This is called the base layer, and even if you are in a cold climate you will want a base layer of under garments. Hot climates this will probably be the only layer you need.

Under Armour makes some of the best moisture wicking clothing, they call it Heat Gear.

Don't just think shirts here. Your undercarriage needs protection as well so look into some moisture wicking underwear as well.

Men's

Under Armour Men's HeatGear Armour 2.0 6-inch Compression Shorts, Carbon Heather (090)/Black, Large

Women's

Under Armour Women's HeatGear Armour Shorty Shorts, Black (001)/Metallic Silver, Medium

What is it?

Compression Clothing

Why You Need it

Too reduce moisture and friction on your body. Aids in the prevention of chafing.

How to Use it

You put them on like any other article of clothing.

Alternative Buying Options

Under Armour is not the only brand of clothing that does moisture wicking clothing. They might be our go to brand, but we have included some alternative idea's below for your consideration.

15. Trekking Poles

TrailBuddy Lightweight Trekking Poles - 2-pc Pack Adjustable Hiking or Walking Sticks - Strong Aircraft Aluminum - Quick Adjust Flip-Lock - Cork Grip, Padded Strap - (Raven Black)

Planning on challenging some gnarly trails? Trekking poles help you navigate those steep inclines.

These poles help you maintain balance. If you are rucking then you have that extra weight on your back and might have difficulty during some rucks.

TrailBuddy makes affordable adjustable trekking poles. This are perhaps the most optional item on this list, but can really help if you are going to challenge some truly rough paths.

What is it?

Trekking Poles

Why You Need it

To help you navigate truly difficult terrain. Recommended to rucker that want to challenge them self on hard trails.

How to Use it

Pointed end goes in the ground. Use them to help maintain footing and navigate steep inclines and declines.

Wrapping Up

We hope this article was informative and helpful. If there is a piece of gear you use or a recommendation you may have them please comment below!

One last thing! I almost forgot to mention Dry Bags. Store your valuables and extra clothing in dry bags in case you get soaked. This is especially helpful during GORUCK events. You can count on getting wet there.

I should probably mention a Pelican Case for your cell phone. You do not want to be stuck outdoors with no cell phone in case of emergencies. Always put your phone in a protective case of some sort.

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