Ruck 101 – Join Us, or Go Ruck Yourself
The purpose of this outline is to provide guidance on Rucking – what is it, how to get started, recommended gear, and some tips and tricks the Houston Pax have learned along the way. Like most things F3, the best way to learn more about it is to post yourself, and Ruck with your fellow Pax; however, read on to get you going. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, then ask it on Band and someone should have a good answer. If you think of something that should be included here for others, Contact Us and we’ll update this page for others going forward!
Now, let’s start from the very beginning – always the best place to start… WTF is Rucking?!??
RUCK•ING [VERB] – carrying a weighted pack on your back.
It implies action, energy, and purpose.
Rucking is the foundation of Special Forces training. Green Berets are well versed in shouldering heavy rucks through cities, mountains, jungles and deserts, in war and in peace — alone when they must, together whenever possible. Rucking requires strength, endurance, and character — and builds it, too. Click here for some videos from the good folks at GoRuck, and here is a great link for a Glossary of Rucking terms.
Note: Hiking is rucking in the mountains, urban hiking is simply called rucking. Rucking can be done at any weight.
I’M IN – YOU HAD ME AT PURPOSE, NOW WHAT?
You just need two things to get started: a Ruck (your old backpack will work) and something heavy. If you’re going any significant distance – remember water as well! Typically, in a bladder/camelbak, but water/nalgene bottles work great too. That’s all you need!
** For more advanced gear needs, check out our Gear Checklist further down.
You will want to start with approx. 20 lbs (or less, no need to overdo it): plates from a weight-room work well to start, or you can tape four bricks together (approx. 5 lbs each, so for 30 lbs go with six bricks). Pro-tip: click here for tips on how to tape ’em together. Extra Pro-tip: Always make the weight stable inside your ruck & cinch your ruck all the way as high on your back as it goes!
You can start around the house, then around the block/neighborhood. Word around the campfire is that Duggar mows his yard with a Ruck. We always recommend going with someone and making it a social occasion – with your fellow Pax, or on a walk with your M and/or 2.0s. You will want to shoot for 16-18 minute/miles, but the point is to keep moving so move at your own pace.
For beginners, don’t overdo the weight. Get used to your ruck with 20 lbs – increasing as you get comfortable to 30+ lbs. It’s just like wearing a backpack, but your back, shoulders, hips, and feet will feel it as the weight increases. Remember to care for your feet! Stretch appropriately and wear comfortable shoes.
Spend time under weight! Get distance on your feet and hours under load. This is the only way to get used to carrying your loaded ruck. Extreme distance isn’t necessary to train for any single event – just like a marathon, work up in distance as you are capable/comfortable. For a 15-20 mile GoRuck Tough, as an example, do a number of 7-10 mile training rucks – these will take 3-4 hours.
Train heavy! Once comfortable and able, train with more weight than required during a GoRuck event (e.g., if a GoRuck Tough requires you to carry 30 lbs, train with 50 lbs or more). This will ensure that you have no issues during the event itself with a fully packed ruck (weight, water, plus other gear add up), and it will make the required weight feel more natural and painless.
Train with Coupons! A typical GoRuck event will have partners/teams (2+) carrying logs, telephone poles or similarly gruesome objects. Training with similar items will help you learn how to lift and set them down without hurting yourself, and how to most “comfortably” carry them. Fireman carries are also a useful training exercise to learn the proper method of carrying a partner (i.e., a casualty). Pro-tip: click here for proper fireman carry form technique.
Physical training is also a part of a typical GoRuck event. Spend time working out with squats, lunges, overhead presses, arm curls, push-ups, bear crawls, getups, etc., all with your ruck! Pro-tip: click here for sample exercises, then go do them!
Required (for GoRuck-type events):
** F3 gets a discount for all GoRuck gear.
Reach out to OBT directly for the discount code **
- 30# weight
- Water bladder and hose with covered nozzle and hose retainer (fill with plain water)
- Water bottle / Nalgene bottle (filled with electrolyte drink)
- Reflective tape for ruck ($15 sample on GoRuck)
- Headlamp + extra batteries
- Shoes (running shoes are perfectly fine – important that they are comfortable and drain water quickly)
- Windbreaker (required if temps below 50 degrees)
- $20 cash
- Photo ID
- 25+ lbs team-weight (sandbag, water jug, cooler, rock, filled bucket, etc.)
- Flag (American, TX, F3) and pole (or F3 shovel flag)
Strongly recommended, but not required (for GoRuck-type events):
- Gloves ($12 sample on Amazon)
- Chest strap ($11 GoRuck sample)
- Padded hip belt ($45 GoRuck sample)
- Hard case for valuables/phone (Pelican, etc. – $15 sample on Amazon)
- Drysack (for socks, shirt, etc. to stay dry)
- Pick up a dry bag at any Academy or other outdoor/sporting goods store
- GoRuck drysack sample ($15)
- Badass patches for your ruck (you’ll earn one for the event, always good to trade with others)
BLISTER PREVENTION TIPS
Blisters are caused by friction and moisture – best prevention is good shoes, good socks and keeping your feet dry. Wear good shoes and good socks! Consider sizing up 1/2 size bigger shoes (or even full size up). Before putting socks on, apply Moleskin as needed, then Body Glide and/or Trail Toes.
- Mole Skin
- Apply to areas of toes/feet prone to blisters or hot spots
- Body Glide
- Apply over entire foot to minimize friction
- Trail Toes
- Like Vaseline, apply liberally over feet (can apply over top of Body Glide) to minimize friction and moisture – it feels weird, but it works – then put your socks on
- Good socks
- Good shoes
- Recommend something comfortable with good support
- Don’t need hiking boots, running shoes are perfectly fine for most events
- Expect to get wet, so shoes that drain quickly are ideal
- Consider 1/2 size to full size bigger (especially if facing hills!)
- Pro-tip: size up & trim your nails – the heavier your load, the more important to size it up