We discussed rucking on episode 3 of the Iron and Lead Podcast very briefly, and since then I have had quite a few questions on rucking. While I have had the benefit of working with hundreds of military/LEO/big dudes for the last few years, I do think rucking can be an enjoyable (*gasp*) activity for nearly anyone who likes to get outside and get moving. Today, I aim to address a few common questions I get for people that are relatively new to rucking or just need a brush up on what to know.
Which rucksack is best for me?
As with everything, “it depends.” A few common packs and their benefits:
1.) Lightweight Daypacks: these are exactly what they sound like. Often made of nylon , these are packs that are very simple in layout and have a lightweight design with padded straps. They don’t commonly have a TON of padding and aren’t made for absolutely brutal conditions. They are great packs if you are headed out for a short duration ruck (less than 4 hours or so) and your packaway needs are simple things such as hydration, snacks, weather precautionaries (rain coat/extra socks/etc) and emergency kits. These also typically have a small compartment for things you may need quickly, such as car keys, a knife, or batteries. Keep in mind: if you overload these rucksacks and head out for a longer ruck than the bag is designed for, you run the risk of being hours from home with a broken ruck. This is true for all rucksacks, but especially true in nylon ruck sucks.
2.) Rucksacks: this is a common term for rucksacks that are made for longer or even multiday rucks. They are quite a bit ore sturdy than the daypack and can be loaded heavier, with a recommended maximum up to 120lbs. The straps are heavily padded as are the hip straps, which becomes increasingly important as the day wears on. These are typically adjustable to accommodate different torsos.
3.) Climbing Packs: I didn’t even think of these initially, but see Crossfit NBS coach Angie Foree with hers all the time and had to stop and consider it as a contender in the ruck pack gang. Climbing packs are extremely sturdy, as they are intended to be very secure while climbing all over rocks. They are a bit longer, which increases stability in most people and can pack quite literally everything you would need for a couple days of vigorous hiking and camping.
How do I put this thing on?
The first step would be to make sure you are packing your ruck appropriately. I tend to use the bottom of the ruck for items that I don’t need until the end of the day/at all OR flat items that can accommodate even allocation of weight on top of it. Towards the center of your pack, you will tightly put together things that need a little space. Get comfortable with the approximate weight of things that you are bringing along and play a little tetris. In a perfect world, you can evenly distribute weight and bulk in the middle of your pack. Lastly, to avoid having to dump out and rearrange your pack, leave small emergency or common items in side zippers or on the very top of the ruck sack.
Now positioning: this can be tricky. too high and your center of gravity shifts up and you run the risk of toppling over with any downhill momentum. Too low and you end up inhibiting proper hip mechanics for walking. Ideally, you want the waist belt secured tightly around the top of the hip bone. Once you have found the right position for your hip belt, you can then adjust the shoulder straps and tighten them down. You do not want to bind up the shoulder girdle so much that it creates an awkward tension relationship with the waist belt, but you also don’t want the straps falling off your shoulders either. Look for a happy medium there. After you have figured out the shoulder straps, lock in your waist belt and chest strap.
Next Month, we will discuss how to move with a ruck.