Here we are going to explain a cheap, but complete basic rucking gear setup for a beginner.
This would be a great setup for a GORUCK Light event, but would work for a Heavy or a Tough as well.
This is a no-frills load out – no unnecessary bells and whistles, and using the most cost efficient gear possible.
At the same time, this is a high quality setup – this is proven gear that will last for months or years.
Get started with rucking on the cheap – you can always upgrade gear later.
Here’s our recommendations. Read on for the full reasoning behind each choice.
Looking for a rucking alternative to expensive GORUCK gear? Check out these items – and save tons of money.
Cheap Beginner Rucksack
GORUCK makes some great gear for rucking – but it is also very expensive.
For a beginner we think the Rush12 Backpack (Buy on Amazon) from 5.11 tactical is a better choice.
Why lay out a lot of cash when you can get something else for 1/4th of the cost?
Why do we think the Rush12 is so great?
It’s the right size – this is a 12 hour pack – not too big, not too small. It has 24 Liters of capacity.
It has nice, padded shoulder straps – which help distribute the heavy load.
And lastly it includes a sternum strap – we consider this a required rucking accessory.
The sternum strap let’s you vary the load over your upper body – and it is very nice to have that option on the ruck march.
Cheap, but good. That’s how we summarize the Rush12.
The only thing missing is a waist belt or hip belt.
A hip belt can do two things – it helps take some of the load off the upper body, but it also helps ensure the backpack stays in place while doing vigorous PT, or when the backpack goes inverted (such as in bear crawls).
See the buckles at the bottom of the should straps?
Those are belt attachment points.
They will work perfect with the Fire Force Backpack Waist Belt Universal (Buy on Amazon).
You could also loop a web belt, tactical belt,or connect to a battle belt to perform much the same function.
The 5.11 Double Duty Belt (Buy on Amazon) will work for that purpose.
Want to keep searching for a cheap rucksack? We have more thoughts here: budget rucksacks.
Ruck Plates for Ruck Weight
Secondly, we’ll need the required weight for our ruck march.
Here again, GORUCK makes some nice gear – but it is very expensive.
Yes4All makes cast iron ruck plates (Buy on Amazon) makes 10 lb, 20 lb, 30 lb, and 45 lb weights, but in a lower quality, made overseas version.
Titan Fitness also makes ruck weights (Buy on Amazon) which are the same thing.
These come in a variety of sizes, but most commonly used are the 20lb and 30lb variety.
Either of these will fit in the Rush12 backpack we recommended earlier.
You can also throw some bricks into the backpack.
But, these purpose designed ruck weights will get you to the required weight while taking a minimum of space.
Hydration Bladder – Drink on the Go
You are going to get thirsty – and you are going to want to drink.
But it’s better to not have to drop your pack to do it.
Doffing and donning a fully loaded pack gets tiresome quickly.
It is better to simply have the hydration bladder in the backpack, and route the drinking tube outside.
We recommend the Source Tactical Gear 3L Widepac Low Profile Hydration Reservoir (Buy on Amazon) as a great option.
3L is a good size, without taking up too much space.
Add a high quality Bite Valve (Buy on Amazon) to ensure there are no leaks and no wasted water – or wet clothing.
The bite valve lets you simply bite down to drink.
Carabiners are all around useful.
These help you mount all sorts of items to your rucksack or elsewhere.
But perhaps most importantly you can use these to help secure the hydration bladder in your backpack.
We’d recommend the Nite Ize S-Biner (Buy on Amazon) as a simple and affordable option.
It’s not a load bearing carabiner, but it will work fine for securing the hydration bladder, attaching various items to your pack, or for linking together rucksacks – as is occasionally required at a ruck event.
Additionally these ITW Web Dominators (Buy on Amazon) can be used to keep everything neat and tidy – like securing loose straps or helping keep the hydration tube in place.
Please note that you can also use those S-Biners shown above to manage the hydration tube.
But there are a lot of other things you can do with the Web Dominators – and they are pretty cheap.
Safety Reflective Bands
It is just common sense – you should have some reflective bands mounted on your pack.
These Jogalite Reflective Bands (Buy on Amazon) will get the job done.
Simply loop them through the MOLLE webbing on the back of the Rush12 backpack.
These reflect White, and two bands are included.
These reflect yellow (Buy on Amazon), and also come in a 2 pack.
Rucking Boots or Shoes?
What about footwear?
We don’t recommend you run out and buy shoes or boots just for a GORUCK light.
Wear shoes or boots that you can walk in for 7-10 miles with comfort.
Don’t attempt to break in brand new shoes or boots on a ruck event – that is a recipe for disaster.
In short, wear shoes or boots you already have – that are well broken in.
If you want to deep dive into what makes a good pair of ruck boots, read our article: Best Boots for Rucking.
A simple first aid kit for rucking will help you deal with any blisters – which is the most common form of injury during a ruck march.
Temperature and Weather
Here’s another important consideration – you are going to be out in the elements for several hours.
If it’s going to be hot and sunny – be sure to pack sunscreen, hat, glasses, and possibly a long sleeve shirt.
Cold weather rucking is a whole topic – see our cold weather rucking tips.
Basic Rucking Gear – In Summary
In summary – a ruck event (and ruck training) doesn’t have to break the bank.
A good backpack in the mid-20L range with a sternum strap is a good start.
Add weight, and a hydration bladder and you’ve got nearly everything you need.
Want to see more affordable rucksack options? Check out our best budget rucksacks for ruck events.
Or maybe you’ve done your first few events and you are hooked?
In that case check out the most expensive rucksacks.
Last update on 2021-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API