When it comes to deciding the best gear for rucking, they say it has to be GORUCK. Even if they did cement themselves as firm leaders for rucking equipment, one can’t help but gasp at those heavy price tags. Starting from a minimum of at least $300, these seemingly simple-looking ‘Rucksacks’ are known for their durability due to their ability to bear heavy weights. And also being super comfortable while doing it.
In this article, we will be discussing some of the cheaper GORUCK alternatives with the help of Reddit. We will discuss their pros, their cons, and what makes them so special. Also, we will only feature backpacks that are under $200. And all the backpacks that we feature stand up to GORUCK in terms of quality. And with Reddit, we will show you authentic reviews of the backpacks that we discuss so that it helps you choose a backpack that you really want. We don’t want any of those marketing bluffs from cheap knock-offs. Authentic reviews and Good products only.
How to choose the Best GORUCK Alternative
A good GORUCK backpack, like any high-quality backpack, is designed with a focus on durability, functionality, comfort, and versatility. Often featuring minimalist and sleek designs, they often have MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) webbing, which allows you to attach additional pouches, accessories, or gear to the exterior of the backpack for customization. They are made from high-quality materials like Cordura nylon, which is known for its strength and resistance to abrasion. Coupled with reinforced stitching and sturdy zippers, GORUCK ensures long-term durability with all of its products.
Now that you understand what typically makes a GORUCK stand out from other backpacks. To choose the best GORUCK alternative, you need to start off by doing a little bit of self-assessment as well. You need to figure out what is it that you want to make the most of, out of a backpack.
Is it comfort?
Or the capacity to carry heavy loads?
Is it the price?
Or do you want to own a good backpack from a reputable brand? Something that will get you bragging rights over your companions?
It’s important to ask these questions before you go about looking for a backpack. However, we always choose functionality over aesthetics. The backpacks that we feature on this site, we ensure that they are functional and you can make the most out of them during your rucking adventures.
To find a good GORUCK alternative
The size of the backpack you choose depends on the duration and purpose of your rucking. For shorter rucks or training sessions, a smaller capacity (20-30 liters) may suffice. For longer events or carrying heavier loads, opt for a larger capacity (40 liters or more) to accommodate the necessary gear and supplies.
2. Comfort Level
Comfort is paramount when rucking, as you’ll likely be carrying a significant amount of weight. Look for a backpack with padded shoulder straps, a cushioned back panel, and a hip belt. These features distribute the load evenly and reduce pressure on your shoulders and back.
Since rucking involves a fair amount of wear and tear, choose a backpack made of robust, high-quality materials like nylon or Cordura. Reinforced stitching and sturdy zippers are also essential to ensure your rucking pack can withstand the rigors of rucking.
4. Weight Distribution
Often overlooked by many, proper weight distribution is crucial for stability and comfort. Make sure the backpack you choose has multiple compartments and pockets to help you organize your gear and distribute weight evenly. A hydration reservoir sleeve is a handy feature to have for staying hydrated on long rucks.
Look for a backpack with adjustable straps and harnesses. These allow you to fine-tune the fit according to your body size and shape, ensuring a snug and comfortable fit.
Rucking can be physically demanding, causing you to sweat. A backpack with proper ventilation in the back panel can help keep you cool and prevent excessive sweating, which can lead to discomfort and chafing.
7. Frame Type
There are two main types of backpack frames: internal and external. Internal frames are more common for rucking, as they offer a sleeker profile and better weight distribution. However, some external frame packs may still be suitable for specific rucking needs.
Consider your budget when choosing a backpack. While investing in a high-quality pack is advisable for regular rucking, there are options available at various price points. Be sure to balance your budget with the features and durability you need.
9. Try Before You Buy
Whenever possible, try on the backpack and wear it with weight to assess its comfort and fit. Some specialty stores may even offer fitting sessions to help you find the perfect pack for your body type and rucking needs.
Here’s how Redditor Jizzus_Crust puts it:
‘So far the only good backpack experiences have been had with the more tactical looking bags, but keep in mind to only shop brands that use high quality materials like cordura and high quality hardware like duraflex buckles and ykk zippers.
Most no name tactical backs just use cheap polyester and hardware.
Take a look at brands such as First Tactical (their Specialist backpacks are pretty good for the money) and 5.11.
You can often find their bags on ebay for fairly cheap and since they’re made of such tough material, they’ll still be in great condition even if well-used.’
You read more on choosing the best backpack and getting started on rucking over here.
GORUCK ALTERNATIVE UNDER $100
The bags featured here are not the best of quality. Unline GORUCK, they do not use the best of materials available like the Cordura or YKK Zippers. They are very similar to local store-bought brands and are often made in China. Hence the drop in quality. But one thing certain about them is that they will absolutely get the job done. No Questions asked.
1. REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack Large
What Redditors have to say about it
‘It’s Chinese. I have one of theirs, and it’s not too bad, lasted me a year so far with daily use, but the threads are loosening up in places. But given I paid only like $25 for it, I wasn’t expecting top quality either.
It’d be okay for weekend warrior stuff. But not if you are into serious ****.’ – u/kschang
‘Over two years with this one. 40# – 60# load depending on the terrain. Aside from the salt stains from sweat, it looks good as new. Waist belt. $41 on Amazon.‘ – u/gadgetb0y
The REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack is designed to meet the demands of the most rugged and challenging environments. With its impressive features and rugged construction, it has become a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts, survivalists, and military personnel. Listed as the #1 Best Seller on Amazon, it has over 20,000 reviews with an average of 4.7 rating out of 5, making it one of the most popular GORUCK Alternative under $50.
Size and Capacity: Measuring approximately 13″ by 20″ by 11″ (33 x 50.5 x 28 cm) and boasting a generous 40L capacity, this tactical backpack provides ample space for all your essentials. If 40L is too much for you, you can go for a smaller size which has around 34L capacity.
Durable and Water-Resistant: Crafted from high-density fabric, this backpack is not only built to withstand the toughest conditions but is also water-resistant, ensuring your gear stays dry even in wet environments. You can trust it to keep your equipment safe and secure, regardless of the weather.
Molle System: The REEBOW GEAR Tactical Backpack features a Molle webbing system throughout, allowing you to attach additional tactical pouches or gear as needed. This adaptability is perfect for customizing your loadout to suit your specific mission or adventure.
Heavy-Duty Zippers: This backpack is equipped with double-stitched, heavy-duty zippers and utility-style cord pulls, ensuring that your gear stays securely stored and easily accessible.
Comfortable and Breathable: Even during long treks or missions, comfort is paramount. The backpack includes a ventilated mesh padded back area and shoulder straps, providing excellent breathability and comfort. Say goodbye to sweaty, uncomfortable hikes.
2. LHI Military Tactical Backpack 45L
What Redditors have to say about it
‘Current backpack: LHI Military Tactical Backpack… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09WR4F3WK?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share
100% recommend. It’s just like the other tactical backpacks, like Wolfpak and Built for Athletes, but only $50. I got the “Blue” one, 45L with the drink pockets. They have a couple other colors with drink pockets. I just got this one, but I had a similar one in black before (linked below as well) that lasted me ages, despite me straight up just throwing it around. I fit a ton of stuff in it, with space to spare. Every once in a while I’ll have it at max capac, but that’s with all my usual stuff plus extra outfits, food, etc’ – u/bck_2017
‘LHI tactical backpack 45L. I wasn’t expecting much for $45CAD but it has turned out to be a really well made bag for the money. I needed something to fit my EDC pouch plus lunch, thermos, water, clipboard and all the other stuff I need for forestry work. Also, it has molle everyyywhere, Quite happy with this. I trashed the pvc flag patch it came with and used an embroidered one I had.’ –u/camkos101
Another one of the most popular GORUCK alternatives under $50 is the LHI Military Tactical Backpack. An identical copy of the GORUCK GR1 in terms of functionality, the LHI Military Tactical boasts all kinds of compartments for you to load up the bag. It has over 4500 ratings on Amazon with an average of 4.5 rating out of 5.
Size and Capacity: The LHI Military Tactical Backpack is of approximately 12“ x 20“ x 12“, providing a generous capacity of 45 liters. This ample space ensures that you can carry all your essentials for various activities, be it fitness, travel, hiking, camping, or any other outdoor pursuit.
Durable and Water-Resistant: Constructed from 900D Oxford nylon fabric, this backpack is built to withstand the toughest conditions. It’s not only incredibly durable but also water-resistant, ensuring that your gear remains dry even in unpredictable weather.
Smart Design: The LHI Military Tactical Backpack is packed with design features that enhance its functionality. It features heavy-duty double-stitched zippers with utility-style cord pulls, ensuring that your belongings are secure. The side and front load compression system allows you to adjust the backpack’s volume as needed. Additionally, the ventilated mesh padded back area and shoulder straps make it exceptionally breathable and comfortable, even during extended wear.
MOLLE System: This tactical backpack is equipped with a MOLLE system, featuring numerous mount points on the outside. This system allows you to attach additional pouches, pockets, water bottle holders, and accessory kits, enhancing its adaptability and customization to suit your specific needs.
Multi-Compartment Organization: Inside, you’ll find multiple compartments and zippered pockets, including an interior zip pocket and mesh pocket. This organization allows you to neatly arrange and access your gear, making it ideal for outdoor activities and military enthusiasts. You can even load up ruck plates in the laptop compartment to make your rucking adventures even more challenging.
3. JupiterGear Military Tactical 25L Backpack
Here’s what Redditors have to say about this
‘I have one. I bought it because buying a GORUCK pack was not really an option because of price. I love it. Someday I’ll get a GR1 but for now it’s really a great pack.’ – u/323089
‘I have this bag and use it as my work backpack! I love it! I looked at it because the GR1 was out of my price range as well. It is a bit of a copy-cat, as everyone else said, which I don’t like, but it does feel like great quality and I’ve been using it for several months now and still absolutely love it.
Ways that it is different than the GR1:
– a sternum strap – this is a big one for me. I always prefer sternum straps on my backpacks. It saves my shoulders
– 4 rows of webbing on the outside instead of 3
– less abrasive material on the shoulder straps
– the molle on the inside of the back is also velcro, so I was able to just get a velcro pen holder thing and stick it on there, which I like. It also looks like there’s an extra row of molle on the inside compared to the GR1, which is helpful for my purposes
– the patch out the outside is about 1.5 times bigger. Which I like because I don’t want to use a military style patch. I have a fun big round patch I stuck on mine
I wish they had differentiated their design more so that it doesn’t just look like a GR1 knock-off. But the changes they did make I actually really like and works well for me. But also I know nothing about the company and can’t find any real information on them so that’s not great. Here’s their facebook page: [https://www.facebook.com/jupitertactical/](https://www.facebook.com/jupitertactical/) Rather sketchy but not evil? idk Maybe I’ll get a GR1 one day if it’s ever on sale. I do prefer supporting companies I know are legit. I got a used GORUCK GR2 35L for travel off eBay at half price and that’s been great. Buying a used GR1 would be a great way to save on cost if you don’t feel comfortable with the JupiterGear. Last I looked a lot of the GR1’s were still almost full price on eBay though, which defeats the purpose. And I doubt the goruck lifetime warrantee thing still applies if you buy it used?’ – u/karl3magne
JupiterGear Military Tactical 25L Backpack is one of the only reliable GORUCK alternatives that is available under $30. With almost the same features as the predecessors in this list, the JupiterGear tactical is slightly less durable and there have been reports of material tear. But for something that is $30, it’s completely worth it and serves the intended purpose.
MOLLE System: Equipped with a MOLLE System that is enables you to attach additional pouches, accessories and much more.
Adjustable Straps: The backpack is designed with adjustable shoulder straps that accommodate different body types comfortably. Whether you’re carrying it for a long hike or during a tactical operation, these straps ensure a secure fit without limiting your arm movement, ensuring maximum mobility.
Multiple Pockets: This backpack excels at organization. It features a spacious main compartment with a zip closure, ensuring your essentials are safe and easily accessible. Inside the main compartment, you’ll find two smaller pockets for further organization. Additionally, the multiple front storage zip-up compartments keep your gear neatly arranged. The lower front compartment includes loops for securing items and key retention to ensure you never misplace your keys.
Comfortable & Secure Fit: Carrying heavy loads can strain your shoulders, but the padded and adjustable shoulder straps in this backpack help distribute the weight effectively, reducing discomfort. For added stability and security, it also features an adjustable chest belt and hip belt clasp.
GORUCK Alternative under $200
The GORUCK Alternatives featured in this section are all below $200. They are of much higher quality than the preceding list and are made from tough durable materials like the Cordura Nylon and YKK Zippers. These backpacks aren’t the regular run-of-the-mill cheap knockoffs one would find in Walmart. Instead, these backpacks are from reputed brands that have established themselves in the outdoor gear space for quite some time and these brands even sell companion items like belt buckles, rucking shoes, and a lot more. Also, all of them are made in USA and provide a warranty for their products.
1. Spec Ops T.H.E. Every Day Carry Pack
Here’s what Redditor had to say about the customer service of Spec Ops
‘Took the plunge and purchased a Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack from Amazon last year. It hasn’t been “tested” in a meaningful way so I can’t comment on how battle ready it is. I’ve hiked with it a time or two, I carry it on flights (I LOVE how compactable it is with the cinch straps), and I take it to work everyday. Anyways, a couple weeks back I checked my Pack on a flight with Frontier Airlines because our suitcase was 2 lbs over-weight and would have cost an extra $75 (F*** frontier airlines #1). When I picked up my bag it looked as if it had been stuck in a conveyor belt and forcefully ripped out by a baggage handler. The left strap was badly torn and it had even damaged the padding inside (F*** Frontier Airlines #2). I spoke with their baggage office and they informed me that they don’t guarantee the integrity of the checked bag itself, just its contents so basically I’m shit out of luck (F*** Frontier Airlines #3). I decided to contact Spec Ops to see if they’d warranty the bag, despite the fact that this was my fault. After a couple emails Donna, customer service rep, asked me to mail it back to them for repair or replacement, free of charge. A few days later I received a brand new Pack in the mail.
Good on them!’ – u/STR2
While some users praised the customer service, one user loved it’s quality
‘I cannot recommend Spec-Ops Brand enough. I have both their Ultimate Assault Pack and their Every Day Carry pack and love them. The EDC one sounds like it would fit your needs quite well.
What sold me on them was that they were actually made in the USA. I’ve had both of them for a few months and have even traveled with them- they’re pretty bomb proof.’ – u/toastypanda13
This seemingly simple-looking backpack is one of the best GORUCK alternatives under $200 and it is packed with features. Spec Ops T.H.E Every Day pack may cost you around $159 to $189. However, the black variant is a little bit pricey and will cost you around $220. It’s still a lot cheaper than a GORUCK and guaranteed to last you for years to come.
Nylon Construction: The Spec Ops T.H.E. Every Day Carry Pack is constructed from super durable USA-made 1000D Cordura nylon, making it one of the toughest nylon fabrics available today.
High-Quality Zippers: Equipped with a YKK self-healing chain and zip closures, this pack ensures your belongings stay securely stowed away while offering smooth and reliable access to your gear. The reason why they are called self-healing is that it means that if the zipper (after being closed or zipped) were to come apart, you would simply have to unzip and rezip the bag and it would close (or self-heal).
Dual Exit Ports: The inclusion of dual exit ports is a thoughtful touch, providing compatibility for radio or hydration setups. This feature allows for efficient cable management and easy access to your equipment.
Comfortable MTX Shoulder Harness System: The one-piece MTX shoulder harness system is designed to be both comfortable and tough. It evenly distributes the weight of the pack, reducing strain on your shoulders and back. The up-dated modular chest strap further enhances the overall comfort and fit.
Drag Handle for Durability: The extra heavy-duty “Drag-Handle” stitched into the double-layer top panel is a testament to the pack’s durability. This feature ensures maximum longevity, even in the most demanding environments.
Battle Buckles Hardware: The use of patented USA-made “Battle buckles” hardware throughout the pack adds to its ruggedness.
2. Blackhawk 3 Day Assault Pack
Here’s what Reddit has to say
‘I’ve beaten my blackhawk bag to hell and back. Survived Afghanistan and 4 years with with infantry after that.
It was the only slick face bag I could find at the time. Used it with a camelback medbak as a low vis aid bag + sustainment just fine.
blackhawk 3 day assault pack’ – u/observationallurker
‘I would go with the Blackhawk, Assault back pack. If your familiar with the Army’s standard issue assault pack this is the equivalent. It is designed for 3- days of combat. This includes, attachment for sleeping bag, as well as hydration compartment. Plus its blackhawk great company if your not going budget and will last for years.’ – u/fishhuntandcamp
A great alternative to the GORUCK GR2, Blackhawk 3-Day Assault Pack is not only super durable but aesthetically pleasing as well. It is designed as an assault pack, making it an ideal choice for military personnel and outdoor enthusiasts who need a reliable and rugged backpack for their adventures. But like all assault packs, it does not have any pockets for you to organize your stuff.
Padded Shoulder Straps: The backpack features padded shoulder straps that provide comfort during long treks. These straps also come equipped with D-rings, allowing you to attach additional equipment or accessories.
Detachable Sternum Strap: It comes with a detachable, elasticized sternum strap that features a silent-release buckle. This feature enhances stability and ensures that the pack stays securely in place even during intense physical activity.
Durability: Constructed from 1000D Cordura Nylon, this backpack is built to withstand tough conditions. It boasts mil-spec heavy-duty plastic hardware, reinforced stress points, and a drag handle, ensuring its durability for years to come
Sleek Design: Unlike many tactical backpacks covered in MOLLE webbing, the Blackhawk 3-Day Assault Pack offers a sleek and low-profile appearance. This makes it an excellent choice for you if you prefer a more understated and less “tactical” look.
Capacity: With a size of 37 liters (approximately 2000 cubic inches), this backpack provides ample space for your gear and essentials, making it suitable for multi-day adventures.
Note: The Black variant of this backpack costs around $130. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative then you can go for the Coyote Tan variant which will cost you around $85.
3. Mystery Ranch Catalyst 26L Travel Backpack
Here’s what Reddit has to say
‘I have the Catalyst 26, and I love it. Coming from the Maxpedition Entity series, I wish the webbing was the seat belt typle webbing like on the Maxpedition. But other than that I love the bag. (The webbing is still nice. Im just spoiled)
The bag is lightweight, yet durable. I got the stone color, and it appears to not show stains. The water bottle pockets fit my Yeti Tumblers and my Nalgene while the bag is loaded. I dont use much of the interior organization, but its out of the way and there if I need it. There are no great spots for pens however.
The zippers are nice, and have broken in well. I love the tri zip design. The carry straps and back has a nice padded mesh. The top pocjet is fantastic and can fit a lot. Even with what I usually carry in there, I can toss my hostered S&W 637 or Sig P365 in there if I take it off and want to store it.
The backpack is structured with a ridged pannel, and it is flexible, yet it stands up by itself, which I love. The laptop compartment is fantastic with the carry handle behind the zipper. So i can hang my bag on the wall at work and still access all my gear in all compartments.
I assume that the 22 share many of these attributes except in a smaller package. I almost got the 22 and then looked at a video on the Mystery Ranch channel on YT (cant find the video for a link) and it didnt look much bigger side by side. Hope this helps.’ – u/civilenginerd_99
Known for making load-hauling backpacks, the Catalyst 26 is one of the most finest AND functional backpacks made by Mystery Ranch. An alternative to GORUCK GR1, it is highly durable thanks to its tough Cordura nylon and robust YKK zipper construction. Although not a clamshell backpack, the Catalyst 26 instead uses a unique 3-zip zipper design to give you customized access to the main compartment depending on how you open it.
Durability: The Mystery Ranch Catalyst 26L Travel Backpack is designed to withstand the elements while remaining environmentally conscious. Constructed from 500D recycled Cordura, it not only boasts exceptional toughness but also repurposes consumer waste materials, making it a sustainable choice if you are environmentally conscious.
Quick Access Pocket: The zippered lid pocket at the top of the Catalyst 26L offers a convenient storage solution for items like your smartphone, keys, or any other must-have items. No more rummaging through your stuff if you need something urgently.
Tech-Friendly Organization: It not only features a padded laptop pocket but also a front sleeve that provides secure storage for your tablet, notebooks, maps, or other documents. Two internal zippered pockets further enhance your ability to keep small but important items easily accessible and secure.
Last update on 2023-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API