GoRuck GR1 (1-Year Review)

What’s up guys and welcome back to another gear review where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the Goruck GR1. If you’ve done a little research then I’m sure you already know the background behind this company and the backpack, so I won’t belabor you with all the details. This review will focus on both the pros and cons of this bag I’ve found in actual use, whether I think it’s worth the price, and who it’s for. 

At the time of this video, the MSRP on this bag is $345, but I wouldn’t put much thought to that. Goruck’s infrastructure is a mess and they’re constantly raising and lowering their prices. I’ve seen the US-made bag, which is this one, run as high as $400 and as low as $200 when they have  sales. 

OK, so let’s talk about the pros of this bag. First thing that comes to mind is just how robust its built. A good example here is the handle, I’ve never seen another bag with a handle this overbuilt. The thing has been cross-stitched and double stitched. Now I’m a college student, but I like to get outdoors and if I’m being honest, I abuse my stuff pretty badly. To give some perspective, I’m pretty sure I had a new bag every year of high school. That said, after one year of regular use, this bag has very little wear to show for it, and I can see it lasting me for several years to come. The one thing that has shown damage is the shrink wrap on the zipper pull. This is an easy fix, and if I had to guess why it split, it’s because I normally zip the bag while holding it up with only one of the zippers. 

Next thing I’m really fond of is the laptop compartment. I don’t carry notebooks anymore and pretty much all my work gets done on my Macbook or iPad. The laptop compartment on the GR1 is completely accessible from the outside of the bag, but it’s also set up so that you need to move the strap out of the way. This is ideal in that it makes stealing your laptop pretty much impossible. The other thing that sticks out to me here is the false-bottom. When you slap a bag with a traditional laptop compartment on the ground, some of that force is also transferred to the side of your laptop, which the false-bottom eliminates. 

The final thing that I like about this bag is how versatile it is. The design language is clean, and the bag itself is mostly devoid of logos. There’s two zippered compartments on the inside where I can keep my essentials, as well as a slot for documents or where I normally put my iPad. Then on the outside you have your slash pocket. Some people like their bags simple and other people like their bag with more features. The great thing about this bag is that you don’t have to choose because of the MOLLE attachment points. You can see that I’ve attached one their field pockets to the inside where I keep more stuff. There’s also MOLLE on the front and sides of the bag if you want to attach other stuff. 

Alright, so let’s talk about the not-so-good stuff. As I noted earlier, this bag is built to last. This is mostly due to the material being used, aka 1000 denier Cordura.  Cordura is heavy, and that’s probably one of the first things you’re going to notice about this bag. It weighs considerably more than your standard backpack at three pounds, which I personally like, but just be aware of this. Cordura is also very abrasive and it takes some wearing in. When I first got this bag, the shoulder straps were super stiff, but over the course of a year they’ve definitely broken in and conformed to my shoulders. Everything I’ve noted so far can be good or bad depending on what you’re looking for, so let’s talk about the stuff that’s just objectively bad. 

First is the outer slash pocket. This is intended to be a quick-access pocket, but it can get very, very difficult to access if you have the bag even moderately loaded out. I rarely have the bag fully packed, but this will definitely be a concern for most people. I don’t put any large items in here, and it’s mostly limited to my keys and headphones. They have an accessory called the Wire Dopp which is supposed to be stored in this pocket, but don’t think for a moment that this is going to solve the problem. 

Next thing I dislike about this bag are the MOLLE attachment points on the outside. Standalone they look fine, but when you actually attach stuff it looks pretty stupid. This is a big deal to me because the GR1 lacks a water bottle compartment. If you actually buy their water bottle pocket or use a third party one, it’s going to hang off the side awkwardly and it’s also going to be prone to catching on stuff. So yeah, the outer integration of accessories on the GR1 is pretty bad both from an aesthetic and functional standpoint. 

Ok, so going back to price – is this bag worth it? Well, yes and no. If you’re paying $400 for this bag like they were trying to sell it for at one point, you’re definitely overpaying. I think even $300 is a stretch. But if you can snag the GR1 during one of their sales, I do think anywhere from $200-$250 is a reasonable price point. I’d also recommend hitting the secondary market. Because of how tough these bags are built, there’s not much distinction between one that is one year old and several years old. 

Now some people will try to justify the price with GoRuck’s SCARS warranty which is basically where they’ll repair the bag for life, no matter how badly you abuse it. I can’t deny that this is a really stellar warranty, but it’s also important to remember that a warranty is only as good as the company that backs it. Recently, GoRuck has done a lot of restructuring and they’ve shifted some of their bag production overseas to Vietnam. While I understand it was the practical decision, to see them trash their previous statements of USA-made forever and basically their company ethos as a whole, is pretty disconcerting. I wouldn’t be surprised if SCARS is no more in several years. So yeah, the warranty of this bag is not a reason why you should be purchasing it, think of it as the icing on the cake. 

Let’s talk about who this bag is for. The GR1 has a reputation in the community for being the best EDC bag or everyday carry bag there is. And while I hate to burst a bubble, this most definitely is not the best EDC bag out there. There’s a lot of other, cheaper options that are much better suited for EDC. Granted, this bag is also very well-built and tough, but there are many bags that use the same material for less like the Recycled Firefighter 24 HOUR backpack. So I’d recommend buying this bag if 1) you like the aesthetic, 2) you carry a laptop on a regular basis to take advantage of the laptop compartment, and 3) you want something completely overbuilt. Make no mistake that there are many bags out there that will fulfill your needs for much less. 

You might also be wondering whether to go for the Vietnam made GR1 or the original USA made one. For this, I’d recommend sticking with the USA-made bag at least for now. While they’re supposed to be identical in quality, the fact is that the Vietnam ones haven’t been up to par with the USA made ones so far. And so if you’re already spending this much on a bag, you might as well go with the best they have to offer. 

Hopefully you guys have found this review informative.

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