With questions about the Feb. 16 F3 GORUCK Challenge flooding AP’s in-box from the more than 70 (!) pax who have HCed, we decided it was time to drop a little veteran knowledge on the FNGs. So I convened a Gear Guy Panel of veterans of last summer’s GRC (Your Humble Correspondent, Swamp Fox and Durango, who has signed up for the February GRC as well) to answer the FAQs we’re getting from the Nation. Our discussion, conducted around an email round-table, is below; keep an eye out also for a full Gear Guy post from Durango on the virtues of the GR1, coming soon to this space.
We will also be holding a special GORUCK Gear Night on Wednesday, January 16th, at 6 p.m. with our friends from Great Outdoor Provision Co. at Park Road Shopping Center in Charlotte. The gear experts from the store will talk through clothing options, pack setup ideas and answer your questions; there will be an HDHH component to follow.
Q: I know I need a backpack, but should I shell out almost $300 for this GR1? Is it worth it? Can I do the GRC with my Jansport? What about my daughter’s Dora the Explorer backpack?
OBT: Any backpack that will survive the night works. There is no requirement to use a GORUCK pack, but you do want something sturdy enough to withstand the abuse you’re going to give it. Yes, the GR packs are expensive, but you’ll also get a lifetime of use out of them and they are sweet-a$$ pieces of gear.
SF: Can you survive in a Jansport, maybe, but not recommended. No reason to experience this without a GR pack and the Cadres will offer their thoughts too if you do not have one.
D: The rucks are expensive, but they represent the rare piece of equipment that will literally last a lifetime. With the GORUCK “Scars” guarantee (to repair damage) and military-grade materials, their products are some of highest quality on the market. I bought a second pack (Radio Ruck) for this challenge to add some variety. Jason (the GORUCK founder) posted recently on the GORUCK site about the price vs. quality trade-off: http://bit.ly/Xk2U37 Also, my dad (MSGT, USMC Ret.) said it’s one of the best pieces of gear he’d ever seen, and he still wears his combat boots for his last year of active duty (1985) to do yard work.
Q: What kind of bricks should I use?
All: No patio pavers (they’re denser and heavier than construction bricks). Normal (modular 3-5/8″x7-5/8×2-1/16″), three-hole construction bricks are lightest and work best.
Q: How should I prepare my bricks?
OBT: Wrap them in duct tape or Gorilla Tape, then in a layer of bubble wrap, then into two stacks of three was how I did it. Get your inner-pack MOLLE strapping system at Great Outdoor Provisions to cinch them in tight inside the pack and hold them up high on your back. Or you can take the Dredd approach and wrap six bricks in a towel and throw it all in your ruck 5 minutes before it starts and get tagged for speeding by the CMPD on the way to the launch point.
SF: That was a great moment when Dredd showcased the brick/towel combo in front of the Cadre. I think I went through an entire roll of Gorilla tape and cling wrap (covered on my GORUCK black card)… Keep those bricks dry.
D: Here is a post on wrapping bricks from GORUCK: http://bit.ly/Xk40Mq. My method for wrapping was not ideal, I wrapped each individually in duct tape and bubble wrap and immediately got dinged by the Cadre. I thought The Colonel’s method of using drawer liner was pretty good. I had to scrub glue from the duct tape out of my ruck after the event because it rubbed off on the inside which wasn’t great. This time, I’m definitely bringing a waterproof bag to put everything but my Yitzhak (see below) in — bricks do absorb water. My bricks sat in the bottom of my ruck the whole time.
Q: Should I bring water?
OBT: Yes. Many bladder options (Camelbak, Platypus, etc.), but OBT hearts the Source-made Yitzhak. Slides right into the back pocket of the GR1 and the tube and nozzle fit through a slit in the top of the pack and come down over your shoulder. Add the clip-on magnet, which clips to the MOLLE on either of your pack straps and keeps the tube in place.
SF: Israeli-army issued Source is key. If nothing else, the delivery package to your home with the Israeli return address is pretty cool. Be sure to order the Dirt Shield. I added Infinit Repair mix to my Source bladder – anything helps. (OBT filled his with Infinit’s Go Long mix, but same idea.) Freeze the day of to keep your water cold – but, since this is February, maybe some hot green tea..?.. ;-)
D: Yitzhak is the truth. I am planning on dropping mine in a bag / sleeve and putting those hand warmer packs in with it. The water will absolutely freeze if you don’t keep it warm. You may want to note to stick your drinking tube up in your hat / headlamp strap when entering the water. Also, I found putting the bladder in the pocket didn’t work for me because it made the pack off balance.
Q: Should I wear gloves? What kind?
OBT: Yes, wear gloves. I wore a pair of regular Mechanix glove that I also use for household and yard work.
SF: Yes, I have a pair of Blackhawk Hardware-issued IronClads, perfect for me.
D: I picked up a pair of Mechanix Covert gloves (used by SF in field). They now make vented (for hot weather) and non-vented. Run about $25. Excellent dexterity, didn’t take them off the whole time. If you can’t find them local you can order them with your pack (now sold on GORUCK site).
Q: How should I train with the bricks?
OBT: I personally built from carrying 2 in my pack to 6 over the course of about 4 weeks before the GRC. We did some Sweet Sixes under ruck in the month before the event, but in retrospect that was probably a mistake — you don’t want to get carried away with the amount of running you do under ruck because a) it messes with your form and risks injury and b) you’re never going to move at more than a slight trot during the actual GRC. Much more important is training in a group, getting used to handling heavy object (giant logs, etc.) as a group, and strengthening your hands, back, shoulders, trapezius, etc., for long periods of holding awkward objects like boulders, telephone poles, heavy ammo cases with wire handles, etc., often overhead.
SF: Best training was the one we took up Crowder’s Mtn with the coupons (rucks, kettlebells and rocks), no need to drag your ruck through regular F3 workouts.
D: Agree with Swamp, Crowder’s with the kettlebell was brutal and very good training. Also think you should just start wearing a weight vest to workouts, ruck is superfluous I’m happy to help arrange Sunday GORUCK training sessions based on what they’ll actually be doing. I need to practice my bear crawls anyway…
Q: Who do I train with?
OBT: Several regions have GORUCK-specific workout schedules planned between now and 2/16. In Metro, word is that Cotswold (Junkyard) and Downtown (Jungle) are alternating Saturdays as GORUCK training sites (contact Blue and Uncle for the current schedule or watch for preblasts).
In Isotope-Land, they’re doing GORUCK Murph Mondays at GCC at 0530 and will be cranking up Saturday GORUCK workouts (1-2 hours in length) at either Davidson, Bailey Road Park, Richard Berry Park or Highlands. Watch for an announcement.
And here’s the Area51 update from Joker:
· Devils Turn – our McAlpine Greenway tempo run that launches from the gravel lot near Charlotte Christian each Thursday morning – will be running this month and next with rucks and coupons. 5:15AM launch for 6 mile run; 5:30AM launch for 4 mile run.
· Skunk Works – our Tuesday workout at Covenant Day High School – will have GORUCK training, but Tiger Rag hasn’t decided on specifics. It won’t be every week, but periodically worked into the rotation. The campus has at least two telephone poles that will likely be in the mix.
· Tiger Rag is also toying with the idea of doing a ruck simulation session that would go from midnight one Friday night to 7am Saturday, ending at a standard workout location, and doing the last hour at that site. Or he might do a Sunday evening to Monday morning session on MLK weekend.
Q: Should I get a chest strap?
OBT: I didn’t find it necessary with the GR1, which rides naturally high on your back. Others may have different thoughts, though, and other packs may have a different experience. Available at Great Outdoor if you decide you want one.
SF: I prefer the chest strap, as I am lean and have never been accused of a sturdy undercarriage… After 12+ hours, it came into play.
Q: What shoes should I wear?
OBT: I would not go full minimalist (toe shoes or Merrell Trail Gloves) for this. You’re going to be in all sorts of terrain and you want some cushion for that many hours under ruck. I’m a big fan of the Saucony Peregrine trail shoes; they’re low heel-to-toe drop but have great tread and traction and enough cushioning.
SF: Peregrine trails are great (wore these in the Beast), but wore Brooks Pure Connects for GoRuck and they were great.
D: I may wear combat boots this time due to the cold. You don’t really do a lot of running and blisters were not a problem for me (or anyone else I think). I’ve been breaking in a pair of Bates Lites USMC DuraShocks.
Q: What socks?
OBT: Something well-cushioned and in a performance fabric. Smartwool is great (also available at Great Outdoor). Bring at least one extra pair to change into during the event — and bring ultra-waterproof bags to seal them and any food you bring in (like these Aloksaks).
SF: Smartwool socks were great – Aloksaks were crucial, I split things up and the food in ziplock bags got destroyed.
D: I rocked the SmartWool and the Aloksaks. I ziplocked some Gatorade powered and it got destroyed. Also, Gatorade powder clogs most Camelbaks, etc.
Q: Change of clothes?
OBT: Yes, socks and shirt.
SF: Socks and shirt only for me.
D: Ended up not changing at all, too tired to move during our rest periods. Didn’t blister or chafe anywhere.
OBT: Yes. Gummies and Stinger waffles were big hits during the June GRC.
D: Don’t bring too much, just adds weight. I ate 2 GU packets and that was it. Will probably switch these out for OBTs Stingers because those GUs taste like hot garbage.
Q: I see you’re required to have a headlamp.
OBT: If you don’t frequently workout in the dark or do a lot of trail-running, you may want to borrow one from someone. I own a BlackDiamond Sprinter I’m happy to lend out.
D: Cheapo Black Diamond for me, really didn’t use it that much.
Q: What else should I pack?
OBT: If you think you might be in need of moral support, you should bring your Personal Care Bear. Dredd brought his, Dakota Hugz, along on our GRC and Dakota spread a lot of luv among the pax that night.
SF: Advil. Add plenty of Non-chafing and Vaseline to feet, thighs, back and shoulders. To be honest, I got everything OBT recommended pre-June GORUCK (in this post) and was not disappointed.
Q: You guys hit the GRC on a day of record heat in Charlotte, but Sweeper Boy keeps saying it’s going to be 9 degrees for the February GRC. How do I prepare for that?
D: It will be cold. We don’t start ’til 10pm and its the middle of February. You want to be as water-repellent as possible and have your skin fully covered since you will be on your face/back for the first 3 hours or so. Also, I imagine there will be water involved regardless of how cold it is. I saw pictures from a January Challenge in NYC and the pax were in the sand, facing shore doing flutter kicks fully submerged. I will probably buy some nylon ripstop cammies like these — http://bit.ly/Xk6GcO — and wear my Skins compression leggings underneath. Probably rock the UA F3 longsleeve with the butterman overtop. You are required to bring a jacket of some kind if the temp goes below 50 degrees (obviously will be). GR TAC hat is a must.
Q: When do I get my F3 patch?
OBT: The day of the GRC — and not a moment sooner. Those are for guys who make it to the start line. You’ll get your GORUCK Tough patch at the finish.