best rucking backpacks on podium

What the Ruck? These Are the Best Rucking Backpacks You Can Buy

From GORUCK to military-issued packs from the ’70s, we’ve got you covered.

When you think of exercises that’ll build up your functional strength, boost your cardio, strengthen your bones, melt calories, and help you live longer, what comes to mind? Probably not rucking

Rucking, or walking while carrying weight across distance, is as simple and accessible a workout as it gets—it could be as simple as loading a backpack full of heavy things and going for a walk. It’s loved by longevity nerds like Andrew Huberman, Peter Attia, and more. But in the name of comfort and consumerism, there are of course more refined ways of getting into it. In the world of walking around with heavy stuff on your back, comfort looks like a very well-made backpack, appropriately called a rucking backpack. Here’s what you need to know about rucking and, more importantly, which rucking backpacks are actually worth the money.

Our top picks
ALICE Military Rucksack
Kelty Tactical Redwing Backpack
5.11 Tactical Rush 72
Mystery Ranch Blitz 30L 

The Best Rucking Backpacks for the Money

What to Look for in a Rucking Backpack

Durable materials

If you’re rucking right, you’re going to be beating this backpack up a lot. For that purpose, you’ll want to make sure the bag you splurge for is made with some kind of heavy-duty material to reduce the risk of gear failure while out and about. Most quality rucking backpacks are made with some blend of Cordura or resilient nylon, which is a good place to start. Also consider looking into what sort of zippers the bag is fitted with, as they are the only thing ensuring the added weight you’re carrying doesn’t fall out of the bag. Generally, if you see a name brand like YKK zippers, you’re in the clear. 

Perfect fits

If possible, it’s absolutely recommended to try on a rucking backpack before buying. These bags are generally quite expensive, and buying one that doesn’t fit your frame can be more than an inconvenience. Misstepping with an extra 50 pounds on your back, especially if you’re trail rucking, can end badly. Trying the bag before buying saves you money, headaches, and potential injuries. 

Water bladder

This one’s simple: rucking is hard work, and having quick and easy access to water should be a non-negotiable feature. If the bag doesn’t come with a built-in reservoir and fits you perfectly, buy one that slides in the bag and make it work. Dehydration is serious, and rucking is exactly the kind of lengthy workout that can lull you into a false sense of ease. 

Storage matters

Yes, a rucking backpack needs a spacious compartment to carry whatever means by which you plan to weigh yourself down (sand, water bottles, or plates designed for rucking are all popular). But you also need space for other essentials fit to where you’re doing your rucking. If you’re hiking, you’ll want a simple first aid kit, bug spray, and plenty of snacks, for example. If your rucking bag doubles as a carry-on, make sure it has a well-padded laptop sleeve. Consider the context in which you’ll use the bag, and pick a bag with those needs in mind.