The GORUCK GR1: a new backpack for my future everyday tech carry.

Paul Alvarez

GORUCK GR1 and my Everyday Tech Carry

Who knows when we will be able to go back into the office. When I was able to go to the office, at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, I started using the new gym that was offered by my employer. Since March, that gym has been desolate and the backpack I purchased to carry my gear to use for the gym feels the same.

I did a review on the Aer Fit Pack 2, and at the time it was the perfect bag for me. The minimalist design and the multifunctional ability of being a great tech bag and a gym bag was very appealing. Since I no longer need a bag at all, both functions are not in use, but now that I have started new workout routines, I feel even if I do get to go back to the gym at my office, I don’t know if I will.

So while everything is going on, sometimes it is nice to pretend as if normalcy is right around the corner, and is why I have been rethinking my backpack and what I plan to carry in it. This review is mostly about the new backpack I got and not about all the EDC, but it is important to mention some of it since it shows why the bag is suited so well for me needs.

One of the great things to come out of COVID-19 was me finding The Brooks Review newsletter by Ben Brooks. Not only do I appreciate his tech reviews, bug out bag ideas, and his hilarious dissections of productivity guru posts out there. One thing that he has mentioned over and over again is his love for the GORUCK GR1 backpack. Not only did he praise this bags highly as a main bag for everyday use but GORUCK also had a Labor Day sale which made the bags about $70 off.

So, after reading about Ben talking about the bags over and over and this being a rare opportunity to pick up a new one on sale, I jumped at the chance of getting one. Knowing quite well I have no plans on using it for a while. I do have some trips coming up for the holidays where this bag may come in handy but with COVID-19 still running a muck, who knows if even that will happen.

The GR1 is a very solid and rugged feeling bag. This makes sense since the company who makes them, GORUCK, created their bags to be a part of rucking events. What is rucking? Well based off GORUCK’s website:

RUCK•ING VERB // Walking with a weighted rucksack (aka backpack). It implies action, energy, and purpose. Rucking requires strength, endurance, and character — and builds it, too.

So, these bags were made specifically for rough use. Making it a perfect bag for anyone wanting something that will last for a really long time. Since carrying tech gear is all I really use a bag for, this bag should last me decades since I will nowhere near be rucking or be apart of any kind of intense activities while carrying this bag around. Gray GORUCK GR1 20L with a Reflective Reverse Flag patch.

I picked out the Urban Gray colored option and was delighted once I got the bag in person. The pictures online made the Urban Gray look a little lighter than I desired but didn’t want to get a black one. This worked out since the Urban Gray is actually a bit darker than it looks on GORUCK’s website, and in different lighting it actually looks even darker.

The color of the bag and my patch choice I feel was a perfect combo too. I didn’t love most of the patches that GORUCK sold on their website until I found the Reflective Reverse Flag patch. I thought it would perfect once I start riding my bike to work again too. Not only is this patch functional for me when I ride home as the sun begins to set, but the color goes so well with the Urban Gray backpack. I really am loving the aesthetics of this thing. up of the Reflective Reverse Flag patch.

The straps feel comfortable but also a bit solid. Every reviewer of this bag says the straps will get more soft and comfy over time. The zippers open and close like butter, and the way the front of the bag opens flat is a really nice touch. I don’t plan on using this bag as my luggage for traveling but with the feature of opening fully in the front is helpful if I did want to use this bag for a day trip and pack a couple of outfits.

The handle at the top feels strong and sturdy and the bag also offers MOLLE webbing on the front and inside the bag. This allows you to strap on different attachments onto the bag with no fearing of anything falling off. There are actually some MOLLE webbing on the straps too if you wanted to put some quick access items.

When I first read about the GR1 on The Brooks Review, I felt it was too hardy of a bag for me. I thought I needed a more minimal and simple type of tech bag to replace my Aer Fit 2. It wasn’t until I started looking at them in more detail did I realize that these bags are definitely made for anybody who wants a well-made bag that lasts you a very long time. A bag you can pick out, purchase, and know you have something for the long haul.

Now when it comes to the storage and the different compartments that the bag provides, I was also pleasantly surprised. One thing that I disliked about Tom Bihns bags, is that to make it fit your needs you had to buy additional attachments and add-ons. To carry a laptop you needed one of their cache’s, for better storage in larger pockets it was best you get a side effect, and which continues on for all their bags.

Tom Bihn does this too allow you to customize and add on to your bag to make it your own. I dislike this approach. My problem, which I think is shared with most bag lovers, is that it is diffulct to find a single bag that fits all my needs. This is why most people have multiple bags, each fitting a different needs of their’s making it easier than adding and removing attachments and compartments for a single bag.

The GORUCK GR1 I feel is the first bag that I don’t feel I need to move or change things around regardless of what task I have at hand. There is place for all the things I need to carry on a daily basis. Sure, this might change once I actually start carrying the bag with me every day but I honestly do feel like when I packed this bag to try out for this review, I wasn’t missing anything I needed to be all packed and ready to go.

When I tried out the GR1 by putting all of my gear in it, I was not only surprised by the amount of space there was but also how everything seemed to have a place. If I had to go back in the office tomorrow the above picture would be the majority of my everyday carry. I say a majority because I also have a Hydroflask water bottle and the other stuff I carry in my pockets (keys, wallet, iPhone, etc.). back pocket of the GORUCK GR1 with a iPad 9.7-inch and Moleskin Notebook.

My iPad 9.7-inch 6th Gen. and Moleskin notebook with a Sharpie Pen would go in the little pouch inside the bag. Though the elastic on this pocket is tight, these two items fit in this pocket easily. And because the elastic is tight, I don’t have to worry about the iPad coming out of the pocket, possibly getting banged up on its way out. inside front pockets with a MacBook Pro magsafe charger, Apple Pencil, and Twelve South Compass.

On the back of the front flap of the bag has a couple of very convenient zippered pockets for me to store some miscellaneous items like my MacBook Pro mag-safe charger, a Twelve South Compass iPad stand, and a 1st Generation Apple Pencil. I also have a tech pack to store cable and charges that I might also throw at the bottom of the bag if I needed it, but for every day that would probably just stay in a drawer.

Behind the bag, under the arm straps, is a very well padded zipper compartment for a Laptop or iPad Pro. My 2014 MacBook 13-inch fits in it no problem and even though the space is much larger than the MacBook Pro, once zipped up it stays snug and doesn’t bounce around at all. The compartment is also raised a bit from the bottom of the bag preventing any banging of the side of the computer if you set your bag down too hard. pocket of the GR1 with a 2014 MacBook Pro 13-inch.

There is also a pocket in the front that goes pretty deep down. I like to keep my carry pretty minimal, so I don’t know if I would ever store anything in there. I might actually put together a little medicine type kit that could store some essential items. The pocket could also include maybe some gum, a snack and other items that might come in handy and doesn’t make the front of the bag look to bulky.

Like I said before, I have not actually been able to use this bag all that much yet. I did pack a few things when my wife and I ran a few errands one weekend but have yet to take it on a trip or go anywhere with it fully packed.

Pretty soon life will be somewhat normal and I will be able to take advantage of the GR1 fully. I may even switch up what I carry and how I carry it as I use it longer. I did actually pack it up and ride my bike with it on just to get a feel for it and even though the straps are still a little stiff, it was a pretty comfortable ride. taken with flash to show the reflective patch.

I am happy that I went with the 20L and not the 26L. I think if I traveled a lot more for my job I may have opted for the larger bag to be able to throw a jacket or extra pair of shoes if I needed. Since this is technically going to be just my tech bag, and have always kept a pretty minimal setup, the 20L is just perfect for me.

This bag is definitely something that you should look at if you are looking for a very high-quality bag that has a simple yet specific aesthetic. The cost of the bag at $269 (for full price) is a little steep but if you plan to keep it forever, like I do, it may just pay for itself over the years. For someone who would never be found rucking, I have to say, my geeky self is pretty happy with this new rugged every day tech bag.

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My passion is in technology. I write reviews about gadgets that interest me but also provide some kind of value in my toolset to achieve my goals. Most of my writing is surrounded by technology and how it plays a role as a tool, help with productivity, and also provide mindfulness for a more fulfilled life.

Turlock, CA

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