Outfitted & Equipped: GORUCK Challenge

by Brett on December 7, 2012 · 13 Comments

in Outfitted & Equipped, Visual Guides

A few weeks ago I took part in a GORUCK Challenge in Oklahoma City. The GORUCK Challenge is a 9-13 hour “guided tour” of your city led by a Special Forces veteran. It’s a grueling experience. You march around your city in the middle of the night while carrying a 30- to 40-pound rucksack. Push-ups, bear crawls, and hoisting giant logs are thrown in for good measure. A write-up of my experience will be going up later today. In the meantime, because I’ve gotten a lot of questions from people who are planning to do a GORUCK Challenge about what you should wear and bring for the event, I present “Outfitted & Equipped: GORUCK Challenge Edition.” This is everything that I wore and used to get me through my night of “Good Livin’.”

1. Energizer LED Headlamp. The Challenge takes place in the middle of the night, so you’ll need a headlamp to see where you’re going.

2. Under Armour Tactical Arctic Beanie

3. Stay Alert Caffeine Gum. Designed by Wrigley for the U.S. military. Each piece of gum contains 100 mg of caffeine, and through oral absorption it gets into your system faster than pills or liquids. It starts working right away and kept me going through the long night. Chewing also seemed to help keep me warm.

4. Mechanix Wear FastFit Gloves. I recommend bringing two pairs. The coldest part of my body that night was my hands. It would have helped to have a dry pair to put on after I got wet.

5. Fox River Escape Socks. I didn’t decide on these socks after a lot of research. They were on clearance at Huckberry, and seemed to fit the bill, so I had them send me a pair. I had a second pair in a plastic bag, but never used it. I was too tired and it was too cold to even attempt changing socks.

6. New Balance 1007s. Didn’t think too much about my shoe choice either — just used my old pair of New Balance 1007s that I’ve had for seven years. Kate and I affectionately call them “Big Blues.” These shoes are pretty heavy, but they’re sturdy and have served me well. They started out as my gym shoes, but were converted to my “general purpose dirty work” shoe. I’ve gone canoeing, hiked most of the major mountain peaks in Vermont, ran two Warrior Dashes, and backpacked in these bad boys. You don’t need anything fancy as far as shoes go. Just don’t use minimalist shoes, like Vibrams — you need something with a bit more protection in case a log falls on your foot.

7. Champion Mesh Gym Shorts

8. Under Armour ColdGear: top and bottom. You’re going to be submerged in water sometime during your Challenge — and afterwards you’ll still have most of the night ahead of you. These Under Armour layers dried relatively quickly and kept me warm throughout the night.

9. Eberlestock Hydration System, 3 Liters. You’ll need plenty of water during the Challenge, so get a bladder of some sort. Whatever you do, DON’T use a Camelbak. My brother’s busted during our beginning calisthenics and I shared water with him the rest of the night. I read that other folks doing the Challenge had the same problem with Camelbak. The Eberlestock Hydration system came well-recommended by military veterans. Super durable and reliable. Plus it holds three liters of water.

10. GORUCK GR1 Rucksack. Inspired by rucks used by Special Operations soldiers and made in the USA, GORUCK bags are built tough enough to withstand the heaviest of beatings, but are also pretty good looking for your day to day needs. You don’t need to buy a GORUCK bag to take part in the GORUCK Challenge, but I bought a GR1 because of the good things I read about them. This bad boy served me well and was comfortable to wear. With the Challenge over, my GR1 serves as my family’s secondary bug-out-bag. There is a Challenge coming here to Tulsa in February, so I may have to convert it back to a GORUCK Challenge bag soon…

11. Art of Manliness Semper Virilis T-shirt. Of course I had to represent AoM!

12. 6 bricks wrapped in bubble wrap and duct tape. If you weigh more than 150 pounds, you have to carry six bricks in your ruck; four if you weigh less than 150. Wrapping it up like that makes it more comfortable to carry. I know, it looks like a kilo of coke.

13. Honey Stinger Energy Bar. You burn a lot of calories during the evening, so you’ll need something to fuel your body and mind. I like Honey Stinger Energy Bars because they taste good and are all nat-ur-al.

14. Stearns Parka. GORUCK recommends bringing a parka if the temperature will be below 50 degrees. I just used my old Stearns parka that I’ve had for years.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mike P December 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Congrats Brett. I know it’s tough, but it’s worth it. Welcome to the GRT family.

2 zach f December 7, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Congrats! Welcome to the new normal ;) GRTs forever!

3 Kyle December 7, 2012 at 6:57 pm

That’s a Source Tactical bladder distributed by Eberlestock. They are tougher than Camelbak but more susceptible to heat damage.

4 Tim B December 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm

I was definitely happy I had my second pair of gloves. I brought along a spare pair of socks, gloves, and knit beanie in a ziplock freezer bag and was able to keep them dry until I needed them. Another thing I brought along was Gu pouches which I was able to rip open and eat on the move. I was reluctant to bring a windbreaker as my pack was getting full, but I did because it was on the packing list. Later in the challenge before the sun came up I was glad to have. Glad you enjoyed it and be sure to check out the GRT member groups on Facebook.

5 Ryan Grimm December 8, 2012 at 9:59 am

Carry two sets of gloves. When one set gets wet, place them inside the armpits of your shirt, they will dry out fairly fast. A buddy that was a Marine Scout/Sniper taught me that one, it works for socks too.
And CHANGE THOSE SOCKS. You would have been a LOT warmer and better off if you had changed them.

6 Andrew Newman December 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm

According to my track coach, the cold water baths work better if you do 15 minutes in, 15 minutes out, then 15 minutes in again. For ice water, I think it was just 10 minutes in. Another thing that works (but feels terrible) is to lay down with your rear end touching the wall, with your feet up for at least 30 minutes. Some athletes can actually fall asleep doing it, and it works even better then. When you come down, take it REALLY slow though. Be forewarned: coming back down feels like heated needles stabbing you. Also, do not try and stand up until you feel better.

7 Alexander Shirley December 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Yeah, I think that I ended up going with maybe half of that.
Bitter freezing, but fun with shorts in December!

8 Jeff Friedman January 21, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Thanks for all of the helpful hints and suggestions. I’m training and gearing up for my first challenge this June in Chicago. Somewhere I saw suggestions about the various hydration systems and sizes. I have a Radio Ruck. What size Eberlestock Hydration System do you recommend? Many thanks!

9 Victor Paniagua January 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm

@Jeff Friendman, I’ll see you there at the GoRuck Chicago Challenge, June 1st. I have 4 of my buddies going with me myself. Godspeed.

10 Walker January 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Did you guys have freezing problems with your bladder tubes (that sounds funny when I read it out loud), and what part of your brother’s camelbak broke? The actual bladder?

11 Doug June 13, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Old post but I just completed my first challenge last weekend. All I can say is if anyone out there that is on the fence about doing one you need to sign up! It will be the most unpleasant workout of your life and if you are like me you’ll love every minute (hour) of it!

PS I never want to carry a tree again as long as I live.

12 Brian June 18, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Good advice to stay away from the CamelBaks… Personally I prefer Source but that’s just preference!

13 Brian June 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Hah… just went to the Eberlestock site and their bladders are made by Source! Did not know what… and it makes me wish I could edit my previous comment.

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