GORUCK Tough Challenge: Learn how to train, how to pack, and what you can expect to experience during the event


There is nothing quite like carrying 40 + pounds of weight on your back for 12-15 hours.

In fact, it is so wonderful you will want to do it every day of your life...

Just kidding.

On a more serious note, that is exactly what you will be doing when you sign up for the GORUCK Challenge.

What is the GORUCK Challenge?

In the words of GORUCK themselves:

Based on Special Forces training, your class is led from start to finish by a Special Forces Cadre. His job is to test your limits, push you beyond them, and build your class into a team. There are no cash prizes at the finish. All you earn is a 2x3 inch patch and the respect of everyone to your left and right.

In other words, you can't do it alone, there are no accolades, and you get to suffer.

Who wouldn't want to sign up?

The reality is that the GORUCK Challenge is one of the funnest and most fulfilling things that I have done. It reminded me a lot of those first few days at boot-camp. Everyone is disoriented the Cadre are shouting out commands, some guys have the deer in the headlights look, it's chaos.

When they don't  get the response they desire, then they punish the whole team.The whole event is designed to do one thing. Take a huge group of people from all walks of life and have them go from not knowing each other, to functioning as one unit.

It doesn't happen automatically, it takes a couple hours before everyone starts to see the big picture, and the cadre do a great job of channeling everyone in that direction.

What can I expect to do during the GORUCK Challenge?

There are a lot of things that can happen during a 12-15 hour span, but I can most assuredly tell you that there are a few things that are going to happen.

  • You are going to get wet
  • You are going to carry heavy stuff (As a team and individually)
  • You will do push-ups, sit-ups and various other calisthenics
  • You will get dirty or muddy
  • You will need to rely on the team

Anytime that I have done a GORUCK Event, I have gotten wet. For the challenge it was crawling on my stomach through a culvert filled with freezing cold water. It was 39 degrees outside and the water was probably somewhere around that temperature.

You are probably going to think about quitting at some point throughout the challenge. There was a time when we were doing elephant walks during our event where I thought my back was going to give out. It was extremely uncomfortable and we all just wanted to end. It didn't, it got worse before it got better.

You are going to have to carry someone else's load, whether that be their physical body, or their ruck, you will have to carry it at some point.

You are going to be tired, hungry, and something on your body will hurt or be uncomfortable for a portion of the time.

Do not let any of this deter you, it's just a matter of fact. You can push through it though. The fun you will have and the experience will take your mind off of most of those short lived things.

You are most likely going to be carrying something heavy as a team. A log, a huge sandbag (60,80,120#), or some other monstrosity or behemoth. (The log below was 1200#)


You will probably do lots of PT (Physical Training) that involves, push-ups, squats, sit-ups, presses, jumping jacks, with and without your ruck.

How do I train for the GORUCK Challenge?

There are a ton of different ways to train for this event, but the best way to prepare is to spend time under the weight of the ruck and on your feet.

The reason I say this is because you should become one with your ruck. Understanding how it works and how it feels on your shoulders, waist and hips is going to be crucial.

You want that ruck to sort of sit on your hips, so that most of the weight is absorbed there and a little on your shoulders, The more evenly distributed the weight is the better you are going to feel.

Make sure you practice doing this until you know exactly how you want the ruck to sit. Take it on and off a couple times, tighten the straps, loosen them, and then try to get it back to where you want it. This is only going to help you later.

As far as physically, I personally did not train much. I rucked about 3-5 miles once a week for a couple weeks to get used to my ruck and the time on my feet. Mainly though, I lift weights and do cross-fit workouts every day. Doing this allowed me to be more than ready for any sort of physical fitness they might throw out at us.

If you don't lift weights and don't work out much, I would recommend you start with my 8 Week Ruck Training Program. (Also check out this article I wrote called: So you want to do a GORUCK)

This is for anyone that wants to start rucking and sign up for a GORUCK Light and eventually do the GORUCK Tough Challenge

The more physically and mentally prepared you are the better you will do and will not only succeed but you will lead.

If you are a nerd like me who likes data and research. You will find both of these articles based on real data and people.



8 weeks of FUN!!

Where can I find GORUCK Events?

GORUCK has become extremely popular so there are no shortage of events that you can do. In fact, there are all sorts of new events coming out all the time.

The full list of GORUCK Events is located here: GORUCK EVENTS

There are events for everything:

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Cadre: Shredder and Mocha Mike

Cadre: Shredder and Mocha Mike

What Gear should I use for the GORUCK Challenge?

As far as gear goes, don't fret too much, the most important things you will need are your ruck and your water bladder. Everything else is just comfort stuff.

Anytime you sign up for an event, there is a packing list, typically you won't need anything more than what is on that list, except food as fuel.

I have put together a list of what you will need that will cover almost every type of event you will do.


  • If you are going to go with the GORUCK Bag(s) then I suggest the GR1 or the GR2, they are expensive but if you are going to make these events a lifestyle or hobby then you will want one.
  • However, if you just want to try out an event like the GORUCK Light, then you can get a 5.11 bag for about half the price. I reccommend the Rush12 or the Rush72
  • I personally use an Arcteryx Ruck that my brother gave me, it's a lot like the 5.11 bags

Water Bladder:


  • Some guys wear shoes, some wear boots. Try both, see what you prefer.
  • For shoes, most of the guys I do these with wear Salomon Speed-cross 4 Trail-Runner.
  • For boots, I find that these best boots are the Rocky C4T, and these are what I personally use.
  • For socks, I only use one pair of wool socks with the Rocky's and I have never had any issues with blisters, and I have never changed them out during an event.


  • Since you are going to be getting wet, you will need one of these.
  • It doesn't really matter what you get, just make sure that nothing can get wet, I use something simple called the Ultralight Dry Sack, you just stuff it full and fold it over. 
  • This will hold most of the peripheral stuff you will need.

Headlamp and Batteries:

  • You don't need anything fancy here, besides you probably won't use it as much as you think.
  • You only need something like the LE Headlamp LED


  • You may or may not use this. Even in 39 degree weather, I didn't put my windbreaker on until around hour 10. Everyone handles the cold differently.
  • I use a new balance running jacket similar to this one.


  • Really you can wear whatever you want, but most people including myself wear some sort of tactical pant. These are good because you will be exposed to a lot of dirt, mud, water and situations where the pants could rip or tear.
  • 5.11 Tactical Pants are awesome
  • You can also get
  • If you are pressed for money check out Wrangler Mountain Pants

Food and Snacks:

  • As far as food goes, you don't need a whole lot. For the tough, I drank a lot of water before the event, had a cup of coffee about an hour before, and I only ate one protein bar and 4 Gatorade gels (I like the blue ones) throughout the whole 14+ hours.
  • Here is what I would take:
    • Gatorade gels (1 pack should be good)
    • 2-3 protein bars - I like CLIF bars
    • Homemade trail mix (chocolate chips, pretzels, goldfish, almonds, cranberries, sunflower seeds)
    • Maybe some beef jerky
  • That's all you really need.
Growruck 2621.jpg

That's about all there is to it. If you have any questions about GORUCK's just send me an email, and I'll get back to you.

I would love to hear about your GORUCK adventure and how you do, so if you have done one or want to do one, leave a message in the comments below.

Be the man you were made to be.


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