GORUCK is a brand that demands attention

You have to shout their name whenever you say it, always write it in all caps and there is nothing quiet about their products. They use terms like “Special Forces Proven” and “Bombproof” to imprint a glowing neon sign of toughness and durability. And you know what? They really are tough as hell. And you don’t have to do one of their events to be able to appreciate that inherent durability. So when you look at their lineup of rucksacks and you see the giant Cordura® tombstone, otherwise known as the GORUCK GR3, you know you’re getting into a bag that is going to be able to handle anything you can throw at it, and more. 

GORUCK designed the GR3 with travel in mind. It’s considered the largest possible carry-on size* for those of us who remember flying (*domestic US flights; international flights will likely take issue with the size of this pack). Though travel during Covid times has been complicated, there’s still value in understanding what your gear is capable of. You may even find roles you didn’t expect it to be able to fulfill. Though I’ve been largely house-bound like so many of you dear readers, I was fortunate to be able to get out on the road and do some very socially distanced camping with the GORUCK GR3. But the following perspective can easily apply to whichever form of travel you choose when the time comes.


Name: GR3


Format: Backpack

Measurement: 22″H x 14″W x 9″D

Capacity: 45L (2746 cu. in.)

Weight: 5.15 LBS (2.34 Kg)

Zippers: YKK #8 & #10

Material: 1000D Cordura®

Price: US$395

Who It Suits

Anyone who requires a lot of space for travel packing (fellow big & tall guys, I got you). Or anyone who is really into the BYO organization mindset. If you’re already into GR packs, you already are familiar with how they carry and you know you’re going to like this.

Who It Doesn’t

Anyone smaller in stature or of a slender build will likely find this to be overwhelming in size. Those who require extensive built-in internal organization may not care for the “bucket-like” nature of the GORUCK GR3. Lastly, if you already aren’t into GR packs, this definitely won’t change your mind.  



GORUCK bags have always been polarizing to folks. Some feel they are too “tactical” looking (though this is of course a subjective opinion), too cult-like [insert fitness-related joke here], too expensive, or too simple. But many others, author included, have always loved the sleek-yet-brawny vibe that the GR bags convey. The aesthetic makes no apologies for what it is. A big, overbuilt, likely-to-outlast-you slab of 1000D Cordura® nylon. 

Suffice it to say, the GORUCK GR3 is the biggest bag they currently offer and you have to really embrace that aspect to enjoy this thing. It is, in essence, a GR1 blown up in scale in both height, width, and depth, which allows it to accommodate double the space. It features a more squared-off design rather than the tapered look of the 26L GR1 and the GR2 bags. But this design choice is what allows it to carry so much inside. You can really pack this thing out to the corners and maximize every square inch. This can be a really valuable feature for travel, emergency kits, or perhaps packing up your entire office because you’ve gone permanent WFH. Thanks, Covid.


I’ve touched on this already, but every GORUCK product I have owned or used exudes quality and craftsmanship (and yes that absolutely does apply to their line of products now made in Vietnam). All of the stitching is expertly done and feels made to last, which as a user, inspires great confidence in the longevity of a product. Additionally, this is a great time to mention GORUCK’s SCARS warranty. This covers the lifetime of the product, regardless of the ownership history. If it can be fixed, they will fix it. It’s that kind of honest simplicity that I appreciate about the company and that they truly do stand by the quality of their products.  

Materials and Hardware

The GORUCK GR3 is constructed out of 1000D Cordura® Nylon. An incredibly hard-wearing material that is water repellent and abrasion and tear-resistant. All of this durability comes at a cost, however. This is a considerably heavy bag even when empty at a little over 5lbs (2kg). Another thing to watch out for is that while the material itself may be abrasion resistant, it can wear down your clothing over time. Personally, I have only experienced this on one particular nylon jacket but that was after several miles of rucking in my GR1. It may not happen to you, but it is something to keep in the back of your mind. Particularly if you wear a lot of softer fabrics and care about the wear and tear of your clothing. 


GORUCK’s bags are known for their clamshell designs. In something this large, having full and easy access to the interior is wonderful for packing efficiently. This feature alone is something I truly appreciate when packing. There’s nothing worse than having a spacious bag that’s difficult or cumbersome to access. 

Starting with the interior, the main cavity is open, spacious, and is lined with loop material which allows for hook-backed pouches to be attached to create a dedicated organization system. Or you could also completely ignore it, and you won’t find it getting in your way. The front flap houses three zippered compartments (one opaque and two open mesh). These allow you to store smaller items for quick access. However, they don’t have their own dimension, so they’re ideal for flatter items such as small travel essentials, power adapters, or perhaps even your travel documents. 

As we move on to the GR3’s exterior, you’re going to find handles on both sides plus the top which are typical GORUCK, which is to say, beefy and very secure. The front panel features GR’s signature rows of PALS webbing and 2×3″ patch field. You’re also going to find PALS on the bottom of the GR3, but it’s thick 2″ strips which allow for overflow packing using lash straps (which are not included with the bag). In addition, you’re going to find compression straps and buckles on both sides. These help manage the size of the bag if it’s not completely loaded out. It’s worth noting that you *can* compress it down a pretty fair amount. But it is always going to be a huge bag so keep that in mind. 

The last area to talk about is the back panel, where you’ll find two thickly padded shoulder straps and a familiar sectioned panel pattern which you’ll see across all of their packs. This is solid Cordura® with only slightly raised sections, so the majority of the surface will be in direct contact with your back. Basically, it’s going to make you sweat. It does however feature one slightly different element not found on other GORUCK packs. That is a pass-through that allows one to attach a padded hip belt for weight distribution. The hip belt is included with the GORUCK GR3 and can be stored inside the bag when not in use.

The final feature callout here is the laptop compartment which is, in a word, enormous. You could easily fit a positively huge laptop in here should you desire. But for most of us who typically carry a 13-15″ device, it will fit absolutely without trouble. The compartment still maintains the false bottom found on their other packs, so your computer will be well secured inside. 


In my experience, GORUCK bags have always exuded this feeling of being overbuilt. Simply picking one up all but confirms this notion. The GR3 follows this trend to the letter and inspires total confidence in its build quality. Whenever I get a new bag I like to do a close inspection of all the stitching, to evaluate the quality of construction. I was not at all disappointed in the GR3. Everything was spot on with no loose seams or uneven stitching to be found anywhere on the pack. I believe that this bag will easily last for many years to come. 


Given the enormous dimensions of this pack, it’s likely not going to be something you want to carry on a daily basis. However, GORUCK saw fit to make sure the shoulder straps are abundantly padded and conform to your body quite easily. In addition, the GR3 also comes with a thickly padded (and removable) waist belt which you can use to help transfer the weight of the pack to your hips if you have it really heavily loaded. As with every other pack I’ve used from them, I find that it carries very well. Even when walking considerable distances or on uneven terrain. 

There is one thing I would like to call out though. And while this may not affect everyone, it is something that I’ve noticed in my usage of the GR3. The shoulder straps on GORUCK packs are mounted at the top point of the pack, which keeps it riding high on your back. But the lower portion of the straps is typically pushed right out to the edges, which if you have a broad frame like I do, means that it’s fairly comfortable on your back, without digging into your sides. On the GR3 you’ll find that the lower strap attachments are set in closer towards the middle of the pack, to accommodate the removable hip belt, and I found that I was a bit more aware of the straps hitting my sides more than I’ve ever noticed on my GR1 or GR2 packs.

It’s a relatively small thing to call out, but I just want to make sure you’re aware that the fit of the GORUCK GR3 on your back will be slightly different from the other packs they offer.


When it comes to weather resistance, it’s worth mentioning that Cordura® will indeed repel water up to a point. It is not, however, a completely waterproof material. Your stuff will be very safe, but if you intend on submitting the bag to intense weather, you may want to plan accordingly. GORUCK have always touted the inherent “toughness” of their packs. And while I may not participate in their events or intentionally set out to destroy a bag, I do frequently use and live with their products daily and can attest that they do in fact hold up quite well. Though they may not be explicitly waterproof, they’re designed in a way to prevent water ingress as much as possible. 

The Good

Cavernous capacity that is easy to utilize.

Typical excellent GORUCK construction.

Quite comfortable under load.

Easy to stay organized with packing cubes or hook-backed pouches.

Multiple handles make it easy to grab and go. 

Not So Good

Front slash pocket is difficult to get into with the bag packed, though this is typical of all GR packs. 

If not utilizing the majority of the space, the contents will shift freely. 

Limited functionality beyond heavy travel packing (i.e. WAY too big for any sort of EDC, and less organization than the GR2).


So where does that leave us? We have a simply mammoth bag from GORUCK that excels when you need to carry a lot and stumbles a bit when you don’t. It’s expensive at just under $400 and probably not something you’ll wind up using every single day. But all of that aside, you have an exceptionally easy-to-pack bag that makes full use of its 45L capacity and can handle that weight on your shoulders quite comfortably.

It is a phenomenal travel companion (especially car travel) and it should come as no surprise that it is just as tough as every other bag GORUCK makes. I think it makes sense to pair it with a GR1 and the two together could address essentially all of your needs. But if you need a true all-in-one solution, the GR2 is still the one to beat from their lineup. If a large bucket-style bag is suitable for your needs, whatever they may be, then the GORUCK GR3 is a strong candidate for you to consider.

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