Gear, Other

What to Wear to a GORUCK Event

Whether you are doing a GORUCK Heavy, Tough, or Light, these tips will help you figure out the best approach to take when selecting what to wear. If you’re training for Selection, this post won’t help you at all… and may God have mercy on your soul.

The truth is that most of us over-think this question. The basic truth of “keep it simple” is perhaps the best advice. Below are some general guidelines that should help you figure out what works best for you.

Shorts vs Pants:

This, like many clothing questions, will come down to personal preference. Me? I like shorts and wear them almost exclusively. In fact, for my first winter event, I wore shorts with compression pants under them. I’m hoping to pick up a pair of GORUCK Simple Shorts in the near future. Until then, I usually wear a pair of Nike running shorts. Of course, you can never go wrong with Ranger Panties.

People who like pants, like BDUs, often tout their ability to protect your legs and knees. The trade-off, in my opinion, is that they take on a LOT of water whenever you get wet… which is every event ever. GORUCK came out with a pair of Challenge Pants (and the less expensive Simple Pants) that get rave reviews for durability, comfort, and quick drying. They are on my list with Santa… but he’s probably skipping me this year.

So, when it comes to pants, wear what you think is most comfortable and know that whatever you wear will get wet.

UPDATE – I finally got a pair of Simple Pants and they are amazing. Read my full GORUCK Simple Pants Review.

Shoes vs Boots:

Those in the boot camp will say that the added ankle support is needed when rucking, especially for high miles and over uneven terrain. And, there is sound logic there. There are tons of tactical boots that should serve you well if you are in the boot camp.

However, there are a lot of people (me included) that only ruck in shoes. For the majority of my events, I rucked in my Brooks Glycerin running shoes. They are comfy, light, and drain really well. I recently switched to a slightly more durable shoe in the LaSportiva Wildcat Trail Shoe and that has gone well. Of the more famous people in the shoe, camp is the latest finisher of GORUCK Selection, Roster 35, who completed selection in a pair of Nike Frees.

So, shoes or boots is really up to which one you feel most comfortable rucking in. The number one key is to make sure they drain well. Boot or shoe, as long as the water can get out, you’ll be happy.

NOTE – Click here to see what our readers voted as the “Best Shoes or Boots for GORUCK.”


GORUCK has several sweet shirts designed for rucking. Much like the shorts and pants, it is on my wishlist for right now. Until such time as I can afford one, I’ll continue to ruck in my Adidas running shirts. They are light, breathable, and dry super fast.

When it comes to cold events I will add a base layer compression shirt as well as a shell jacket to retain body heat.

Note: I got the GORUCK Rucking Shirt. Read my review here.


I usually like to carry my North Face Shell with me on most events. For winter events, it is usually enough to trap my body heat and keep me warm. I’ve never needed more than that jacket for an event.


Read my Best GORUCK Headlamp post for more details on this item.

I used to wear a Black Diamond Storm. It is waterproof and has like a million light options. However, I didn’t like the weight and I felt like I could never click the right buttons to get the light I wanted.

On my last event, the 9/11 DC Heavy, I tried out a brand new light, the Petzl e+Lite. This is an ultralight lamp that, I’m pretty sure, is intended for emergency use. I was concerned that the “string” headband would annoy me, but it was fine. The lamp is crazy light, has great options for angle adjustments, and getting the right light is a snap. It won’t be for everyone, but I like it.

Whatever headlamp you wear, what matters is that it is waterproof and has both a red and white light.


Not cotton. That’s the first and best rule.

I am an advocate of the two sock system. I wear Injinji Toe Socks with a thin SmartWool outer sock. This is designed to be a blister prevention technique.

But, you’ll be fine using just about any non-cotton sock. I’ve recently become a fan of Darn Tough socks for the main reason that if they EVER wear out, Darn Tough will replace them for free. So, each pair you buy is basically a pair of socks that will last your entire life.

NOTE – Click here to see what our readers voted as the “Best Socks for GORUCK.”


In the winter, bring a warm hat. The rest of time, bring a tac hat. Or don’t. Whatever.


Mechanix. Don’t question it or look for fancy versions. Just get these.


Do NOT bring a GR2 to an event. If you think you need a GR2, you are overpacking (Don’t be Over-Packer). For your rucking backpack, I recommend a GR1 or a Rucker.


For my first event, I had 6 bricks. They work perfectly fine and cost less than $10. That said, I did eventually switch to using a GORUCK Ruck Plate and have never looked back. The plate allows you to keep the weight small and close to your back. It leaves you room in the rest of your rucking backpack for anything else you need… which shouldn’t be very much. But, what to pack for a GORUCK Event is a different blog post.

NOTE – Click here to see what our readers say in the “Bricks vs Plates for GORUCK debate.”

So, what do you think? What do you wear? Anything I should change?

5 Replies to What to Wear to a GORUCK Event

  1. Thanks for writing this. I’m not new to various forms of fitness, but I am new to rucking. Getting into it in order to prepare for my Spartan Endurance Trifecta this year. Most of what you have listed in this and the “what to pack” entry are things I already know from my other sports/activities, but 1) confirmation that I at least have some idea of what I’m doing is always good; and 2) I was wondering whether my OCR shoes would be all right or if I’d have to grab and start breaking in a pair of boots. I’ll wear what I’ve got to my first event and see how goes — if I need to adjust, I know where to visit to learn more about other top options. 🙂

    1. If your OCR shoes are something like inov8 x-talons or anything with big lugs, then they probably wouldn’t be good for GORUCK events. You’ll spend a good bit of time on concrete. A more tame trail shoe would be fine. The ideal is something that works on trails and roads. Don’t need boots unless you really like them. I’ve done events in Brooks road shoes and LaSportive trail shoes. Both did fine.

  2. Here is another thought. I took an old car innertube and filled it to weight with sand and gravel. I haven’t driven it on a long ruck yet but so far it has worked great. Sits right in the bottom of the ruck. I will let you know when I go 8 miles how it feels.

  3. I’m finding a Star Course has different needs. I’m currently training for the 50 in San Diego this November. I have completed a 12+ and 26+ this year as well.
    Any thoughts on gear for the 50 ?

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