One of the most important aspects of traveling around is to have a durable backpack that can also store a lot. The ideal backpack would be one that looks great, has exceptional built quality, offers great functionality and organization, and of course has the ability to store a lot of items. As with most other things, it is almost impossible to get everything you want from a single backpack. There are many great options available, but each of them has its flaws. GoRuck came close with the GR1 and the GR2. But there were still a few complaints. With the GR3 GoRuck tried to address a few of these flaws. So, in this review of the GoRuck GR3, we will look at a few of these aspects and see for ourselves how close to a perfect backpack the GoRuck GR3 is.
GORUCK GR3 Review
Highlights Of The Goruck GR3 Backpack
- Opens Flat: The Goruck GR3 has a flat design which is a lot familiar to that of the medical rucks used by special forces. Just like the medical rucks, the GR3 opens flat. So you can easily access the main storing compartment of the bag all at once. This makes packing the bag very easy and organizing the contents of the bag more convenient.
- Interior Velcro & MOLLE: The GR3 has a back panel on the main compartment which is filled with a velcro. This is perfect for use with other VELCRO accessories or customizes with your patches. The velcros ensure that the items stay in their place.
- Compression Straps: GoRuck GR3 comes with 4 compression straps. After not including them by default in the GR1 and GR2, GoRuck finally included compression straps in the GR3. There are two compression straps on each side of the bag. These straps help you squish the load closer to the frame of the bag. Once you completely pack the bag, cinching the straps down will compress the bag bringing the weight and load closer to your back. This will result in a better weight balance which will make it comfortable to carry without hurting your back.
- Integrated Removable Hip Belt: The GoRuck GR3 backpack also comes with integrated Hip belts. These belts are attached to the back panel and you can easily remove them if you want. The Hip belts help in spreading the load across your hips. A hip belt can transfer a majority of the bag’s weight off of your shoulders and on to your hips. The bag will feel a lot lighter and take the pressure off your shoulders.
- Padded Handles: Another thing GoRuck finally decided to include in their backpacks were the side handles. The GoRuck GR3 now comes with 3 different Padded Handles. It has got one Padded top handle and 2 padded side handles. These padding on these handles ensure that you feel comfortable while holding them, and makes it easier to carry them. The side handles also make it possible to carry the bag like a normal office bag and make it perfect for carrying through the airport or pulling out of the overhead bin.
- Silent Zipper Pulls: The GoRuck GR3 comes with YKK zippers. These zippers are constructed from the parachute 550 cord. In addition to making the zips easier to pull it also makes the pull completely silent. So unzipping it and opening the bag won’t grab you any unwanted attention, which at times can be very annoying. This also means that you can pull the zippers without disturbing anyone which is a great thing.
- MOLLE Attachments: On the exterior, the GoRuck GR3 comes with 4 rows of MOLLE on the front and 2 on the bottom. This is different from the GR1 which had only 3 rows of webbings. You can attach multi-tools, knives, magazine pouches, and many other types of equipment to your GR3 bag using a MOLLE webbing. This lets you customize the GR3 however you want and fit it according to your requirements. The only difference is that instead of having additional molle webbings on the sides, the GR3 has them on the bottom.
- Inner Compartment: The GR3 comes with only a single but large inner compartment. The top side of this compartment has 3 pockets. Two of these are mesh pockets while the third one is a large nylon pocket. The other side of the compartment is entirely covered with a velcro surface. This makes it easier to organize things as they stick together. Also since the GR3 is a little large, you can stack one layer of the item on top of another layer.
- Extra Padded Straps: The GR3 is capable of storing a lot of items at a time which means that the bag can get a bit heavy at times if it is filled. This can be harmful in the long run especially the additional weights which might result in some pain in the shoulders. This is why the Goruck GR3 also comes with extra padding on the shoulder straps and the top handles to avoid this. This makes the GR3 easier and more comfortable to carry even when the bag is filled.
- Bombproof Laptop Compartment: The GoRuck GR3 backpack comes with a separate laptop compartment to store your laptop. GoRuck claims that this is a “Bombproof Laptop Compartment.” The compartment is located next to your back and comes with extra reinforcement for the laptop. So, according to GoRucks, even if you carry your bag to combat, your laptop will remain secure and protected. Unlike the GR1 which could fit laptops of up to 17 inches size, the GR3 can store even bigger laptops.
- Frame Sheet: Just like the GR1 and GR2, the GR3 comes with a hard frame sheet made of plastic to compliment the laptop compartment. Having this extra plastic frame sheet makes the bag more stabilized and also balances the laptop compartment. This allows it to carry even more weight comfortably. You can remove this frame if you don’t require it.
- False Bottom: The GoRuck GR3 also comes with a false bottom. which is located inside the laptop compartment. The main purpose of the false bottom is to keep the laptop from hitting the hard bottom when you lay the bag straight. So, if you accidentally drop the bag vertically then this will keep your laptop protected.
- External Slant Pocket: Along with its internal pockets, the GR3 also comes with another external pocket. This external pocket is a slant pocket and makes it easier to access items quickly. This includes important documents like your ticket, passport, keys, cards, snacks, and other small items. However, you can only store flat items inside it.
- Optimized for Hydration: GoRuck has its own Hydration Bladder systems that are tough, and are very easy to clean. Hydration Bladder systems are the perfect choice for hydration on the move. The GR3 has an interior MOLLE webbing that lets you clip the hydration bladder with a carabiner. The hose can be fed under the top handle through the exit port on the handle.
Goruck GR3 Appearance
The GoRuck GR3, like the other GoRuck backpacks GR1 and GR2, has a very sleek and minimal look. From the exterior, the GR3 looks like both a backpack and also resemble a military ruck. It has that box-like feel to it. As in, it looks somewhat like a box when filled. The extent of its minimalism can be seen from the fact that its main storage unit is just a single big compartment. Other than that, there’s also another small compartment on the front panel of the bag, which is flat and is ideal for storing flat items. The bag resembles the military ruck look and has molle webbings that let you attach different accessories to customize it as per your requirements. The GoRuck GR3 comes with molle webbing which is located on the exterior of the backpack. There are 4 rows of Molles with 6 loops across on the front. This gives you tons of room to use different kinds of molle accessories to go with the. This gives you extra organization and space as well. In addition to that, there are 2 more rows of molle webbings with 4 loops across. These two rows of molle are perfect for the GR3 compression tough bag which you can stick to the bottom of the bag. Once again, the molle webbings are very discrete and blend pretty nicely with the bag. In fact you won’t even notice the molle if you take a peek at the bag from a distance. However, if you need a more minimalistic look and don’t want the molle webbings, then GR3 also has a slick variant of the bag that doesn’t have the molle webbings on the front. But you should know that you will be giving up a lot on functionality for a more minimal look.
There is no branding on the exterior of the GoRuck GR3. The GoRuck brand logo inside the bag is the only branding on the GoRuck GR3 backpack. This is done to comply with the Army uniforms regulation 670-1. This regulation forbids any kind of corporate logos on the exterior of the backpacks. So, there isn’t any type of logos or text attached to the bag nor is anything written on it. The only thing on the front is a 2″ x 3″ velcro patch that is located on the top. You can attach any kind of logos which you want to attach to this hook and loop panel. It should just have velcro on it. This lets you customize the look of the bag and add your custom logo to it. Both the shoulder straps also have molle webbing on them. There are 6 loops across each of the straps. Both sides also have padded handles that make it comfortable to grab and carry. In addition to this, the bag also comes with compression straps that help reduce the bulk of the bag and bring the load closer to the back. Goruck GR3 comes in different colors and patterns which keep changing now and then. At the time of writing this, the two colors available are the Black variant and the Steel variant.
Goruck GR3 Organization
The GoRuck GR3 is one of the biggest backpack available. It has a capacity of 45L. This makes this backpack the ideal backpack for your travel purpose, especially if you are traveling for a longer period as you can fit a lot of items that you want. The GR3 has a lot of built-in organization in it. It has one of the biggest clamshell compartments in any backpack. You can easily fit two layers of packing cubes inside it. Talking about packing cubes, this is somewhat of an important aspect of the backpack. See the thing is, unless you plan to store only clothes or large items, you will need packing cubes to use with the backpack. Lots of them. There is a velcro on the bottom of the main compartment which also is very useful. More about this in a section below.
The GR3 is designed in a way that it opens flat. This means that the front flap comes apart and exposes the main compartment which makes it accessible very conveniently, at a time completely. This makes it very easy to take out the thing as well as organize the items inside the bag is a much better and convenient manner. With a storage capacity of 45L, the GR3 is more than capable of holding all your stuff for a weekend trip and still has enough room left for more stuff. And with the help of the packing cubes, you can achieve a lot of organization in the backpack. If you are someone who likes to have their own organization and already owns a lot of packing cubes, you will love the GR3 and its ability to store two layers of packing cubes. On the other hand, if you are someone who looks forward to the organizational capability of a backpack then you might get a little disappointed. However, if you go past this and use a few packing cubes that trust me very few bags will give you the same storing and organizational capabilities.
On the front part of the GR3 is a slash pocket, which is also easily the most accessible part of the bag. This pocket is perfect for storing small items that you might need to access quickly. But one thing you should keep in mind is that this pocket doesn’t have much space at all. It isn’t a 3D pocket, but rather a flat pocket and has space to store a few flat items. In terms of the volume it doesn’t have that much of it. Also you will find it very hard to try and fit something inside this front slash pocket if the bag is already filled up completely. This pocket is ideal for storing a few flat items that you might need quick access to, like your passports, plane tickets, or any other similar items. In order to open the backpack, you will have to unzip the YKK zippers.
The GR3 backpack, like the GR1 and GR2, features a “silent zipper pull system.” This means that the zippers are capable of very silent pulls. So unzipping it and opening the bag won’t grab you any unwanted attention, which at times can be very annoying. This also means that you can pull the zippers without disturbing anyone which is a great thing. Coming to the construction of these zippers, they have been constructed from parachute 550 cord. The YKK zippers are one of the best-constructed zippers that can be found in any of the backpacks. The tube on these zippers is made of paracord which has a shrinking nature. In addition to this, there is a double-layered rain flap on the zipper channels. These double-layered channels keep the mud and dirt out of the bag and help in making it more waterproof. These zippers are also very easy to pull and can be easily repaired if anything goes wrong. Not to forget how glove-friendly these zippers are.
On the backside of the bag is a Bombproof Laptop Compartment located right under the shoulder straps. While some might think that GoRuck went a little overboard with this claim, calling it bombproof, I think that it is somewhat justified. Don’t know about bombs, but the GR3 can easily protect your laptop in even the most challenging conditions. The laptop compartment is slightly raised and is also well-padded. It comes with some extra reinforcement and adds extra protection for the laptop so that it remains safe no matter how badly the bag is handled (up to some extent). So, if you were to go by GoRucks claims, you can carry your bag to combat and even then be rest assured that your laptop will remain protected and secure. One thing a few people may not like about this compartment might be the slightly awkward positioning of it. It is located on the back panel right under the shoulder straps which might make it a little difficult and inconvenient to access. But the same thing might be convenient for a few. It really depends on your preference and how you would like to access this. But whatever it may be, the compartment is rock solid and will keep the laptop protected at all times. To make things even better and keep them in a more manner, the GR3 also comes with a hard frame sheet made of plastic. While this is something that is not new, as both GR1 and GR2 had them too, the one on GR3 is much better. It is stiffer and will give better protection. The laptop compartment will be better balanced by having this extra plastic frame sheet in it. It will also make the bag even more stable than ever before. This will allow you to carry more weight than before and that too very comfortably. In case the frame sheet isn’t required, you can remove this frame if you want.
As we have seen above, the GR3 comes with molle webbings that are located just below the slash pockets. These molle webbings can be used to add some extra organization. MOLLE stands for “modular, lightweight load-carrying equipment” and they can be used to attach multi-tools, knives, magazine pouches, and many other types of equipment to any backpack that supports them. There are 4 rows of Molles with 6 loops across on the front. This gives you tons of room to use different kinds of molle accessories to go with the. This gives you extra organization and space as well. In addition to that, there are 2 more rows of molle webbings with 4 loops across. These two rows of molle are perfect for the GR3 compression tough bag which you can stick to the bottom of the bag. Other than that, there is also a row of molle on each of the shoulder straps. You can use this molle to attach a sternum strap to the backpack which will give you some extra support and take more pressure off of your shoulder. This will result in a much comfortable carrying experience.
The GoRuck GR3 has one of the biggest main compartments you will find in any backpack. It has a flat design and which means the front flap opens up giving you access to the main compartment. On the front side there are three pockets of equal size. The pocket on top is a large nylon pocket. The other two pockets are meshed pockets. However, you should keep in mind that these pockets are not 3D pockets. What this means is that these pockets don’t have much volume. Instead they are flat pockets and are ideal to store flat items. This includes small flat items like wires, harddisks, documents, power banks, etc. These pockets have the same YKK zips on them. However, they all are color-coded. What this means is that each of these zips has a different color so that you can identify them each. While this isn’t something very significant but it is still a welcomed change. And if you are someone who is into these types of things then it’s even better. This is for those people who like different colorful setups and they will love the color-coordinated zippers.
The other side of the compartment is the main storing unit. Height wise it is the same as the other GoRuck backpacks. But where it is different is the amount of depth it has. It has almost double the depth of the other backpacks. You can easily stack one layer of the item on top of another layer. The GoRuck GR3 doesn’t have much organization on its own. But with the help of a few extra packing cubes, you can achieve a lot of organization in the backpack. You will love the GR3 and its ability to store two layers of packing cubes if you are someone who likes to have their organization and already owns a lot of packing cubes. On the other hand, you might get a little disappointed if you are someone who looks forward to the organizational capability of a backpack then. The main compartment is also entirely covered with a velcro surface. This makes it easier to organize things as they remain together. You can make full use of it if you have any packing cubes with velcro on it. You can use a big packing cube as the base and then stack the small cubes on top of the backpack. You can also fill the bottom layer with the cubes and then stack your clothes on top of them or vice versa. The possibilities are endless. And given how deep the compartment is, you can easily store almost everything you might need for your travels.
Goruck GR3 Quality and Comfort
GoRuck is very much known for the quality of materials it uses to construct the GoRuck backpacks. In fact, GoRuck has earned itself somewhat of a cult following online. There are multiple forums where there are many satisfied owners of the backpack who can vouch for the quality of the backpacks. If you have any doubts regarding their quality then just look them up on Google or a few forums or communities like Reddit for example and you will have all your doubts cleared. Also no points for guessing where I got to know about these backpacks. In terms of the material used and their quality, the GR3 is just like any other GoRuck backpack. It has the same materials, same stitching, and even the same design patterns. There are a few differences though which decide the uniqueness of the pack, but overall they have the same feel. They are all solidly built and their stitching is nearly perfect. Not even a single stitch is out of place in the backpack.
GORUCK claims that the materials they choose to build the back “are proven to thrive in war.” This is another claim from GoRuck which might seem to be over the top. But trust me, they know what they are doing and there is some truth to its claims. The GR3 backpack is made from 1000D CORDURA® ballistic nylon. This material is amongst the best quality materials that you can find in a backpack. It can’t get better than this. It is unbelievably strong and durable. It is waterproof and has been built for use in every kind of weather and conditions, even the extreme ones. It is very dust resistant and is also scratch-proof up to some extent. The stitching is perfect and the zippers are the best in the market. So, thanks to the impressive build quality of the GR3, you can throw it around without having to worry about damaging the bag. But there’s a limit to everything. So, don’t go out of your way to prove its durability.
Another thing GoRuck finally decided to include in their backpacks were the side handles. The GoRuck GR3 now comes with 3 different Padded Handles. It has got one Padded top handle and 2 padded side handles. The side handles also make it possible to carry the bag like a normal office bag and make it perfect for carrying through the airport or pulling out of the overhead bin. These padding on these handles ensure that you feel comfortable while holding them, and makes it easier to carry them. The GR3 is bound to get heavy at times because of its capability of storing a lot of items at a time which might hurt your shoulders on carrying a backpack for a long time on your back. The extra padding on the shoulder straps is there to try and avoid this. Along with making it easier to carry heavier loads it also makes it much more comfortable to carry on you back.
The shoulder straps on the GORUCK GR3 also have some extra padding just like the top handles. They are one of the most comfortable and balanced straps you can find out there. The shoulder straps have around 2 months break-in period. What this means is that the straps are a little hard at first when they arrive. This might make it a bit uncomfortable at first. But as you keep on using them, they will eventually get more and more comfortable. It will take around 2 months of usage before it becomes most comfortable. This is what the break-in period meant. The shoulder straps also have a row of molle webbing each. This molle is perfect for adding a sternum strap which will give additional support to your back and make it easier to carry the backpack. Just like the top and side handle and the shoulder straps, the back panel of the GR3 also has some extra padding. Like the other parts of the bag, it is also constructed from 1000D material. The back panel has also been modified so that it is breathable. This makes the bag extra comfortable and absorbs sweat so that you don’t get all sweaty while carrying the bag.
The GoRuck GR3 backpack also comes with integrated Hip belts. These belts are attached to the back panel and you can easily remove them if you want. The Hip belts help in spreading the load across your hips. A hip belt can transfer a majority of the bag’s weight off of your shoulders and on to your hips. The bag will feel a lot lighter and take the pressure off your shoulders. In addition to this, the GoRuck GR3 comes with 4 compression straps. After not including them by default in the GR1 and GR2, GoRuck finally included compression straps in the GR3. There are two compression straps on each side of the bag. These straps help you squish the load closer to the frame of the bag. Once you completely pack the bag, cinching the straps down will compress the bag bringing the weight and load closer to your back. This will result in a better weight balance which will make it comfortable to carry without hurting your back. The GoRuck GR3 also comes with the Scars Lifetime Guarantee. This means that if the bag is damaged or there are any scratches and other small things, you can use this guarantee. You will have your bag fixed by GoRuck, free of cost. This is great for people like me who use their backpack very roughly.
Let’s now take a look at the key differences between the GR3 and the GR2.
GoRuck GR3 vs GoRuck GR2
- GR2: The GoRuck GR2 packs a fair amount of volume in a smaller form factor. This is because of the additional outer compartment in the GR2. The GR2 comes in three different volumes. The smaller variant has a 26L capacity, while the medium variant has 34 L capacity and the larger one has a 40 L capacity. Height wise they are all 2 inches apart. So the 26L is 18 inches tall whereas the 34 Lone is 20 inches tall and finally the 40 Lone is 22 inches tall.
- GR3: The GoRuck GR3 is a much bigger bag than the GR2. It comes in only a single variant that is the one with 45 L volume. Height-wise it is the same as the 40 L variant of GR2 that is 22 inches tall.
2. Exterior Design
- GR2: The Goruck GR2 features a slant pocket on the outside and comes with a 2X3 velcro to attach things. And it also features a Molle webbing system for attaching accessories. In total GR2 has 4 rows of molle webbing on the front and also on both sides as well.
- GR3: The GR3 has a lot of exciting features on the exterior. First of all, there’s finally a side handle on both sides. Finally! It also has external compression straps which the GR2 doesn’t. This isn’t all. There’s also an integrated hip belt on the GR3. Talking about similarities, like the GR2, the GR3 features a slant pocket on the outside and also a 2X3 velcro to attach things. It also features a Molle webbing system like the GR2 and has a total of 4 rows of molle webbing on the front. The only difference is that instead of having molle webbings on the sides, the GR3 has them on the bottom.
3. Interior Design
- Inner Compartment: The inner compartment of the GR2 comes with a total of 3 internal pockets. One of them is a large elastic pocket while the other one is a large mesh zippered pocket. The third and the final internal pocket is a small go-to pocket where you can keep regularly used items for easy access.
- Outer Compartment: The outer compartment of the Gr2 has 4 extra pockets. On one side there is a large mesh zippered pocket with internal dividers and a smaller mesh pocket on the bottom. The other side has two zippered pockets, a small one and a larger one. The smaller pocket is completely concealed while the larger one is a mesh pocket.
Unlike GR2, the GR3 comes with only a single but large compartment. The top side of this compartment has 3 pockets. Two of these are mesh pockets while the third one is a large nylon pocket. The other side of the compartment is entirely covered with a velcro surface. This makes it easier to organize things as they stick together. Also since the GR3 is a little large, you can stack one layer of the item on top of another layer.
4. Laptop Compartment
Both the GR2 and the GR3 have a laptop compartment at the same location, that is on the back beneath the shoulder straps. They both also have a Frame Sheet inside the compartment. The only difference is that it is easier to take out the laptop from the compartment in GR3 because of its bigger size. That’s it.
GORUCK GR3 Backpack Review Verdict
The GoRuck GR3 backpack may be a bit expensive but it is without any doubt, one of the best backpacks. It makes some pretty bold claims and it mostly stands by those. It is extremely well built with high-quality material. It might have a minimal look but it is a very functional backpack. It is also very comfortable to carry. It also comes with an integrated hip belt, compression belts, and two side handles. And most importantly, it can store a lot. With the GR3 all your travel needs will be fulfilled. So, if you are on the lookout for a durable and comfortable backpack with lots of storage and are willing to shell out the money, then the GoRuck GR3 is the perfect backpack for you.