[infobox] As I look towards developing a valuable “Reviews” section on the site, I’ll do so with considerations for “Build Quality”, “Utility” (general usefulness and usability) and “Value” – a measurement not exclusively of price, but what you get for the money. Hopefully these reviews will prove to be useful to the community. Advice and recommendations are welcome! [/infobox]
When I first heard about GoRuck’s plans to release a sand bag a month or two ago, I thought it was a product I might skip out on. I had a sandbag that was serving my needs fairly well, but as pics of sandbag prototypes began leaking out from Challenges, my interest was certainly piqued. The dimensions seemed much better that my homemade sandbag and the build quality (unsurprisingly) looked exceptional. Still, it wasn’t until I saw how reasonably GORUCK chose to price these products that I decided I needed to take the plunge. With pricing coming in well below several well known competing sandbag offerings, the product would have been worth a look regardless, but with GoRuck’s legendary SCARS Lifetime Guarantee behind it, this became a real no-brainer.
It was time to upgrade my sandbag. I settled on the 60 lb. model and paid $95. This included the sandbag shell and two 30 lb. filler bags.
Anyone who has purchased a GORUCK built product before will find no surprises here. To the uninitiated, understanding this company’s philosophy towards product releases is important here – especially when considering a product that will take the beating that a sandbag is likely to endure.
While this company’s product design and engineering processes no doubt parallel those of their competitors in many ways, their product testing, R&D and quality assurance are on an entirely different level than what our modern “throw away” culture normally produces. GORUCK products are tested time and time again at the crucible of the GORUCK Challenge. Products are released when their prototypes meet the standard, and no sooner. I own several of their products, and this uncompromising approach produces gear that exists in a class by itself. Their sandbag is no exception.
Let’s take a closer look.
One of the 1st things I noticed when picking up my sandbag were the strong, substantial and comfortable handles. They’re thick and padded, making the sandbag very comfortable to use for extended workouts.
The zippers appear to be the same zippers that GORUCK uses in their packs. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The zippers on GoRuck’s products exist as the smoothest, strongest, most dependable closures of any bag, luggage, clothing or equipment I’ve ever owned. I’ve never had a single stuck or mistracking zipper on their gear. Not once.
This shot gives you a good sense of the substance and stitching of the product. This is what quality workmanship looks like.
The shell of the GORUCK sandbag features plenty of handles. If an exercise can be done with a sandbag, the GORUCK sandbag features the necessary handles to help you make it happen.
The product comes with two 30 pound filler bags as well.
These filler bags are a BIG part of the value and utility of this product to me. They’re built tough, and are very well designed.
As you can see from the above pic, the filler bags feature two strips of Velcro loop: one on the inside of the bags, and one on the outside. This allows the Velcro hook surface to have a double seal on the filler bag. This simple but ingenious design allows the fillers to provide a good barrier to would-be rogue sand granules and does a very good job overall of keeping your sand where it belongs. In your bag and away from your zippers.
These filler bags really add to the value of the GORUCK sandbag, as they greatly increase the potential utility of this purchase. GR1 owners may be interested to know that the 30 lb fillers fit in the GR1… like a glove.
With these filler bags recently being approved for use in The Challenge, it’s something I’ll plan on training with a bit. I did a short ruck with a sandbag filler bag to get a feel for it, and began to unearth some pros and cons when compared to using bricks for The Challenge… the subject of another post maybe. Regardless, these bags should give the more creative of you some ideas. A lot could be done with these!
The sandbag shell is a solid, well build bag, so could certainly be used for other things as well. I’ll likely use it to carry gear for car/tent camping, among other things.
I’m fairly sure that GORUCK frequently finds themselves fielding the question of “why does XYZ product cost so much?” The fact that these sandbags sit at or below the price point of competing products was a welcome surprise for me. Still, as someone who wrote a post about building an affordable sandbag only 3 months ago, the question of “value” is one I had to field for myself before taking the plunge.
Let’s dissect this a bit by contrasting/comparing my homemade sandbag with the GORUCK sandbag.
1st, you’ll notice the duct tape on my old sandbag. A “feature” that was decidedly lacking from my write up. As I discussed in the article, I ended up using wood pellet fuel for my filler material. Unfortunately it, like sand, can produce some dust with frequent use. The tape was an ugly, imperfect solution, but placing it over the zippers helped minimize the dust thrown off by the bag. GoRuck’s filler bags are a far more elegant solution!
2nd, you’ll notice the size difference between my “duffel + wood pellet fuel” creation and GoRuck’s product. Both weigh approximately 60 pounds, but GoRuck’s tighter, more focused package allows sand (which is quite heavy of course) to be used instead of alternate filler choices.
3rd, you’ll notice the difference in material between these products: The GR sandbag at left, and my homemade duffel at right. The cordura used on GoRuck’s products is much more durable than you’ll find in your average duffel bag. Lastly, the duffel simply doesn’t feature as many handles, and by prozy as much utility, as as this purpose-built product. It “works”, but without good hand holds, many exercises become awkward and unwieldy.
What much of this boils down to is simple: this product is meant to be the last sandbag you’ll ever need to buy.
So, the obvious question is “should I get one?”
The product is undoubtedly worth the price. It’s built like a tank and is perfect for any sandbag routine. If you’ve ever worked out with a sandbag before, you’ll love this product. If you haven’t ever used a sandbag before, you can certainly get a good sense of how one would fit into your training regimen with a cheap duffel bag and a few bucks worth of filler. If money is a concern, that’s a good start. As with most things in life, it’s better to get up and “start” than do nothing. That being said, you’ll soon find out how incredibly useful and convenient having a good sandbag at your disposal can be, so I WOULD recommend taking the plunge into GoRuck’s sandbag product regardless of your experience level. It’s better (and ultimately cheaper) to buy a sandbag once than 2-3 times. If you go another route and begin to discover the shortcomings of your sandbag, this excellent product will be waiting – ready to be the last sandbag solution you’ll ever need to buy.