“I’m training for a GoRuck event. Should I use a sandbag or bricks?” I say “Yes. All of the above.”
Shortly after releasing their sandbag product to the masses, GoRuck modified their packing lists for Good Livin’ events to allow participants to utilize sandbag fillers instead of bricks for Challenges.
Apparently there have been a number situations over the years where Challenge participants have left their bricks behind after their event and, as you can imagine, this has caused some headaches for local law enforcement. Because of this (and maybe the opportunity to sell some more sandbag fillers), the change of policy was implemented.
As you could imagine, this led to some conversation about which approach was “better”. While the debate has tended to lean towards bricks – a position I don’t entirely disagree with – a few arguments could be made for the sandbags above and beyond the quite understandable reasons that GoRuck has offered. While I personally will continue to use bricks for future Challenges due to the way they can be separated, organized and balanced in a ruck, I have been using sandbag fillers a LOT for training rucks and I thought I’d share some of the reasons why.
* NOTE: There was a bit of confusion about the numbers indicated above, but there were corrections made by HQ and these are the “official” numbers as I understand them at this time. Please correct me if I am mistaken.
Sandbag Fillers for Versatility
If you’re training for a Challenge, Light or other Good Livin’ event, you’ve likely done your fair share of PT with your ruck and will continue to do so. A solid sandbag system like GoRuck’s does add MANY more options for PT however, and with a little creativity, you can really leverage all of the advantages of both in your workouts.
As I mentioned in my review of GoRuck’s sandbag, the 30 pound sandbag filler fits beautifully in a GR1. If you’re going for a training hike, grab your ruck, a sandbag and a water bottle and you’re good to go. You’ll still have a little room for a few snacks, a small towel or other items in the main compartment if you like.
But why stop there? One of my favorite home-brewed WOD’s has become to take a 1-3 mile ruck out along one of my favorite local trails with a stop or two along the way to get in a few solid sandbag interval workouts with my GoRuck 60 lb sandbag. I then transfer the fillers out of the sandbag shell, back to my ruck, and finish up with a 1-3 mile ruck back to my vehicle. You can put those sexy carabiners that we all have tethered to our MOLLE (and rarely use) to good use to make this happen.
Two 30lb filler bags WILL fit inside a GR1 (just barely) if you pack them laying on their side with the seams up and facing you. I imagine two 20 lb fillers would fit great if you were working with them, but I digress. I’ll continue with the 30 pounders for the purpose of this write up.
With the two fillers in your pack, you’ll have just enough room between the two filler bags to place your water bottle on top. You can then take that sandbag shell and tether it right to the outside of your pack. There are a few ways to do this:
Rolling the shell up and attaching in with carabiners along the bottom MOLLE offers a few advantages. This allows full access to all pockets and compartments, making for easy access to water and snacks during breaks. Beyond this, it keeps those fine looking patches we all love so much out there in plain view for all the world to enjoy. Overall this works well, but makes for a bit of a gypsy camp.
Another option is to fold the shell in half and attach it to the exterior of the pack lengthwise. Here’s an example.
Attaching the shell like this minimizes the gypsy camp effect, but gets in your way when accessing your pack, as you’re attaching a carabiner to the ruck handle and over your zippers. There are pros and cons to each approach. If you own a GR2, life gets easier though: throw the filler bags in the main compartment and the shell in the secondary compartment. Take your big ol’ pack for a hike and enjoy.
Whether you use one of these approaches or something different, the idea is to think of creative ways to utilize all your gear while training out on the trail or your favorite park. Have fun out there!