GoRuck is kind enough to provide a packing list for Challenge participants to keep them from showing up grossly under-equipped, but food, supplements and accessory choices are left entirely up to the prospective GRT. With that in mind, I thought it might be worthwhile to share some of what has worked for me. I’m not the most seasoned veteran of this community by any means, and I’m always learning, so I’d love to hear about your supply loadouts as well.
I’ll preface this by saying that packing smart, laying things out efficiently, and traveling light should be a priority. Refining your approach in those areas will benefit you in your Good Livin’ – both in and out of the Challenge. In short, the ideal is to have brought everything you needed, nothing you didn’t, and to have had it all easily accessible during your time of need. That’s a PERFECT scenario. So using perfection as my benchmark, I’ve yet to find a perfect load out, but I’ve learned a few things along the way and have a setup that works well for me. So, without further ado…
I expect a fair bit of dissenting opinion in this department. I’m sure many of my GRT brothers and sisters can offer significant expertise on this subject that I don’t bring to the table, but here is what’s worked for me.
You could get by with far less than you see here, and odds are you will, even if you “over-pack”. The pacing of your Challenge(s) will often leave you with little time to eat. That being said, since these foods are so calorically dense, the cost/benefit analysis of carrying extra is a no-brainer. Your buddy may need a gel even if you don’t, so it’s worthwhile to pack a little extra.
GU gels have proven to be a good staple for me during Challenges. Do they taste great? No, not really, but they get the job done. This is an exercise in “Embracing The Suck”, not a 7-course degustation. GU gels are easy to pack, easy to eat (even with gloves on), and a solid shot of carbs and caffeine in a tiny package.
Clif bars are my Challenge “meals”. Bigger, denser, and richer than those viscous gels, and some of them don’t taste half bad.
Again, I’m sure many in the community will espouse the virtues of alternative food choices, and I’m sure they all have their virtues. To me, these choices meet all of my key criteria.
NOTE: if the thought of eating a Clif bar seams impossibly difficult to you (no saliva) when the moment presents itself, you’re probably not hydrating enough. Be sure to sip your hydration pack as often as possible when out on a Challenge and don’t be afraid to let your Cadre or team-lead know when a refill needs to happen.
Smart food choices are important, but the most important supplement I’ve brought on my challenges were my electrolyte tablets. I firmly believe that the CamelBak Elixir shown at left has saved my ass during my Challenges. The manufacturer claims the product packs more electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium) than the leading sports drink, but the flavor is very light and leaves no sticky residue to clean out of a hydration bladder.
I love this stuff and plan on utilizing it for future Good Livin’ events. I mix it slightly more diluted than the recipe calls for, with 2 tabs to each 3 liter bladder fill-up. This ratio is just right for me and has really worked great.
Pack & Pouch
I’ll be offering no great revelation to a reader of this site when I say that the GoRuck GR1 pack is the perfect pack for the Challenge. I’ll spare the details and my review as to “why” in this write-up, as the quality of this bombproof piece of gear has been touted elsewhere.
Suffice it to say, this thing will take anything you throw at it and was a VAST improvement over the daypack I took into my 1st Challenge in every measurable way.
In my last Challenge, I made one addition: the MOLLE pouch shown below.
Well two if you consider the carabiners. “Why mess with perfection” you ask? Well, as I hinted at before, the pacing of the Challenge can often make well thought-out supply and supplement choices difficult to get at. This side MOLLE pouch allowed me to slide one arm out from under my ruck and sling it across one arm to access items from the side pouch easily, while staying on the move. This solution worked well, and by using the MOLLE webbing, it was rock solid – no “Gypsy Camps” here. To be honest, I briefly considered a fanny pack, but had to jettison that idea quickly, as it was in direct violation of Rule #1.
I don’t use this MOLLE pouch during everyday use of my pack, as the ruck really is damn near perfect as is, but having an easy-access velcro pouch for supplies during a Challenge was helpful.
Feet & Legs
I’ve learned a bit about supporting my aging knees and ankles from the interwebz (and my chiropractor), and a lot about foot care from some of the more seasoned veterans of the GoRuck community. These items are now a required part of my pregame routine:
My knees, calves and ankles have fought a losing battle with me over the years, as they’ve attempted to sideline me time and again. The “real world” value of kinesiology tape may be in question to some, for me this stuff has been an invaluable tool to help keep me moving when pain and injury has threatened to sideline me. Next to selecting the proper shoes, good taping has been the best discovery I’ve made in this department. If you have a joint or muscle injury, Google the affected body part + “kinesio tape” to find resources on how to tape it up.
Body Powder & Petroleum Jelly
After soaking in the combined wisdom of Mr. Webb and others in the community, I decided to give a new pre-game anti-chafe ritual a try, and I gotta say “thanks gentlemen!” It worked great.
In my case, I chose to apply the body powder 1st. A VERY liberal coating on every part of my body that could possibly chafe. Use your imagination here folks. You should look like a flour-dusted bakery selection when you’re done. Get in between every toe… every nook and cranny. The Vaseline (or generic petroleum jelly) comes next. Slap that shit on like you’re basting a chicken. Again, every nook and cranny.
You may be surprised how tolerable this all feels. I expected to feel like I was swimming in grease, but it’s barely noticeable… and the pay off is WELL worth it. Not a single blister or patch of red skin to be had. Nothing. My feet were in flawless condition after my last Challenge. This setup WORKS. Try it. This will make your Challenge better and your post-Challenge healing far more tolerable.
GoRuck recommends Mechanix gloves for the Challenge, and I don’t question their wisdom. That being said, I’ve found a solution that I prefer for cold weather Challenges.
A pair of wool or synthetic glove liners can be had for about $5 damn near anywhere. I’ve found that a cheap pair of glove liners with a cheap pair of nitrile dipped work gloves work GREAT for the Challenge. Be sure your liners and work gloves are 100% free of cotton.
Wool or synthetic liners will provide warmth, even when wet, and provide a fair bit of padding when handling logs and coupons. The nitrile dipped gloves provide superb grip. This combo may not provide the “buy it for life” durability of an item like a GR1, but I can say that they were a cheap, flawless, layered solution for my last Challenge and a recent cold weather mud run. When my hands got too warm, I was easily able to remove the glove liners, shove them in my pockets, and continue on with the rubbery grip and protection of the work gloves.
Pills & Batteries
I’ve yet to need spare batteries for my lamp during a Challenge, but one day I or a member of my team might. On that day, these will be a very welcome addition to the pack.
Ibuprofen. I downed 3 of them 1/2 way through my last Challenge when a fair bit of pain began to set in. Virtually weightless in the pack and worth bringing.
Rope & Knife
I’ve brought a length of paracord with me during each of my Challenges. I used it during the 1st, but not during the 2nd. You may not need the cord during every Challenge, but it’s light, easy to pack, and if you DO need it, it could save your ass. The Challenge often requires creative problem solving, and a strong length of rope can solve a lot of problems. It’s worth the space in my book.
If you need the paracord, you may need to cut it… which brings me to the most sentimental item in my Challenge ruck:
My 25 year old Boy Scout knife has been with me on each Challenge so far, and that won’t be changing in the future. What can I say? I’m a sentimental sap.
The Challenge will test you, and at times will make you question the wisdom of this crazy endeavor you’ve committed yourself to. For me, my old Boy Scout knife is a very tangible reminder of when my love of the outdoors and my embrace of new challenges really began. It’s also one of the best reminders I have of good memories with my father. For me at least, it’s nice to have a bit of these sorts of memories with you during the tough moments of a challenge. Good times. Happy times… with people you love(d). People who may have taught you important lessons when you were younger – like being prepared for what’s ahead, wiping that snot off your face, sucking it up, and finishing what you started.
Good luck out there!