We love leather, it’s our go to, time tested, mother approved textile of choice when it comes to bags, boots and bondage. However, there are times when we definitely concede that it’s not the best choice in a given situation. For backpacks, I honestly prefer synthetics. The weight, flexibility and convenience are hard to pass up when you’re on the go. I’ve had all the major bags from Tom Bihn down to Jansport and the one I found best for me, was the GR1 Backpack. Let me explain the pros and cons of this puppy in this Goruck GR1 Review.
The Goruck GR1 is made from 1000D Cordura. For reference, the JanSport backpack you had in 5th grade with the leather bottom is about 400 to 600 denier nylon. The pack features double and sometimes triple stitching in all the critical stress areas, and it’s so durable that I would dare say that it’s almost abrasive at times. The duffle version of this bag would actually wear the fabric off some of my more delicate t-shirts when wearing it, so something to think about. Zippers are heavy duty YKK with paracord pulls.
Goruck strangely offers this bag in a Made in the USA version for $295 and an imported model for $265 – This is almost a no brainer, spend the extra $30 and go American. If it was like $50 + dollars it might warrant more consideration.
I recently challenged myself on a 5 day trip to California. I absolutely hate being bogged down with luggage when traveling, so I decided to try to keep it all to one bag. This bag is definitely on the smaller side, so this meant foroging a lot of creature comforts. But with careful use of compression packing cubes and some high quality merino shirts/underwear I was able to cover all my bases.
On a day to day basis the bag is great, the front slotted pocket is good for slim tablets/books. The absence of a water bottle pocket is felt, and while you can always add a MOLLE bottle holder, it hurts the look and agile nature of the bag. I was able to get my lunch, Nalgene and a spare shirt in it on most days. But the bag was definitely packed. If you carry a little more, I would opt for the larger version.
The pads are thick and comfortable, but the bag doesn’t breathe too well on your back. The handle up top is infallible. The padded laptop sleeve in the back has a hard shell and is nice and thick.
I personally think this is one of the best looking backpacks around, It’s rugged yet sleek and does not have that overly tactical feel. While that streamlined aesthetic comes at a cost of storage utility, I still find myself willing to put up with a few drawbacks. I love the velcro for patches as it makes the bag quickly identifiable and it’s always fun to swap them around.
The Goruck GR1 backpack is definitely something you need to weigh out before purchase. If this bag’s functionality works for you, and you know you’ll be using it often then it’s almost a no-brainer. It will last for years and the initial cost investment will be offset by length in service. Legendary durability aside, it’s definitely one of the cleanest, aesthetically sound bags I’ve reviewed. This is my go-to bag. And though it does have some hiccups in terms of convenience, those issues can be addressed with aftermarket attachments easily.