Rucking 101


The purpose of this outline is to provide guidance on Rucking – what is it, how to get started, recommended gear, and some tips and tricks the Knoxville Pax have learned along the way.

Like most things F3, the best way to learn more about it is to post yourself, and Ruck with your fellow Pax; however, read on to get you going. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, then ask it on Slack and someone should have a good answer. 

If you think of something that should be included here for others, Contact F3Knoxville's Ruck Q, Blindside at and this page will update for others going forward!

Now, let’s start from the very beginning – always the best place to start… WTF is Rucking?!??

RUCK•ING [VERB] – carrying a weighted pack on your back.

It implies action, energy, and purpose.

Rucking is the foundation of Special Forces training. Green Berets are well versed in shouldering heavy rucks through cities, mountains, jungles and deserts, in war and in peace — alone when they must, together whenever possible. Rucking requires strength, endurance, and character — and builds it, too. Click here for a great Rucking 101 video, and here is a great link for a Glossary of Rucking terms.

Note: Hiking is rucking in the mountains, urban hiking is simply called rucking. Rucking can be done at any weight.


You just need two things to get started: a Ruck (your old backpack will work) and something heavy. If you’re going any significant distance – remember water as well! Typically, in a bladder/camelback, but water/Nalgene bottles work great too. That’s all you need!
** For more advanced gear needs, check out our Gear Checklist further down.

You will want to start with approx. 20 lbs. (or less, no need to overdo it): plates from a weight-room work well to start, or you can tape four bricks together (approx. 5 lbs. each, so for 30 lbs. go with six bricks). 

Pro-tip: Always make the weight stable inside your ruck & cinch your ruck all the way as high on your back as it goes!

You can start around the house, then around the block/neighborhood. Word around town is that mowing your yard with a Ruck on is a great workout (it's called a MowRuck). It is always recommend going with someone and making it a social occasion – with your fellow Pax, or on a walk with your M and/or 2.0s. You will want to shoot for 16-18 minute/miles, but the point is to keep moving so move at your own pace.

For beginners, don’t overdo the weight. Get used to your ruck with 20 lbs. – increasing as you get comfortable to 30+ lbs. Typical top end of weight should be about 30% of your bodyweight.   It’s just like wearing a backpack, but your back, shoulders, hips, and feet will feel it as the weight increases. Remember to care for your feet! Stretch appropriately and wear comfortable shoes.

Spend time under weight!  Get distance on your feet and hours under load. This is the only way to get used to carrying your loaded ruck. Extreme distance isn’t necessary to train for any single event – just like a marathon, work up in distance as you are capable/comfortable. For a 15-20 mile GoRuck Tough, as an example, do a number of 7-10 mile training rucks – these will take 3-4 hours.

Train heavy!  Once comfortable and able, train with more weight than required during a GoRuck-style event (e.g., if a GoRuck Tough requires you to carry 30 lbs., train with 50 lbs. or more). This will ensure that you have no issues during the event itself with a fully packed ruck (weight, water, plus other gear add up), and it will make the required weight feel more natural and painless.

Train with Coupons!  A typical Rucking-based Event will have partners/teams (2+) carrying logs, telephone poles or similarly gruesome objects. Training with similar items will help you learn how to lift and set them down without hurting yourself, and how to most “comfortably” carry them.  Fireman carries are also a useful training exercise to learn the proper method of carrying a partner (i.e., a casualty).

Physical training is also a part of a typical GoRuck event. Spend time working out with squats, lunges, overhead presses, arm curls, push-ups, bear crawls, getups, etc., all with your ruck! 

Pro-tip: click here for sample exercises, then go do them!


Blisters are caused by friction and moisture – best prevention is good shoes, good socks and keeping your feet dry.  Wear good shoes and good socks! Consider sizing up 1/2 size bigger shoes (or even full size up). Before putting socks on, apply Moleskin as needed, then Body Glide and/or Trail Toes.

GEAR CHECKLIST (for most Ruck-based Events)

Required (for GoRuck-type events):

**F3 gets a discount for all GoRuck gear**


Strongly recommended, but not required (for GoRuck-type events):


Further Gear guides and packing lists: