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Rucking, Part 2: What Gear and Equipment do You Need? What to Carry and Wear?

Updated: Apr 15

Rucking gear equipment Singapore

If you want to ruck, in this article we cover the basics of what gear to pack and wear as opposed to the why and the how, that we cover elsewhere. That being said, what are the basic items of kit that we need to ruck? This is based my experience as an occasional rucker and from my own, limited experience in the army.

As ever, please talk to your doctor or medical practitioner most familiar with your medical history before implementing any changes in diet, exercise or lifestyle, especially if you are under treatment. Links to any supporting studies or resources are shared at the end of page.


Rucksack (aka Backpack aka Daysack aka Bergen)

If you are planning a trekking or hiking vacation use the same pack for training as you will for the trek. The pack doesn't have to be a military style pack, as you see here, but it should fit well and be up to the task.

  • A useful rucksack size (measured by volume) is 32ltr (1952 cubic inches) to 36ltr and rated to carry at least 10kg / 22lb.

  • You don't have to use expensive and ultralight materials, but you can if you want. You should get a pack that can withstand some beating especially if your main purpose is rucking for health and fitness.

  • If possible try on a pack before purchasing as you need a pack that fits your torso. Many manufacturer websites provide sizing advice.

  • Be visible. On the exterior add a safety light for training at dusk or at night. Use a light on both front and rear of the pack. Remember, a military style pack is designed not to be seen and on the street in the dark this can be a problem!

  • If you are by yourself or in the wild an emergency whistle is easy to carry and to mount outside the pack.


What to Carry

You will be walking, maybe a distance away from home. You might be on the city streets, a park or in the countryside. Carry clothing and items appropriate to the weather and terrain, bring items or equipment that you might need. Ziploc bags are great for keeping loose items organised and waterproof.

  • Water, or, a flask with a hot drink

  • Hat

  • Warm clothes

  • Waterproof gear

  • Sunblock

  • Phone

  • Money

  • Snacks

  • First aid or anti-blister kit

If you are training for a trek, pack items that you will take on the trek. It is legitimate weight (i.e. as you will be using) and getting a feel for how the weighted pack sits on your back, adjusting how you pack the load, is important. If you are rucking purely to get fitter then you need to find items to make up the weight. Consider using:

  • Bags of rice. They often come in useful sizes e.g. 5kg (11lbs) bags

  • Large water bottles. 2 litres = 2.0kg / 4.4lbs

  • Tin cans (why not health promoting beans?!)

  • Books

  • Bagged sand

  • Stones

  • Metal gym weights / plates. Some people use cast iron plates specifically designed for rucking, these can be expensive.

Items should not be loose and jostling around. Masking or duct tape can come in handy to tape items together. You might need need additional padding: foam rubber or towels work well.

Carry weight as high up and as close to your back as you can, this is more efficient and comfortable than having it low in the rucksack.

It is very likely that you may need to pack the bottom of your pack with items, a spacer, to raise the load. In my small pack I use taped-up foam rubber and cardboard. It is lightweight and does the job. Consider a sleeping bag, clothing or old towels stuffed into a bag.

During a ruck you should be able to maintain good posture at all times. If you cannot, you are carrying too much weight and should lighten the load.



  • Footwear depends on terrain and climate. I am mainly in the city and in the heat, I prefer lightweight boots with ankle support. A decent pair of insoles for comfort. Ankle support is useful (safer) when carrying weight

  • Socks Wool socks work well in the heat or the cold. They are more comfortable and more hygienic than cotton or artificial fibres.

  • For the Legs Whatever is comfortable and avoids chafing at the top of the thighs. Leggings, sports shorts or long pants / trousers. Consider training in what you might need to wear for your trek or any event that you might participate in.

  • For the Torso I prefer a properly fitting lightweight, synthetic fibre t-shirt. You need a sleeved top (short or long) to stop the pack's straps from rubbing.

  • Pro-Tip: Chafing, caused by the skin rubbing against skin or clothing, can be a problem. Areas around the crotch, inside thighs and the nipples are prone to chafing. Prior to starting your ruck, apply petroleum jelly (aka Vaseline) or an anti-chafing gel to sensitive areas.


I hope these recommendations are of use, let me know what works for you. Remember, it takes time to get fit and to grow strong. Consistency of effort is important. Also consider hydration (especially if you are in tropical climates), nutrition, sleep and recovery.

Stay Healthy,



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Related Studies

We have listed some studies below, for a more detailed overview of studies, read here.

US Army "Foot Marches" documentation, April 2022

Oeschger R, Roos L, Wyss T, Buller MJ, Veenstra BJ, Gilgen-Ammann R. Influence of Soldiers' Cardiorespiratory Fitness on Physiological Responses and Dropouts During a Loaded Long-distance March. Mil Med. 2022 Jan 7;188(7-8):e1903–9. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usab540. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35015894; PMCID: PMC10363014.

Orr R, Pope R, Lopes TJA, Leyk D, Blacker S, Bustillo-Aguirre BS, Knapik JJ. Soldier Load Carriage, Injuries, Rehabilitation and Physical Conditioning: An International Approach. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 11;18(8):4010. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18084010. PMID: 33920426; PMCID: PMC8069713.

Orr R, Pope R, Lopes TJA, Leyk D, Blacker S, Bustillo-Aguirre BS, Knapik JJ. Soldier Load Carriage, Injuries, Rehabilitation and Physical Conditioning: An International Approach. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 11;18(8):4010. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18084010. PMID: 33920426; PMCID: PMC8069713.

Orr RM, Pope R. Gender differences in load carriage injuries of Australian army soldiers. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2016 Nov 25;17(1):488. doi: 10.1186/s12891-016-1340-0. PMID: 27884191; PMCID: PMC5123228.

Knapik JJ, Reynolds KL, Harman E. Soldier load carriage: historical, physiological, biomechanical, and medical aspects. Mil Med. 2004 Jan;169(1):45-56. doi: 10.7205/milmed.169.1.45. PMID: 14964502.



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