Rucking is simply walking with a weighted backpack.
But, what do you use for weight?
GORUCK recommends starting with 20 pounds. That may seem like a lot to beginners, so you can start with 5 pounds and work your way up as you grow accustomed to carrying the extra weight.
When you Ruck, you’re going to want to put some weight in your pack. There are a lot of things that work really well here.
The BEST OPTION is to buy a steel plate made for rucking. GORUCK makes steel ruck plates in standard sizes with smooth, rounded edges. They basically solve all of the difficulties of the options listed here, but they’re definitely expensive. But, once you ruck with a ruck plate in your rucksack, you’ll be sold on the convenience and weight distribution.
A great way to start out is to simply use water bottles, especially if you have a bunch in your pantry. A single 16-ounce water bottle weighs a pound, so you can put as few or as many as you’d like into your bag before you head out. The advantage of water bottles is that they’re so microadjustable in terms of their weight. The disadvantage, though, is that if you don’t stack them right, they can all bunch up in the bottom of the bag and throw off the weight distribution. In general, you don’t want all of the weight bundled up in the bottom of the bag. (We’ll give a tip to help with this in a bit.)
Another option is to use bricks. Rucking is a great use for a few leftover bricks from a home improvement project. A typical brick weighs around five pounds and is fairly dense, which is a good thing for rucking weights, and they obviously stack well for weight distribution. The biggest disadvantage of bricks is that they can have rough edges which can damage your pack, but that’s another disadvantage that can be mitigated (again, a tip for this is incoming).
A third option is to use old textbooks. You could literally pull out that old calculus textbook from college and toss it in there. They’re actually proportioned really well for rucking if you stand them vertically in your pack, as the weight is distributed vertically across your back instead of bunching up at the bottom. However, if you get sweaty and the sweat seeps into your backpack, you can really do a number on textbooks. The last thing you want is a sweat-soaked textbook!
If you’re ready to jump in without making a big investment, we’d suggest a Water Weight. They’re also great if you plan on traveling and rucking once you get to your destination (you don’t have to pack a weight)!
If you choose something other than ruck plates, there are a couple of simple things you can do to eliminate the disadvantages of those various items.
One thing you can do is to use duct tape to arrange small items into larger shapes. For example, you can take several water bottles, lay them flat, and then duct tape them together firmly into a flat “plate” that fits into your backpack quite well. If you take eight 16 oz. water bottles and lay them out in a flat shape that’s just a bit smaller than your backpack, you can simply tape them all together firmly and you’ll have an eight pound weight that’s distributed very well for your back. You can make multiples of these, too, or you can make them larger if you have a larger pack. You can always cut the tape later and use them for drinking.
To keep an item like an old textbook safe from sweat, wrap it in plastic grocery bags and then tape those bags with some duct tape. Just put a couple of layers of grocery bags around the book, then add several bands of duct tape to keep the bags secure. This will keep them free of sweat while maintaining the nice weight distribution of a textbook.
What about rough items, like bricks? Just stack them, duct tape them together thoroughly, cover them with bubble wrap, then duct tape the wrap. So, for example, you might take four bricks and make a stack of them, duct tape all of the bricks together (I recommend completely covering them in a couple of layers of tape to ensure that the rough edges don’t get through), then wrapping that stack in bubble wrap and taping the bubble wrap securely. This would create a weight that’s slightly more than 20 pounds and would sit very well in a backpack.