Last weekend, a GORUCK Challenge veteran was awesome enough to take a group of us rookies through the paces for about 4 hours. It wound up being a great fitness check and gear test. The weather was going to be challenging, probably my least favorite condition: precipitation and just warm enough not to snow. It was about 34 degrees and raining for most of our mini tour of St. Paul. With the weather forecast showing little indication of a warm-up for our Challenge at the end of the month, I think this will be nearly the same gear I will carry.
- Merino Wool Base Layer
- Merino Wool Kirkland(Costco) Sweater
- Sierra Designs Hurricane Rain Jacket
- REI Briefs
- Solomon 3/4 Trail Running Tights
- Mountain Hardwear Softshell Pants
- IceBreaker Merino Wool Ski Socks
- New Balance MT100 Trail Shoes
- GORUCK TAC Hat (not pictured)
- GORUCK GR1 Backpack
- Blackburn HydraSak Bladder
- Petzel Tika Headlamp
- Ansell Work Gloves
- Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sac
- Simple First-aid Kit: athletic tape, gauze, antibiotic ointment
- Wallet, cash, cell phone
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 Waterproof Camera
- Hammer Gel Shots
- Perpetuem Solids
- Generic LED Headlamp
Secondary Gear (carried, but not used):
- Smartwool Beanie
- Seirus All Weather Gloves
- Extra Snacks
The only thing I am planning to change at this point is my backup set of gloves. The Seirus All Weather Gloves probably don’t have the durability for the Challenge, despite being my favorite biking, running, multi-purpose winter gloves. I was quite happy with how my gear performed in the cold rain. My feet and hands got cold when we stopped at the end, but other than that, I was comfortable. My rain jacket and softshell pants kept me dry, but still provided ample breathe-ability. I can’t say enough about how much I love Merino Wool. It’s by far my favorite fabric. The biggest surprise was how great the GORUCK TAC hat was in these conditions. It kept enough of the rain off my head, but vented enough to keep me from being uncomfortable.
Our (no so) dry run began at 4PM at a somewhat random street corner in St Paul, near Harriet Island. Our stand-in cadre gave us a quick rundown on what we can expect, both that evening and during the actual Challenge. Much of what we did that evening was to be expected, a little PT (much more to be expected during the Challenge), rucking up and down, buddy carries, etc. But we also worked on some finer details. The biggest thing our guide tried to drive home was teamwork. “The sooner you gel as a team, the easier life will be.” One of my favorite things he said was “if one of you has water, you all have water”. He wanted us to be prepared to share everything: food, water, and workload.
Another thing he wanted us to do was think. We were assigned missions, and we needed to use our resources to accomplish them in the allotted time. We weren’t always given all of the info immediately, and sometimes it didn’t provide clear direction. Our sensei wanted us to think through what we were doing and go about it logically. Don’t assume anything, and ask questions.
After spending a few hours in the rain with some new friends, I am more excited than ever to start the Challenge. I have no doubt that it will be hard, but that’s what makes it worth doing.