slingstone wrote:So I'm gonna stick up for GORUCK on a few fronts here:
A sternum strap is backpack 101, it does not delineate a pack into any subcategory other then "one that doesn't totally suck." The MOLLE field on every GoRuck pack does far more to label the wearer as a paramilitary goon then any creature comforts on the suspension side.
My point on cost is that usually it means they have higher profit margins or are bad at making stuff, neither of which I care for. Certainly value and cost are very separate calculations, but I can confidently say that pack should not cost that much.
As for disinformation I mostly mean the usual marketing BS self aggrandizement that tacitly implies other stuff is lesser. When nearly every domestic pack, tactical, or garage business is using the same materials and (more or less) construction techniques this stretches my tolerance. Sure every pack company tries to imply they are special, but most will readily admit how many other companies are on the same tier and Goruck was louder and more insistent then most.
When Cordura, #69 thread and YKK zippers are high on your list of selling points you just aren't bringing much to the table They did not go on a vision quest to pick the best fabrics after years of testing, these are all literally the path of least resistance for sourcing and manufacturing.
When they list water resistance as an attribute yet have the laptop compartment behind a horizontally oriented uncovered zipper, they have my attention. When they repeatedly tout customizability and modularity but have, *drumroll* a MOLLE FIELD! It is easy to assume their marketing department takes precedent over design side. They write pages of copy on their design process and attention to detail yet a trained eye toward their copious product photos and CAD sketches revel that, nope, it is in fact just as basic as it appears at first glance. As I said earlier, their greatest sin in my mind is still making the entire load dependent on a single, unprotected and unsupported #8 zipper. Despite their claims nothing about the intrinsic design of the bag itself seems to compensate for this. That shows a level of trust in YKK that you will not find in older companies, or myself.
You wouldn't notice it unless you've worked in a factory setting, but also a lot of what they write about production is crap. Either written by someone who doesn't really understand it, or creatively written to appeal to people that don't understand it. The "special forces as design school" narrative is also tiring, most designers can legitimately claim to have worked with "special forces end users" or to have made a product with "input from elite military units" but the more honest ones will tell you that military/special forces guys are just as likely to have really terribly suggestions as anyone that calls in with a "great idea for a product/feature/improvement." It certainly helps the brand narrative to have a Veteran co-founder, but it doesn't really lend legitimacy to their design.
Most of the marketing copy reads as treasure hunting. They made a basic, well executed product that they liked (and obviously made an emotional attachment with) and then went over it with a magnifying glass trying to find more talking points. It is the load carriage equivalent of a short sleeved t shirt, even if you make the best tshirt in the word it will still be a tshirt. Writing pages on flatlock stitching, seam placement and the pedigree of your knitting machines will never give it the same weight of design as a technical 3-layer shell with elbow articulation, differentially cut cuffs and a 7-piece hood. Do people need tshirts more then technical shells? sure. Do they buy more of them and wear them more often? Absolutely. But trying to elevate your tshirt design to the level of a more technically complex garment is quite simply a slap in the face of the people that actually have to design shells (spoiler alert: its a bitch).
Is a Goruck pack a well executed basic? Sure. Is it the perfect pack for a lot of folks? No doubt. But to think it is anything more then a shrunk, stripped down LBT/BH/Eagle 3-day pack is once again stretching the bounds of creative description. Goruck sells an emotional connection to a product, a lifestyle, and membership to a larger tribe. They have done this brilliantly, and their sales numbers reflect this.
I'm certainly not criticizing masochistic adventure racing as a lifestyle, just saying that I'm not taking comfort advice from people that pay good money to hurt themselves. I think "rucking" as goruck encourages it has a lot of roots in the "waistbelts are for sissies" military attitude that has already been discussed in this thread. I think rucking as training is great, and the community building is also commendable. But taking load carriage pointers from them is like wearing a weight vest on game day, purposely handicapping yourself is something that should be left for training only.
Companies like Tom Bihn and Mystery Ranch are actually putting in the design work and detail sweating that companies like GoRuck like to write about, and it shows. Doesn't mean the packs are a good fit for what you want to do (neither company has many packs I'd pay money for) but the effort should be recognized and praised. Just making a product and selling it is one thing, but trying to establish yourself as a leader/trailblazer/innovator in design and manufacturing invites a much higher level of scrutiny, one I don't think Goruck passes.