I don't think I have ever loved a backpack more than my GR1 made by Goruck. Of course there was a lot of blood, sweat, and not quite tears, but serious emotions involved in our first night together, Goruck Class 113. For those not familiar with how a Goruck class works, each person carries 6 bricks inside their rucksack. Depending on what size ruck is used, the fit can be quite tight to get the remaining gear you would need to survive a class to fit inside with the bricks.
As much as I enjoy my GR1 I can not help but tinker, to try to make it more comfortable, more specific to my ruck patterns, my inclinations. Make it mine. Thus I have been working on schemes to modify or 'mod' my ruck. Specifically how to carry a 3 liter (3L) hydration reservoir without zipping it into the hydration/laptop compartment that faces the back of the carrier. When I zip my 3L into this compartment it does not allow the pack to sit flush against my back and depending on how I jam everything inside, the zipper may not close all the way and I have gap at the top by the carry handle. Now, many Goruck alumni have figured how to overcome this challenge using their own ideas. But this one is my own. Before I explain how I did this mod, let me show you the results.
|from the back|
|side view, flush to the GR1|
The Camelbak Thermobak 3L-AB was the linchpin to this mod. I don't think I could have done it without it. The Thermobak 3L-AB uses a special system built into the pack for the use with military issue combat vests. Side Buckle clip lines are situated at the top and bottom to clip onto standard MOLLE systems, which the GR1 rucksack has along the bottom of the pack. There is also 6 D-rings along the outside for other types of attachment to packs. There is a civilian version of this model called simply the 'Thermobak 3L' that does not have this strap attachment system or D-rings. If you try this mod be sure to use the model with the AB designation. As you can see in the photo, right, I have extended the straps so you can see the location of the straps and the special side buckles that come with it. The female clips, which go on the rucksack, (and seen as set asides in the photo) have a design that allows them to be clipped onto and off MOLLE very quickly.
The actual modification to the rucksack involved double backing the inch webbing, and sewing it onto the GR1 as a new strip of MOLLE. I noticed to late that we were using a dark blue thread rather than a black. Yes it bothers me, don't make the same mistake if you do this, but I am not going to redo it now.
In the final photos above, I do have a full set of six bricks inside the pack. So that profile is what I will expect in my next class.
Obviously I did not use four feet of webbing to create a pair of MOLLE attachments along the top of my ruck. As I put it all together I realized that the top side buckle strap that came withe Thermobak would not be long enough to clip into the new MOLLE mod. A longer one was made using the extra webbing.
I touched on it in the beginning of this post that I didn't like the bulge my 3L reservoir created along the back panel when I wore the ruck. Attaching the Thermobak in this manner, not only do I have a very flush and low profile hydration platform, the GR1 is now tight against my back making my bear crawls and buddy carries less bothersome.
Another benefit of the Thermobak AB model is that it also has shoulder straps which allow you to unclip it from the ruck and wear it as a solo item. When worn attached to the ruck, the shoulder straps and the side buckle straps all tuck into cleverly designed pockets built into the unit. This additional benefit makes the Thermobak AB ideal for longer runs when I wouldn't want to wear a heavy backpack and for obstacle course racing. The low profile design of the AB which is wider than normal camelbak models, makes it easier to navigate under low or narrow obstacles like barb wire with a design less likely to snag. But the real beauty of the mod is that when I do ruck, I have an external hydration for my favorite rucksack and can also be used externally on all my other rucksacks if I so desired.
I have another modification I made for my GR1, a modest hip belt. A portion of that can be seen in photos near the bottom straps. It did not involve any permanent modifications to the pack, just some possibility thinking during long rucks.
Time to step it up.