7 Tips to Get Started with Rucking

Before the internet, it was practically top-secret knowledge that In-N-Out Burger has menu items that aren’t actually displayed on the menu. I mean, not even my brothers would tell me about it. They would just come home with the sauciest, tastiest looking french fries I’d ever seen. 


The answer was quite simple really, if you knew what to ask for, in this case, "Animal-style fries", they would give them to you.

And if you don’t know, now you know.

Learning the secrets of rucking is like learning the secret of these phenomenal french fries. But like the fries, it’s not the rucking that’s new. It's all the stuff that goes with rucking that makes other people wonder how you got the good stuff.

We're all about bringing you the good stuff (and making sure you get noticed) that's why we're giving you 7 tips to get started with rucking.

  1. Start With Reliable Footwear

In its most basic form, rucking is just walking with a backpack. Now add 15-25% of your body weight, over 3 miles, at a 15-minute-mile pace (depending on your current program) and you are putting some serious strain on your feet. The adventure starts now! Choose between your preferred rucking boot or shoe. In either case, key things you should feel are cushion for the ride, snug support that isn’t so tight to cause blisters and grip in wet or dry terrain. If it feels like your toes can lay comfortably as when you are barefoot, that is a sign of a good fit. If your boot is 1 lb or lighter, you are setting yourself up to have the max amount of energy during your ruck. Protecting your feet is simple when you buy shoes with a steel shank support. Ankle support is optional as you may want to have full flexibility in the ankle while you ruck. In this case, choosing a shoe over a boot may be your best bet. Footwear that lasts up to 6 months or more of consistent hiking and rucking is the mark of durability - something you won’t want to overlook and is easy to tell if you check reviews. 

U.S. Elite Recommendation: SALOMON FORCES GUARDIAN ($159.95) due to their glorious combination of materials. In addition, it also is AR670-1 compliant so you can train in the same boots you plan to work in!

  1. Keep Your Feet Dry

One of the most common obstacles for any rucker, or hiker for that matter, are blisters. Blisters can occur more easily when your feet are moist - which happens when you are, let's say, outside, in the heat, carrying up to 25% of your body weight.

Let’s just say the odds aren’t stacked in your favor with just any socks. Similarly with footwear, it’s about finding what feels good. Socks made with Merino Wool, nylon and polypropylene will keep moisture out. Have you ever pet a sheep? Now imagine wearing a sheep on your foot. Can you really think of a better way to get cushion on your feet with a piece of clothing? Either in a boot or a shoe, you’ll want the socks to go at least to mid calf length. And when it starts to get warm inside, you can rest assured that with the right sock fibers drainage is provided.

U.S. Elite Recommendation: Sealskinz Walking Thin Mid Socks ($47) designed for breathability, moisture control and bacteria rejection. That’s a pretty impressive resume for a sock!

  1. Pack The Essentials

Having a quality ruck is more than having the perfect medley of materials. Weight, strap tightness, snacks and water can virtually guarantee a good time, every time. Adding more than 25% off your body weight to your ruck (dry) will drain your energy faster and strain your joints. This is especially ironic if you happen to have taken up rucking to avoid running injuries. Some suggest that packing your ruck with the heaviest weights on top will give you the best workout. Whether you pack it lightest to heaviest or vice versa, make sure to leave plenty of room for water and a high protein snack. Lastly, if your ruck feels like it’s hanging off of your body - strap, it, up. Look! You’re posture is better already! 

Still unsure if you’ve packed your ruck properly? Check out this article.

  1. Know Your Limits

Depending on the type of person you are, this can go either way. You can either know your limits, and push yourself until you break. Or you can push your limits a bit each week until you break past them. All the gear in the world can’t save you from pushing yourself too far, too fast. From one overachiever to another, you will reach the goal faster when you learn to accept the discomfort of your current limits.

  1. Ruck With Friends

You could be as introverted Samwell and still enjoy some time away from The Wall with some good friends. Maybe they’re the type to take in nature and all of her scenery alongside you. Or maybe they’re as humorous as Tyrion, breaking you away from the weekly grind in your version of Westeros. 

Ok, if you actually understood all of those references, you should really go outside and ruck with some friends. 

  1. Switch Up Your Routine

Routines can vary depending on your experience. Experienced ruckers can train 2-3 days per week focusing on different muscle groups during each session. In its traditional form, rucking typically builds your legs and back - especially when performed with squats. #Legday. If you’re the type who lives by the motto variety is the spice of life, consider using your ruck for other lifting activities like an overhead press or curls. Rucksacks can be used to workout just about any muscle group with a little imagination. 

  1. Invest In A Quality Training Program

No matter if you’re beyond beginner level or ready to safely push past your limits into an advance program, try one of these U.S. Elite recommended programs:

Rucking is this beautiful blend of cardio and weight lifting that can be done out in the most inspiring places the world has to offer.

Take us along on your next adventure and be sure to tag #USElitegear

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