GORUCK Ascent Loadout: 100 Hours in the Rocky Mountains - ITS Tactical
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GORUCK Ascent Loadout: 100 Hours in the Rocky Mountains

By Mike Petrucci

GORUCK Ascent ITS Tactical Patch

If you’ve been following our progression as we get closer to the GORUCK Ascent, you’re probably wondering what gear we’ve decided to take.

When Bryan and I first committed to the Ascent, we knew almost nothing other than everything we’d be taking would have to be carried in or on a GORUCK GR2 and that we’d be climbing 14’ers. We didn’t receive the packing list until about a month after signing up.

Though the packing list set in place by GORUCK is strict, we have the freedom to choose exactly what pieces of gear we will be taking. Everything from what base layers to a tent (if you even want a tent). They were also adamant that if it wasn’t on the list, we wouldn’t need it; including food other than lickies and chewies.

Before getting too far in this article we’d like to extend a HUGE thank you to Todd and Julie at Tactical Distributors for working with us as a liaison between many of the companies you’ll read about that are providing gear for our adventure to allow us to tell you all about how it performs for us.

Not your Average Pack

GORUCK GR2I heard that most hikers will recommend a pack with 2,500 to 3,000 cubic inches of space for a day hike, the GR2 holds roughly 2,900 cubic inches. This isn’t to show how much we plan to do without and “rough it,” or that we’ll be ill equipped. Instead it caused us to ask ourselves, what’s truly necessary? If it’s necessary, how can it be made lighter? Is there an alternative? All of these are excellent questions when you are trying to simplify your life and especially useful when attempting to lighten your load for backpacking.

Another feature of this bag people will ask about is why doesn’t there appear to be a sternum strap or waist belt. To quote Jason, the founder of GORUCK and designer of their bags:

“A couple questions we’ve consistently gotten deal with both the sternum strap and the waist belt. Or, in our case, the lack thereof. We approach our design with the philosophy that simpler is better, less is more. Whenever possible, we like to let people add on as they see fit. … A bag should not look like a gypsy camp, not ever. I prefer cleaner, simpler, and more functional, so that was our focus.”

The entire Ascent is planned to last 100 hours and we need to be self-sufficient with no planned resupply. Since details aren’t forthcoming, we don’t know how much time we will be spending actually reaching summits, moving between cities, or learning land navigation and survival skills. This means we need to pack so that we’re as fast and light as possible.

Bryan and I both believe that two is one and one is none, but in this case, we’re having to do with just one or even none. What can we really do without? Do I ‘need’ a six inch survival knife or will my Benchmade Mini Griptilian do well enough?

While an endless supply of money would help to better answer the question of what gear is best. Before we get into what’s in our personal loadouts, here’s the packing list we were working with from GORUCK.

GORUCK Ascent Packing List [opens in new window]

Mike’s Gear List

GORUCK Ascent Loadout

Maximum Pack Weight at Start: 28.62 lbs.

  • Waterproof Shell
  • Insulating Layer Top
  • Synthetic/Dry Fit T-Shirt
  • Cold Weather Base Layer
  • Underwear
  • Knit Cap
    • Outdoor Research Winter Trek Hat
    • 53 g / 1.9 oz
  • Hiking Boots
    • Lowa Renegade II GTX
    • 1110 g / 39.15 oz
    • I checked these boots out based on a recommendation from our Managing Editor and I couldn’t be more happy with them. Flexible but tough, these boots feel very capable and during my test on Old Rag mountain, they performed extremely well. I opted for the GoreTex variant.
  • Socks
    • SmartWool PhD (2 pair total)
    • 252 g / 8.80 oz
    • I plan on alternating the same pairs of sock for the duration of the Ascent. One pair will be worn while the other dry out.
  • Lightweight Pants
  • Lightweight, Durable Gloves
    • Louis Garneau Ergo Air (mountain biking gloves)
    • 78 g / 2.80 oz
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Camera
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Survival Kit
  • Tent
    • NEMO Meta 1P
    • 878 g / 31.00 oz
    • This tent is fast and lightweight. It uses no poles for support except one trekking pole to form a sort of teepee design. It only sleeps one but has a decent amount of room as well as decent ventilation and a vestibule.
  • Personalize GR2
    • UCP Camoform on top handle of bag and various morale patches.
  • Hydration Bladder
    • Source WXP 3L Helix
    • 381 g / 13.40 oz
    • Constant hydration is key at altitude and having three liters is a good start.
  • Water Purification
  • Headlamp
    • SureFire Saint Minimus
    • 93.6 g / 3.3 oz
    • Small, bright, waterproof… this is just about everything I was looking for in a headlamp. It offers a truly variable beam and enables you to go anywhere from 0 lumens to 100 with a simple twist. Also, I used this in my GORUCK Challenge and it passed with flying colors.
  • Flashlight
    • SureFire G2X Pro
    • 125 g / 4.4 oz
    • While I’ll probably have the Saint Minimus on most of the time, this light could easily be the primary light source due to it’s size, weight and light output. It’s variable and outputs 15 or 200 lumens.
  • Batteries
  • Pocket Knife
  • Compass
    • Suunto
  • Sunglasses
    • Suncloud Polarized Wrap Around Sunglasses
    • 35 g / 1.20 oz
    • Semi lightweight and I don’t really mind if they get lost or broken.
  • Medication / Medical
    • Bayer Asprin, Ginkgo Biloba, Ibuprofen (repackaged)
    • 31 g / 1.10 oz
  • Water Bottle
    • 32 oz. wide mouth Nalgene
    • 186 g / 6.60 oz
    • Can fill with hot water and place in my sleeping bag at night if it gets cold.
  • Pens/Pencils
    • Fisher AG7 and mini pencil
  • Notebook
  • Sunscreen / Insect Repellent
    • Small one time use SPF 30+ packets / Repel micro squirt
  • Lickies and Chewies (2 lb. Limit)
    • Trail Mix, Clif Bars, Sport Beans, GU Gel
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Fire Makers
    • REI Storm Matches, Spark-Lite Flint, Tinder-quiks
  • Bungee Cords
  • Sleeping Bag / Compression Sack
    • Marmot Plasma 15 / Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Compression Sack
    • 906 g / 31.96 oz / 66 g / 2.3 oz
    • Outside magazines Gear of the Year award winner. This bag is rated to 15 degrees, weighs under 2 pounds, and can be packed down to almost the size of a standard Nalgene. This was an early Christmas gift from my parents and I’m super stoked to test it out during the Ascent.
  • 550 Cord
    • 50 ft. OD
    • 122 g / 4.30 oz
  • Waterproofing
  • Duct Tape
    • A few feet wrapped around Nalgene and more in survival kit.
  • Misc. Equipment
    • Snow Peak Ti spork, Snow Peak 600 Ti single wall mug, Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork trekking poles, Suunto Core Extreme Edition Everest, HeadSweats Race Hat, Gossamer Gear Polycryo Ground Cloth.

Note: While focusing on the main items, some ‘odds & ends’ were excluded from the above list. If you’re interested in viewing a full breakdown of every item with notes, check out this Google Doc. I’d like to thank Brian Green for the idea and template.

Bryan’s GR2 Gear List

GORUCK Ascent Gear 03

Maximum Pack Weight at Start: 31.65 lbs.


By the time you read this we’ll be heading out to Colorado to start our acclimating and getting ready to shake the heavens with GORUCK and our Ascent teammates!

We’d like to again thank Tactical Distributors, Arc’Teryx, Outdoor Research, Under Armor, NEMO, Jetboil, Smart Wool, Princeton Tec and Contour for getting us some great gear to evaluate on the Ascent!

Stay tuned for our after action report with details on all of the gear we’ll be carrying and our honest evaluation of how it performed.

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