Want to know more about the GORUCK GR2 travel backpack? You’re definitely in the right place!
In this review, we will take a very detailed look at all of the GR2’s features. From the quality of its zipper pullers to the number of internal pockets - if it’s worth knowing, it’s mentioned here!
The GR2 is primarily a travel/EDC backpack, and we want to see if that is really true. Just because it’s carry on sized doesn’t mean it’s a great travel bag - does it have the features to back up that statement? And is it a bag that works for more than just travel?
Scroll down to get the answers those, and all the other questions in this detailed GORUCK GR2 review!
GORUCK GR2 Backpack: Rating
A simple number can sometimes tell you a lot more than a hundred words. And that’s why I like to start all my backpack reviews with a rating. It’s divided into categories, so you can see exactly in which areas the backpack excels, as well as the ones where there is room for improvement:
Overall, 88 is a great score - honestly, it might be a bit low for this bag. But I’m being really harsh here, and rating it based on comparison with other similar backpacks. And even then, it still managed to score an A-!
Specifications, Materials And Durability
Great materials make a great backpack. A bag can have all the features you might possibly need, but it is no good if it’s made from cheap materials, and it falls apart within a couple months.
That won’t happen with the GR2, because it is made from premium materials. And in this section I’ll talk you through their quality, water resistance and durability.
Overview Of GORUCK GR2 Specs
The GR2 backpack comes in two sizes. Both are carry on compliant, so the right size for you will depend mainly on your height. The smaller backpack fits best on people who are under 5’8”, while the larger pack is best suited for taller people.
You can check out the specs of both packs below:
12.5" x 20.5" x 9"
12.5" x 22” x 9”
Laptop Compartment Dimensions
12" x 18.5”
12" x 19.5"
And that’s the only difference. All of the other features are exactly the same, including the size of the laptop compartment - it’s an inch taller on the bigger backpack, but both can easily fit 17”+ devices inside. So, it’s best to choose a backpack according to your height, like the manufacturer recommends.
GORUCK GR2 Materials And Durability
This travel backpack is made from 1000D Cordura Nylon - a great material with amazing durability. Nylon is generally, the best choice for luggage, because it has outstanding tear, abrasion and water resistance, meaning that it can take a beating and come out unscathed. And that you can wear it while it’s raining outside, and not have to worry about your electronics getting drenched - that’s not going to happen with the GR2.
The GR2 also features YKK zippers. They are currently the best zippers on the market, and they’re often seen in premium luggage like this. Plus, the zipper pullers are made from parachute 550 cord - a very durable material that’s virtually impossible to break or tear apart. You can count on the zippers of this pack to work for a long time, and you don’t ever have to worry about the teeth getting crooked or the zipper body of bridge falling apart.
Those tough and water resistant materials also mean that this backpack is more than suitable for off road adventures. The GR2 is a rugged backpack that you can take anywhere, and even stepping off the beaten patch won’t be a challenge to the bag. Tree branches can’t scratch it, rain won’t do any damage to it and you have more than enough space for all the items you would need for hikes and camping trips - but more on that later.
A great backpack should be comfortable to wear even when it’s filled to capacity. Otherwise, what’s the point of buying a premium pack, if you’re going to experience crippling pains in your back and shoulders?
Is the GR2 comfortable enough that you can wear in on your back for 10+ hours a day? Let’s find out!
Padded All Around
The thing we absolutely love about the GR2 is the thick padding everywhere! The backpanel is heavily padded, so that you don’t feel anything from inside the bag. There’s also extra thick padding in the shoulder straps, ensuring that they won’t cut into your skin, and that you stay comfortable even after carrying the bag for several hours.
On top of that, the backpanel features spaced out ridges, which allow the air to circulate. So, even though the backpanel is not fully covered with breathable mesh, it still has good breathability and ventilation, allowing you to wear this even on really hot days without getting all sweaty.
Lacking Extra Straps
This is why the GR2 didn’t get a perfect score for comfort - it lacks a sternum strap and a hip belt.
To be perfectly honest, these features are not even necessary on a pack this size, but it’s still nice to have the option of securing it extra tightly on your body.
And, if you desperately desire to have a sternum strap on this pack, you could always attach one to the MOLLE panels on the shoulder straps. The only issue is you’d need to buy it separately, since you won’t get one with the GR2.
Organization And Accessibility
Travel backpacks are defined by their organizational capabilities. The number of compartments, the way they open and the amount of both internal and external pockets are essential for travellers - they let you know whether or not a backpack has enough space for all the things you’re used to having in your carry on, and they also tell you something about its versatility.
So, let’s see let all the pockets and compartments of the GR2 speak for themselves.
Spacious Main Compartment
The GR2 backpack features a spacious main compartment that lies flat when opened. This is great for packing and unpacking, since it gives you easy access to all your items in the backpack. And it is much more convenient than a classic top loading compartment, where you have to take out everything to get to the stuff at the bottom.
The other thing you will love about the GR2 is the abundance of pockets in the main compartment. There’s one large elastic pocket which can easily fit a pair of shoes, a big mesh pocket and a small zippered go-to pocket. This is great for organization of smaller items, especially things like jewellery, cables, toiletries etc.
Bombproof Laptop Compartment
The GR2 has a bombproof laptop compartment - pretty cool, right? It is in the back of the bag, right behind the heavily padded backpanel, and it’s so reinforced that you could actually take your laptop into combat and not worry about it getting damaged.
There’s also a thick plastic frame sheet that’s supposed to stabilize this compartment, and allow you to carry a heavier load more comfortably. But the sheet is removable, and if you don’t find it necessary, you can always take it out.
The laptop compartment of the GR2 can fit 17” devices - even on the smaller backpack. This is great for those of you that are used to carrying larger computers, since there’s a serious lack of great backpacks for 17”+ laptops out there. Because of that, it’s time to get excited about the GR2!
Another thing worth mentioning is that there’s a false bottom in the laptop compartment. Basically, that means that there is very thick padding at the bottom, which will absorb any impact if you roughly put down your backpack on a hard surface. This also protects your device if you somehow get the bottom of the bag wet.
The laptop compartment is not entirely TSA friendly, meaning that it doesn’t lie flat when unzipped. But it is separate from the main compartment, and it will only take you a few seconds to take out your laptop, so it is partially TSA friendly. That’s good enough for me - what about you?
This travel backpack also features an extra outer compartment - great for stuff you want to have separate from the main compartment, like an iPad, earphones, chargers and whatnot.
This compartment is also easily accessible, so it’s pretty awesome for things you want to have handy during flights. It features a total of four pockets inside, which allow for organization within the actual compartment.
There is a large mesh zippered pockets with internal dividers, a smaller mesh pocket at the base, and then two zippered pockets on the top flap - a small one that’s fully concealed, and a larger mesh pocket.
And, bear in mind that the outer compartment is also pretty spacious, so you can actually fit some extra clothes inside.
External Slant Pocket
Just like a good carry on backpack should, the GR2 features an external zippered pocket on the front panel. It’s perfect for things you need to have handy at the airport, like your passport and boarding pass.
This pocket is actually pretty big - it’s almost as wide as the front panel! But it’s not really roomy, so you can’t fit any bulky items inside it. It is perfect for papers though, and you might even be able to fit a tablet in it!
The best backpacks are the ones that can work for several purposes. A pack that costs several hundred dollars and works only for daily commute or hikes is not a good backpack. If you’re spending a lot of money on a bag, you want to know that you will be able to use it for most things.
The good news is that the GR2 is a really versatile bag, thanks to all those different pockets, compartments and attachment points. So, let’s see what exactly it’s good for!
The GORUCK GR2 is advertised as primarily a carry on travel backpack, which also works as a spacious EDC bag. We’ve established that’s an amazing travel bag, but is it really good as an an EDC bag?
Here’s the thing - the opening of the main compartment is a bit awkward for EDC items, but it’s definitely not a deal breaker. Especially since you don’t have to actually unzip it fully and make it lie flat. And all the internal pockets will make your everyday life a lot easier.
GORUCK have also created a field pocket, which is their version of packing cubes to help you stay organised. They provide lots of handy packing organisation options, so if you like their style, material and durability, the field pockets are a great addition to the GR2.
The laptop compartment is more than great for everyday use, as is the outer compartment with all the zippered pockets inside it. Bear in mind that this backpack has a capacity of 34/40 liters - that’s more than you get in most EDC bags, and definitely more than enough to get you through the day.
And, since that capacity is evenly spread out across multiple pockets and compartments, organization of your EDC items will be a piece of cake.
The only thing that the GORUCK GR2 is missing is a side water bottle pocket. But you can easily make the MOLLE panels work for a water bottle, especially if you have a Klean Kanteen or something similar that has a hole in the cap. Just attach it to the MOLLE panel with a carabiner, and there’s your improvised water bottle pocket!
The great thing about the GORUCK GR2 is that it has a lot of MOLLE panels. There are the ones on the front panel, on the sides, and then you also get some inside the main compartments, as well as on the shoulder straps.
This is amazing in terms of the versatility of the pack. It allows you to attach pretty much anything you can think of to the backpack - from walking poles to a bulky jacket. All you need is a carabiner, and you’re good to go.
The MOLLE panels actually make the backpack incredibly versatile, and suitable for use in different adventures? It’s obviously great as a travel and an EDC bag, but with the MOLLE panels you also have the option to use this as a camera backpack, a hiking backpack and even a camping backpack. The capacity is more than enough for outdoor activities, especially with so many different pockets and compartments.
You could actually put a hydration bladder in the laptop compartment, if you were to take the bag hiking. You wouldn’t be able to zip it up entirely, but that’s not such a big deal - and you have all those MOLLE panels on the shoulder straps, so you could attach the bladder hose to them for hands-free drinking.
The only thing the GR2 isn’t really great for is cycling. The lack of sternum strap and a hip belt mean that you can’t fully secure this to your body, so it will move around while you’re on the bike. And it’s lacking reflective accents, as well as attachment points for a helmet and an LED light - features I consider necessary on a good cycling backpack.
Value For Money
The GR2 is a pricey backpack, and not everyone can stomach its price - especially since you can get decent travel backpacks for some $50.
But, none of those come even close to the overall quality and functionality of this bag. The durable materials, the multiple compartments, pockets and all those attachment points easily justify the steep price tag.
Especially since it’s so versatile - instead of getting three or four different bags for travel, EDC, hiking and camping, you’re getting one backpack that can do it all. And because of that, I actually think this bag is great value for money - obviously, for those of you that can afford to get it without emptying your bank accounts.
GORUCK GR2 Review: Final Thoughts
When all is said and done, is the GORUCK GR2 a backpack worth buying? My answer is a 100% yes - if you’re looking for a versatile carry on backpack, this is definitely one of the best options out there.
It is made from premium materials that can handle anything, from the city streets to rugged hiking trails.
Packing is super easy, with all the different pockets and compartments. And since the main compartment lies flat, you have easy access to everything inside. Plus, with so many internal zippered pockets, staying organized will come naturally.
But it’s a pricey bag, and it’s definitely not inside everyone’s budget. If you can afford the GORUCK GR2, I highly recommend you go for it - it’s a bag you’ll be able to use for years, and for pretty much anything you want.
If this travel backpack is too expensive for you, be sure to check out our related posts, for some other, more affordable options!