All Black Ballistic Bags from Goruck

I’ve been know to own a bag or two. A guy needs to keep his gear properly stowed, especially living in New York City where you constantly need to tote your “tackle” around town. Enter Goruck, the new maker of bad ass black ballistic nylon bags that pack all the toughness (and quality) of mil-spec gear, but designed with civilians in mind. Jack Barley and Jason McCarthy (a fellow Ohioian – hat tip) founded Goruck to improve upon existing military issue packs. McCarthy in particular has first hand experience with such equipment through his service in the special forces.

Every Goruck bag is Berry compliant (which means it is sourced and manufactured in the USA) and MOLLE (a military acronym for MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) compatible. Every pack is also equipped to hold a hydration bladder system, which would come in handy on a hike. Everything in the line is very minimally branded with the only logo placement inside the bag and on interchangeable patches, a very well executed and appreciated design aspect. My personal favorite patch option is the reverse black-on-black reverse flag, as pictured.

Pictured below is the GR1 with the GR Tac head cover both of which I have been using for the past few weeks, which included a jaunt through the Iberian Peninsula. I can vouch for the packs easy of use and quality. The GR1 is substantial without being too heavy, even when loaded with a DSLR, laptop and other belongings. The zippers work great and move smoothly, plus there are a lot of pouches and compartments to keep your stuff stowed properly. These Goruck bags are some of the best things I have seen in a long time – I’m expecting big things from the brand. [Goruck]

Comments on “All Black Ballistic Bags from Goruck

    Clif Henning on September 27, 2010 3:04 AM:

    I’m sorry, I’m not a fan of these items. I’m sure they are very finely constructed and able to endure extreme wear while providing a decent level of comfort. The quality and durability seem to be excellent, but I don’t believe the styling is quite there yet. The reverse flag, a subtle yet powerful image on a military uniform, just looks odd and out of place here. It almost feels like the flag is being displayed reverse out of spite rather than an appreciation for the armed forces. The added thickness of the velcro on the patch, particular on the cap, draws attention to the issue, yet not flatteringly so. It almost feels as if these have been made for mall ninjas and paintballers.

    Ryan on September 27, 2010 3:12 AM:

    What’s a ‘mall ninja’?
    Are they good or bad?

    bernard on September 27, 2010 3:21 AM:

    Mall ninjas are like poseur kids who like knives and ‘tacticool’ stuff but they have no combat experience whatsoever. it’s derogatory.

    with that said, THIS BAG.

    Fausto on September 27, 2010 4:43 AM:

    This would make a nice bag for the range to throw some pistols in, and the CEO is was a special forces troop so that gives it credibility. The price seems steep to me however, offers bags at a much lower price, and they are also made in the US. I’ve used one for work everyday for three years and it shows no signs of wear. and also carry LE and Mil equipment but not all of the gear is made in the US.

    art on September 27, 2010 6:16 AM:

    Looks sturdy, but the flag is asinine. Flag patches on uniforms are only reversed because they’re worn on the right shoulder. The symbolism is in keeping the stars forward. It means nothing on a cap or backpack.

    Aaron on September 27, 2010 6:57 AM:

    I don’t know much but I did read the post the other day on the etiquette of the flag. Seems to me the reverse flag as displayed here on this bag would not be proper etiquette with respect to the flag. And the image of the flag in all black? Of course this wasn’t addressed in the etiquette, but my guess is it would be frowned upon. If someone with some actual knowledge can educate please do so. My first impression though is that these bags would be seen slung over the shoulders of many an Affliction tshirt.

    Michael Williams on September 27, 2010 9:57 AM:

    Did I mention the flag is removable? And yet we move another step closer to removing the comments section on ACL. #nothingtooffer

    Aaron on September 27, 2010 10:48 AM:

    Well you post a nice little piece on the Etiquette of the Stars and Stripes and then you post a backpack with a flag on it which seems to me to be stylized and oriented in a reverse manner which at its most innocent seems an attempt at some contrarian style and at its most criminal seems perhaps downright disrespectful to the good ol’ Stars and Stripes. Is the discussion not pertinent?

    Michael Williams on September 27, 2010 10:52 AM:

    Pertinent? Not as far as I am concerned.

    TMH on September 27, 2010 10:57 AM:

    Its a good looking bag, its black and im sure its sturdy.
    You put stuff in it and you can have access to those items
    wherever you are. Its made here. Job well done for today
    Mr. Williams.

    Jay on September 27, 2010 11:12 AM:

    Ditto TMH.

    Gimme a break. Not only is the flag optional, it’s not a flag–it’s a patch on a backpack. Likewise the post on Stars & Stripes Etiquette wasn’t a how-to feature, it was a column of images from an antique book.

    Haters tryinna hate keep seizing on meanings that don’t matter on a blog about stuff. I love ACL because it has exactly 2 concerns: 1) Where is it made? and 2) Does it look good? Wanna talk semiotics and consumerism? I’ll meet you over at the Adbusters blog.

    Meanwhile, in defense of keeping comments alive: Here’s a series of articles on the progression of US military web grear, starting with MOLLE A la Wikipedia, if you click on the link in the intro section, you can go in reverse-chrono order back to WWII.

    Keep on keepin on, Mr. Williams.

    Adam on September 27, 2010 12:00 PM:

    The image of the flag is never just a patch. It is always the flag. It’s equally sacred on a backpack as is it flying on a pole. While the discussion of flag etiquette may seem tedious and irrelevant, if you put a sacred symbol on a product and you consider yourself a dutiful American, you open yourself up to the question of whether you’re showing the proper respect.

    That being said, the flag code isn’t written in stone. Reversing the flag isn’t burning it or cutting it up. I, for one, think the nod to the military is cool and subtle, and if someone is curious enough to ask, then you get to explain it to them. If you are interested in showing respect for the flag, however, it needs to stay off the floor and not have anything touching it.

    K.A. Adams on September 27, 2010 12:01 PM:

    The position of the flag patch is not disrespectful but rather denotes movement and speed.

    Xris on September 27, 2010 12:38 PM:

    Do you have any shots of the interior? How is the carry/padding for a laptop? I like the extra webbing on the outside, good for stuff.

    Hey ya’ll, it’s a bag, not a socio-political statement. No one is wrecking your freedom.

    art on September 27, 2010 12:39 PM:

    @ Adam: The technicality is that since there are no stars, it’s not really an image of the flag. Just a really lame corporate logo.

    Nicky on September 27, 2010 12:47 PM:

    They should make this bag in camo, then none of you could see it and this entire comment thread would be moot.

    Jason on September 27, 2010 1:49 PM:

    I am Jason, the founder of GORUCK, and I want to address the question of whether I’m showing the proper respect to what has always been a sacred symbol to me: the American flag. I completely understand that the flag evokes a lot of emotion, in my case enough to join Special Forces and became a Green Beret after 9/11. Because of 9/11. The flag and all it represents is something I was (and will always be) willing to fight for.
    Regarding GORUCK, our abstract of the flag is meant to highlight our pride as a company at being built in the USA, by American workers, with American craftsmanship. We hope you like our message and sorry for any confusion.

    Aaron on September 27, 2010 1:56 PM:


    The response directly from you is much appreciated and I thank you for your service to our country. My comments in no way are meant in disrespect to you or your product. My question is, though, why reverse the image of the flag?

    SL on September 27, 2010 2:00 PM:

    These bags are a perfect combination of function and style. I love that the bags are all black, and the interior zipper compartments are great for all the loose items I normally throw in at the last minute. My GR1 fits my busy lifestyle and I definitely won’t be looking for a new backpack anytime soon. Thanks GORUCK!

    Jason on September 27, 2010 3:18 PM:

    I respect your passion for the flag and did not think for a second you were being disrespectful to me. It’s not my flag, it’s ours, and we at GORUCK have taken every effort to make sure that GORUCK is a brand that can live up to its association with the USA. As Michael wrote, we do have civilians in mind with the design, but I believe in our Built in the USA products so much that a while back I gave some GR2’s to my buddies to use in war, which they did (the MOLLE allows a soldier to customize them). The point is that I’ll trust my friends’ lives (who also happen to be some of America’s greatest assets) with our bags, and that GORUCK as a brand seeks to emphasize the best of American manufacturing, quality, and craftsmanship.

    As for the reverse flag (from our website): “GORUCK Flags take inspiration from the reverse US Flag worn into combat to this day. The reverse flag dates back to the Army’s early history when both cavalry and infantry units would charge ahead as the Colors streamed back, stripes flying to the left in the breeze as the soldier moves forward. It is meant as a sign of both courage and respect.”

    Personally, while serving, I always wore the reverse flags, so they’re near and dear to me.

    Jake S on September 27, 2010 3:34 PM:

    Thank you Jason for an awesome bag.

    Mike C on September 27, 2010 3:57 PM:

    All it would take is a 10-second Google search on “backwards flag patch” to find out that there’s a historical tradition behind it; I know because I did it this morning when I saw the post and wondered about the patch. I don’t understand those who cry disrespect without first trying to inform themselves on the subject in question; not only is it lazy, it encourages baseless, knee-jerk reactionary discourse.

    Good looking stuff, Jason. And thanks for the service.

    Dandux Himself on September 27, 2010 3:58 PM:

    Sweet bags, man. I like.

    As an aside, back in the day, my Uncle, a Vietnam vet, painted the gas tank on his Triumph an American flag. Stars ahead, stripes trailing in the breeze. He was promptly arrested for flag desecration.

    Sort of relevant here, I guess.

    Greg on September 27, 2010 4:03 PM:

    Michael, every time people start arguing on the comments section you complain about comments and threaten to remove them. Why don’t you just do it? People like blogs because it gives them a chance to connect with others with similar interests, even if that means petty discussions sometimes. But you always talk about how comments have #nothingtooffer, yet you keep them here. If the comments have nothing to offer, then I guess your readers have nothing to offer?

    Michael Williams on September 27, 2010 4:12 PM:


    It is just recently that I have become increasingly annoyed by the comments and discussions. And when I get around to updating the site I will (or will not) do away with the comments. But if you-all can get riled up over a flag patch or the price of everything posted, then I think I have the right to complain about it.

    Nicky on September 27, 2010 4:28 PM:

    Just wear the pack on your right shoulder. Bag hangs to the side, flag streams into battle — crisis averted.

    These comments are WAY too expensive.

    Hoffman on September 28, 2010 12:43 PM:

    I just got my pack this morning. I’m not a soldier, only a businessman (who loves the outdoors). I really like the pack. It’s so much better made than others that I’ve owned. I get to use it in the city for carrying gear between home and work, but also for weekend hikes. I’m so happy it’s an all American product. Well worth the bucks.

    steven on September 28, 2010 1:59 PM:

    I work in furniture design and have an enormous appreciation for simple, clean, beautiful and exceptionally well constructed products. The beauty of these bags is that they are, of course, true to their military roots. But they are so much more than that. They are the true conversion of style. function and durability. For those of us who take pride in how something looks as well as how they perform I must say that I wear my GR1 with pride. It is a superior product that is certainly not for everyone. Just those people who are looking for what it has to offer: a great deal.

    drew on September 28, 2010 11:58 PM:

    right now i’m currently using an incase backpack and i like how the laptop compartment is tight so it doesn’t slide and bounce around. can we get any pictures of the laptop compartment and other angles of the inside of the bag? also would like to know if the patch is removable.

    Jeremy on September 29, 2010 6:47 AM:

    Dear Micheal,

    Thanks for posting this entry. I’ve been thinking about a new bag off & on for quite awhile & have let it tumble around in the back of my mind about what I was exactly looking for. I have two bags that I don’t particularly like that much from Jansport. The good things about them is they’re really quite tough. I have badly abused one & it refuses to fall apart. What I don’t like about them & many bags I see is they have so many god awful gimmicky features on them that are useless. I see other people going back to bags that are re-issues of bags from the fifties with waxed cotton or leather shoulder straps akin to something the Swiss Family Robinson might have worn. Unfortunately, that’s not what I’m looking for either. It’s really quite difficult to find a low key, modern, ridiculously tough bag w/out silly features that I know I’ll never use. The bag featured might be what I’m looking for. The only other bag that I’ve seen that comes close is The North Face Surge. I’ve even considered leather from a company called Saddleback Leather. An American made product, made by what appears to be a really kind fellow. I had a brief chat with him on Style Forum. It’s supposed to be an impressive product

    I think what we’re all looking for is pride of ownership, and being made in America is certainly a part of that equation.

    As far as the comments are concerned, yes I know many folks can get really over the top & a bit pedantic with others. I roll my eyes a bit too, but I ask you to not eliminate comments, the way I see it, it’s democracy in action. I’m willing to glide past the silly comments, & soak up the useful hints, tips & opinions of others. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this way.


    Michael Williams on September 29, 2010 9:03 AM:

    Saddleback Leather, while I’m sure are good bags, are not made in America. Just an FYI on that.

    Jason on September 29, 2010 11:26 AM:

    Are these capable of holding a 17″ laptop? It’s impossible to find a decent-looking bag that will protect my massive ridiculous behemoth of a computer.

    Andrew M. on September 29, 2010 5:08 PM:

    Please do keep the comments; for every 10 people who are jealous of the makers of whatever it is you happen to be featuring, there are 20 more of us who appreciate the previews, and at least 1 or 2 who have interesting links or comments. I comment rarely, but reading the comments has proven as illuminating, or nearly, as the posts themselves. On another note, I sent this link to my father, a Vietnam veteran who has probably never heard of Wikipedia, and all he had to say was “cool bag, might be easy to lose in the dark though”. I understand the frustration, however, over armchair critics, who in all likelihood don’t even own a flag or have a flagmount on their homes, finding issue with these cool bags.

    P- on September 30, 2010 12:41 AM:

    The bag and the hat are both in the style of currently serving US service members, and we are in a time of war. If civilians want to traipse around Europe on vacation wearing the livery of soldiers from wars 20 years ago or more, I don’t care. It’s part of our heritage. But to go on living a comfortable peacetime existence during time of war while wearing the costume of service members currently fighting and dying in your name is distasteful. I know that’s just my opinion.

    Either do your time and then wear it, or wait 20 years then wear it, or go ahead and wear it now and be a douche. Those are your options.

    Cheers from Afghanistan,

    Hoffman on September 30, 2010 2:24 PM:


    First, thx for your service. Second, I’m a 52 year old guy who’s never served. The way I see it, aside from the smarts of buying something well made, I’m buying American, I’m helping a small business owned by a former Green Beret. It makes me feel connected in the smallest of ways to people like you who are carrying this kind of gear into actual combat. What you see as distasteful, I see as respectful. Best of luck to you P. Come home safe.


    Theo on October 3, 2010 1:01 AM:

    haha, whaaaat?!? you’re really serious that it’s distasteful to use the same backpack as a guy in the army? like you have a monopoly on gear that’s made for you… sheesh. can you imagine trying to have that conversation with somebody?

    “hey man, stop wearing that backpack, because people who are in war zones are using that same backpack and some of them die and y’know, you’re not in the army so you shouldn’t use that same backpack which they use to carry some of their stuff.”
    “you’ve got to be joking, right…”

    i mean i could see your point if you were talking about some sort of ‘thing’ that might be more ‘sacred’ like a badge or a medal or whatever, but a backpack? the united states army of nitpickers, more like

    Robert Abeyta, Jr. on October 3, 2010 7:42 PM:

    Great job Jason. I just ordered my GR1. It will make my KELTY MAP 3500 jealous and lonely (the poundage of kettle bells will go inside, too!). As a designer of gear myself, I found the flag design/application brilliant. An intelligent & sophisticated subtle nod to to a philosophy and footing I support. I wear my hat from GORUCK often and other creatives in my circle are always inquiring the maker.
    And most of all, it is truly inspirational the path you have taken. SF to a real-world, informed designer and businessman. No wanna-be fantasy shit that exists in the fashion world…-R.

    Edward on October 5, 2010 9:37 AM:

    We had the honor of nationally launching the Echo, GR1 and GR2 at Sugarcube. As a well traveled industrial designer who has developed products for the military I immediately appreciated the simplicity of design, the engineering, choice materials, and diverse application of use. From recent customer journeys into South Africa, China and daily hardcore urban use the line really is b a d a s s, “.”

    Andrea Espinoza on October 5, 2010 10:34 AM:

    Im trying to purchase this bag and am having difficulty, can anyone please assist

    Jason on October 5, 2010 5:21 PM:

    Andrea, so sorry for any difficulties on the GORUCK site. Please email us at with a contact number and we’ll contact you..

    Joe on October 13, 2010 3:31 PM:

    Great find.

    I’ve always thought it a little disingenuous of guys who are not in the military (and have never served in the military) to wear military gear. As much as I would love to wear one of the hats you guys have, I think I would be doing a disservice to the men and women who actually have served our country if I tried to wear one. I liken it to trying to appear to be in the club without actually paying the dues.
    My brother in law was a Ranger and gave me a t-shirt some years ago that had the 2nd Ranger Battalion insignia on it. I have never felt comfortable wearing it outside the house…and therefore haven’t. What are your thoughts on non-military guys trying to pull off a strongly military garment? I’m thinking most would not approve, but I’m curious what you think considering your service and the gear you are offering.
    That doesn’t lessen my appreciation for the gear you’re putting out, however. The bags all look great. No questions there.
    All said…I’m strongly considering the hat.

    BoB on October 14, 2010 9:10 AM:

    The discussions about the flag make me laugh, it seems the symbol is more important than what it stands for.

    Back to the discussion on the GR Echo, couple more details on the review would be appreciated. This bag commands a steep price and I would like to know if it warrants it. Other bags mentioned from 5.11, Maxped or North Shore are far cheaper and are actually quite good, so what makes this one better and why not Kifaru for example.

    Jason on October 14, 2010 9:24 AM:


    Thank you for reaching out, and total respect to your brother-in-law, Rangers Lead The Way. When I earned my Green Beret and Special Forces tab, I bought my whole family t-shirts, hats, key chains, you name it. Everyone else in my graduating class did the same for theirs. We all drew an infinite amount of strength from our families’ and friends’ support, and we took this strength with us to far away corners of the world while our families stayed behind. I can promise you that those wearing the uniform are better off for having supporters, and ambassadors, who don’t. Joe, this means you. I think you should wear your 2nd Bat shirt with pride. Outside the house, too. If anyone asks you why you have it on, answer with pride that your brother-in-law was a Ranger, and Rangers Lead The Way (RLTW), and you’re showing your support. I’ve never met anyone in the military who would disapprove of this (in fact, just the opposite), and wherever your brother-in-law is at that precise moment, he’s sure to be smiling.

    Chuck on October 16, 2010 2:48 PM:

    these awesome bags are available at both brigade locations, cleveland and columbus ohio. soon to be on the web,

Comments are closed.