In 2018 GORUCK revamped their Constellation series. We interviewed Cadre Mickey on the podcast to figure out what they changed and how the new events would play out. Once GORUCK released the 2018 Constellation schedule we found that Seattle was one of their first stops and promptly determined that we would be there!
As with the first GORUCK Constellation AAR I wrote I’ll do my best not to spill any secrets. When you’re done reading this hopefully you’ll know whether a GORUCK Constellation event would be something you’d like to do and the event will still be somewhat of a surprise. GORUCK changes their Constellation events up after every one so there’s a very good chance that your event will not mirror mine.
Quick Event Stats
- Cadre: Mickey & Dustin
- Event Type: GORUCK Constellation
- Location: Seattle (Mercer Island), WA
- Special Event: No
- Time: 10 Hours
- Distance: Roughly 10 Miles
GORUCK Constellation 12 Packing List
Leading up to the event we wrote a post on packing for GORUCK Constellation 12 in 2018 and even recorded our first YouTube video. If you want to know what was brought check out either that post or the video below. In addition we have a page dedicated to the GORUCK Constellation packing list that we work to keep updated as the event evolves. These events require a decent amount of gear. Remember to always, always, always check your individual event pages for any changes or location-specific gear.
Improve: The only improvements I’d make with the packing list would be to bring even smaller screwdrivers and possibly some better food. Protein bars are great but we had a gym as our home base so there’s so reason I couldn’t have brought a sandwich or two in a cooler. If you’re curious about food check out our GORUCK Constellation food & nutrition page.
Tips & Tricks
After completing GORUCK Constellation 12 in Seattle I put together a video with some tips and tricks that would have made the event better for either myself or other people there. Some of them seem pretty simple but trust me… they all happened to at least one person at the event.
GORUCK Constellation 12 Physical Aspects
GORUCK Constellation 12 is not a physically intense event. You should expect to travel ten or less miles by foot over the course of ten to twelve hours. The only weight you have with you is the gear you’re required to bring. At our event we didn’t do a single push up that I can recall however carrying the “injured” team members was a little difficult. We’ve put together a small page on training for GORUCK Constellation that you may find interesting.
The Actual AAR
This was my second GORUCK Constellation event and I had interviewed the lead cadre in advance so I kind of knew what to expect going into the event. The start point for the event was my friend Corey’s CrossFit gym in Mercer Island. I arrived 20 minutes early and got my gear situated in a corner of the gym. There were only a handful of people there that I knew which I always find pretty interesting especially when dealing with an event so close.
GORUCK Constellation was set to start at 6 PM and at roughly 5:55 PM Cadre Mickey got us all together and told us to form up into four lines. These four lines turned out to be the team that we would spend the duration of the event with. If you’re showing up to this event with a group of friends and want to be on the same team make sure you’ll all in the same line at the beginning.
The lines were all formed behind these amazing maps. They’re nice quality and the cadre brought enough that everyone who wanted one could take one home. Pretty awesome… we have ours hanging n the All Day Ruckoff office.
Cadre Mickey and Dustin introduced themselves and broke down what the night would be like and what would be expected of us. He stressed that we had to get our minds right and pretend that we were in an urban survival situation. I’ll double down on that… if you have a hard time role-playing situations then this can be a rough event for you. At one point in the night our team was hiding behind a dumpster after setting up a few trip-wire alarms. There were two girls talking in the parking lot maybe 30 feet way and they were very confused by us. Being able to “get in the zone” and imagine the survival situation is key to enjoying and getting the most out of this event.
We started off the event with some class room material focusing on first aid and trauma treatment. The way the cadre taught this course was impressive and their approach is one I’m a huge fan of. They focused on what to do in the situations and drilled in the idea that you need to look at the overall situation before determining how you’re going to treat someone. It was a great refresher from Constellation 2017 and first aid / trauma courses I’ve taken as those are skills that you definitely lose if you don’t use.
From first aid we were given some time to build our fire-starting device. We didn’t use it right away but we made this jagged death trap that we had to carry with us throughout the night. If you watch our Tips For GORUCK Constellation video you’ll hear me talk about being careful with this thing.
If you look at it at the right angle it kind of looks like it’s smiling at you… jagged eyes and a smile filled with sharp, pointy teeth!
After making that contraption we headed out into the night to hit a couple objectives and practice moving as a small team. As with Constellation last year we had a map and were required to move out to objectives (six different map locations) and photograph our whole team (provide a proof of life) and send that picture to Higher. While we were out we were tasked with picking up items we could use to start a fire. Our team found some decent stuff which was a little surprising because this was winter in Seattle and we do get a bit of rain. We quickly learned what types of locations we should be looking for when searching for dry, burnable materials.
After our first movement we went into how to start a fire with easy-to-scavenge materials. The goal here was to get a small stove going that you could potentially cook food on. This was a very short exercise and if you’ve taken part in a 2017 GORUCK Constellation event then there’s a good chance you know what to expect.
We were also quickly taught how to make a homemade gas mask. Only a handful of the people registered had completed a GORUCK Constellation class so there were a lot of people making one from scratch. There was no real time set aside for people to make these… it was more when you have down time spend a little of it on making your mask. If you read our posts, listen to our podcast, or watch our videos, then this isn’t new information to you. If this is your first time on our website and take one piece of knowledge away let it be this: spend time on your gas mask and make sure the fit is decent and that it seals off your face.
From fire-starting we transitioned into the building expedient night vision goggles course. Not going to give too much away here but your team uses these homemade night vision devices a few times throughout the event and they absolutely take the event up a notch.
The tip on the night vision goggles is to bring the equipment on the packing list… the cadre know how to work with the camera and you’ll have a much better chance at success. There is the potential that the camera won’t work afterwards so don’t bring something fancy for your team. Ours worked… and still works, so that’s pretty exciting.
Once the night vision goggles were completed we were taught how to make some different expedient carries for transporting injured individuals from one location to another. The cadre stressed all of the safety concerns with each transportation method which is perfect.
Depending on the injuries of the individual some carry methods are preferred to others and some are completely off the table.
For example you probably don’t want to attempt this method if the person has a neck injury…
As soon as we learned a few methods we were tasked with making another movement south to one of the points we had hit previously.
When we got there the cadre notified us that there was something wrong with one of our teammates and we had to triage them at that location. One of the best parts of the survival series of GORUCK events is that you practice absolutely everything that you’re taught multiple times to ensure that it sticks.
From the south end we were given a clue on where to go next and received messages from Higher on additional locations.
GORUCK Constellation involves a lot of map checking… you’ll be making a lot of small team movements and it’s much more efficient to spend 20 seconds figuring out the map than getting multiple blocks off course.
We ended up at the North end and were tasked with creating an expedient litter in fives minutes. Just another example of learning then doing.
Our litter wasn’t pretty but it definitely worked and is probably a good testament to the quality of GORUCK’s backpacks. This is the carry method we used throughout the night and, although it wasn’t the easiest, it definitely got the job done. We carried one individual (myself) back to the home base and then then started class work again.
We had a quick lesson on improvised weapons and defense (that lighter you brought won’t work afterwards) which brought out some solid laughs.
I’ve never played around with these personal security fobs before but they’re a blast. Some of the skills you learn in this portion are applicable even when you’re not in a disaster.
I really hope GORUCK expands on this section because it was one of the most fun portions of the event.
We spent a solid hour working with them in various capacities and I think everyone had a really, really good time here.
Our next operation was to head out into the night and find a spot to hunker down in. We had to set up the key fobs as a perimeter defense system then hide and wait for news from Higher. Our spot was definitely somewhat in the open but it gave us good line of sight in all directions. The cadre ended up finding us through our early warning notification systems. They were placed a little too high and the cadre noticed them then searched the surrounding area. If they hadn’t noticed those then I’m sure we wouldn’t have been found.
We got news from Higher that it was time to move out and start hunting teams which was pretty fun. We were limited to maybe a four block space so we had to be very careful in our movements. We only ended up finding one other team but we climbed through bushes, pulled ourselves up and into a parking garage, and took photos any time we saw another team moving.
After roughly 15 minutes of this we were notified to head back to home base and prepare for the next mission. Up next was our culminating exercise which involved using nearly everything we had learned that night.
Without giving too much away I will say that the culminating exercise is completely different than the GORUCK Constellation 12 events from 2017. This time around if your team is smart and careful there’s a chance you won’t have anything bad happen to you. If you took part in a 2017 Constellation then you probably know what I’m talking about here.
Our team was the only lucky team in our class. We took each objective slow and were incredibly careful. It was really, really fun… we’d be out there and someone would bring up one of the lessons that Mickey or Austin taught us and we’d apply it to the situation.
Our culminating exercise took us nearly an hour and a half and we covered somewhere around 3 miles during it if that gives you a sense for how slow we took some movements.
We were the last team to make it back to the home base but that was fine by us. We completed all the tasks in the time allotted and were the only ones to not get caught. Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.
We were inside for a short amount of time before receiving the second part of the culminating exercise. We had to head out and forage for some food to cook on our stoves.
Our team lucked out and dug some stuff out of the trash at a local grocery store. We found a ton of seafood that was dated as of that date as well as some bacon… apparently you can eat pretty well when the city is collapsing.
We got everything going in the parking lot and started cooking up the food we found. No one ate the seafood (thank goodness) but some people did try the chicken feet and the bacon. The point of this exercise was to show us how much fuel it takes to cook even a small piece of food.
We all started out cooking on our own stoves but eventually switched to two main stoves when we realized there wasn’t nearly enough fuel to get all six cooking. It still surprised me how much cardboard, sticks, and brush it takes to actually cook a single piece of bacon.
When we’re camping and cook we’ve got massive logs on the fire that produce a ton of heat and it’s really not much extra effort. This… this was completely different. If you didn’t baby your fire then it would go out so quick. Definitely a great lesson here.
After cooking (and eating) some of the food we all headed inside to get patched, hangout, and chat. It was great talking to the other teams and hearing how they approached some of the tasks because everyone seemed to have their own solutions.
It was also nice getting a chance to talk with Mickey since this was the first time we’d ever met. He was gracious enough to be on the podcast a few weeks before this event and it was nice to shake his hand and thank him in person.
GORUCK Constellation 12 AAR Summary
GORUCK Constellation 12 is a very, very fun and unique experience. It absolutely requires you to “pretend” a little to get yourself in the mindset. The cadre do a great job setting the mood and tone for the event. This was another amazing experience in a long line of great GORUCK experiences.
If this AAR sounds fun I’d highly recommend signing up for GORUCK Constellation as you’re sure to learn something new. Just remember that you need to be able to have some good “pretend” skills because you’ll need to mentally convince yourself that you re in a disaster scenario. If you have any questions about the event please leave a comment and I’ll get them answered.
Awesome review! Thanks for taking the time to write it up.