GORUCK originally released their Radio Ruck back in 2012. They discontinued the pack a few years later and ended up bringing it back for a limited run in 2018.
Sometime between 2012 and 2013 my good buddy AP bought a Radio Ruck and took it through at least one GORUCK event. Eventually I ended up buying it from him and that Radio Ruck is the one pictured on the left above.
The Radio Ruck on the right was purchased new from GORUCK in 2018 and is their newest model. Although GORUCK did state it used the same design as the previous version when it showed up I became a little less certain of that. This post has a ton of pictures of these two packs and details any differences found between them.
To make differentiating these packs easier during the post the original Radio Ruck has a Death Brings New Life patch from Rebound Design Lab.
Starting at the bottom of the pack you can see that they are laid out the same but the newer Radio Ruck appears slightly deeper.
Here’s another view attempting to show any differences in the depth of the pack. I actually went out and bought a measuring tape so I could figure out if my eyes were deceiving me or if the newer pack really was deeper. Left pictures are of the 2018 Radio Ruck while the right pictures are of the 2012 Radio Ruck. I know the measuring tape looks a little bunched in a few pictures just know that I used both hands to get the number when measuring then used the tape to snap the picture.
When using the measuring tape I found the newer pack came in at 6.75″ in depth while the older pack came in at 6.25″. This view gives a really good look at the 1000d Cordura used on the bottom of the newer packs and the 1050d ballistic nylon bottom.
Measuring along the top portion of the bottom of both 2012 and 2018 Radio Rucks produced roughly the same 9.5″ result.
Measuring along the bottom of portion of the bottom of the 2018 Radio Ruck produced roughly 11″ while the same location on the 2012 Radio Ruck produced roughly 11.5″.
You might notice from this view not only does the newer Radio Ruck appear slightly deeper but it also has a straighter base than the original Radio Ruck.
The slant on the original Radio Ruck made taking the above picture quite a chore. It would only stand up on its own for maybe 5 to 10 seconds until…
…it would fall over and I’d need to set it up again. GORUCK redesigned the base of their packs so that they will stand on their own for the most part. The huge base on the Radio Ruck does a great job demonstrating that redesign in action.
Flipping the pack over you can see that each has the same number of pads on the back. For the most part they look nearly identical… the shoulder straps on the newer (right) one look a little bit wider but there’s a chance that’s just because the older one has seen more love.
The buckles and straps all seem the same apart from the slight wear on the older Radio Ruck.
The attachment point on the shoulder straps has changed since 2012. It’s a little tough to see from this side but if you flip the shoulder straps over…
…you get a much better view. The older shoulder straps are connected to the pack by webbing while the newer shoulder straps have the shoulder strap sewn directly into the bag.
Here’s what that view looks like when viewing the packs from above. You can sort of get the perspective that the shoulder strap that’s sewn in doesn’t sit as flush against the pack (when flipped around) as its counterpart.
Flipping the shoulder straps around definitely gives that appearance as well. Having the shoulder straps sewn directly into the pack (at least while it’s still new) seems to make them at least sit differently when flipped around.
The newer packs seem to have a bit more padding than the previous versions and I was curious if that extended to the Radio Rucks.
In this picture the older Radio Ruck is on top while the newer Radio Ruck is on the bottom. Just by looking at it I would say that the 2018 Radio Ruck has a thicker, very slightly more padded, shoulder strap. There’s always the chance that the older pack being used for training and events could have compressed the padding giving this visual difference. Definitely not going to discount the possibility of that.
Following the shoulder straps down to where they connect into the Radio Ruck you can see that they both utilize the “bat wing” that was introduced sometime in 2012. My original GR1 has the webbing sewn directly into the pack while all of the newer rucks (2012/2013 and beyond) use this fabric batwing which distributes the pressure on the webbing which helps prevent failures.
The laptop compartment on the older ruck (this time on the right) features a pass-through for a hydration bladder. This is useful if you’re going to store the bladder in the laptop compartment. I did that for my first three events but quickly figured out that hanging the bladder in the main compartment ran a lot easier for me.
In the above picture the older Radio Ruck is on the left and has the larger hydration bladder hole. The hydration hose entrance on the right (from the 2018 pack) feels a lot more like the newer packs that GORUCK makes. Hydration hoses are small so you don’t need to have huge openings to get them through which is something that has definitely been cleaned up from the original packs.
Some of the original GORUCK GR1s (at least the one I own) had a false bottom of sorts on the front pocket. The newer packs all run to the very bottom in the front which matches what I felt in the old Radio Ruck (pictured above) compared to the new Radio Ruck (pictured below.)
I don’t really have a preference between the two styles… if the pack is stuffed you’re not going to get much in there anyways. If anything I tend to use that pocket to hold skinny (thin) snacks that I don’t want hanging out with the rest of my gear.
Cracking the packs open you can see the traditional GORUCK interior. We’ve got the smaller closed top pocket and the larger see-through mesh bottom pocket.
Although not a huge difference you can see that the mesh used has changed. The holes in the mesh of the older version are larger than those in the current version.
In addition there’s a slight spacing difference between the finishing on the pockets and the sew lines on the pack. This shouldn’t produce any difference between the two packs but it’s something small I noticed.
There’s a slight difference in color of coyote paracord used on the zipper pulls.
Grabbing a shot from the side while they’re both laid open gives some more thought that one of these packs might be a little deeper than the other.
The finishing on the bottom of the packs are a little different as well. You can see that the newer pack as the finishing material throughout the entire bottom while the older Radio Ruck only has that on the front and the back.
Here’s a side view showing that as well. Apologies that the older Radio Ruck is a bit dirty in the picture.
Stepping back a little you can see the apparent depth difference again (this time it looks like height difference) between the two packs.
Looking directly into the packs you can see they’re both laid out the same way.
Each pack has two rows of webbing with six columns and a document pocket. The older Radio Ruck definitely looks a little more beat than the newer but that’s to be expected.
The only real difference on this side is the hydraton hose pass-through located at the top of the pack. Just a side note I love how GORUCK packs that have been used in events look after a few… the pack on the left looks like a loved piece of gear that was used for its exact purpose.
This is a fun view because you can see exactly how the top handles are sewn into the top of the pack. There’s a reason why they can handle so much weight and it’s because of all that thread.
You can see here how the hydration exit port has changed over the years. The pack on the left is the old one and the pack on the right is from 2018. You can see it looks a lot cleaner and has a much more finished appearance.
And that just about does it for the Radio Ruck comparison! I wouldn’t say that one version is “better” than another… some people like the older shoulder straps better while others like the newer. What I can say is that the newer Radio Ruck definitely appears and feels much more finished and like an overall better sewn product. GORUCK doesn’t often post minor changes they make to their packs (which is why these types of posts exist) and it seems like they’ve made a number of positive minor changes to the Radio Ruck.
If you have any questions about the GORUCK Radio Ruck or the differences between the two packs shown in this post then please leave a comment. I’ll do my best to either answer your question or figure out the answer to your question.