GORUCK released their sandbags back in 2013 and we bought one. Then we bought one more, then another, and another… and they all get used. Right now we’re working with 20 lb, 40 lb, 60 lb, and 80 lb sandbags and each are awesome in their own way.
Review Notes and Considerations
There are a few things that should be considered for this review and they are all stated below.
Filler Bag Importance
GORUCK sandbags are not complete without a filler bag or two which is why they’re being included in this review for the Usability section. In addition GORUCK states the the sandbags “come with our Scars Lifetime Guarantee. Abuse them properly with Filler Bags (sold separately) and don’t drag them for a mile on concrete. Yes, we tried that, too.” Based on that sentence one could argue that GORUCK might not repair a damaged sandbag if it was used without a filler bag.
The filler bag is a crucial piece in the GORUCK sandbag set up. The GORUCK sandbag opens and closes using a zipper and zippers hate sand. If sand is able to get in there then it will absolutely ruin that zipper. The filler bags prevent this with a double Velcro sealing method that keeps most of the sand contained.
Rephrasing this differently… I would never put sand directly into a GORUCK (or Brute Force) sandbag. I would in all cases use a filler bag to ensure the sandbag lasts as long as possible. Seriously… if I was given the option to only have a filler bag or a sandbag for training I would choose the filler bag because I trust it with sand.
When this review was written GORUCK was selling the 40 lb, 60 lb, and 80 lb sandbags. The only real differences between them (besides the size) is the number of handles attached to each. The 40 lb bag has 8 handles while the 60 lb and 80 lb bags have 12 handles.
In the above picture you can see the 80 lb sandbag in the distance, the 40 lb sandbag in the middle, and the 60 lb sandbag in the front. You can also see how the 40 lb sandbag is does not have the handles on the on the far ends which makes up the four handle difference. I prefer the extra handles and additional length on the larger versions enough that even if I only wanted to workout with 40 lbs (or less) I’d toss that weight in a 60 lb sandbag shell.
Filling Filler Bags
When filling the filler bags there are two very good options that we know of: sand and pea gravel. Personally, I prefer sand over pea gravel because I like how it compacts and shifts during workouts. The majority of my sandbag workouts are done in a garage gym setting so the sandbag is shielded from the elements. If you are going to use your sandbag in the rain or take it swimming then you might want to look into pea gravel. Pea gravel is approximately the size of a pea and can be found for cheap at most home improvement stores. The benefit to pea gravel is that, since it’s gravel, it doesn’t retain water like sand does. The disadvantage to pea gravel is that it’s much more abrasive and doesn’t shift as well as sand during a workout.
My thoughts overall: if you’re not submerging the sandbag in water then use sand. Otherwise use pea gravel.
GORUCK Sandbag & Filler Bag Review
Before writing this review our GORUCK sandbags were used and abused for hundreds of workouts over the course of years… and they’re still kicking.
The GORUCK sandbag is built solid just like the GORUCK packs and the rest of their gear.
It’s made of 1000d Cordura and sewn (and reinforced) incredibly well at all stress locations.
The handles are all sewn on nice and straight and nothing feels like it was skimped on.
There’s a YKK zipper that runs the length of the bag which allows you to add and remove filler bags. The sewing there is great and none of the bags have opened up on me yet.
The GORUCK sandbag is exactly what you would expect when you combine the concept of a training sandbag and the quality of GORUCK.
When looking at sandbags the major design component is the placement of the handles relative to both the pack and the zipper. If handles are placed near the zipper then you can chew your hands open while working out if they get caught on it.
Thankfully due to the duel vertical handles on each side of the pack you can find a way to overhead press it without having your knuckles grind into that zipper area.
Handles should be in a convenient place to grab to accomplish sandbag exercises. There’s no use having 12 handles on a sandbag if they’re all on one side and facing random directions. Thankfully GORUCK did their research and the handles are all in ideal locations. There’s one handle on each end, two vertical handles on each side, two horizontal handles on the outside of the vertical handles (only on the bags with 12 handles), and one horizontal handle between the vertical handles. With these handle placements there hasn’t been a single sandbag workout that we haven’t been able to accomplish.
The final design piece which is a nice bonus is the patch area on the sandbag. We keep the “Your Mountain is Waiting” patch on most of ours as a reminder to get after it during our workouts.
As a workout tool the GORUCK sandbags are phenomenal. They are easily one of the best ways to train for a GORUCK event and, combined with a ruck, are all you need to crush an event.
You can perform so many different workouts with a sandbag… the options are nearly endless. The recommendation here is to check out the Brute Force App which is available for both Android and Apple devices. Every day new workouts are uploaded and each workout has videos on how to do all of the exercises with a sandbag. That being said you can easily search “Sandbag Exercises” on YouTube and get back hundreds of videos each showcasing dozens of different exercises. Five minutes of research will give you hundreds of hours of workouts.
We only use GORUCK filler bags with our GORUCK sandbags and love how they work so well together. When we fill our filler bags we put 10 lbs less weight in the bag than it’s specified for. That means 30 lbs of sand in the 40 lb filler bags and 50 lbs of sand in the 60 lb filler bag. Why less sand? A filler bag that is not stuffed will allow the sand to shift around during the workout (even between reps) making the workout that much more difficult.
Here’s a question we get a lot when we talk about this strategy: what do you do if you want more weight in the sandbag. Simple… just use two filler bags instead of one inside a single sandbag. The two filler bags give an even better “shift” to the weight during a workout.
If we were going to ruck with just the filler bag then we would fill it straight to the top.
A GORUCK sandbag will run you under $100. Couple that with a filler bag or two and you’re looking at ~$130 then add in some sand from the hardware store and you’re up to $135. The value you get from that $135 spent is absolutely unreal. Over two years ago I cancelled my gym membership and all of my main workouts have been with sandbags. These have paid for themselves so many times over it’s nearly stupid.
With a 40 lb filler (30 lbs filled), a 60 lb filer (50 lbs filled) and a 60 lb sandbag you are set for pretty much any exercise. In addition, if you’re ever signed up for an event and no one has a team weight you can make do with the sandbag no problem.
If you’re looking for a great, functional addition to your workout routine then consider adding a GORUCK Sandbag. Our only regret is that we didn’t buy more sooner. They are built to last and we’ve already saved more than the cost of the sandbags through a cancelled gym membership. Use a GORUCK sandbag during your workouts? Let us know what you think in the comments!