When the GORUCK GR3 was made available for pre-order I snatched up the slick version with handles immediately. The GR3 is a HUGE pack coming in at 45 liters and is the absolute largest pack that domestic (USA) travel will allow for carry-on.
When I travel there’s really two things I don’t like to do. The first is spend extra money (checked bag fees) and the second is to wait for a bag. For some reason that extra $25 feels like a smack in the face after spending hundreds on the flight. When I land I want to get out of the airport as quickly as possible so sticking around for a bag is not ideal.
The GR3 is an expensive pack but for some reason spending that money up front, months before travel, feels better than spending more when you’re traveling. It’s really all a mental game that, I’ll admit, makes little sense but here we are taking a GR3 across the country saving $50 on checked bags.
Packing Cubes Save the Day
When traveling I always put all my stuff in packing cubes. Logically it makes sense to me. Socks go with socks, workout clothes hang together, work shirts don’t mingle with gym shoes. Everything has a place and it is a lot easier to pack everything away and double check that you have everything. When I pack the cubes I check that they all have the proper clothing in them. Then, when it comes time to leave, I just need to check that all the cubes are packed and I’m good to go.
For this trip I used the GORUCK 10L packing cube, GORUCK 20L packing cube, some Eagle Creek cubes, and some shoe sleeves from eBags. This was the first time I had put any of these through a trip involving a flight so I was excited to see how everything performed.
Everything fit in the GR3 incredibly well and I was impressed with how much it held. These trips are tricky because I have to pack for three different purposes. I need work clothes during the day, casual clothes for at night, and gym clothes because I feel some obligation to workout daily when traveling for work. There’s some slight crossover between work clothes and casual clothes but not much… I always feel like I’m over packing but I guess that’s life.
One of the big benefits of using packing cubes was that I could dedicate one for used gym clothes which prevented that smell from attacking the clean clothes.
If you’ve never used packing cubes before I highly recommend giving them a shot. I love the ones GORUCK makes but you can also find some fairly cheap Chinese made ones on Amazon. If you’re unsure you can pick them up and give them a try first.
Traveling to the Airport
I took the Link (basically a train) to get to the airport. These things run every 5 – 9 minutes so they’re never too crowded. As expected there was plenty of open seats throughout the trip to the airport. I was able to sit the GR3 on the empty seat next to me which was nice because the pack is huge. Worst case scenario I would have to sit it on my lap or wear it which really wouldn’t have been that bad. There are plenty of “worldly travelers” who one bag it with big bags in the Seattle area so people are used big packs.
The GR3 is a giant bag… there’s no getting around that. It takes up a ton of space and you have to be aware that you essentially have a turtle shell on your back. Moving through crowds, getting in lines, all that takes a little more thought because of the pack strapped to your back.
As long as you are aware of your surroundings you should have no issue navigating with a GR3 through an airport. I didn’t have any issues but I also pay attention to my surroundings. If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you do as well so you should be fine.
My other carry on was the EVERGOODS CPL24. I specifically chose this pack because it has a side handle. This meant I could wear the GR3 on my back and carry this pack with the side handle. This worked out surprisingly well and I’m definitely glad I brought the CPL24 along for the ride… although it was tough leaving the GR1 at home.
The Flight There
This was the moment of truth. I was mentally preparing myself for 3 minutes of stuffing the GR3 in the overhead compartment followed a flight attendant asking me to gate check my bag. Thankfully all of that disappeared when the ruck slid easily into the overhead space. Phew… after a sigh of relief it was time to sit down and enjoy the cross-country flight. Cross-country flights on Delta are actually nice because you actually get food and it’s not terrible.
After arriving at the hotel it was time to unpack the bag and find the gym clothes. Regardless of when my flight gets in, if I’m traveling alone, I’ll hit the hotel gym to scope it out and get a quick run in. That means it was time to break this thing open and start unpacking some of those packing cubes.
On top is the Triple Aught Design Core Harness. I use it as a running vest and it’s a very expensive one at that. I wouldn’t recommend it if you only use it for running. However, if you get some of the other attachments it can be pretty cool.
With the running vest out of the way you can see the medium eagle creek packing cube as well as the 10L GORUCK packing cube.
Removing the eagle creek medium packing cube reveals the 20L GORUCK packing cube, the small eagle creek cube, and the eBags shoe bag which contains my running shoes. There’s a lot of stuff in this pack and I’m very thankful for the compression straps on the GR3. They help a ton!
GORUCK 20L Packing Cube
This angle shows just how much stuff I packed into that 20L GORUCK packing cube and the funny thing is it’s not even full. The nice thing about the GORUCK packing cubes is that they compress so they don’t take up any extra room.
Inside this cube there’s a few pairs of jeans on the left then shirts and undershirts on the right.
Eagle Creek Medium Packing Cube
Next up is the Eagle Creek Medium packing cube. This one was dedicated to button down shirts. The Wool & Prince shirt is one of my favorites however, due to their price, I only own one. I keep these shirts separate because I don’t want anything to wrinkle them if possible.
GORUCK 10L Packing Cube
To tell the packing cubes apart I put a 1,000 Mile Challenge patch on the one with my gym clothes. Some added motivation to remind myself what I’m trying to do in 2018.
Inside the 10L GORUCK Packing Cube is some running shorts and exercise shirts which are basically just a bunch of GORUCK and All Day Ruckoff shirts.
Eagle Creek Small Packing Cube
The final piece was a Eagle Creek Small packing cube that contained socks and underwear. Don’t worry… you won’t be subjected to the contents of that.
The Return Flight
Here’s that EVERGOODS CPL24 sitting next to the GR3. That pack is 24L (which you can derive from the name) and you can see a bit of the sizing differences between that and the massive GR3 in the above shot.
The fight home was on Alaska Air and, again, there were no issues getting the GR3 into the overhead. I mainly fly Delta and Alaska so knowing the GR3 fits in their overhead is awesome. In other news it irks me when people put their small backpacks in the overhead instead of under their seat. Leave that room for people with real bags. Or, at the very least, put it on its side so it takes up less room.
The GORUCK GR3 was a huge success for my week long cross country trip. I had plenty of room for all of my clothes (and extra clothes) without issue. There was never a time it felt like I needed extra space or was missing anything. I was nervous going into the trip because I didn’t know if the GR3 would actually fit in the overhead. Once it was established that it did it was smooth sailing… err flying.
After this I absolutely plan to use the GR3 for more traveling. The open pack concept fits my packing style a lot better than the GR2 and it really feels like an extension of the GR1. The GR3 is an incredibly expensive pack but I’m glad I too the chance and pre-ordered it. I really can’t wait to bring it on some more adventures.
Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them!
Thank you for this. I was wondering if it would fit under a regional jet seat in a pinch. I’m guessing it probably won’t. Would you agree?
Brian ADR says
I would agree… unless there’s a lot of extra room in it then you *might* be able to shove it in. It’s honestly a really big bag.
thanks! What’s your go-to for a trip now? Do you use the GR2 40 or 34 by chance? I couldn’t find a review but I may have missed it.
Grey Crusader says
I just bought a GR3 from a buddy and I plan to take it on a 10-day trip to the UK and Ireland in early October. I’ve taken my GR2 34L on this trip several times, and it did well with respect to fitting under seats and into overhead bins, but I always felt it I needed a bit more space it in, even though I pack VERY minimalist. The GR3 may be overkill for the 10-day trip I am taking, but I plan to do my best not to fill it completely full—I’m very concerned about it fitting under seats and in overhead bins on the flights that I’ll be on.
Were you able to get the GR3 to fit under any seats, or what that basically impossible?
Brian ADR says
Honestly I never tried to put it under the seat in front of me. If you’re able to use the compression straps and really cinch it up then I think there’s a chance you can get it down there. As for overhead bins I’ve never had an issue on domestic flights. Let me know how the trip goes please!
Grey Crusader says
Roger that, will report back here!
Brian ADR says
I appreciate it!!
Hi Brain, you’ve put together a really nice site and I use it as a resource regularly. I am probably late to the party, but I do take umbrage with the idea that “small backpacks” should be stowed under the seat in front. I regularly pack for four day business trips in either Tom Bihn Daylight or GoRuck Echo backpack as my only bag. I take the time and thought (and make sacrifices) to pack light, why should I be denied my legroom just because someone else choose to pack heavy and carry on?
I bring this up because I’ve been told multiple times before by flight attendants that my bag needs to be stowed in the seat in front to make room for someone’s rolling bag. (This is on Europe to West Coast US I flights (9-10 hours) and not 50 minute domestic puddle hoppers.) I try to reason that it is my ONLY bag, i.e., nothing checked, and I don’t see why I am being penalized for packing light. It has gotten to the point that I don’t claim ownership of my bag when attendants ask who it belongs to.
I ascribe to the idea that the larger bag goes in the overhead bin and the smaller bag goes under the seat in front. I also believe in first come/first serve principle, e.g. my miles give me priority boarding (and thus bin space) status, so I’m entitled to put my bag there. The idea that a “small bag” should be relegated to under the seat in front is arbitrary and capricious.
But given time, RyanAir will somehow figure out how to charge me for carrying less.