How to Start Rucking (Military)

Rucking, or ruck marching, is hiking (or marching) with a weighted pack (40-60 lbs.) for long distances over varied terrain. Rucking is used by some areas of the military as a yardstick to measure with, similar to cold swims. The further you can range overland, the better you're viewed. Preparing and training for this saves you serious injuries in the future and worse: defeat.


  1. Image titled Start Rucking (Military) Step 1
    Scout yourself an Alice Pack. Alice packs are the number one pack used for training; their most notable features are the external frame for high loads. Most can be found at your local military surplus store. Be sure it is in moderate to good condition with little to no tears or abrasions at the bottom.
    • Take special notice of your load-lifter straps and belt stabilizer straps, which easily break from a more strenuously used pack.

  2. Image titled Start Rucking (Military) Step 2
    Prepare physically. This will take a few months if you are not usually active to prepare for high mileage rucks. Take special consideration into weight training your lower body.
    • With a stationary bike, aim for at least 3 x 5-10 minute sessions at high-resistance intermixed with your daily weight training routine (squat - bike - lunge - bike). You will also notice it can simulate walking (with proper seat adjustment and wheel-resistance) with a loaded pack.
    • Do lunges (dumbbell overhead and one-legged split lunge) and squats (front-load and back-load) to develop leg strength. Aim for both high rep (20) and also high load (squats: 240 at 7 reps). Calf raises, preferably standing-dumbbell calf raises, also develop the proper leg strength needed.
    • Running is also a must; aim for varied hill/flat sprints intermixed with long distance running - for example, run 3 miles (4.8 km) 3 days a week and do hill sprints (at 80-90% effort) 2 times a week.
  3. Image titled Start Rucking (Military) Step 3
    Select your load. You'll need to make your pack heavy. Some of the cheapest options include bird seed (pre-weighed), which can be dumped safely if needed, rock salt, or gravel/sand. You can also use dumbbell weights wrapped/taped in towels. Gatorade bottles filled with rocks is an effective way to fill your outer pockets and add a little extra weight when needed.
  4. Image titled Start Rucking (Military) Step 4
    Spend time under the ruck. Now that you've got the basics, get out there and ruck. Keep your head up, eyes scanning your surrounding and 20 feet (6.1 m) ahead of your path. Resist the habit to stare at your feet, which is less tactical. Keep your legs straight, back tight - concentrate on your posture, which will inevitable round out the further you go.


  • Boot insoles aid in comfort and posture. Consider purchasing after testing your loaded ruck out.


  • Hydrate the entire way; it is normal to lose multiple pounds from loss of water. You don't want that.
  • Never run with a pack - this will cause major problems with your knees and back.
  • Stop if you feel "hot spots" on your feet. This is a warning that blisters are present or starting to form.
  • Never flip your pack over your head. Try to strap up with the pack 3–4 feet (0.9–1.2 m) above ground. If need be, strap up sitting, then carefully stand.

Things You'll Need

  • Alice Pack - found at your local military surplus store.
  • Filled Camelback, water bladder, or multiple bottles or water.
  • BDU's - train with what you'll use.
  • Sturdy running shoes or hiking boots (preferred).
  • Cotton or wool socks with a silk-wicking liner (can be found at all Academies/sportsman stores).

Article Info

Categories: Backpacking and Hiking | Careers in the Military