Top 10 Ruck Marching Tips

Here are a few ruck marching tips that we have come up with over the years of moving things around on our backs.

The ruck is an awesome piece of equipment to help build your body and move your gear from one location to another.

First of all – a “ruck” is nothing more than a backpack. So to ruck march, is to carry a heavy duty backpack on a hike (loaded with gear and supplies).

The key is not to run, but to merely walk, hike fast or double time (jog).

Video – Ruck Marching Tips

Check out the Lowa Zephyr Hiking Boots @

For your ruck – an internal frame pack works great. I like one with a hip strap and shoulder mid strap to help secure the load and keep it riding close to my body.

If your training for the military or you have a job where you work outside and need to ruck in gear (environmental consultant, park ranger, emergency medic, etc.) you will need to have a good internal frame backpack.

During Navy SEAL training at BUD/S we used the old Alice pack during the land phase (Phase 3). Later on the Teams we used a pack called the Berghaus that was larger and had hip straps and very durable.

Check out how to find a cheap durable ruck

Check out the 5.11 Tactical Rush Backpack @

You will need to load up your water and some gear and possibly food to get out down range to do your job. Here are a few tips to help get you in shape for working outdoors and rucking gear to your next location.

Ruck March workout #1
Ruck with 15% of bodyweight 1 mile
100 sit ups
Ruck 1 mile
200 push-ups on ruck
Ruck 1 mile
300 air squats
Ruck 1 mile back to base

More Ruck Marching Tips
If your training for a military boot camp like SEALFIT Camp (a.k.a. Kokoro Camp), BUD/S, GSG-9 or others then find out what kind of ruck that they use. Does it have hip straps? Internal frame? What ruck sack weight do they use?

Video – Ruck Marching Tips

Check out the Bates 8 inch Tropical Dura-Shock Boot worn in Navy SEALs training

Ruck Marching Tips:
1. Distribute your load. Put most of weight in the middle of the pack.  You can add weight easily by adding water jugs.  If the weight is too much then pour some water out. Plus you will have water for your trip. Adding several sand bags – or sand bricks is a great option.  You can make a sand brick by putting sand in a thick plastic bag and duck taping it.

Check out this video on how to make a sand bag for your ruck.

Check out Fox River Military Boot Socks @

2. Break in your boots now. Dont take them fresh out of the box. Fresh boots will shred your feet on a big hike. Break them in slowly and be ready for later long distance hiking. Check out these tips to break in boots – here

More Ruck Marching Tips
3. Carry extra water and supplies in case of a problem. Be aware of your body in the heat and shield yourself from the sun with a hat and bandanna and sunscreen. If it is hot I like to put a t-shirt on my head and soak it in water to keep me cool. Many athletes like to carry a water bladder in their ruck.

4. If you dont have a ruck/backpack then try a weight vests as they work great as dual purpose at the gym.

Ruck March Workout #2
for time
50 Strict Pull-ups
100 Push-ups, release hands from floor at the bottom
Run 5K

If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.

More Ruck Marching Tips

Tip #5. To train effectively try to mirror what the Rangers and SEALs are using so that when you get to the training you will be ready to go and acclimated to that type of gear. Dont show up at SEALFIT Kokoro Camp or a GoRuck Challenge having never worn a ruck and with boots that are not broken in. You will pay severely for that mistake.

Check out this article on Tips on How to Toughen Your Feet

Tip #6
Start out with a short ruck march and slowly build your distance up.  Add hills over time. Keep a training log of your distance, terrain and time.  For Kokoro an athlete should have rucked 20 miles in hills continuously.  For 20X you should hike 8 miles in hills in your training before the event.

What are some tips for tips for ruck marching in the rain? If you have a pair of waterproof boots that is a good start. I also throw on a poncho or rain jacket to keep the water out. You can also get a cover for your backpack to keep the water out.

Tip #7
Duck tape
A good way to fix a blister during a ruck march is to put a piece of moleskin (with a hole cut out of center) on the blister. Then put duck tape on top of that. A recent Kokoro graduate used that method for four days at the Turning Steel course in Montana.

Check out this article on keeping a training log and how to improve

Question: “Coach, can I go rucking with my book bag?”. You can but make sure you have a way to get the weight centered in the top of the bag. Be careful as many book bags are not set up to carry lots of weight as the straps will probably break. Good luck.

Question: “Coach, do hikes help train for the Navy SEALs?”. Yes, you can use ruck marching to help train for any Special Forces.

Question: “Coach, what are tips for ruck marching faster?”. First off – don’t run. To ruck march faster you need to get your body used to rucking. This will enable you to ruck longer and harder without taking breaks. With a heavier pack you are more apt to stopping which will eat up time if you are on a timed ruck and need to get to a destination.

Question: “I am in the Army. What are some stretches to do prior to a ruck march?”. I would do a mobility warmup of slowly kicking legs forward and backwards – 10 each leg. Then side to side kicks. Then a light jog then walking lunges.

Question: How to improve your time on the “pack test”?
The Work Capacity Test (WCT), known informally as the pack test, is a U.S. Forest Service physical test for wildland firefighters. The pack test is intentionally stressful as it tests the capacity of muscular strength and aerobic endurance of the firefighter. There are three tests known as arduous, moderate, and light. The pack test may be given as part of the S-130/S-190 basic wildland firefighter course.

The firefighter will need to train a minimum of 4 weeks before the test with the boots and gear needed for the job. It is recommended that the firefighter train for the arduous test by building up their aerobic fitness, first by hiking 3 miles with no pack, then by jogging on a flat course without a pack, then later add the pack and hike hills to build leg strength. Increase weight slowly until the firefighter can hike 3 miles in 45 minutes while carrying 45 pounds.

Question: My ruck pack is digging into my lower back. What can I do? Add kidney pads or use foam rubber and duck tape to create a cushion.

Question: I am training for the GoRuck – what can I do to help harden up or toughen my feet? Check out the tips above.

Question: What is the SEALFIT kokoro camp rucksack that is used? The backpack used at Kokoro is very basic and cheap in price $27. You can get more info on the ruck here online at

Question: Will squats help you ruck march? Yes; of course. Air squats and weighted squats are good. Also add in walking lunges. You can also do them with your pack on.

Question: should i train for ruck marches in boots? Yes; train how you will fight.

Question: How far would Navy SEALs hike? In BUDS you end up hiking a dozen miles or so but it was through harsh terrain like a boulder choked ravine. Practice now with a ruck on longer hikes as that is one less thing you will have to worry about later.

Question: Do you use a hip strap on ruck marches? Yes; we like to use one if your carrying a heavier load. Check out the Us Army Molle Desert Camo Molded Waist Belt.

Question: I keep getting chafed when I go out on ruck marches – what do you do to prevent this? I use Bodyglide anti-chafe balm in my crotch area, feet and nipples. We also recommend wearing compression shorts when hiking or on long endurance events.

Question: How much does Special Forces back pack weigh? Depending on the mission and terrain it can weigh as much as 100 lbs or more.

Question: What socks do you wear at buds? We used to wear the wool/cotton blend dive socks but now they wear Darn Tough Vermont Merino wool socks at BUDS.

I also have a pair of the new Darn Tough socks and they are very good.

Question: What is a good backpack for practice rucking? Try the Alice pack for starting out and practicing.

Question: Can I use compression socks on a long ruck march? Yes; compression socks are good for any long distance endurance event.

Question: On our last long ruck march my butt and crotch got a bad rash – the guys in my unit call it “monkey butt” – what do you do? We use a diaper rash cream or Bodyglide Original Anti-Chafe Balm to stop chafing. We also wear Nike Pro Compression Shorts. This will eliminate most chafing.

Question: What is the ruck sack that was used in BUDS Navy SEAL training? I want to get one to train like that. In BUDS they use the G.I. Type Alice Pack.

Question: How can I prevent chafing in the GoRuck event? Wear compression shorts and use body glide on your crotch, nipples, feet and under arms.

Question: What are good navy seal training methods for ruck marching? Put on your ruck with 30 lbs plus and go hiking in the mountains. Start slow and work your way up.

Question: Can I add a hip strap for my GoRuck backpack? Yes; you can add a hip strap to help you hold the load and take extra pressure off your shoulders, helping you ruck further.

Question: I have a new GoRuck pack – how can I add a chest strap and hip straps? Check out GoRuck’s new ruck add on’s here:

Question: I am interested in joining the Navy SEALs, where can I find out more info on the Navy? Check out this website here

Question: Is it true that you were also an instructor at Outward Bound and did a ton of hiking there?

Related Articles:
How to Prevent Blisters with double socks
Check out this SGPT Ruck March workout
Special Forces Boot Reviews
Log PT workout tips for Special Forces Athletes
Stew Smith Interview

Ruck Marching Tips


  1. Dakota says

    Good Evening Brad,
    So man, Ive been progressively kicking major ass in all PT that I do. I say this with confidence. But one issue with rucking i have been having is that the aluminum frame on my medium alice pack has been digging into my shoulders and really annoying me. any suggestions on how to fix this or what military pack i should switch to?


    • booker says

      Dakota, do you use a hip strap and kidney pads? They can take the weight off your shoulders which will help solve the issue from one angle. Also, you can replace the shoulder straps with newer padded MOLLE straps that have a curve to them, providing a more snug/conformal fit.

      If you have the scratch, I’d say get yourself a Mystery Ranch pack or similar. GoRuck obviously makes bombproof rucking packs and there are a few others like Maxpedition and Gregory.

  2. Dylan says

    Coach, how heavy should my ruck be when I march, and how far should I be able to march by the time of SEAL training? Also, how fast should my march be?

    • says

      I would max out at 50 lbs on the ruck if you weight about 175 lbs. In training you will hike all day up a gnarly boulder choked ravine. If I were training today I would know that I had a 20 mile hike under my belt in the mountains with 50 plus pounds.

  3. says

    And though Brad says this often…MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PROPER SHOES FOR RUCKING. I am still dealing with a hip injury I got in July 2014 because I wore stupid shoes that were too cushioned and I ignored my body’s messages they weren’t right. PROPER SHOES/BOOTS! PROPER SHOES/BOOTS!

  4. Bill Fleming says


    Thank you for the responses.

    I am looking at a Go-Ruck challenge for April 10th here in Boston…….hopefully the 5′ of snow will be gone by then – figured I would start with that to see how the rucking goes.

    Question on ruck workouts – with the short days in the winter, as well as working a full time job, rucking during the week proves difficult this time of year. Is there a substitute for rucking during this time of year? As the days get longer – I will be rucking after work.



    • says

      i would do standing or walking lunges – first without a pack and then slowly add the pack and add weight. Long distance rowing (indoors) is also another good one.

  5. Jesse says

    Good morning Brad,
    I am just getting started rucking, trying to get in shape for Boot Camp, and hopefully Recon School. I have a pair of my brother’s ACU boots that he gave me, (I know two completely different branches) however I was curious as to whether or not these would be ideal to use? I would assume they are good to go, but you never know.

    • says

      The best boots are those that fit your feet. You could have a $300 pair of boots but if they don’t fit right they are worthless. So if those boots feel good — go with it.

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