GoRuck Training Sandbag Review
Bottom Line Up Front: The sandbag is an excellent functional fitness tool. The GoRuck training sandbags are top-notch in terms of quality, durability, and functionality.
A few years ago I began running a program to send officers to US Army Ranger School. As part of it, I was developing a comprehension strength and conditioning program. A program like the one I wanted to implement wasn’t going to be bodyweight exercises only; I needed resistance. I found I wasn’t able to use dedicated gym space that already existed on every military installation. I thought about getting kettlebells, but the amount I would need, their cost, and their security the other 23 hours per day (I didn’t have a storage shed) were prohibitive. Good idea fairy hit me hard: Sandbags. We can MAKE sandbags! My first group met up on a Saturday with four things: Military duffel bags, regular empty standard sandbags, garbage bags, and duct tape. We jogged to a giant pile of sand/dirt at a construction site. I told them to start filling the large ones to about 2/3 full and the regular sandbags the whole way. We lined the duffel bags with 3 garbage bags and then put that duffel bag into another one for added durability. All told, the large ones weighed about 60-75 lbs and the smaller ones about 30. The bad news was we had to carry them all back. For all the Ranger candidates with me that day, the memory will be hard to forget.
We used and abused those sandbags for two years. Periodically we had to reinforce the smaller ones with more tape and we split open a few of the large ones. I had them doing sandbag cleans, sandbag burpees, overhead sandbag walks, sandbag carries, sandbag thrusters, and anything more I thought of. For very little cost, we got a lot out of these.
As I left that job, I wanted to keep the sandbag in my arsenal, but I was willing now to spend some money to get a professionally produced fitness sandbag complete with reinforced stitching, handles, etc. I got down to either GoRuck brand or Rogue after looking around online. I did some further digging and found the GoRuck ones came out ahead on most message boards. Both are excellent as I have used them both, but the GoRuck is the way to go.
What I Got
I ordered the 60lb. I was trying to find the most versatile weight that offered customization (adding or removing) to fit the job. Each one comes with the filler bags in it already. So the 60 comes with two 30s. I was going to return it and get the 80, but instead I ordered another 40lb filler bag, and then just filled one of my existing 30s with only 10lbs, so I have 40+30+10 = 80lbs in there now in three filler bags. I think I would get another 10 in there, maybe 20 more pounds. The bags themselves are different sizes so there isn’t a lot of sloshing around of filler bags. I have used that basically as it is the whole time for the last year. I find for what I do with it, 80, 90, or 100 would be about the same, so I end up leaving the weight as it is. If I ordered it again, I would get an 80 and fill it with 100lbs I think. I may also have gotten one small and one large too versus one in the middle like I did. It isn’t worth the money for me now to get another one in my assessment. You can order the additional filler bags separately if you want to add or customize.
What I Love It
1. Quality. This thing is indestructible. They have videos of throwing them off roofs. I believe I couldn’t ruin this thing any time soon unless I took knives and deliberately tried to – and maybe not even then.
2. Handles. They have placed 12 different handles all over them so you can grab it may different ways. My homemade sandbags had no handles. It is a huge difference.
3. Filler bags. The fillers themselves are awesome. So easy to fill (hold open one end, fill, and Velcro shut). There is a double Velcro thing going on. Not one piece of sand has ever leaked from any of mine. I use mine for additional weight in my ruck sack for foot marches. It is super easy to have a 20 or 30lb bag sitting around that you can throw in your regular ruck with your standard 30-ish pound packing list to bring it up to a good training weight without finding stupid things to add to it (like books or weights like we all have done).
4. The Company. GoRuck as an organization is a great group of veterans with high-quality products and great events (I haven’t but am considering doing one). I have shorts, a hat, and a dog leash from them as well. I was able to email them from my military email address to verify my service for a 25% discount as well. I sent the request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can’t think of a major downside. If I could I would tell you, really.
You can see more detail in these photos as well as on their web site listed below.
How To Use It
I use it like I would a barbell usually, but being awkward spices it up. Things such as back squats, front squats, push presses, etc. all can be done with these. The handles help a lot to get into and maintain some positions. You can do cleans with it too because of the handles. I have taken it on a 60 minute walk just carrying it over one or both shoulders the whole time. Another favorite of mine is to put it on my back and do box steps-ups (80lb sandbag on a 30-inch box is legit). Here are some pretty good videos with 30 more ideas too.
* Note that as of this post, all of their sandbags are currently out of stock and they haven’t listed the filler bags for sale in the accessories. You can add in your email to be notified when they are back in stock.
Question: Have you ever used sandbags or other unique tools for training? How did you use them? Post thoughts to comments.
References & Further Reading