Gear Review: The Original Ruckstrap
Last week, I set off on a 3-hour, hilly ruck in Cook Forest State Park in PA to test out The Original Ruckstrap. As stated on their website, they are a "rucking accessory designed to reposition and lift your rucksack (aka backpack) for instant relief on the go". Let me tell you, I was really glad to have these! They are AWESOME!
Ruckstraps are very well constructed and super easy to use! They come with an easy-open clip that also locks solidly in place when closed. You just clip them to your top ruck handle and they are installed in seconds! Once they are on your ruck, it's easy to adjust them on the fly to make them a length that works best for you.
The ergonomically-designed Ruckstrap rubber handles are very comfortable. You can hold onto them as you ruck simply to give your hands and arms a change in position or you can pull down on them a bit to get some relief if the bottom of your ruck is rubbing against your back or to change the way your ruck weight sits on your shoulders.
You can also grab the handles and lift your arms up in the air to really give your traps a good break from the weight, which is just one of the features that really sets The Original Ruckstrap apart from other straps that I've tried in the past. It is extremely nice to be able to lift the weight of your ruck entirely up off your shoulders at times!
Being able to shift the weight of your ruck and relieve pressure on your shoulders and traps isn't just a matter of making rucking more comfortable either. It is thought that pressure from the shoulder straps of a ruck can cause issues with the C5 and C6 nerves and cause rucksack palsy, a condition that can cause numbness and cramping as well as shoulder, elbow, and wrist pain (Knapik, Reynolds and Harman, 2004).
Although perhaps not the intended way to position The Original Ruckstraps to your ruck, I did also try them out attached to the molle on the straps of my ruck itself. I used to have a different kind of ruck straps that attached in this way. I'd put my wrists through the loops to raise my hands up higher at times when I'd get sausage fingers while rucking with my hands at my side.
I wanted to try out The Original Ruckstrap in this way too since that's how I'd previously used my old ruck straps. Because of the easy on-off clip and ability to adjust the Ruckstraps, I was able to make the change in position quickly and enjoy them in this varied position for a little while. While they worked fantastically in this way, I do have to say that using them clipped to the top ruck handle was such a great position, I'm not sure I'd want or need to lower them down like this all that much.
As I was rucking, I was hard at work thinking about all the other ways that I could put these Ruckstraps to use. When I got home, I tried them out on a sandbag and quickly realized that these are clutch for sandbag carries as well.
We've all probably experienced the inconveniences of rucking with a sandbag on our backs - it sliding down off our backs, weight shifting, awkward hand positioning trying to hold onto the sandbag handles, and worst of all - rucking in a sorry, uncomfortable, slumped-over position in order to keep the weight on our back.
Well, in seconds, you can detach the Ruckstraps from your ruck and put them on a sandbag. This gives you a longer strap to hold on to, keeping your sandbag more secure on your shoulders and your arms more comfortable.
Because the sandbag is more secure, you can ruck with better posture, which will allow you to go faster, longer, with less fatigue. Not only that, it can help prevent lower back injuries that are a known risk of carrying heavy loads on your back due to the way that those loads make you lean or slump forward into suboptimal trunk angles (Knapik et al, 2012) and (Reynolds, et al, 1990).
Overall, The Original Ruckstrap is a high-quality, versatile and effective tool to help you stay more comfortable during your rucks. The ease with which they can be taken on and off and adjusted makes them really useful in a variety of ways. They are comfortable, well-constructed and a huge improvement over other ruck strap devices that I have tried in the past. I highly recommend grabbing some. Within a few miles at the most, you'll notice the benefits of this fantastic ruck accessory. Go grab some at ruckstrap.com!
Knapik, JJ, Reynolds, KL, and Harman, E. Soldier load carriage: historical, physiological, biomechanical, and medical aspects. Mil Med 169:45-56, 2004.
Knapik, JJ, Harman, EA, Steelman, RA and Graham, BS. A systematic review of the effects of physical training on load carriage performance. J Strength Cond Res 26:585-597, 2012.
Reynolds, KL, Kaszuba, J, Mello, RP, and Patton, JF. Prolonged treadmill load carriage: acute injuries and changes in foot anthropometry. Technical Report T1/9. Natick, MA: U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine 19, 1990.