Who Gives A Ruck?
We love a good hike here at More than a Backpack. We wouldn’t sell the perfect backpacks for them if we didn’t! The other week, one of our team came across a fascinating interview with a man called Michael Easter. He’s a professor at the University of Nevada and contributing editor of Men’s Health Magazine. He also likes backpacks. A lot. Lately, he’s been filling them with 100lbs of Caribou meat in the Arctic wilderness and carrying them on his back for hours at a time. He does this on purpose.
He does not, however, do it for fun. Easter has recently written a book on what he dubs “The Comfort Crisis,” in which he says that, for too long now, our lives have been lived in the pursuit of comfort and, eschewing danger and distress, we’re missing out on a lot of what life has to offer. He’s not saying you have to lug reindeer meat around to fully experience life but, rather, that by stepping a little way outside of our comfort zone, we can gain scope and better appreciate the comfort that we so desperately crave.
One way Easter recommends we push into an area of discomfort is through a method of exercise called “Rucking.” Basically, you walk around for a long time with a really heavy backpack. He calls it “cardio for people who hate running and strength training for people who hate the gym.” It’s used by the US Special Forces to train and craft recruits into rugged endurance machines and it’s tough as hell. The act of carrying is something that, with shopping carts, cars and Amazon Prime coming into our lives, is slowly disappearing, along with the benefits it brings. Easter says it’s time to pick up the backpack once again.
All of this takes inspiration from the history of our species. The human race, physically, have never been spectacular. We’re not especially fast. We’re not especially strong. We can’t jump very high or swim very deep. Two areas, however, in which we do excel are, firstly, endurance running and, secondly, carrying. The way we would hunt back in our hunter-gatherer days is by running down an animal over a very long distance. A deer or wild pig could outsprint us with ease, but eventually, it would tire. Then, we would strike. Once the kill had been made, we would carry the animal back to our camp over miles and miles of terrain – something no other animal does. A lion can drag a kill over a few hundred meters but, beyond that, it just isn’t practical.
The concept of rucking follows the lead of those early hunters. By carrying heavy weights over great distances, we build core and back muscles, leading to better posture, as well as increasing our cardio at the same time. Next time that feeling tugs at you – “I need to work out, but I reeeeaaaaally don’t want to,” give rucking a go. We’ve got plenty of backpacks to help you out! Check out Michael Easter’s book “The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort to Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self” for a fascinating read and then hit up the More Than A Backpack shop to get geared up and ready to ruck. See you on the trail!