My husband Kenny is a wildland firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service and at the start of every season, he and his crew have to complete what’s called “a pack test”: They must hike with a 45-pound pack over three miles within 45 minutes or less to ensure they have the necessary fitness level to perform the job.
This idea of hiking with a weighted pack, or rucking, isn’t only for firefighters or soldiers anymore, though. The trend is blowing up (with more than 20 million views on TikTok) as a way to take a simple walking routine up to the next level. So, I wanted to get the scoop on just how rucking works to increase your fitness, and how to get started. Here’s what I found out.
The fitness benefits of rucking
Rucking hits the sweet spot of strength training plus low-impact cardio fitness, making for a super well-rounded workout.
As soon as you put the pack on and start walking, you’ll immediately notice more pounding in your chest. “The rucksack (or weighted vest) places a greater demand on your body, thus eliciting a higher heart rate response,” says Steve Stonehouse, CPT, director of training and experience for BFT. “Challenging th