Maj. Robert Dyer created the new RuckPack energy drink, which contains no caffeine. (Courtesy of Robert Dyer)
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Developed by a Marine on the battlefields of Afghanistan, RuckPack is a caffeine-free energy drink designed to give troops an extra kick during long, isolated missions.
Maj. Robert Dyer, an aviation officer, got the idea for an energy shot while deployed as a joint terminal attack controller with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command in 2008 in the Helmand River Valley.
Dyer said he, like many of his comrades with 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, carried multipacks of vitamins and supplements on missions but grew tired of taking up to 20 pills or capsules a day.
RuckPack lasts 12 hours, Dyer said, because he wants troops to have to take only two shots if they go on daylong missions. The product includes gingko biloba, St. John's wort, ginseng, L-Glutamine, chondroitin, potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamins B6 and B12.
Many missions are completed at night, he said, so he added vitamin D3 for those who were not getting enough sunlight. Plus, "every time you deploy, you get sick," Dyer said, so he added vitamin C.
Most important, Dyer said it needed to be caffeine free.
"Snipers don't want caffeine," he said. "It makes them too jumpy."
Dyer spent about $10,000 developing his first sample of RuckPack.
He was hoping that, at worst, it would have a neutral taste. But his taste-testers compared the 2-ounce shot to grape freeze pops. Members of MARSOC and special operations units tried RuckPack too, and Dyer said it was well-received.
Although energy drinks are popular among Marines, the Corps does not advocate their use.
"There are many commercially available energy products that are marketed toward fitness and weight maintenance, some of which have shown adverse health effects," said Lt. Col. Riccoh Player, a Marine spokesman at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.
"The best mechanism to maintain combat readiness is through proper work/rest cycles, physical training and health maintenance. Without question, the USMC provides sound diets in theater to maintain the health and fitness of the force."
But Dyer is betting that troops, and the public at large, will respond to RuckPack.
Now enrolled at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., Dyer is a master of business administration candidate in financial management. Afterward, he plans to become a Naval Academy economics professor.
Dyer deployed twice to Iraq, serving as a weapons systems officer and a forward air controller, according to his RuckPack bio. He also served two tours in Afghanistan with MARSOC.
RuckPack is one part of Dyer's company, Noots! Nutrition, which is made up of 10 veterans and military spouses, he said.
Dyer wants to get RuckPack into military exchanges, but for now, he said there are stores in Monterey, Calif., San Diego, central Florida and New York selling RuckPack alongside its caffeinated competitors.
RuckPack is also available at www.ruckpack.com. Each bottle costs $2.99, and a pack of 24 bottles costs $54.95.