A guide to Dutch army Backpacks (Bergans)

The Dutch Army used and uses modern backpacks that all have in common that they have detachable side pouches  These pouches (aka rocket pouches) can be zipped together into a improvised small backpack. After years of using the Berghaus Vulcan backpack the the Dutch army switched to several models and sizes of Lowe Alpine backpacks. The sizes are 40 liter, 55 liter and 130 liter. They all come with 10 liter side pouches.  The 40 liter backpack has a minimalistic hip belt and static shoulder straps. The bigger models have a padded hip-belt and shoulder straps that can be adjusted according to the user length.

Initially they were made by renowned backpack manufacturer Lowe Alpine. Later the Dutch army ordered copies of these backpacks at the Belgian company ARWY. Also the Army ordered copies of the backpacks without a brand in countries like Vietnam. A real Lowe Alpine version of these backpacks can be recognized through the label under the cover lid and the Lowe Alpine logo on the metal button clasps that keep the aluminium frame inside its sleeves.

The fast majority of the produced backpacks has Dutch DPM camouflage. Smaller quantities are made in US Woodland camouflage for the Marine Corps and in black for the Military Police. Lowe Alpine itself produced the backpacks also in Olive Green for the civilian market.

Berghaus Vulcan 
The first modern backpack that the Dutch army was using was the Berghaus Vulcan backpack. This backpack has well padded shoulder straps and a well padded hip belt. main characteristic property of this backpack is that the height of the shoulder straps, and therefore the distance between the hip belt and shoulder straps, is static. Most modern backpacks have a attaching system for the shoulder straps that can be adjusted according to the users body length. This to ensure that the hip-belt rests on the users hips and that the shoulder straps are at the same height as the users shoulders. To ensure that the length between the hip-belt and shoulder straps attaching point would match with the length of the users back the Berghaus Vulcan was made in 4 different sizes; size 1, 2, 3 and 4. The higher the size the longer the distance between the hip belt and the shoulder straps. As a logical consequence the total volume of the backpack also increases with the size.

Dutch Army Berghaus Cyclops II Vulcan
Dutch army Berghaus Vulcan Cyclops II. Source: www.cgbackpacks.com

40 Liter Strike (aka Grab-bag) NSN 8465-17-114-4596 
This is the smallest backpack in this series. It is a one compartment top loading backpack. It comes with a rubber plate for back support but not with an internal frame.

Grabbag 40L model-52-big

Lowe Alpine Strike label

Lowe Alpine Strike 40 01
Original Lowe Alpine olive green version of the Strike aka Grab-bag (NSN 8465-17-114-4596)
Forest_camouflage_backpack Militairia4you
Strike 40 grabbag in US woodland camouflage (NSN 8465-17-117-2481). Source: www.militaria4you.com

55 Liter Sting NSN 8465-17-115-5334
The Lowe Alpine Sting consists of just one main compartment. Additionally there is a pouch hanging inside the bag for the installation of a water bladder.

Lowe Alpine Sting 01
Lowe Alpine Sting in Dutch DPM woodland camouflage. Source: www.campveltoutdoorshop.nl

55 Liter Sting Ray NSN : 8465-17-115-9550
The Lowe Alpine Sting Ray consists of a lower and an upper compartment which are separated by a diaphragm system with a pull cord. To reach the lower compartment easily there is a extra zipper on the lower end of the backpack.

The Low Alpine Sting Ray (or ARWY copy) in Dutch DPM camouflage. Source: www.preppers.nl
Sting Ray Black 03
Black version of the Sting Ray. Source: www.campveltoutdoorshop.nl

More info: www.webbingbabel.blogspot.com

130 Liter Saracen NSN 8465-17-113-6904
The Saracen is a really big backpack. Therefore it is most suitable for tall people. Due to it’s length the backpack might be top heavy for small persons and the user may tumble over. The Lowe Alpine Saracen consists of a lower and an upper compartment which are separated by a diaphragm system with a pull cord. The hood of the Lowe Alpine Saracen has two compartments with zip access, on the side of the outside and on the inside.

Lowe Alpine Saracen Woodland camo 01
Lowe Alpine Saracen in woodland camouflage. Source:  www.forum.guns.ru
Lowe Alpine Saracen Olive Green 00
Olive green version of the Lowe Alpine Saracen.

Design changes by the Dutch ministry of Defence
The original designs from Lowe Alpine were changed on request of the Dutch army. First difference everyone can notice is the Dutch DPM camouflage that was added. Also the military 25 mm Molle webbing was added to the front and sides. The original design had webbing that was suitable for Alice clips. Another well thought feature is the large solid grip handle on the upper part of the front combined with a strong rigid loop at the upper part of the back. This was designed for hoisting the bag and easy pickup when not carried on the users back.

Design changes from Lowe Alpine to ARWY
The original designs from Lowe Alpine were modified over the years. At first the ARWY models were exact copies of the original Lowe Alpine version. Later on the backpacks were improved slightly. The fast release buckle that was used by Lowe Alpine to secure the waist belt was changed for a more sophisticated so called Berghaus buckle. The zippers that are attaching the side pouches to the main compartment on the Lowe Alpine backpack are opening from top to bottom. Theoretically the zippers could open spontaneously by gravity when walking around with the pack. The zippers of side pouches on the later ARWY models are opening the other way around; from bottom to top. All side pouches and backpack models are interchangeable. However some combinations may result in the upside down attaching of the side pouches to the backpack.

More info:

Available at:
– Berhaus Vulcan
www.militaria4you.com (Dutch website)
www.militarycollectibles4u.nl (Dutch website)
– Strike
www.militarybasics.de (German website)
– Sting
www.militarycollectibles4u.nl (Dutch website)
www.militarycollectibles4u.nl (Dutch website)
www.militarybasics.de (German website)
– Sting Ray
– Saracen
www.militarycollectibles4u.nl (Dutch website)
www.militarycollectibles4u.nl (Dutch website)

Nog toevoegen:

5) Alluminium strippen verwijderen en wassen.

1 inch ACW buckles.

internal wand pockets

5 thoughts on “A guide to Dutch army Backpacks (Bergans)

  1. Thanks for this post. What would you advise ?
    I would like to buy a Sting. Which one is better ? The Arwy or the Lowe?


    • These bags are hard to break so no problem there for both of the manufacturers. But I have the impression that the colors on the Lowe Alpine are more resistant to fading over the years. The Lowe Alpine versions that I’ve seen had always fresh colors.


  2. I have the official lowe alpine saracen version and it does infact have zip from bottom to too on the side pouches and a huge buckle on the front.. now, two thing thst I do not like about this design is;

    1, the adjustable shoulder strap uper central peoce is made out of plastic and it digs in and rubs me to a graze in the center of my back when wearing a t-shirt whilst tabbing..

    2, my version does not have the additional padding for my back that run vertical about 10 inches apart, mine just has black flat straps, they are not pronounced and padded like I’ve seen some versions on youtube.. i thinknthus is why the upper plastic digs in and rubbs me to a sore..

    I live in the UK.. the other design is hard to come by here.

    All the best.


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