Improved version of US Army Style duffle bag for traveling

Good news; our friends in China have read our previous blog about the US Army style duffle bag. They have improved the bag on 2 points. The shoulder straps got ladder buckles instead of metal rings. And the zipper with nothing behind it got a piece of fabric behind it so it becomes a real pocket.

US army (style) duffle bag

2 keer foto: Ladder buckle and zipper

The metal D rings were slippery so that the straps easily loosen and the bag sags down while caring it on your back. This is highly impractical. Now they have attached ladder buckle that have a tight grip at the straps so that this cannot longer occur. These ladder buckles are also more in the military style. Th Swedish LK35 backpack also has them. Many US army bags such as the M-1942 Jungle pack, M1928 Haversack and the M1936 Musette Bag also used them in the past.

Picture: D-rings vs ladder-buckle

The flap with pockets has a extra piece of fabric in this new improved version. That makes it a useful pocket.

Another small addition to the pack is the creation of loops at the base of the bottom. Perhaps only intended as extra reinforcement for the shoulder straps but it also gives yo the opting to slide a military belt through. By doing so it becomes a backpack with hip belt.

Even more possible improvements:
– Smaller grommets. In some occasions of a fully loaded bag the hook can slide through the grommets. The difference in size between the hook and the grommets is just a few mm. Under heavy pressure the hook can be forced through the grommet. If this happens it is difficult to move the hook back in the right position. Smaller grommets and thus a bigger size difference between the hook and the opening in the grommet will avoid this. The original US Army duffle bag and many other duffle bags uses smaller grommets.

Grommets with different inside diameter
Significant difference between the inside diameters of the grommets on the original US Army duffel bag (left) and the Civilian canvas dufflebag (right)

Maybe our Chinese friends are reading this again and will also implement this improvement.

Available at:
www.aliexpress.com

Canteen cup stove

A canteen cup as used by the military is very useful to prepare a meal or boil water for coffee and tea.

A very efficient cooking setup is the Swedish army ”Trangia” system. This is a cooking pot nested in a special designed windscreen. Inside this windscreen is a folding pot stand. The heat source is a alcohol burner. The cooking pot has a cover lid that can also be used as a pan on its own.
The cooking pot stands inside the windscreen. By enclosing the bottom from the pot by the windscreen the heat from the flames is transferred more efficiently into the pot. Also the flames stay inside the windshield instead of going everywhere. It also makes sure that rain and wind have almost no effect on the burner. This windscreen stays around the pot when carried. It acts as a storage container. Big advantage is that the black soot that will be formed on the pot cannot easily be transferred to other equipment and your hands. Alcohol burns relatively clean compared to petrol based liquids. The smell is less and the formation of black soot is also lesser. Alcohol is widely available and you can bring it in a small bottle for a day hike or a big bottle for a multiple days. With gas burners you need to bring a whole canister. If running out of Alcohol you can also burn some wood twigs in this stove.

Swedish Army pan + windshield 01
The Swedish Army cook system with the pan standing inside the windscreen.

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Dutch Army one man tent

This tent was was introduced into the army to replace the classic pup tent in the early 90’s. Most of them are marked KL-94. Usually from the company Wittock Industry. The design of the classic pup tent was almost unchanged since WW2;  two shelter halves that can be connected into a tent without ground sheet for two persons. This new design came with a bath tub rubber floor. Quite luxury for army standards.

KL Pup tent
The DPM Woodland camouflage makes the tent perfect for stealth camping.

Although advertised as a 2 man tent it is more convenient as a one man tent. Maybe when you’re in a really close relationship this will do as a 2 man tent but that will be very tight. The dimensions are approx 225 x 90 x 117 cm.

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Dutch army mess tins

The Dutch army mess tins are almost identical (just a little smaller) as the British army mess tins. It is a two-piece set of a smaller pan nesting in a bigger pan. Both pans have a fold out handle. The design dates back to the days of the 2nd world war. Armies around the world are still using this style of mess tins. Modern outdoor equipment suppliers as Highlander, Bo-Camp and BCB are still producing this design for the civilian market. That says something about the quality and practical usage of this type of mess tins.

Dutch army mess tins 04

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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.

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Austrian army backpack system

During the 80’s the Austrian army had a load carrying system that consisted of a large backpack that looked like a US army Alice Pack and a smaller bag that could be carried as a front pack or as a butt pack. Alternately the small bag could also be worn as a shoulder bag or a small backpack on it’s own. The bags are made from Nylon (Polyamide) and usually carried in combination with a pistol belt.

The idea from a front pack was copied in later years by the Dutch army. They had a small duffel generally known as the Rotota bag or soldiers handbag. This was also attached to the shoulder straps of a backpack. However the Dutch used plastic fast release buckles while the Austrian pack system uses metal hooks. Another difference is that the Dutch front-pack is carried on the chest while the Austrian front-pack is carried a little lower, on your belly. Perhaps this was done so the soldier has more space to handle a rifle.

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The Austrian backpack and front-pack. Source: www.swisslink.com

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US Army style duffel bag for traveling

Soldiers in the army have usually something like a kit-bag, see sack, weekend bag or duffel bag. This not to use in the combat field but to take all their clothing and gear from army base to army base or from their barracks to home during weekends. These bags are usually very simple. In case of a duffel bag it is usually a one compartment bag with rings and a clip to close it instead of zippers. Most duffel bags have just one strap to throw over your shoulders. The US army duffel bag however is one of the few designs with two straps so that it can be worn as a (improvised) backpack. To improve the possibility of carrying the duffel bag as a backpack the bag has a rectangular shape instead of a cylindrical shape. A round shape will flip sidewards all the time when you have it on your back. A flat shape will be much more stable.

US army (style) duffle bag

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Dutch army daypack

The Dutch army daypack aka KL daypack or KLu daypack is a small backpack but equipped with foam-padded shoulder straps like it is a full size backpack. The bag has a main compartment with an internal divider and two side pockets. The weigh is about 1,35 kg and measurements are 45 x 28 x 18cm for the main compartment and 7 x 15 x 25 cm for each of the side pockets. This gives the backpack a total volume of 28 liters. However, on online army shops and second hand trading websites the volume is very often stated as 35 liters. The outside contains two attaching belts for extra equipment like a water bottle or first aid pouch. These items can be attached with alice-clips, but also the old Dutch/British webbing system hooks.  This backpack was made during the 90’s in 3 colours; Woodland (Dutch DPM), Dessert (Dutch CDU) and olive green. The olive green one was only issued to the Dutch Airforce (KLu) and therefore harder to find nowadays. Big advantage of this last one is that the camouflage pattern will not fade out after years of usage. Also the color is more neutral and suitable for urban traveling. An even rarer version is the black one issued to members of the Dutch military police (Marechaussee). This one was however made of a much softer normal fabric.

3 x Dutch army backpack
The 3 different camouflage versions of the Dutch army daypack

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Great travel item: US army patients effects bag

Some military surplus items are perfect for travellers; light weight, not to expensive, still available from unused stock and many different ways to use them. The US army patients effects bag is such an item.

When wounded soldiers were taken to a (field) hospital, staff placed an injured soldier’s personal belongings such as wedding rings, watches, glasses or letters in these bags. Each bag has two drawstrings on top and a gusseted bottom to stand upright when full. Inside the bag is a rubberised pocket to separate items. On the outside of the US GI personal effects bags is a small white square where the soldier’s name would be written. Another version which is not so common is meant for dead soldiers and has a label which much more details to be filled in. Among the details; Killed in action. Measuring 12 inches tall and 15 inches wide, these cloth bags make perfect toiletry bags, laundry bags, or other small item bags for campers, Scouts or travellers.

 

Available at:
www.global.rakuten.com
www.hobbyswoodmilitaria.co.uk
www.colemans.com
www.go-armynavy.com
www.mooremilitaria.com
www.sportsmansguide.com This is the not so often seen bag for deceased military personal instead of the wounded one.

French army F1 backpack

The French army F1 backpack was in use till the mid 90s. Nowadays you can still find them in many (online) army surplus shops. Main reason for that is because they are extremely durable and made out of tough heavy duty materials. This backpack is super strong and won’t disappoint you.

f1-backpack-2-modified
The French Army F1 backpack can be extended with a chimney. That’s why the closing straps are extra long. Source: www.global.rakuten.com

The French army F1 backpack is compared to a modern lightweight backpack a bit heavy (2,2 Kg) and a bit uncomfortable. Actually it is more a very luxury duffel bag. For example; it doesn’t have side pockets and it has grip handles on both sides. Besides that you can also wear it on your back.

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