Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21

The Fjällräven Rucksack No21 looks like a classic canvas backpack from decades ago. However it is a modern pack. The base material is G-1000, a combination of 35 % cotton and 65 % polyester. The water resistance can be improved by waxing it. Fjällräven sells his own wax product for this: Greenland Wax. This is made from a mixture of beeswax and paraffin.

 

Just like old school classic backpacks it doesn’t have zippers. It’s drawstrings and buckles only. The front pocket and side pockets don’t have any closure at all. However the top of each pocket is somewhat tighter than the rest of the pocket. This will keep your stuff clamped inside the pack.

Fjallraven Rucksack no.21 Front pocket
The front pocket of the Fjällräven Rucksack No21. Suitable for small easy to reach items. Source:  www.canvasandleather.com

The main compartment can be closed with a drawstring to make sure that everything stays in the pack. It also makes it possible to overload the pack a little bit.

Fjallraven Rucksack no.21 Drawstring closure
Drawstring closure under the main closure lid. Source: www.drop.com

 

The shape of the pack is maintained by a rubber insert mat. This is the same principle that is done with the Dutch army daypack. However this mat is more luxury.

Fjallraven Rucksack no.21 Insert mat
Insert panel. Source: www.drop.com

The model 21 is available in 3 different sizes: Small (15 L), Medium (20 L) and Large (30 L).

For the Medium model the shoulder straps are 6,5 cm × 37 cm. They are not extremely padded but due to the width it spreads the load and gives comfort. The attachment to the pack and the adjustment in length is a little different from most modern backpacks.

At the top are small leather straps. Disadvantage of this is that the straps are easily twisted in the wrong way. At the bottom is a classic buckle for the adjustment of the length of the shoulder straps. While this system doesn’t allow you to tighten the pack to you body while wearing it, it also makes sure that there is no annoying buckle poking under your armpit.

The side pockets are a little bit hidden inside the pack instead of real outer pockets. They are big enough for a water bottle, small foldable umbrella, small camera tripod etc.

Fjallraven Rucksack no.21 Side pocket
One of the side pockets of the Fjällräven Rucksack No21 (Medium) with a water bottle inside.

With a depth of 23 cm of the side pockets most water bottles can be stowed away completely.

More info:
www.thegirloutdoors.co.uk
www.canvasandleather.com
www.thehallos.com

www.fjallraven.com/shop/fjallraven-rucksack-no21-medium
www.fjallraven.com/shop/fjallraven-rucksack-no21-large

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 aluminum 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.

2037-austrian-military-4-pc-backpack-pic2-1200x1200
The Austrian backpack and front-pack. Source: www.swisslink.com

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Quechua Arpenaz backpack series

Travel equipment doesn’t have to be expensive and complex. Quechua, the home brand of Decathlon sports and outdoor shop, makes very simple and therefore lightweight and cheap backpacks. The Arpenaz backpacks don’t have side pockets. They consist of just one large main compartment with a additional 2nd compartment. The bags are padded with a small layer of foam on the back and made out of water repelling fabrics. On top is a small loop for hanging your bag on a hook in a public toilet or so. Unfortunately there is no large grip handle on top to pick up your bag easily. The Arpenaz backpack series has a 10, 20, 30 and 40 liter variants and is available in all kind of colors.

Arpenaz series

For the 10 and 20 liter the 2nd compartment is a front pocket. For the 30 and 40 liter variants the 2nd compartment is located in the cover lid. Al the variants except the 10 liter have mesh pockets on both sides. All backpacks except the 10 liter variant have a minimalistic hip belt. Since the volume of all these backpacks are not that big and there is no option for adjusting the shoulder straps at a different hight you might not using it at all.

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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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Stealing from your luggage and what you can do about it.

Theft from your luggage is unfortunately a thing that can happen. Just like in daily life there are criminals that want to steal what belongs to you. This can surely happen by fellow travelers but also by people who work as luggage handlers in airports, buses or ferry boats. Thailand has seen both arrests of foreign travelers being caught for stealing as well as local employees who work as a luggage handler.

Coconuts Bangkok writes often about this problem. Its like fighting rats; no matter how much you catch of them they will come back.
Phuket airport employee caught stealing Adidas shoes from luggage.
Busted! Baggage handlers at Suvarnabhumi Airport caught stealing from passengers.
Phuket airport staff arrested for stealing from passengers’ luggage.

 

How people steal from your luggage and how to ovoid theft.

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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.

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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The (British army) Rucksack Other Arms vs The Osprey Porter

The Rucksack Other Arms from the British army and the Osprey Porter are both “single” compartment backpacks where you can hide the shoulder straps. This allows you to use it as a hand carrying bag. Both the backpacks are not very high compared to their width.

If you spend most of your time carrying your luggage at your back when hiking or going to the woods and mountains, then a real backpack is most suitable. If your backpack spends most of its time in a luggage compartment of a bus, train, air-plane, mini van, taxi etc. then a single compartment bag with no extra straps or side pockets is more suitable. This setup comes close to a suitcase that you carry on your back.

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