Swedish Army Rucksack

Is this not the Brooks B17 of rucksacks?

Lately I’ve been enjoying riding the bike in its unladen state, as I’ve referenced in recent blog posts. A good portion of my commuting and recreational riding takes place off road, either on canal towpaths or woodland trails and the sprightly feel of an unladen bike on rough ground is hard to beat.

Previously I’ve been a champion of the ‘let the bike carry the weight’ philosophy and a daily saddlebag user to boot. But lately I’ve hankered after something different. The trouble is, I carry a laptop and video camera on my daily commute, so some sort of capacious bag is essential. The problem is most backpacks are high-tech, nylon items which don’t really sit well with Resurrectio’s staunchly traditional looks. Thus my search began for a ‘country bag’ to match my country bike.

I’ve always liked the looks and rugged utilitarianism of military gear, so I began my search on army surplus websites. Pretty soon I stumbled across a rucksack that blended perfectly with my country bike’s honey leather and green colour scheme.

The bag in question is an M39 Swedish Army rucksack, produced, as its name suggests, from 1939 until around 1960 . It’s a 35 litre canvas bag with one main compartment, closed with a leather drawstring and a storm flap. The bag features a lightweight metal support frame, painted in olive drab and a wonderful honey-coloured harness system made from saddle leather.

Rear view of the bag showing the beautiful and elaborate back system

The bag is supremely comfortable to wear; the broad, flat leather straps and lumbar support taking the weight, while the frame keeps the bag away from the back, making for a largely sweat free experience. The bag’s main compartment will swallow my laptop and camera with room to spare, while the smaller internal pocket is the perfect size for my bike tool kit.

It’s great to find a vintage item like this which is just as functional now as it was when it was made, way back in 1942. I’m lucky to have found an example in pretty much unused condition – I suspect that my bag has never seen service and must have been stored well to be in such remarkable condition after 69 years.

And the price for this wonderful, evokate ‘Brooks B17 of rucksacks’? £5.99 plus postage, from a popular auction site.