Backpack or Rucksack

Backpack or Rucksack

Well, the word rucksack is a German word mainly used in the UK, US, and in other Western military forces. In Middle High German ruck(e) means “back”, which led to the Upper German word rucksack. The word backpack was coined in the United States in the 1910s.

A backpack (also called rucksack, knapsack, packsack, pack, Haversack, or Bergen) is a bag put on somebody’s back. It usually has two straps that go over the shoulders. It is used to carry things in it, and it often has many pockets or compartments to carry things.

The first discovery of the backpack

Back in 3300BC a man named Otzi the iceman was traveling through Italy and carried a rucksack made from animals. Centuries later this bag, as well as his body and other gear, were discovered by a group of hikers at Val Senales Valley in Italy. This means that humans have been carrying backpacks since then.


Bindles were created from sticks and canvas cloths during the American Civil War. While these were a burden to carry, there was really nothing better available for soldiers on the battlefield at the time.


Henry Miriam developed one of the first functional knapsacks for the U.S. military. He used sheet metal in order to reduce the weight that had to be carried around during missions.

merriam knapsack
Henry Miriam knapsacks (source Google)


Camille Poirier improved on the military backpack with the Duluth Pack. This bag featured a head strap that was secured via straps and buckles. It’s commonly used today for canoe and kayak trips.

duluth pack
source: Google


Ole F. Bergman designed bags with wooden frames that he called “Sekk Med Meis.” These fashionable backpacks were made from birch bark and soft fabric, both of which made them easy to compress down during lengthy travels.


Upper and lower strapped bags were invented. The start of World War I brought the need for improved military backpacks called Haversacks. These bags strapped on the upper and lower back and held ammo, canteens, and other equipment for the U.S. military.


Lloyd F. Nelson designed a backpack with a rigid frame for hiking that he called the Trapper Nelson. The original bag was carried along for his hike across Alaska and was made from sticks and seal skins.



The first zippered backpack was created by Gerry Cunningham in Boulder, Colorado. He didn’t like how other rucksacks slid around his back, so he used his father’s sewing machine to create a nylon bag with zippers instead.


Backpacks for Kids was invented. Kids started bringing backpacks with them to school.

Creator Orlando Getty images
Japanese schoolchildren on their way to school in Tokyo. (Photo by Orlando /Three Lions/Getty Images)


A man named Åke Nordin created a cotton bag with a wooden frame that could be held higher on the back and carried through the mountains. Later, he started a company named Fjällräven, which still sells trendy bags like the one pictured here to this day.



Dick Kelty and his wife Nena create the first modern backpack. Kelty had been a Navy veteran and aircraft engineer. This experience contributed significantly to the design of his backpacks. Also, his expertise in engineering allowed him to easily handle the construction of the frames for his backpacks. His wife, Nena, handled the sewing of the backpack. She used material from a military parachute. She also added some different materials for the shoulder straps- wool carpeting. At the very beginning, less than 30 of these bags were sold. However, the backpacks grew increasingly popular.


Plastisol ink creates backpacks with prints. Kids could now carry a bag decorated with popular characters from the time period like Mickey Mouse, The Flintstones, and Bugs Bunny. This is a trend that still exists to this day with modern characters.


Transparent, see-through backpacks became popular.


A college student named Skip Yowell started JanSport with his cousins in Seattle, Washington. The backpacks were originally designed for mountain climbing, but soon found their way to university bookstores. Today, they are one of the bestselling backpack brands in the world!


Michael Eidson creates the world’s first Camelback Hydration Pack.

Late 2000s

Fashion backpacks became a trendy way to carry daily essentials. You can now find bags in leather, canvas, and a variety of other materials. Some are even designed by major fashion brands like Gucci and Prada.

Nowadays 2022

Nowadays backpack can be used anywhere…for activities, sports, for a walk, to the job, school, etc. They become a part of our daily life. People can use them everywhere, it’s practical and easy to use. Nowadays they are also using a lot of different materials to create a backpack. Also, there are available prints like the ones we have.

Reference:, Google


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