Gerry Rucksack with Fiberglass Back Board

This is an early Gerry rucksack. As I’ve probably mentioned in other posts, the earliest outdoor gear was simply repurposed military surplus and this bag shares many characteristics.  Beyond the olive drab nylon the bag resembles very much a European military pack. Specifically one from a company called Bergans of Norway , which was made of more traditional materials, canvas and leather.

Though the design itself may not have been revolutionary or visionary the removable lightweight back panel is.  I believe the panel to be made of fiberglass, but may just be something similar. The removable panel replaces metal support systems used on earlier packs. The updated support system with the use of lightweight nylon saved this traditional design many extra pounds.



Early Gerry Ruck Sack

I will preface by saying this pack contains no makers markings, tags or labels. It is believed to be from early outdoor gear manufacturer Gerry based on certain characteristics.

It wasn’t until the end of the second World War, when GIs returning from the European campaign settled rejoined the fabric of american life that outdoor exploration as a true hobby and leisure exercise really begin to gain a foothold in the United States.  campaigns in the Alps and Pyrenees along with  exposure to cultures that had survived and thrived in these areas provided some soldiers with a taste for the alpine life when their tour was over. Purpose built military gear provided the basis for these new adventure’s kit.  Modifications for civilian use at some point became drastic enough that an entirely new piece of equipment was created and their creators found business in doing so.

In this pack you can see the lineage of its predecessors.  Even with in this blog you can find examples of Swiss and other military packs of which this bag shares many characteristics. Heavy canvas has been replaced by lighter nylon blended material and  excess hardware associated with military use has been eliminated. The items that work remain; leather shoulder straps affixed with nuts and screws,  main compartment with external pockets for stowing items that need be readily available.  And OD Green, hey, it works and why would anyone want to stray from earth tones any way?

This pack’s tear drop shape, side compartments and top flap are consistent with another pack designed by the Gerry company in the early 60s featured on this blog here. In particular the way the top flap is secured by cords through nylon lashings and knotted. Gerry’s Gerry Cunningham was one of the earliest designer and manufacturer of commercial mountaineering and outdoor goods starting the company in 1946 after leaving the military. Since that time the company has gone through many changes and owners. Its most current incarnation can be seen at

The North Face Leather Bottom Rucksack Backpack – Brown Label Made in the USA

Early TNF larger size semi-rigid tear drop shaped rucksack with extremely impressive ergo dynamics.  Classic TNF navy blue nylon makes up the back and sides, while the back panel is made of a heavy cotton. Two hidden rods, most likely a heavy plastic run from the bottom inside points up along the seam between the back panel and side to the top of the pack. These rods bow so when the pack is worn they start near your shoulder blades and end up on the sides of your hips. It pretty much hugs you when you wear it.

Beautifully styled with a suede leather bottom, lashing squares on the side, front and top flap. Felted strap pads attached to dark olive color nylon web straps. Top flap has zippered access underneath. Adjustable clasp waist strap. Large top and bottom hanging loops.

A truly amazing functional and fashionable pack.

17″ from top of straps to bottom of back panel
16″ across at bottom
6.5″ deep
Top flap measures 10.5″x11″

Truckin’ Rucksack Co. Seattle Washington U.S.A.

Unique small rucksack by Truckin’ Rucksack Co of Seattle Washington USA.  Wish I had more details on the company and the origin of this bag, but I don’t and have not found anything out there. I’ve seen similar packs from unknown companies made in Japan but they always seem to be of a little inferior quality to this bag. This ruck sack is very small, almost child size, but such as the label depiction suggests, my guess is that it’s just intended to be used as a small day pack on  backpacking trips.

The nylon bag is coated on the inside with a poly urethane or similar rubberized substance for waterproofing.  The main compartment of the bag is made from a single piece of material with two wedges inserted on the side. One decent sized zip closed canister pocket lives on the outside.  Top draw string and flap closure. 7/8 inch wide nylon straps are gusseted with a piece of brown vinyl.

The label is screened on a cotton blend patch. This one bears the previous owners info.

Vintage Military Rucksack Backpack

Not quite sure about the origins of this pack, the colors would suggest to me German military, but the only distinguishable marking printed on the inside of the top flap reads “Decize” which is a town in France. The pack is made of heavy-weight Grey canvas with black leather trimmings and fittings.

The pack itself is very wide at 19 inches across the back, expandable by a few more inches via lace up expansions on the back sides. Two large cargo pockets on the sides and one front pocket all close via leather buckles. A draw string closes the top underneath a double buckle top flap. Finally another long leather belt runs from the top and buckles to the solid leather bottom.

Shoulder straps secure a metal external frame. The straps are adjustable by multiple buckles which create tension on a lower cross strap at the hips which keeps the frame from resting directly on the back. About a half inch of felted wool makes up the shoulder strap padding. One of the straps is breakable, a technique common to military packs allowing troops to slip out of them while in the prone position.

1959 Swiss Military Rucksack

Vintage Swiss Army Rucksack Backpack

This bag is constructed of heavy duty green and white military canvas with leather and metal fittings. Thick leather straps are adjustable by buckle at the bottom for length; and at the top for slack from back plate.  Both straps are anchored at the top by a large D ring. The left strap is hinged by a metal pin half way down, while the right is breakable by way of a hook and ring. Not sure what this was for, possibly ease of exit from a loaded pack, or to allow for strap accessories.

Two rods running the length of the back panel give the bag rigidness. An inch wide metal bow at the bottom of the bag is spanned by a cotton strap to offer padding and breathability at the waist. Top closure is completed by a cotton draw string through aluminum grommets  and a canvas flap secured by leather straps.  There is also an internal gator with cotton tie cord to further secure contents from the elements. One external pocket on the front of the pack is also secured by leather straps and metal buckles.

This pack is sold with two original lashing straps to secure goods to the top flap via metal loops.

Soldiers returning from WWII who took up mountaineering as a hobby and sport used packs just like this early on. These designs were later taken and adapted by outdoor companies for use specifically as outdoor products. The designs of many early packs from companies like Gerry, Class 5, The North Face and Kelty can be seen in this pack. It is a great piece of military history and outdoor history.

Strap harness markings read:
Albi Ritz

One of the top flap straps is stamped with the Swiss cross and the letter M

7 inches deep at base
19 inches tall
15 inches wide at base
9 inches wide at top

Weighs approx 5lbs

Vintage Class-5 Day Pack Backpack

Vintage Class-5 Class 5 Day Pack Backpack

Class-5 day pack rucksack. This bag dawns the original label with the reading “Class-5 Mountain Equipage. Designers, Manufacturers & Purveyors to the Public”
This bag has three compartments, one main, one front and a top compartment on the flap.

The bag also features:

  • This maroon bag has navy stitching throughout
  • 5 soft leather lashing squares
  • leather gusseted shoulder strap mounts
  • padded shoulder straps
  • waist strap with aluminum clasp and ring

Class-5 was is  California-based outdoor gear company founded in the early 70s by Justus Bauschinger a designer for Trailwise and The North Face. The company was known for their innovative designs and marketing.


Gerry Rucksack Backpack

Vintage Gerry Rucksack Backpack

Very unique Gerry removable clam shell support ruck sack. This drab green nylon bag is complimented by white seem edges, nylon cords, leather pulls and lashing and aluminum zippers. One main compartment with two side compartments. Thick brown nylon shoulder straps attached to the bag via a very large D ring at the top. A nice thick piece of riveted white leather attaches the D ring to the bag and  allows the triangular clam shell support to snap into the back.  Navy mesh backing stretched taut across the concave support makes for a comfortable ride and  allows for the circulation of air across the back. The back support can also be removed to make for a less rigid ride. This back balloons to have quite the capacity but also works well with small loads.

Gerry was one of the original outdoor gear companies founded by Gerry Cunningham.  The label on this pack is earlier as later labels move to the G triangle shape and are marked Denver Colorado. I would estimate this bag mid-1960s or before.

Main compartment measures:
18 tall x  16.5 inches across 5 inches deep (at base)

side compartments measure:
9.5 inches tall x 5.5 inches across x 2 inches deep.

weighs 1.5 pounds