Thanks to Andrew Short for sending us photos of his recent find, an Abercrombie & Fitch A.C.A. pack from the 1930s. Ancestor to the Archival Rucksack and Archival Rolltop, the A.C.A. pack exhibits a simple yet sturdy design and is made from some of our favorite materials – waterproof duck and tanned leather. Despite its age, the bag looks ready for another lifetime of active use.
Posts Tagged ‘canoe packs’
Our original, Archival Rucksack in ranger tan is now available via the AC web shop. Made in Springfield, Oregon, USA, from 22-ounce waxed cotton twill, brass hardware, military-spec cotton webbing, and Horween Chromexcel leather. Practical and free of complications, we’re confident that our Rucksack will equal or exceed any other rucksack available in function, durability, comfort, and long-term value.
If you are looking for a Rucksack colorway or fabric type that is not in stock, please refer to our growing list of Archival retailers.
The auction for an original Poirier pack sack from 1882 continues on ebay. The buy it now price has been reduced from six figures to a reasonable $44,000. If that price seems steep, consider ordering a 1918 edition of the same basic bag directly from the Poirier Tent & Awning Co. “For motor or hike, it’s equally serviceable, commodious and dependable.” If you send away for Pack Sack literature, inquire about the fur-lined sleeping bags. I would love to see photographs and reprint a reader’s field review.
We’re happy to present our latest bag model: the Rucksack. Made in Springfield, Oregon, USA, from 22-ounce Waxwear waxed cotton twill, brass hardware, military-spec cotton webbing, and Horween Chromexcel leather. Practical and free of complications, we’re confident that our Rucksack will equal or exceed any other rucksack available in function, durability, comfort, and long-term value.
1 – Lightly padded back panel provides overall structure and protection from awkward cargo. Pack rides closely and load does not sag.
2 – Shoulder straps attach into side seam, curving straps around body for comfort.
3 – Twin outer bellows pockets are easy to access and are nicely sized for smaller personal items.
4 – Single Horween Chromexcel leather strap is light, durable, and convenient.
5 – Dimension is taller and narrower. Loads carry best in this configuration.
6 – Drawstring around top opening keeps load secure and further prevents bag flopping.
7 – Two inch wide webbing shoulder straps are perfectly comfortable for loads up to 25 or 30 pounds.
8 – Convenient locker loop.
9 – Double-layered bottom ensures a long life.
10 – Fully finished inside and out. Seams fully bound in our own waxed canvas bias tape. Stress points are bar-tacked or riveted. Snaps and rivets are reinforced with leather washers.
A limited number of our Rucksacks, in Ranger Tan or Black, are available immediately. The cost is $240 + $16 shipping (in the lower 48). Act quickly, as there are few bags remaining. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your bag, or to inquire about international shipping.
Early next week, we’ll announce the release of our very own Archival Clothing Rucksack. Let’s take this opportunity to round up two historical examples to compare and contrast with our own. We designed our Rucksack as a synthesis of a classic canoe pack (in the Poirier/Duluth style) and the box-style Yucca pack used by the Boy Scouts. The general design and materials of these packs are wonderful, but there were a few key issues that we were eager to address in our version.
That’s me, with my Frost River Woodsman pack – a classic Duluth-style pack. Some problems are immediately apparent:
1 – Un-reinforced back panel – just a single layer of canvas. Bag lacks structure and flops when loaded. Cannot stand up on its own. Rigid items in pack dig into wearer’s back.
2 – Shoulder straps attach to back panel. Straps can’t bend around body, so dig into wearer’s back.
3 – Tump line buckles – unnecessary for daily use, dig into back.
4 – No hang loop – hard to carry pack with one hand or hang on a hook.
5 – Lack of useful and accessible pockets.
6 – Two roller buckles mean two actions every time user wants to open pack.
7 – Inside, the bag is unfinished – seams are left raw, so fabric edges unravel with time. Finish quality is functional, but crude.
Duluth packs were designed to be packed with a folded blanket to act as a padded back panel, and to spend most of their life in the bow of a canoe, not on a back. They’re wonderful for those purposes, but are challenging to use in a day-to-day setting.
That’s Lesli with her Filson Rucksack. It’s a beautiful object, but again, there are some limitations.
1 – Overall short and squat shape is awkward to load and is ungainly. Does not ride closely to back.
2 – Narrow shoulder straps dig into shoulders with even moderately heavy loads. Metal hardware on shoulder yoke digs into back. Unnecessary and abrasive.
3 – Redundant closure – a flap, two buckles, and a zipper – make for a lot of work to get in and out. Bag does not stay open for loading.
4 – Bellows pockets are useful, but not covered by the main flap. Even when snapped shut, rain can get in. Main straps interfere with loading smaller pockets.
5 – Unpadded back panel means many of the same problems listed above, though mitigated by use of heavy twill.
6 – Abundant use of heavy twill, bridle leather and brass mean that the bag is very heavy and bulky, even when unpacked.
Don’t get us wrong – the Filson rucksack is gorgeous, like most of their luggage (Passage Line not included). It’s just so overbuilt that we wondered if we could get the same level of durability while reducing bulk and weight and improving the fit.
At the end of the day, we had the goal of producing a pack that, during real-time use, would retain the gloriously boxy profile of the magazine shot.
Nothing evokes the Adirondacks like a pack basket. They’re the original suspension pack – their rigidity makes load carrying much easier, and they keep fragile objects safe during a tough trek (bottles of wine, grocery store). I was introduced to the pack basket at the Dartmouth Organic Farm, where there’s a swale with a few dozen black ash that are reserved for local Native American basket weavers. A pack basket can be a bit unwieldy if it’s too big or poorly loaded, but when it’s done right, it’s a treat.
“The pack basket is peculiar to the Adirondacks being in evidence everywhere and for all purposes. Does the native mountaineer start for town to buy a little flour and sow belly? He takes his pack basket lovingly by the strap and saunters forth. Does the Missus want to go after berries for the summer camp table? She totes her little pack basket.” (Hunter-Trader-Trapper, Volume 42, 1921)
Japanese pack basket, from Onibaba (1964):
Modern equivalent found in China, from jimmiehomeschoolmom:
More modern pack basket use. Note beaver tail sticking out of basket. From drsethery.
Arsenal of pack baskets from Rock Scout.
Budget option from LL Bean. Note single-head rivets, nylon webbing, and plywood base. But it’s made in Maine and only $80. Wonderful way to get a feel for the pack basket.
A few sellers on Etsy have pack baskets available, although I’m considering a Medium Tall from The Basket Lady. Her site has excellent notes on maintenance and is one of the few that offers baskets with leather harnesses. Note quadruple riveting and Conway buckles.
From “Canoe Cruising” by Lieutenant Warren H. Miller: “For the outdoor girl—the man and his wife adventuring wilderness travel for the first time—I could recommend no better selection than a good canoe trip. After one has mastered the rudiments of camping out, has gotten so that he can shelter himself and his from the elements and the insects, and can cook good, wholesome, palatable food on a campfire with camp cooking utensils, the next step forward would be some form of wilderness travel.”
On a November run up to The Rain Shed for closed cell foam and cordage, Tom picked up this 1946 Field & Stream from a thrift shop. In a future post, I’ll showcase F & S advertisements from familiar “living” US brands like Pendleton, Gokey, Filson and Eddie Bauer. Today, I want to highlight a few forgotten outdoor clothing companies like Congress and Masland Sportman’s Clothes. US-made outdoor clothing has been reduced to a few well-known, premium priced brands (and aggravatingly, Japan-only reissues). But, the 1946 Field & Stream offers a robust selection of outdoor clothing with an emphasis on quality components, sturdy fabrics, tailored fit, good value and regional (not national) manufacturing. And of course, I love the generous selection of apparel for women (stream jacket, please).
A few more examples via flickr.
Archival dress code for your next canoe trip:
Thanks to Archival Clothing reader Murat for directing me to this current ebay auction for an 1882 Duluth Poirier packsack. According to the seller, the three stitches on the front flap of the pack may indicate that the pack is a rare, original Duluth prototype (thus justifying the $100k Buy It Now option). The seller also directed me to a Duluth Pack youtube video featuring a canoe pack similar to the one up for auction. Side note: I never thought to search youtube for archival footage of historical canoe packs.
1882 Duluth Poirier Packsack (via this ebay auction)
I don’t know the folks in these catalog-quality shots of Duluth canoe packs in action (more shots of Duluth packs and satchels courtesy this flickr photostream). But I love how they make real the prehistoric size of a true-to-life canoe pack. My main encounter with this style of pack (waxed or dry finish) is by way of catalog and web images that reduce everything to thumbnail scale. I contemplate buying a traditional canoe pack just for the visual punchline of wearing around a bag as big as me (tumpline in place).
Speaking of canoe packs, Frost River (a former Duluth pack rival/offshoot) seems to have returned from the ashes. This week, ebay featured some deadstock items for sale by a new Frost River management group. I wanted to win this bag but die hard Frost River fans drove the auction price beyond my alpine rucksack pricepoint. For interested parties, the old FR website–with its old timey product illustrations–is back online at this new url. I’m archiving some sample illustrations in case the site disappears from view again.