It is seen in large numbers in the stores as the school year approaches, children love it. But it didn't always have the designs and characters it has today. The backpack has a long and attractive history, which we'll show you.
One might think that the backpack is a recent invention in human history. It has been attached to school and university life for a very long time.
However, in 3300 BC, Ötzi the Iceman, a naturally mummified man from the Copper Age, was discovered. What does this have to do with the backpack, you may ask? On September 19, 1991, hikers in the valley of Val Senales in Italy, discovered the mummy, which is accompanied by a backpack of animal fur that was used during his travels.
This discovery would be the first trace of a human backpack. But because of its age and its condition, this bag could very well not have been carried on the back. What is certain, however, is that the hunter-gatherers of the time used containers to keep their harvest. They used saddlebags instead, worn as shoulder straps.
Now let's jump back in time and go to Scandinavia. From the 9th to the 11th century, the Vikings raided and pillaged all over Europe. But in order to travel in their cold and hostile lands, the Scandinavians had to carry a number of goods. They carried them on their backs, as they did with their shields, which had a strap.
In an equally frigid climate, the indigenous peoples residing in the Arctic used backpacks. The Inuit were surrounded by ice and snow, making it difficult to carry and store goods. It can be compared to mountaineering equipment.
Back in 1870. Shortly after the Civil War opposing the Northern States of the Union and the Southern Confederate States, the bundle appeared. It is made of a canvas attached to the end of a stick. During the war, it would have been used in particular by the soldiers. Men finally all started carrying things on their backs.
The modern backpack, as we know it today, was born progressively from 1877. In the United States, Henry Merriam used two of the most common models for the time: the wooden or sheet metal frame and the soft canvas backpack.
This soldier merges these 2 elements, calls his invention a backpack, and files a patent in 1878. Invented to be used by the U.S. Army in the future, this bag proved to be uncomfortable and imperfect. Since there were no shoulder straps, the metal structure kept the bag away from the soldier's body. Merriam thought that this configuration helped distribute the load evenly.
But because backpacks at the time were too stiff, or too soft, they caused back and shoulder pain. Unfortunately, although Merriam had a good idea, it would not do any better than the other bags.
The history of the backpack with straps was however launched.
Camille Poirer evolved this military backpack in 1882. His Duluth pack featured a head strap secured by straps and buckles. It is now commonly used for canoeing and kayaking.
We return to the Scandinavian lands, but this time in 1908. Ole Bergan returns from hunting and finds that his bag causes him pain in the shoulders. He is then determined to make his backpack more comfortable in order to make his hunting trips more enjoyable.
The Norwegian hunter then thought of bending a piece of juniper wood to follow the contour of his back. This allowed his soft cloth bag to be hung in an ergonomic design. Bergan then switched to using lightweight tubular steel. This version remained popular for the next 25 years.
World War I marked a need for improved military backpacks made for the battlefield. The models used at the time strapped on the upper and lower back. There were places to put ammunition, cartridges and other equipment.
Meanwhile, in 1920, Lloyd Nelson enjoyed the outdoors. He tried to rethink the native backpack, used by people in Alaska, where temperatures approach zero. Inspired by sealskin and wooden bags, Nelson designed a set of wooden frames with canvas strips. He then used steel pins to secure the cloth bag. The backpack was called the Trapper Pack and was one of the first to be mass produced. It even appeared in the very first REI catalog in 1939..
The backpack is a widespread object throughout the world. But its evolution eventually came from further additions made by different designers, spread both in the United States, and in the Nordic countries.
In 1938, Gerry Cunningham introduced the first backpack with zippers. Prior to this date, buckles and straps were the most commonly used to close the bag. Coming from Boulder, Gerry enjoyed the Colorado highlands, which were a favorite playground for hikers and climbers. At that time, the bag was reserved for that use. It had not yet arrived in schoolyards.
Cunningham didn't like the way the backpacks slid around his neck. So he used his father's sewing machine to create a nylon bag with zippers. Above all, the climber understood the needs of people who liked to climb or hike in the mountains: a light load and easily accessible contents.
At the same time, the Second World War took place. The military used a version that could carry more weight than the first. This was a crucial addition because military developments meant that soldiers had to carry more and more equipment.
When Åke Nordin returned home from a mountain hike in 1950, he was tired of his equipment lying low and far from his back. Like Cunningham, he used his mother's sewing machine to create a canvas bag worn high and close to his back. It was then held in place by leather straps attached to a wooden frame.
Gradually, the backpack was transformed and became more and more similar to the version we know today.
Finally, the last evolution will come from the Kelty couple. In 1952, Dick and Nina used leftover materials from the Second World War. The modern backpack underwent its first evolution. Lightweight, streamlined frames were made from surplus aircraft aluminum. The backpack pack is then sewn from parachute material.
Padded shoulder straps and waist straps made it remarkably comfortable. In 1967, Lowe added side compression straps and a chest strap to his model. But the transformation is not over.
If the backpack is traditionally associated with hiking, climbing and warfare, it then begins to take the paths of school.
First of all, it is important to know that between the 1930s and the 1960s, not all students had a backpack. Some were content to carry their books in their hands, against their chest, as you can see in recent American series for example.
The first bags that students carried were more like satchels. They might have had a leather strap, or a cloth strap, which were really just belts, for the most part. Books and supplies could also be stored in a leather bag, square, closed with buckles and placed on the back.
But that all changed when the first lightweight nylon backpack was invented by Gerry Cunningham. Returning to improve it again, his "Teardrop" model was released in 1967 via his Gerry Outdoors brand. At the same time, the brand JanSport was born. It also develops a nylon backpack. Three years after Cunningham's model, it released the "Ski and Hike" bag, intended for outdoor enthusiasts.
JanSport backpacks made it onto the shelves of the University of Washington's sports store. Its lightness and resistance seduced the students of the American campus. It then became trendy, the word of mouth making its small effect. That's how backpack brands started to develop models especially for students.
Last but not least, military backpacks. During the Vietnam war, the model used was named Alice. Strong enough for heavy objects, it also had compartments, closed by straps.
The history of Eastpak backpacks begins with the military. The creator Monte Goldman had decided to manufacture bags intended for the American army in 1952. The Padded range, the first of the brand, was, like the previous ones, particularly adapted to campers.
But later, his son noticed that students were using the surplus of the army bags for their school year. Monte decided to make a backpack for the general public in 1972. In the 1980s, Eastpak bags became popular.
It is appreciated for its perfect mix of lightness and robustness. It gives the impression of being totally free. Today, young people from 12 to 18 years old wear Eastpak. The brand's advertisements target this age group by emphasizing freedom and joie de vivre. You yourself have probably already worn a backpack from the North American brand.
Today's youth, whether in school or college, can enjoy a variety of backpack designs, featuring their favorite heroes. Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny were the first to benefit from the printing of patterns on the bags. For the sake of comfort, there are even backpacks with a handle and wheels. So you don't have to strain your back when there's too much stuff inside.
For adults, the latest innovations include multiple compartments to store your stuff neatly. Even luxury brands such as Gucci or Prada have a range of backpacks.
At TENSHI™, we also have a collection of backpacks for every taste. The Kiso model has the classic rounded design on the upper back. Whether in blue or black, it will complement your streetwear look.
The Atsugi backpack has a more elongated shape. Available in 4 colors, it has a storage space that can be attached to a strap in the front. The ideal to have an object within reach!
For the Ryoko backpack, the numerous pockets will allow you to store all your stuff. This large storage capacity will make it the ideal companion for all your adventures.
Finally, for techwear fans, the Gunwa backpack is the must-have accessory. Its delicate matte leather effect and high quality fabric make this piece incredible.