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Moose sack versus salt and pepper pack

Taplow

John McDouall Stuart
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I’ve read a fair bit about vintage mountain packs in this forum and elsewhere, so I couldn’t resist a couple of bargains I came across in the past 2 weeks. Firstly an M39 Swedish army pack from Mitchells Disposals in the city (they may still have another one, no affiliation).

A day later I saw a Swiss army Salt and Pepper pack going cheap online on Gumtree. Having seen some of the asking prices for these in ebay, I snapped it up before I could talk myself out of it.

I’ve had a chance to take the M39 out for an afternoon walk. Surprisingly comfortable given the fact that the external A frame with leather straps looks like a torture device. Wasn’t loaded up with much, just a brew kit and spare clothes, but performed well. I liked the fact it has 2 or 3 different hand holds on the straps for shifting weight/position as you walk.

moose.jpg

Looking forward to trying the same with the Swiss pack, to compare comfort, size etc. Seems pretty comfy when empty. It’s a fair bit heavier, with an internal frame, no waist strap, but with a fender strap to cushion your back. It has one external pocket, which I miss on the Swedish pack, and also came with a “bread bag” which could be attached or used alone. This pack needs a bit of tlc to remove mildew from the leather and canvas, and to soften the leather . (I’ve read contradictory advice about using alcohol or oils. Thought I’d just use soapy water then some baby oil. Any suggestions welcome).

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Struggling to convince my better half that both were necessary.
 

J.K.M

John McDouall Stuart
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Good looking packs Taplow, and nice finds! I like these old packs for day trips and light loads.
 

Templar

F. C. Selous DSO
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The M39 is a great pack, I use mine for just about all my trips out on foot and have never had any problems with it..

As for the leather, a tin of saddle soap/Dubbin and a hair drier will soften them up and waterproof them... just rub it on and heat it gently so the leather absorbs the dubbin and it should be good.
 

Taplow

John McDouall Stuart
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Thanks Templar. I have heard and read that saddle soap or dubbin can in fact encourage mildew, and that synthetic treatments like Nikwax are better, but of course there are also supporters for natural products. Similarly alcohol treatment of leather is either recommended or frowned upon. I'm guessing either would be OK for normal use, and perhaps only extreme conditions would highlight any difference. Storing the pack in a damp dark place was probably the real problem.
 

Templar

F. C. Selous DSO
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I cant see how dubbin will encourage mildew and nikwax wont they are both made from wax... I use a 50/50 mix of wax and flaxseed oil (unboiled linseed) on all my leather gear with no problems... Mildew happens when you rub dubbin into damp leather because it traps moisture under the wax, then they put it in a dark cupboard and wonder why it grows...
 

Taplow

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My guess is that synthetic wax doesn't get broken down by microbes as quickly as animal fat, because they might lack the right enzymes, but this is getting OT ...
 
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Great find Taplow, I have a couple of the swiss packs, they are great but you really need to think about pack weight to make it a comfortable carry. As far as treating the leather, I used an 80/20 beeswax/neatsfoot oil on my 1940 pack and the straps softened up great.
 

bubba5603

Rüdiger Nehberg
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Great packs Taplow. Love mine as well. As for me and the leather upkeep issues, I either use liquid silicone or Snowseal (which is put on the way that Templar described), or in some cases just the correct coloured Kiwi shoe polish (this mostly for knife sheaths and top coats on my leather combat boots)
 

bubba5603

Rüdiger Nehberg
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BTW - I forgot to mention that it was the awesome tread title that lead me to here. I was just telling another member that the most dangerous thing here in Canada is the bull moose during the rut, so had to check out a thread about "Moose sacks"...although was suprised to find out that this was not a thread about the Moose! Thought that someone had made a possibles pouch out of a Moose scrotum and had to check that out...imagine my suprise!
 

Taplow

John McDouall Stuart
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Ha Ha ... thought the title would attract some interest, Bubba! I read somewhere that the Swedish soldiers referred to the M39 as the Moose Sack because of its shape.

Thanks to all for the tips on leather softening. I did use baby oil in the end (because I had it), which soaked in easily and helped quite a bit, but it's great to hear about all the options.

I've now had a chance to test the Salt 'n' Pepper Swiss pack under the same conditions (an hour's walk, light load with brew kit and spare clothes). It felt just a little less comfy, in part because it's certainly heavier (2.6 kg vs 1.6kg ) and perhaps because it doesn't have a waist belt. As Phrayzar pointed out, I imagine that with a bit more weight, either pack would seem less comfortable compared to the padded straps of modern packs (but I can't resist that feel of leather!:;):). However, I think it would make a decent overnight pack whereas the M39 might just be a bit smaller, and best suited as a day pack. Some side-by-side pictures:

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Bloffy13

Jon Muir
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Nice daypacks. Equally chic around town or tough enough for toting around the bush. Would a wimp mat shape it out ok and make it more comfy and hold it's shape, I wonder?
Cheers
Bloffy
 

Taplow

John McDouall Stuart
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Thanks Bloffy. The Swiss pack has a fairly rigid back due to the internal frame (2 long metal slats sewn in, you can just see the top of one covered in white tape in the last photo) so I don't think a mat would make much difference to the shape, although it would stop any stray hard objects digging into your back. The main issue for me is the narrow leather shoulder straps (OK I have bony shoulders) so some padding here would be good for a heavier overnight load, but it's not a big deal for a shorter day-walk. There's a small pressure point where the top of the straps attach to the pack via a metal ring, which could also be padded quite easily. I reckon a waist belt could make a big difference so I may try a temporary fix.
 

Taplow

John McDouall Stuart
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HD - If I ever make it to one of the meets, you'd be very welcome to to try them out
 

Bloffy13

Jon Muir
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Just a thought to ease your bony shoulders but what about a couple of those sheep skin seat belt covers. Might add a bit of padding where required.
Cheers
Bloffy
 

woodsrunner

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thanks for posting pics Taplow...thats the first time ive seen those bags side by side...i love the older bags myself and hardly notice any discomfort...woods
 

Taplow

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Managed to add a waist belt to the Swiss Army pack without making any permanent change to it. I bought an old leather belt from Vinnies' and cut it in half. Punched holes in the new ends and tied them with paracord to the metal fastenings of the back strap which were conveniently placed. I've left the belt a bit long in case I work out something a bit neater and need to trim off this first attempt. Haven't tested it with a heavier load but it already feels right - the weight is on my hips not my shoulders.

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