What makes a good Bushcraft Rucksack?

Moondog55

Walkabout
Joined
Jun 9, 2011
Messages
0
Reaction score
0
Location
Geelong Victoria Australia
I ask as so many of the members seem set on buying Duluth or Frost style bags and I do not see the point.
Both bags come from a canoeing tradition which we simply do not have and while they suit an open Canadian canoe quite well and are useful in a boat they seem to me to be the worst possible design for carrying full time.
I see a lot of members also consider military rucksacks as being suitable.
Isn't the whole point of "Bushcraft" being to cut our reliance on material we carry and use what we find?
So why are so many of us looking at military stuff which is designed around a totally different scenario? OK so I use second hand military gear but only because it is cheap and rugged; I usually need to modify the stuff to make it usable/workable for my needs.

Leaving aside the Aussie tradition of the swag for a while, how much of a load do people intend to carry while bushcrafting??

Are we going to be using heavy traditional gear?

I'm not going to be if I have to carry it on my back.
So how much rucksac and what style says "Bushcraft" to the rest of you??
I know from their posts that Templar and Blake have a preference for 17th/18th century designs
I prefer something more modern and designed with a little more knowledge of human anatomy and physiology and as small as possible to discourage taking too much gear.

Thoughts?
Comments?
fire away chasps and chaspettes
 

auscraft

Henry Arthur Readford
Joined
May 23, 2011
Messages
4,594
Reaction score
333
Location
jjj
Good question
I use military gear myself as I am use to it and have owned it for over 20 years. I have older issue not modern stuff. The main reason I use this stuff is because of the availabilty and proven use. What i mean on availability is it is mass produced and for example the vientnam issue pack is still easy to come by and was produced upto the 80's for the Aussie troops, in fact you can still pick the odd ones that have never been issued. I am stubborn in the way if I like something I like to replace it with what I know not source or try to find a new item that may or may not suit me.

I am however looking to get a traditional pack canvas/leather model for myself. As for all the mod tech you pay for on modern packs I don't see the value of them as I don't bushwalk in the sense of walking for distance and to travel, I walk into a place set camp drop pack and then explore, and then after camp pick up move to next location and repeat. I don't like big packs even though I have large , medium alices they rarely get used just to big except maybe winter as being 6'4 my cloths are large anyway and winter clothing is as you are all aware just bulky.

I do travel with more than one carring system however, so this itself helps keep packs small and allows to carry what I need appropiate to the activities I do. The system I do use is belt/harness , Haversack/mail sachel , pack and of course pockets also time of year depending a bed roll/swag and dilly bag(which would replace the pack). Depending on the timeframe and the activity I always use pockets and satchel systems and then add system if required. I do prefer bushcrafting as light as possible and being as organised in packing, I believe the army gear does that better than most.
 
Last edited:

Dusty Miller

Alexander Pearce
Archivist
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
1,818
Reaction score
235
For most short trips i like a 20L ex mil soft haversack (in auscam). I have no idea how old it is, but I use it everyday (for everyday things) then again on weekends for hunting/walking. When it dies I 'm going to unpick it and copy the panels in something lighter, then in something heavy and waterproof. It could do with something to allow airflow through the back, does get a bit damp there esp in summer. I think modern materials are the way to go, wet leather just reminds me of sweaty horses. The pack could do with a partition running the height of the bag for maps and things. A modern sleep system fits easily in a small 20 L pack, a good compact sleeping bag saves a lot of room.

Some means of adding extra pouches to a pack would be good, although crawling through lantana would require a smooth profile and good attachment methods.

I have larger packs, but if I can get away with the 20 then it is the one that goes most times.
 

AussiePreppers

Richard Proenneke
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
Messages
1,383
Reaction score
77
Location
Queensland
Great topic as always Moondog, getting us debating.

I agree with auscraft - military stuff has been proven and tested for walking around carrying stuff, mostly some heavy gear so we know we're going to get a good life out of it if we carry less in it. They've put billions into the testing and have endless amounts of people to test it out and provide feedback. I use them because they are durable and they get used harder while i'm out bushcrafting compared to when i'm out hiking. When hiking, I use a modern bag. I'm usually covering a lot more ground and doing different things. For example, when out hiking I wouldn't consider dumping all my gear our of my pack and wandering off somewhere to either carry back a large tree stump in it or a dead animal carcass. My bushcraft pack has done both.

Then there's also just what pleases you personally, no matter if it's better or worse than what someone else is using for whatever reasons. If you enjoy how it looks, how it functions, or the fact that it's not modern, or that it requires a little more skill to carry, or you have to walk slower with it but get to see more of your surroundings, or encourages you to be more minimalist because it weighs more and doesn't have 30 different compartments, etc. If it makes you happy and gives you enjoyment, and at the bare minimum gets you out there doing what you enjoy doing, then I think that's what makes it a winner :)
 

Mountainwalker

John McDouall Stuart
Joined
May 5, 2011
Messages
621
Reaction score
2
Location
Sydney
I recently purchased a Frost River pack and I love it. I use it for day trips and have loaded it with 8kg of gear, food and water and find at the end of a 16-20km walk the pack is still comfortable. The pack itself is light and incredibly sturdy. A big reason initially was the aesthetics, I just don't like the look of the majority small packs and was curious about how a traditional pack would compare. However, I now have arrived at the opinion that functionally the pack is better than my modern day packs. The box shape allows greater flexibility for organizing your gear, it also has two large side pockets which are easily accessible. I carry a water Hydration pack in one side pocket which works treat.

I intend to write a detailed overview in a few weeks, which will cover what I carry etc. I guess it's personal preference, for a day pack it's brilliant. For multi day trips I use an Old 80L macpac backpack Which is great fir big loads. I suspect that as the weight increases the modern packs come into their own. Although I have noted on this forum that others have still expressed a preference for traditional packs for larger loads.

I think the ultimate indicator is the fact that after three months when I head out into the bush I instinctively take the Frost river.

 
Last edited:

Wentworth

Bear Mears
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jun 9, 2011
Messages
2,644
Reaction score
83
Location
Blue Mtns
Leaving aside the Aussie tradition of the swag for a while, how much of a load do people intend to carry while bushcrafting??

Are we going to be using heavy traditional gear?

I'm not going to be if I have to carry it on my back.
So how much rucksac and what style says "Bushcraft" to the rest of you??
I know from their posts that Templar and Blake have a preference for 17th/18th century designs
I prefer something more modern and designed with a little more knowledge of human anatomy and physiology and as small as possible to discourage taking too much gear.
Not much of a load. I'm generally happier with less stuff.
There's a tradition from the Uk bushcraft scene of ex mil gear as well as cotton, ventile, leather and canvas gear. I'd love a ventile smock, maybe one day.
I took my swanndri and canvas pack with me when I spent two weeks in the bush in Canada. It was great for a fixed trip, where there was more of an emphasis on staying in one spot and working on crafts. I definitely wouldn't have wanted to carry them for much of a distance. I love the feel and smell of the traditional materials (recently given an old Trapper Nelson wooden frame pack) but for practicality, a 45L dyneema stuffsack style pack does me. Doesn't have the romantic look of leather and canvas though.
 

auscraft

Henry Arthur Readford
Joined
May 23, 2011
Messages
4,594
Reaction score
333
Location
jjj
PS
there is one more reason that i like the military stuff. That is other than the strength and durability out bush but as anyone who has done time in the military the stuff does not fall apart being washed. I know after a trip bush with inspections of equipment the following morning everyone threw them striaght into the washing machines to bash the mud and crap out them possibly more than once through.
clean equipment is very important to me as shows a respect for it, one reason I use SS cooking stuff easy to bring back new looking after it has been in fire.
 

Greatbloke

Jack Abasalom
Joined
Jan 6, 2012
Messages
1,984
Reaction score
62
Location
Melbourne. [ Outer South East.]
For hobby type bushcraft, where I might only walk for 10 minutes or an hour before dropping the load, I think just about any pack will get the job done alright, and I have a few cheap rucksacks/day packs that I can use... You could buy 10 of them for the price of some rucksacks.
My favourite pack for longer walks carries like a dream, it sits on my hips and virtually floats like a steadycam camera set up, or with an easy pull in, the straps transfers a desired percentage of weight to my shoulders.

The bag on the frame is basically worn out now, [ has the nice square shape, but is a little small ] so I've been playing with new ideas to convert a bag onto it or repair my old bag.

The beauty is it only weighs 1.5kg, despite having a full external frame..I compare that to an Aking-one Planet rucksack that I used on the Overland track that was 4kg or more before anything was put in it.


Jun23$05.JPG
 

darren

Templar
Joined
Nov 11, 2011
Messages
1,219
Reaction score
14
Location
Lucky Country, where the geckos are paid to l
For me it depends. I like the period style packs, for a specific purpose of being part of history and experiancing how things were. But for purely enjoying the bush or covering miles you can go past a modern light pack. Dont get me wrong, I am looking for a nice small period canvas pack for overnighters at the moment, but there is a reason we moved on from this kind of thing.
Military gear to me is mass produced and heavy and made for people who have better things to do than look after their gear. If their design was good for load carrying then hiking pack manufacturers would adopt their style.
Its a personal thing though and that is just my views
 
Last edited:

Dusty Miller

Alexander Pearce
Archivist
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
1,818
Reaction score
235
made for people who have better things to do than look after their gear
Some scrub can "take care" of your lightweight gear very quicky if you go off trail. In smaller sizes, the weight difference between heavier material and light material isn't prohibitive, Skimping on durabiity to save a few hundred grams might be counterproductive. I like ultraight gear inside the pack, where it is protected in transit. It means you can carry more of whatever gear you are taking with you not related to basic tasks like sleeping and eating. Still waiting for dehydrated hiking water though.
 

Dusty Miller

Alexander Pearce
Archivist
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
1,818
Reaction score
235
Personal taste yes, but also horses for courses too.
 

Templar

F. C. Selous DSO
Joined
May 5, 2011
Messages
2,923
Reaction score
4
Location
Vietnam/Brisbane
Hmmm... one of the key principles of bushcraft is kit reduction, know more and carry less.

A small pack is more than enough for a short 2-3 day hike, most people carry the extra gear to make up for a lack of knowledge in some aspect of the hobby, many also carry all the "if" gear without realising that their standard ger IS the if gear.

I like Kephart's summer load out, all fitting in a small Duluth pack, the only item out side being his tin cup. His total pack weight including bedding and food was 10.5kg. he also carried a canteen and hatchet outside and seperate to his pack.

We in Australia have a small problem with water, so out packs will weigh a little more given our need to carry our water in some locations.

I generally use a Swedish M39 steel framed canvas and leather pack, I like it and it works for me, i am going to be making a couple of Duluth style packs, a larger one and a smaller scout size one for short trips, i like the old gear and enjoy using it. I think the heaviest my Bushcraft pack has ever got would be about 12-13 kg total. so I dont need a scientificly designed and wind tunnel tested cordura monster on my back... the only time I use a large pack now is if I'm going away overseas or have to pack bulky winter gear, or when acting as a medic/guide for a longer trip when i need more gear to look after other people.

My cordura bushcraft pack is a 50lt sniper pack, even fully loaded I still have room for extra water and food or a bulky winter garment, the thing is never full.
 

Wentworth

Bear Mears
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jun 9, 2011
Messages
2,644
Reaction score
83
Location
Blue Mtns
Hi Dusty,
I'd agree with you on the silnylon and cuben packs not being great for offtrack, but the spectra based ones, about as thin as most storm throats on trad packs handle it fine. Even sandstone abrasion.
 

Templar

F. C. Selous DSO
Joined
May 5, 2011
Messages
2,923
Reaction score
4
Location
Vietnam/Brisbane
Military gear to me is mass produced and heavy and made for people who have better things to do than look after their gear.
Hmmm... I would beg to differ... you are financially responsable for all your gear, you break it you pay for it... thats why we have regular kit inspections and a book of charges to follow if any of it is negelcted or missing... you gear is your life in that profession so you tend to look after it pretty well...

Military packs are containers for moving heavy and bulky stores over ground, so they are built like buckets with straps for that reason... most modern military gear is actually made by civilian camping and hiking gear makers to the military's requirements, that includes webbing and frames.
 

auscraft

Henry Arthur Readford
Joined
May 23, 2011
Messages
4,594
Reaction score
333
Location
jjj
Hmmm... I would beg to differ... you are financially responsable for all your gear, you break it you pay for it... thats why we have regular kit inspections and a book of charges to follow if any of it is negelcted or missing... you gear is your life in that profession so you tend to look after it pretty well...

Military packs are containers for moving heavy and bulky stores over ground, so they are built like buckets with straps for that reason... most modern military gear is actually made by civilian camping and hiking gear makers to the military's requirements, that includes webbing and frames.
I will agree with Templar on this one.
Most military gear gets contracted to civvies on durability, functionality and cost. Testing of the equipment of tenders is done by the defence force to meet the requirements set by the military not by civilian standards. In fact many of the so called better stuff you talk about actually was designed for military use somewhere in the world. the main reason they did not make it into service is price . Some designs and new inivations just don't stand upto tests of military also.

But not every bushwalker does the same things out bush , many activities are done in different ways and in different styles some only bushwalk day trips, some spend weekends out bush, some with friends and family, others spend weeks at a time alone and hunt. As you and many others state it is personal reasons why someone decides on using certain equipment. To say they neglect thier equipment because they chose certain items you would I believe in most cases be wrong, No offence was taken and no offence was not intended by this statement
 

Moondog55

Walkabout
Joined
Jun 9, 2011
Messages
0
Reaction score
0
Location
Geelong Victoria Australia
So is there some consensus here?
Smaller packs and a preference for canvas due to an old fashioned aesthetic.
My pack has been pictured before, darkish green, waxed canvas and just big enough at about 30 litres, and it rides a little high so if I want to I can use my belt order with it.
 

Blake

Nest In the Hills
Staff member
Administrator
Joined
May 2, 2011
Messages
3,655
Reaction score
247
Location
Central West, NSW
Very interesting to read all the different takes. It comes as no surprise that pack is a very unique and personal thing to all people.

I also like the look and feeling the old style packs give.

However padding and support is number 1 for me. Pretty much the first thing I look at with packs. Then material strength. I then look at the layout and design of the storage but usually this isn't a big thing. If i like the pack enough then I make the layout work for me.

For light trips I dont even use a pack really. Just the Karrimor yoke with two 13L side pockets attached.


For a return day trip mostly all I take is ozhaggisheads possible pouch and a cammelback.
 
Last edited:

Moondog55

Walkabout
Joined
Jun 9, 2011
Messages
0
Reaction score
0
Location
Geelong Victoria Australia
My current old sack doesn't have side pockets, one of the things I need to do is sew on some webbing so I can add removable side pockets. the side pockets then become the bumbag, but much smaller than those UK pockets, only 6 litres each.

One thing to consider, if you have side pockets do you prefer removable or Scotch pockets? Scotch pockets are those that have the sleeve, and are stitched along the sides only; behind which you can shove long poles or skis, removable pockets are good the the " possibles" without which you ( a good "Bushman" ) should never leave camp
 

auscraft

Henry Arthur Readford
Joined
May 23, 2011
Messages
4,594
Reaction score
333
Location
jjj
It is a funny thing when it comes to deciding any equipment for me. I see many things I would like and while standing at checkout i return them. It stems from my military days right back to kapooka when we done our final bush week, about 1 or 2 in the morning we had a contact and during that contact we had to bug out within a certain time frame (all a test). At the end of the test in the morning we returned to see what had been left behind.

Although it was a test and when you include Murphys law to that test, it was not actually a test one of the member s actually shot a flare into the long dry grass and BUSHFIRE was yelled our bug out was for real and wind direction was straight at camp. When morning came the equipment losses were great it was deemed unsfe to continue till ne supplies were recieved. So i like taking minimum stuff so pack is small and equipment is never fully unpacked, Only stuff I require at the time is used. It has been used elsewhere in other events that can go SNAFU it does not happen often but can occur, why and how I carry what I carry.
 
Top