The History of Backpacks - Everything You Need to Know

The History of Backpacks: Everything You Need to Know

Have you ever thought about the origins of the things that we use in everyday life? While they may seem mundane, just about every object has a pretty interesting story behind it. One great example of this is the humble backpack.

Despite how common backpacks are, people don’t actually know anything about their history and how they came to be. Now, we understand that you may not think much of it but the backpack has gone through a lot of changes through the years. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the backpack has one of the most interesting stories behind it. If this is something that you’re interested in learning more about, read on as we discuss the long and storied history of backpacks.

Origins of the Backpack

Many of you may not know this but the backpack’s origins can be traced back to ancient times. For the earliest sighting of an object that is similar to the backpacks we have today, we’ll have to go back all the way to 3300 BC. The mummy of a man who lived between 3400 and 3100 BC was found in 1991 in the Ötzal Alps. Scientists found this mummy, who they named Otzi the Iceman, had an object that was similar to a backpack. Unlike the backpacks we have today, this ancient backpack was made with hazelnut wood. Despite the material used, scientists believe that this ancient backpack functioned the same way as modern backpacks. So much so that they even had a rope made of dead grass fibres so that they could be worn while the wearer was in transit.

The Modern Backpack

Backpacks wouldn’t make a reappearance until the early 1870s. A variation of backpacks called bindles was used during the American Civil War. These backpacks were made with sticks and canvas cloths and were used to carry the gear of the soldiers as they traversed the battlefield.

Speaking of war, the first fully functional knapsack was created by the United States military so that their soldiers could use it during their missions The most important feature of this backpack was its prominent use of sheet metal. This helped keep the knapsack lightweight all while ensuring that it’s sturdy enough to withstand daily wear and tear.

In 1882, Camille Poirier improved upon the design of the modern backpack by adding straps to keep them secure. These straps can still be found in backpacks today, which is a testament to how game-changing this feature was.

In the late 1940s, backpacks finally found their way off the battlefield and into schools. Åke Nordin created a cotton bag with a wooden frame that could be held higher on the back and carried through the mountains. He would then go on to create a company called Fjällräven, a company that still makes backpacks today.

Backpacks Today

Backpacks have changed very little from a functional standpoint.  However, this doesn’t mean that they haven’t changed at all. Their designs have become more and more sophisticated, as people have mastered the craft of making backpacks. There’s no better example of this than our Troop classic collection which includes a slew of different styles of bags including backpacks and messenger bags.

Technological innovations have also been seamlessly combined into the backpack’s design. While the backpacks themselves haven’t changed much, modern backpack producers have integrated things like power banks and laptop chargers into the classic backpacks. 


As you can see, the backpack has come a long way since the time of Otzi the Iceman. We hope you found this article informative and enlightening. While the humble backpack may seem mundane, it’s got quite the story behind it. 

If you’re looking for backpacks in London, then you’ve come to the right place. Troop London is a pioneering fashion brand in Britain, bringing the next level of quality and style to the canvas bag and luggage category. Browse through our collections and place your order today!