Swiss Army backpack review and modifications

Continuing the theme of old school kit, I purchased a Swiss Army backpack for approximately 15 GBP. This rucksack was issued but came in excellent condition. I’m unsure of its date of issue but presume it was 60s or 70s. It’s made of rubberized canvas with leather straps, it’s waterproof and very heavy. If you’re looking for an old school hardwearing rucksack then this is it.

Due to its weight, I’d suggest that it only be used for short hikes or by people who are used to carrying heavy things. For those who have only ever used the modern nylon rucksacks, it will come as a shock. For my purposes, it’s perfect as I only need to walk for half an hour and I’m in the middle of the bush, plus we often get rain storms and the forest floor is damp so it makes sense to have a waterproof bag.

I modified the backpack by adding 4 old Polish army leather buckle straps so that I can attach an axe or bedroll, and I also added a Swiss Army gas mask bag, which is also made of rubberized canvas. This can be seen in the photo on the front flap, attached by 4 small carrabiners. This location is where the bread bag should be but I didn’t like it so replaced it with the gas mask bag.

I love this backpack. There are many modern copies, especially from Scandinavian manufacturers, or Duluth or Frost River, but the original has lasted the test of time and, with a bit of care, could last for decades to come.

Published by Carpathian Adventure

My name is Edward O'Toole and I live in one of the wildest, most beautiful parts of Europe, in the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Slovakia. Life is an adventure - both physically and metaphysically... I've been living out here for the last 22 years, along with my wife, 3 kids and Jack Russell. My main interests involve bushcraft, prepping, survival and wilderness living (self-sufficiency and self-reliance), ecological, green, smart and natural solutions, motorcycles and motorbike club life, writing and art (I have 7 published books), and exploring the paranormal. For more about my lifestyle, art and writing visit

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