Tuesday, January 03, 2017

1982 Pattern Rucksack

A few months ago I happened upon a Canadian army 1982 pattern rucksack while browsing through a local thrift shop. Showing like new and unissued I was happy to see a price tag of only $3.99. Score!

A bright olive green color with no fading or fraying it was a gem of a find especially for that price as surplus stores are selling used versions for much more. It was missing the valise bag and the hip belt but otherwise all the strapping was complete including all the parts required for the quick release feature of the pack. By pulling a tab on the shoulder straps it will completely release the pack from your back.

The ruck sack has one large compartment that is divided into two sections and covered with a hood.
Within the hood is an exterior and interior zippered compartments that is rubberized for what I can only presume was for map or other document storage. The top of the ruck sack also has a zippered access to the interior storage compartment that was used for access to a radio. That is a nice feature in a hiking/bush crafting sense as one can access that area even if the ruck is strapped up in travel mode.

On the outside of the ruck sack are three pockets for gear storage. They are closed with a vintage system of a heavy canvas V "tag" that is pulled through a metal clasp. I have to admit that it is a simple system but inefficient to use with gloves. Definitely an area that could have some modifications. The other issue I`ve discovered is the two side pockets will not hold a 1 liter water bottle. They are wide but not quite deep enough. That said the rear pocket will (just barely) hold my Nalgene wide mouth stainless steel bottle and GSI cup. Additional room on either side of the bottle as well.

The side pockets, while not deep, can still hold quite an assortment of items. In one of the side pockets I placed my fire starter kit(leather pouch), a bush box folding stove, candle and a flashlight with spare batteries. In the second side pouch I stored a variety of items, including cordage, tape, small med kit and a zip lock bag containing coffee, teas and some food. Both pockets still had some additional room available.

The side pockets are not completely sewn to the body of the ruck sack so accessories can be stored on the sides of the pack. There are also loops available to secure items situated just above the side pockets. Originally designed for ski stowage they are prefect for axes, poles or other items.

Underneath the main body of the ruck sack is the area of the frame where the valise or paratrooper bag would be stored. The valise would stow blankets, sleeping bags and additional clothing. Two heavy duty straps would then secure the valise in a compacted form. Between the valise and the bottom of the main compartment you could also store accessories like a machete, sleeping mat or other flat(er) items.

The bottom of the frame also has a lumbar cushion and an option to adjust the belt to fit your particular height so that the weight of the rucksack sits on your hips and not upon your shoulders. It makes for a very comfortable pack under load.

Since I was missing the valise bag and hip belt I improvised replacements. I had an old quick release web belt from my paintball days which I wove through the bottom of the frame. It works well but may be too short if I am wearing additional winter layers. May need to source a larger belt. I had a foldable camp chair so I basically used the bag it comes in as my valise. Whereas its is not as large as the military issued bag it does easily hold a summer weight sleeping bag or large heavy duty wool blanket with room to spare for additional blankets or clothes.

This past week I took the ruck out for the first time. I left the valise bag home and essentially left the pack half filled for this initial testing as a short haul day pack. It worked extremely well bushwhacking through the woods and was very comfortable across the upper back and shoulders due to the weight being distributed upon the hips. Stage two testing will be with a fully loaded and compressed pack. 

Heck of a find for under $5.00. Some of the fun of bush crafting is making due with what you can find and re-using/modifying/sourcing gear on the cheap.

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