Humans have been carrying things on their backs for about as long as they have walked on two legs. The way animals carry their young may have inspired our forefathers. Or they may have realized that much heavier objects could be carried on the back rather than in the arms.

When you carry something on your back, you can carry more weight for longer periods of time. You can also use it to carry a spear, climb a tree, or swipe your credit card while keeping your hands free. Of course, in order to free your hands, you'll need a backpack to hold your belongings.

Origin and History of Backpacks

Early backpacks are difficult to come by. Most likely because the materials used to make them are prone to deterioration. The first contender dates from 3300 BC. In 1991, two Italian tourists discovered Otzi the Iceman's mummified remains in the Alps.

The remains of the world's oldest backpack - a U-shaped hazel rod measuring 2m in length and two wooden boards measuring 40 cm in length - are among the fantastic collection of artifacts.

These parts were most likely twine-tied together and used to support a hide bag. As a result, a framed backpack was created. Wooden-framed backpacks for carrying firewood have a long history in the Alps.

When Where Backpacks Invented?

The term "backpack" first appears in print around 1910.

However, the term "knapsack," derived from the German word Knapp (which means "food"), has been in use since 1603. By the end of the nineteenth century, the term "rucksack," derived from the German word "back," had become the de facto standard.

1874 - Merriam Knapsack

The modern backpack was invented by Henry Merriam. Merriam was granted a patent for his Knapsack, a pack with an external sheet metal frame, in 1878. The knapsack was designed with the United States Army in mind.

Instead of shoulder straps, the metal frame held the rucksack away from the soldier's body. Merriam believed that by more evenly distributing the load, the soldier would be free of the burden of fasteners and straps. The pack, on the other hand, was extremely uncomfortable and quickly became obsolete.

1908 – Ole Bergan

In 1908, Norwegian inventor Ole Bergan returned from a hunting expedition with sore shoulders and a desire to improve the comfort of his pack.

By bending a piece of juniper wood to follow the contours of his back, he created an ergonomic design for hanging his soft fabric bag (a canvas rucksack). Bergan eventually replaced the wood frame with lightweight tubular steel. This backpack design has remained popular. It was protected by a patent for the next 25 years.

1920 - Nelson

Meanwhile, an outdoorsman named Lloyd Nelson attempted to modify his pack after visiting Alaska in 1920. The indigenous people in the area used wood and sealskin bags, which provided him with the inspiration he required.

Nelson made a wood frame pack with canvas bands and a fabric bag attached with steel pins. This method allows users to easily detach the bag. Nelson's groundbreaking "Trapper Pack" was one of the first mass-produced backpacks.

1938 – Cunningham

In 1938, Gerry Cunningham invented the first backpack with zippered closures. Previously, packs relied solely on buckles and straps. At the time, the backpack's primary function was for hiking, camping, and climbing.

Cunningham's invention of the zipped backpack addressed the needs of the outdoor enthusiast, who wanted to keep his load as light as possible while keeping its contents easily accessible.

1950 – Nordin

In 1950, Ake Nordin (Fjällräven's founder) returned home from a mountain hike exhausted from carrying his pack low and away from his back.

He made a small canvas bag with his mother's sewing machine, which he wore high and close to his back. The soft pack was held in place by leather straps attached to a wood frame.

1952 – Kelty

Nina and Dick Kelty transformed WWII surplus materials into backpacks in 1952. Excess airplane aluminum was used to create large, light frames, while parachute material was seamed into soft packs.

Curved frames, waist straps, and padded shoulder straps were pioneered by the duo, paving the way for today's backpacks.

1967- George Lowe

Greg Lowe invented the first internal frame backpack in 1967. Lowe recognized that external frame packs were not well balanced for difficult terrain, and unstructured packs were not sturdy enough for heavy loads.

He created a pack that was adaptable enough to fit the user's back. Simultaneously, it was strong enough to support the load, even shifting the weight to the hip belt. He eventually added side compression straps and a sternum strap, bringing it up to date.

Who Invented the Book Bags?

Jan Sports

JanSport followed up three years later with the "Ski and Hike" bag, a lightweight nylon daypack. Outdoor enthusiasts flocked to the compact, lightweight packs.

Skip Yowell, a college student from Seattle, Washington, and his cousins founded JanSport. JanSport was able to purchase their daypacks at the University of Washington's student sporting goods store.

The backpacks were intended for hikers, but students began using them to carry their books. Before that, students of all ages carried their books clutched to their chests or tied with a strap.

Later Years

In 1981, a Harvard law student suggested to L.L. Bean that they start selling book bags. They gladly obliged with the Book Pack, which quickly spread throughout Harvard's bookstores.

The military introduced the MOLLIE backpack, also known as Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, in 2000. It was a standard supply for troops throughout the Iraq War, with sturdy nylon straps for maximum comfort.

B-Wap was founded in 2002 by Lauren Cross and Jayln Curtis with the goal of creating "Backpacks with a Purpose." They created their first bag for underprivileged children in Oklahoma City.

In the late 2000s, fashion backpacks became popular as a fashionable way to transport daily necessities. Leather, canvas, and a variety of other materials are now available for bags. Some of them have even been designed by major fashion houses like Gucci and Prada.

Backpacks began to gain popularity. Backpacks, for example, are designed for photographers and have multiple compartments for maximum storage. A smallholding box protrudes from the side, perfect for storing cameras, and the back straps can support the stand.

There has been a clear schism in the backpack world. There are two types of packs: outdoor and academic. Both are evolving and adapting to new materials as well as societal issues. Outdoor backpacks are becoming more stable and lightweight as students' backpacks adapt to a new, more tech-savvy age.


Backpacks are as much a fashion statement as they are a practical necessity in today's world. Backpacks are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and are now widely available.

There are rucksacks, everyday packs, laptop bags, and even duffel backpacks to choose from. Some even have innovative features such as slash-resistant fabrics, smart backpacks, and anti-theft locks.