Saturday, May 10, 2014

Have I been framed?? More Scandinavian framed backpacks.

After all the serious subjects and non-forestrelated posts lately, I thought I'd throw in a gearpost.... Just to lighten things up a bit...

Recently I tried to get the old Haglöfs rucksack back into useable shape. I think I've shown it before, but I'll do it again, just to keep the story complete. This is what it looked like when I got it;


I started disassembling this old timer, taking off as much of the belts as possible and make it easier to asses the state of the materials. The leather belts were hard and brittle, so I applied a copious amount of saddlegrease, hoping they would become supple again. I checked the state of the leather trimmings along the edges of the flaps. Same story there. After removing the frame I got a bit of a nasty surprise; the steel frame showed some serious rust on the side, where it touches the fabric and left some serious ruststains. The fabric had worn thin on those places and even showed some holes. All of the metal fittings showed some serious rust too and one of the eyelets from the top had been torn out.

I then left it all in peace..... and actually forgot about it all. No, not true, not forgot, but did not feel like working on it. Maybe I allready knew what was coming next....
After moving the packs and parts back and forth for a number of times, I figured I just had to start working on it. First it needed a bath! This thing was filthy and did not smell to fresh. Dust and mould make such a nice "Odeur de stockage".... smell of storage. Yes, there was some mould too.
I did not want to risk throwing it into a washingmachine, so I washed it by hand in the bathtub, using a gentle and natural detergent, lukewarm water and a small, not to hard handbrush. What happened next is hard to describe. I'll show you a picture instead.

Yep, the water and the sack had the exact same colour!
I do not know how that much dirt and grime got accumulated on and in the fabric, still many of the stains proved unremovable, but what was not removable were the spots of blackmould. Now the filth ( and I suspect the dye too) is gone, they are more numerous than I thought at first.
The worst possible thing happened when gently scrubbing the fabric... It tore apart... I could've handled the many restitch-jobs on seams and straps and I could have easily exchanged the strap that just simple broke in two... But fabric tearing this easy means just one thing; it is rotten.
Damn... All it is good for now is to be used as a walldecoration and it does not look all that good!

The original colour is very faded now. At places it is a very light sand, almost beige!

The damage on the bottom of the sach, where the frame touches it.

Answer to A Waterman's Woods' question posted as a comment;
"But what do you suggest on cleaning ones like the first one? Wash with no scrubbing, or do you think the black mold means beyond repair?"

Well, there are 3 problems combined here actually;
1) the excessive amount of filth, dirt, dust and stains
2) the black mould
3) the very weakened/rotten fabric.

Problem 1 requires some washing and scrubbing, placing strain on the fabric when cleaning it.
Problem 2 requires some aggressive methodes and substances in order to remove the mould. Not removing it might possibly mean the mould spreading to the contents of the sack and it might also pose a healthissue.
Problem 3 can not handle the previous methodes. The scrubbing enlarged the holes, but I fear the chemical treatment will also further weaken the fabric, which means I can not rely on it, out there.

But the great Gods of Rucksackanism smiled on me the day after and rewarded me for my efforts to bring this pack back from the dead; I found replacements. Yes with a S!
In a nearby secondhand (more junkyard) store I found another Haglöfs backpack + a small rucksack by RL of it for kids!

The backpack has "Haglöfs Torsång" stamped into the green leather pelvisstrap. No date unfortunately.
The backpack also lacks the wasteband, so I might make one myself and maybe add a sternumstrap as well. We'll see how this one performs.

 It has a compartment under the lid, that looks to be of a watertight kind of rubberised cloth, a neat lockingmechanism for the ropes and a similar rubberised patch on the bottom of the pack, so you can put it down on a damp/wet underground.

This one does have a wastestrap, but also tons of rust. That will pose a challenge. The fabric, straps and stitching looks good, though.

 I could not retrace this manufacturer

A comparisson in size picture.
The smaller one has several patches on it from places around Sweden. People say if things could tell stories.... well, this one does! There is a small, round leather patch on top of the lid, which reads:" Sjöviks lägret 1948", which indicates the Göteborg-area and the one one the frontpouchflap reads "renfjället", which should be Jämtland, along with 2 others and the final one is from Härjedalen.

All in all does the state of both seem to be pretty good, given the conditions they were stored in and the age they have. For now they will be outside for a few days just to air out. I allready brushed off much of the spiderwebs, grass and other natural debris.... along with dust of course.

So, you win some, loose some... One project scratched from the to-do-list, 2 more added...
I hope to enjoy the big one and my youngest daughter will get the small one.... if she wants it, that is...

I must confess that I seem to have developped a soft spot for this kind of backpacks and that it is starting to look like I am collecting..... Shame on me!


  1. A Waterman's WoodsMay 10, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    Nice packs Ron! But what do you suggest on cleaning ones like the first one? Wash with no scrubbing, or do you think the black mold means beyond repair? Thanks

    1. I answered your question with an addition in the post, so all can see it.

      Thanks for asking.

  2. Shame on you! Infidel!;-)

    Thanks for the post, it was certainly useful.

    1. I bow my head in shame..... I just like the damn things! :)

  3. Nice looking pack that Haglöfs pack!

  4. back in spain i would buy, fix and sell bikes, mostly old ones. The guy that owned the "junkyard" would always note: "you really like rust, eh?"
    I guess the same observation could apply to you, hehehehe, ;)
    very nice stuff!

    1. No, not necessarilly.
      I just like these old things with charactre, a life and a story. Maybe I am just a hopeless romantic ;)
      But I do believe that listening to those stories might teach us something, even if that only is that we should not just discard old but still usefull stuff, just because it isn't cool and trendy.

  5. last weekend there was a massive flea market and someone was selling a backpack like the one on the left on the last pic, in very good condition for 3€... it reminded me of you...
    finland is the place to get super cheap (yet very cool) bushcraft gear! is sweden similar in this matter?

    1. Well, sometimes you do.
      The area here had an own axefactory and backpackfactory, so one does come across those occassionally as well as other old stuff. But either the prices are a bit on the high side or the state of things is quite sad. And of course there are the Moraknives..
      As for the rest, it is often "just" military surplus. But especially framed backpacks are turning out to be a soft spot for me....
      I'd love to have seen that little backpack. For €3 it sure would have followed me home!