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Backpacks made of canvas and leather in true vintage design

Our classic backpacks made of the finest leather and high-quality cotton fabrics love the small and big adventures of life. We have taken our cue from the honest and functional design of historical hunting and mountaineering backpacks. Piece by piece, a real piece of travel history.

What is a backpack?

A backpack is a bag in the shape of a sack that is carried on the back in the classic way with two shoulder straps. This is a great advantage, especially for longer excursions, as the weight of the luggage is distributed evenly over the back and shoulder. People have appreciated this advantage for over 5,000 years, as evidenced by finds from the Neolithic period.

The backpack is the most popular piece of luggage of all, also due to its high utility value. A canvas backpack is ideal as practical hand luggage when travelling or as a handbag substitute for every day. As light luggage for bicycle and motorbike trips, backpacks are ideal. Backpacks with laptop compartments are ideal for work, school or study.


Is canvas a good backpack material?

When it comes to backpack materials, canvas has some adventages. Canvas backpacks carry vintage aesthetics and are extremely durable and dependable with an optimal strength-to-weight ratio. They are sturdy enough to carry an amount of weight while being lightweight. The plain weave technique generates a fabric that is renowned for its strength, rivaling even the thicker materials. A canvas backpack can last for many years, if not a lifetime, free of premature wear and tear.


What is special about the canvas hiking backpacks from DRAKENSBERG?

We base the design of our vintage backpacks on historical models from the 18th and 19th centuries. We were inspired by the canvas mountain backpacks from the late 19th century. These backpacks are characterised by a high level of craftsmanship and a particularly charismatic design. When designing our retro rucksacks, we stayed as close as possible to the originals. Which also means that we avoid the use of plastics as far as possible and mainly use cotton and full-grain buffalo leather for the construction.


What do I need to consider when buying a backpack?

The purpose for which the backpack is needed is crucial. The function and size or filling volume should be based on this. Our vintage backpacks are primarily intended for day trips (day packs) and not for long tours. Small to medium-sized backpacks with a capacity of 20-30 litres are ideal for day trips or picnics. The size of the backpack also depends on the size of the wearer. The length of the back of the backpack should not exceed the length of the wearer's back. When trying on the backpack, the shoulder straps should be adjusted so that the backpack ends above the lower back.


Is our canvas backpack waterproof?

Our DRAKENSBERG backpacks are not waterproof or water-resistant. We deliberately leave our canvas backpacks in their natural and non-impregnated state for visual and aesthetic reasons. However, our leather and canvas backpacks can be impregnated relatively easily and are then at least water-repellent. Colourless impregnation sprays for leather and textiles are suitable for this, e.g. IMPRÄGNOL Universal Impregnation Spray. Alternatively, our cotton fabrics can also be treated with wax. For example, with Dr. Gee's impregnating wax. We recommend testing the wax on an inconspicuous area before treating the entire rucksack. Please note: The colour usually becomes 1-2 shades darker with the impregnating wax.


Are DRAKENSBERG backpacks modelled on Swiss army backpacks?

Actually, the classic Swiss army backpacks are very similar to our designs. However, we have based our design more on the civilian form of mountain backpacks. In any case, our hiking backpacks made of leather and canvas are in no way inferior in quality to the classic military backpacks.


Which brand backpack is best?

DRAKENSBERG backpacks are everything, but not ordinary. Sustainability is not an advertising slogan for us, but part of the design. We are concerned with authentic canvas backpacks that could have been made in a similar form 200 years ago. In other words, with natural materials, without plastic.
At the moment, there is actually no backpack manufacturer that would be a role model for us. Even the big brands continue to rely on the classic chrome tanning and manipulate the surfaces of the leather. Also widespread in the industry is plastic lamination, in which a higher material thickness of the leather is imitated with a foam lamination.

In any case, "vegan" leather often conceals commercially available plastic. It is very rare to find leather-like materials that are actually made 100% from plants. Unfortunately, the term "natural leather" is currently out of date. For us, a leather that is reinforced with foam is not "natural leather" but an inferior leather.
In the 21st century, a good backpack should also convey a good and honest feeling and should not make empty promises. At DRAKENSBERG, we do without synthetic materials as far as possible. Our leather or canvas is not laminated with plastic. Our outer fabrics do not contain any plastic fibres. The leather we use is sustainably vegetable-tanned, even if not entirely without chrome. An original with rough edges, but an honest character.


What is so special about roll-top backpacks?

Roll-top backpacks are inspired by the bicycle courier backpacks that have been familiar from the world's major metropolises since the 90s. The highlight is that these roll-top backpacks are very variable in size and can be rolled up or down depending on the contents. A backpack that grows with its tasks.


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