The development of military backpacks throughout the WW1 and WW2

military backpacks

From its beginnings, a man was looking for a way to carry his gear and supplies with him. That lead to the invention of a backpack, which found its purpose throughout the history. The most notable usage of backpacks is in war times, where soldiers would carry their weapon, ammo and essential supplies of food and water.military backpacks

Military Backpacks, however, have somewhat a different story. Although they were made out of everyday bags and sacks used in travelings, military backpacks were more functional than the ordinary ones. In this article read about a short history of military backpacks throughout the WW1 and WW2. 

WW1 Backpacks

Around 1910, backpacks used for soldiers and troops on the field were facing some major changes, which will define the looks of a modern military backpack till our days. The developers of military gear in the US were concerned to improve the current model (Soldier’s Trunk). Their efforts lead to the invention of a new model, M1910. The main feature of this backpack was his weight capacity because developers found that no soldier shouldn’t carry the weight that exceeds the two-thirds of his own body weight.

However, the new and improved M1910 had one significant flow, too. It entailed only one compartment which wasn’t an enclosed space. The developers used a rectangular canvas which needed to be folded and unfolded every time a soldier wanted to take something out of the backpack. The complexity of the design was such that they invented four-page instructions manual to go with it!

The result? A backpack with no practical purpose and low-efficiency rate. Foot soldiers usually went on long distance marches (sometimes 25 miles in one take), and carrying equipment in such a backpack meant struggling along the way.

WW2 Backpacks

At the beginning of the WW2, the standard military backpack was M-1928. The disadvantage of this military gear was the poor weight distribution. Each time a soldier would climb on the hill or go through the snow, a weight would shift sides. That would throw the soldier off the balance, making his moving difficult.

Military developers came to an idea to make a wired frame which should support the canvas of a backpack. The frame played a supporting role, helping the soldier to keep the weight stable during the march.

During WW2, military backpacks were frequently modified and improved. This period saw the rise of many military gear manufacturing companies. The models distributed were similar in design: the main feature of WW2 military backpacks was side pockets. With the enclosed compartments and side pockets, military backpacks become the soldier’s best friend. The capacity of carrying military gear, first aid kits, and food and water supplies were greater than in previous models.

Military backpacks today

Modern military backpacks have a lot in common with WW2 backpacks, especially in regards to design. Although the materials changed, the idea of having a reliable carrying sack remained the basis of modern backpacks, too.

Typical Food Available for Soldiers Back in WWI and WWII

Food for soldiers back in the day was not always a pretty sight.  With poor conditions and a lack of options, it’s hard to imagine how so many men were able to still fight while being forced to eat the food they were given.  There were no XMRE Meals or fresh water like there is today.  Especially in WWI, soldiers struggled mightily to find a decent meal.  To shed a little light on exactly what went on back then, we decided to take a look at the typical meals for soldiers back in WWI and WWII.


During World War I, a new style of fighting had emerged: trench warfare. For weeks, soldiers were holed up in unsanitary trenches while trying to gain the upper hand on their enemy. During this time, these men got their food in daily rations, and the availability of meat and vegetables varied. For those were positioned on the frontline of the war, it wasn’t uncommon to eat a meat stew and hard biscuit each day. Corned beef and bread were typical WWI staples, although theoretically, troops were supposed to also have vegetables, jam, and butter as well. Unfortunately, these delicacies became harder to obtain as time went on.


During World War II, food for soldiers consisted a lot of canned goods–and for good reason. Canned foods were fairly easy to come by, and they didn’t need to be preserved in a cool environment. Oftentimes, troops could be seen with canned macaroni, Spam, dried eggs and like always, candy was a tasty, popular choice. Being able to keep powdered eggs and milk that were easy to prepare was crucial for keeping a balanced diet for fighters on the front line–even if these supplements didn’t taste the same. Chocolate was also important–the company, Hershey’s, specifically made a chocolate bar for World War II soldiers that had a significantly higher nutritional value and melting point. Unfortunately, with these changes, the chocolate lost some of its beloved flavors and was often used as a last resort for sustenance.

Overall, the diets of a WWI soldier compared to a WWII soldier are somewhat different. World War I struggled to keep their troops consuming a balanced diet with limited supplies of vegetables and fresh meat. With the introduction of so much canned food in World War II, this goal was slightly more achievable, and although dried eggs and powdered milk didn’t sound appetizing, it could easily be followed up with a little candy or chocolate for flavor. Even today, as the concept of what a soldier needs food-wise to perform their best is evolving, nutritionists and dieticians are still fighting to find accessible, healthy options.