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Rucksack: Portfolio

Seil Marshall Canoe Pack

Carrying stuff around has been a basic requirement for people for thousands of years.

For anything more than a coupe of kilos you need a back pack as the weight is distributed evenly and does not ruin your back and/or shoulders.  Given this is it surprising how difficult it is to get right - the straps fall down your shoulders or dig in uncomfortably , it hangs too low pulling on your shoulders, it bounces around, bits wear out rendering the whole thing useless. 

Durability, comfort and practicality are key here.  

Pockets are undeniably handy but too many can be confusing and the required fastenings can look untidy and contribute to weakness.  

The Seil Marshall Canoe Pack strikes a well judged balance between simplicity, practicality and performance.

It is made of heavy waxed canvas, the back is padded with felt and there are 2 compartments and a security pocket with brass zipper.  The drawstring is made of hemp and has a horn toggle that looks epic. The shoulders straps have thick felt padding under the leather and canvas webbing so it is really comfortable no matter the weight. If the 25L capacity is not enough there 2 flaps inside to enlarge the pack.   The fastening straps are thick bridle leather, the rivets and fasteners are all brass.  It is the business.  The canvas develops a patina of wear and use that makes it uniquely and undeniably your own.

My rucksack has experienced every environment and weather including extreme alpine, 50 degrees celsius desert, tropical jungle and urban wasteland without a single problem.  It is completely reliable and supremely comfortable.

Bruce Chatwin, whose work I loved and admired, inspired my desire for the ultimate rucksack (and fetishistic adoration of travel gear in general), having had one made by a saddler in Cirencester, which he took everywhere.  This seemed both impossibly romantic and enormously practical. It sounded so beguiling to have a something made just for you, to your specifications, to keep your stuff in.  I wanted one.  It took many years to find the right one (actually two).

Just before his untimely death Chatwin gifted his to Werner Herzog, (a hero of mine for since I first watched Aguirre, Wrath of God). When I saw Chatwin’s, many years later, it was very disappointing; the leather seems very thick, it is weirdly bulbous with too many pockets. It looks heavy. 

I could never commit to just one rucksack, the travelling one is just too much for everyday urban life.  My answer for that will appear in a subsequent post.

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