The Most Influential Gear of All Time: Bergans of Norway Rucksack


A Bergans frame pack circa 1930

A Bergans frame pack circa 1930     Photo: Courtesy of Bergans of Norway

Ole F. Bergan held 45 patents for outdoor gear—for everything from the first step in/step out ski bindings, an electrical whaling harpoon, a log sled with brakes and a valve-free combustion engine, and the frame pack—so he was used to devising quick and original solutions to problems when he ran into trouble on a hunting trip. Out on the trail one day in 1908 Bergan’s load felt particularly heavy, so he created an impromptu backcountry prototype of a framepack using a juniper branch that he bent into the back of his pack for additional support.

From this first prototype Bergan developed the framepack idea, replacing the branch with light tubular steel and straps. His idea was that the sack should be shaped according to a person’s form and height, and that it should sit snugly against the body while supporting the load. A few years later Sverre Young bought the patent from Bergan and osld a considerable number of rucksacks to the Czechoslovakian army. Bergans Meis, Ole’s manufacturing company, made the packs. When the patent ran out after 25 years, other pack manufacturers immediately copied Ole’s design.

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