1. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    Medieval troops' use of backpacks?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by CMastah, Mar 21, 2014.

    I'm curious, did soldiers in the middle ages carry backpacks with them (I imagine they most likely would, they'd need to carry supplies somehow)? But also, what were they made of and what should I call them (considering 'backpack' really doesn't sound appropriate to the age). Where did the troops keep their backpacks during combat? I'm guessing they'd probably construct some basic camp and then probably keep it there but I'm honestly not entirely sure.
     
  2. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    A quick google search of history backpack, reveals that backpacks have been used by hunters for centuries. They were made of animal skins, but weren't called backpacks till 1910. ( before then terms like packsack were used)
    If you're writing medieval fantasy, most fantasy role playing games (Dungeons and Dragons, World of Warcraft, Runescape etc) use backpacks, so most fantasy readers won't bat an eyelid if your soldiers use backpacks. If you're writing something historical you'll want to research more specifically than medieval. I'm sure military equipment varied somewhat depending on where in the world you're talking about and which century.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2014
  3. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh also consider the use of pack animals for any significant supply carrying.
     
  4. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    The supplies would have been carried by horses and on wagons, but packs were used for sleeping rolls and basic possessions. Rucksacks would have been left in camp before combat, unless they were ambushed in transit. Even today, packs are dumped at the first sign of combat, at least it was in my time in the military, and you rely on your webbing. They would have almost certainly be made of leather.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what country is your army from?
    and where are they marching to/from?

    the best place to get authentic info is from reenactment clubs:

    http://www.medievalwarfare.info/reenactment.htm
     
  6. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    You need to remember that most European medieval soldiers were conscripted farmers with nothing more than a pole arm and whatever he could afford to bring with him, such as a blanket. A leather backpack would be an incredible luxury. Most likely any small personal possessions would be rolled up inside the blanket or held in pouches or bags slung across the body. Food was often what you could scavenge from the countryside. Many armies of that time had huge baggage trains, which included wives and children.

    The nobility didn't have to carry a backpack. They had servants to handle stuff like that.
     
  7. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    it was called a "poke".
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Think baskets and tied bundles:
     
  9. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    Thanks, the style of the world is Medieval fantasy and the backpack features as a soldier tries to smuggle a child out of a village. I'm checking out the link, @mammamaia and it's got great resources, thanks!

    I'll probably use a satchel but it seems like perhaps backpack would be fine, thanks guys!
     
  10. ARMAScholar
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    ARMAScholar New Member

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    Hello, when you say "middle ages" this is a very large time frame stretching from the fall of the western Roman Empire in the 5th century into the 14th century or so depending on how one defines the period. Additionally, not only is this a wide swath of time you are also talking about a large geographical area in Europe with different cultures, kingdoms, military organizations, equipment, and so on.

    However, generally speaking yes various packs, satchels, and so on were used to carry food, equipment and other items. Usually a medieval or renaissance army on the move had a fairly significant logistical pack train following it in order to keep it supplied and in the field.

    Additionally medieval and renaissance soldiers were not simply 'mere peasants' who were handed a sword or spear and sent off to war as is often suggested. Men at arms in medieval and renaissance armies were generally professional career soldiers who had significant martial experience. Professional, but not noble soldiery generally made up the largest component of medieval armies.
     

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