Painting Your Knapsack

By: Daniel O’Connell

Originally published in Smoke & Fire News, February 2009.

This article is going to be brief if only to allow an image large enough to show what I’m talking about when you paint your knapsack. Or when you consider retro treating it.

Pictured you see a British knapsack of late 18th century to 19th century and you’ll note the inside of the pack has a border of paint. I’ve been making and painting knapsacks for years and no mater if I painted them before or after assembly I had always strived for only the outside cover being painted. And previously thought paint getting on the inside of the pack a sloppy job. Until recently.

A few days ago I inquired on the many forums about surviving examples of Regimental devices on the outside of British knapsacks and through the many kind people in this hobby I was directed to a number of reproduction and original examples. While searching for painted devices I noticed several images just as the one you see with this article.

It doesn’t take too many hits over the head for me to notice a hammer hitting m’noggin and with last May’s Boone Homestead event behind us (along with the rain we saw there) I put a few things together. The pictured image of this knapsack is painted to prevent ‘wicking’ of water into the inside of the knapsack. As my knapsack at Boones was not treated this way, the entire contents of my knapsack eventually became soaked by capillary attraction as the rain ran down the outside of my painted pack to the edges where the paint and untreated canvas meet. Once I saw this surviving knapsack (image) paint on the inside of a knapsack finally made sense to me.

Whether you paint your knapsack before or after you assemble it I suggest you treat the inside of your knapsack as demonstrated in this image. D.O.

Originally published in Smoke & Fire, February 2009

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