The History of Backpacking Part II

Published: 08/01/2013

In 1910 the term ‘backpack’ was coined.  1920 saw Lloyd F Nelson create the sturdy pack board for backpacks.  This board created a division between the contents of the bag and the back of the carrier.  Following this creation was the addition of external wooden frames in the 1930s.  In the 1940s (post-World-War-II) people had more time for leisurely activities.  This is when the trailer and camping start to grow more popular.  In the 1950s a military design introduces a more modern, lighter aluminium frame for the backpack.  A decade later, the outdoor enthusiasts are experiencing the benefits themselves of these new lighter aluminium frames.  In 1967 Greg Lowe invented the internal-framed backpack, a great design that distributes the weight of the backpack across the hips.  Not long after that (1968) the National Trails System (NTS) is created, making wilderness trails and hikes more accessible to everyone and embracing the movement to more outdoor activities like camping and hiking and of course, backpacking.  In the 1960s and 1970s, love and peace were in the air and thousands of free souls travelled from Europe to Asia spreading flower power in search of adventure and enlightenment forging route that backpackers still use today, one of which was Europe to Kathmandu (via Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal).  In the 1970s backpacks are growing increasingly lighter, now with the new nylon materials as standard.  In 1990 the program Leave No trace is developed.  Leave No Trace ensures awareness among wanderers and encourages them to prepare sufficiently before their trip, learn about the area they’re visiting and leave no trace of disturbance when they’re gone.  In the 2000s backpacks and accessories are continuing to be improved on, making them lighter and more streamlined and easier to carry.

From nomadic tribes, early explorers and pioneers to hippies and backpackers, the rootless lifestyle has been savoured throughout time.  Roaming at one’s will and setting up camp wherever one pleases gives one a tremendous feeling of freedom and what better way to enjoy experiencing what nature and the world have to offer?!

Italian Pioneer, Giovanni Careri, could potentially be the very first ‘backpacker’ as he is said to be the first traveller who travelled just for the sake of it.  He lived in the late 17th Century and it is believed that the book Around The World In Eighty Days was based on his travels.  Careri spent eighty days circumnavigating the globe just for the fun of it!  He used nothing but public transport and is believed to have smuggled goods from country to country to fund his venture whilst putting on a façade as a ‘healer’ and charging people for his services.  Just as a backpacker would, he submerged himself in chatting to locals, exploring exotic destinations and relishing in his adventures with anybody who would listen.  Careri wrote a book about his trip called Giro del Mondo which became a bestseller in Italy, England and France.

Posted in: General Travel
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