History of the laptop bag

The laptop bag that we know of today is essentially evolved from the humble backpack

Welcome back to our 5th instalment of our Product of the Week (POTW) series! We’re almost at our last instalment, but we’re excited to share this week’s product: The Laptop Bag. 

The laptop bag that we know of today is essentially evolved from the humble backpack (ie: a pack you carry at your back). I’m sure all of us have a backpack lying around somewhere in the house and there are a few adjectives that we closely associate to it: “useful”, “practical”, “fashionable”. 

The backpack has gone through relatively quick evolution in terms of design, features and usefulness over the past century. Here’s a timeline of how backpacks have changed over the years.

1878 - Henry Merriam patented the ‘knapsack’ that year. His backpack was supported by a metal frame that did not require any straps. This, he believed, would help reduce the burden on people’s backs and help them move freely. However, the thought did not materialise and the use of it soon came to an end. The ‘knapsack’ was made exclusively for the US Army.  

Photo Credit: Google Patent

The original patent of the knapsack

1908 - Ole Bergan redesigned the backpack for comfort. Using bent juniper wood to mimic the contour of our backs and hanging a soft cloth bag over the frame. The wooden frame was later upgraded to a light tubular steel which was patented for 25 years due to its popularity.  

1920 - Lloyd Nelson took inspiration from locals in Alaska to create the ‘Trapper Bag’, which became the one of the first bags to be mass-produced.

Photo credit: histrorylink.org

1938 - First ever bag with zippers was created by Gerry Cunningham mainly for outdoor enthusiasts. The beginning of the modern backpack. 

1950 - Ake Nordin built a canvas bag that was to be worn high and close to the back using a wooden
frame and leather straps to fasten. 

1952 - Dick and Nina Kelty used airplane frames (aluminium) and parachutes after the war to create bags. Introduced contoured frames, waist straps and padded shoulder straps.

1967 - Greg Lowe created the first internal frame backpack. Introduced side compression straps and a sternum strap.  

In 1967, Gerry Cunningham once again revolutionised the backpack by introducing a lightweight yet sturdy ‘Teardrop’ backpack. This was a first of its kind lightweight nylon bag.

Photo Credit: Gerry Mountaineering

The teardrop bag was the first lightweight, nylon backpack in the market

Fast forward to today, backpacks have become more than just an essential and functional product but also a fashion statement. From the general workforce to school going children, backpacks come in all shapes and sizes, different materials and designs. And with the advent of the digital age, innovative features such as compartment for laptops, compartments for smartphones, knife-proof material, anti-theft, digital display screens are finding their way to the humble backpack.   

At Saltycustoms, we provide premium laptop bags packed with useful features and trendy design.
Water resistant. Knife-proof material. Anti-Theft. Multiple compartments.