The Snapsack is documented to the early 1600’s. It’s simple design was used by both the British and French Armies well into the 18th Century.

Snapsacks are typically made of 16 oz. linen, hemp or cotton canvas. You will need a piece 24 x 36 inches for the bag and a piece 6 to 8 inches wide and 26 to 32 inches long for the strap.


Fold end “B” 1″ upon itself and hem.

Fold end “A” 2 inches upon itself, and after folding the raw edge under 1/2 inch, hem. This will finish the mouth of the bag.

Fold the bag so that the finished (no seams) sides are together. Folding the raw edge under 1/2 inch, overlap the fabric 1 1/2 to 2 inches and sew from C to D (or A to B). This is the top of the bag. Fold the remaining raw edge under at least 1/4 inch and sew the other edge of the overlap down to fell the seam. This is where you can adjust to insure that your strap will fit into it’s intended channel.

Sew the B-D end together so that the end of the bag is curved starting at a point about 6 inches from the end of the bag. The curve should have an even radius up to the point where it intersects the end seam of the tube. Trim off the excess material and blanket stitch the inside seam to keep it from unraveling. NOTE: DO NOT sew the overlap on the top closed! You’ll want it open to insert your strap. Turn the bag right side out.

Make a strap for the bag. If you are going to make the strap out of the same material as the bag (canvas, for instance), cut a piece that is 4 times as wide as the finished strap needs to be (6 inches for a 1 1/2 inch strap, 8 inches for a 2 inch strap), and 26 to 32 inches long (depending on chest size).
Fold the strap material in quarters lengthwise, and stitch down each side to fell the seam and opposite edge.

Insert one end of the strap into the opening left at the top seam of the B-D end of the snapsack. Insert 3-4 inches of the strap and sew across the strap in 2 or 3 places for strength. It is recommended that you stitch across the strap at it’s end and at the end of the bag, down both sides of the strap and then stitch an X across the diagonals of the box you just sewed.

Insert the other end of the strap into the wide felled seam at the mouth end of the bag. This is where you will make any adjustments for length. Remember that the bag will fit differently when it is filled, and will require more strap length if you intend to wrap your blanket or ground cloth around it. Heaver winter clothes will require more room, too. Stitch the strap in using the same method described on the previous end.

9.) Using a large (approximately 1/4 inch) leather punch, punch a series of 12 to 18 holes, regularly spaced around the mouth of the bag in the area where the fabric is doubled. Keep the holes the same distance in from the mouth. The two end holes should be right next to where the strap is stitched into the bag along the top. It is recommended that you stitch around the holes using a buttonhole stitch to prevent the holes from unraveling.

10.) Thread a leather thong or small piece of hemp rope through the holes to use as a drawstring. Tie a knot in each end of the drawstring so that it can’t pull back through the holes. When the drawstring is pulled tight, the bag closes up very tightly, like an accordion. Tie an overhand knot in the drawstring and your gear can’t fall out.

Wear the bag by passing the strap over your head with the closed end at your right shoulder and the left end hanging just behind your left elbow.