As a collector I am always looking for original items to add to my collection, as a re-enactor however I encounter a tension. There is always a danger that using an eighty year old items might result in its damage or destruction and some items are rare enough and expensive enough that they are not easy to find in the first place. Happily many companies have produced replica items of uniform and equipment and these offer a good alternative for certain items. I am working on building up my Home Guard kit at the moment and here, especially, reproduction equipment is invaluable to the living historian in creating a good wearable impression. Whilst the quality of some manufacturers has always been variable, happily many are starting to understand that re-enactors want robust and accurate items for their impressions. Soldier of Fortune always had a reputation for not always producing items of the highest quality, however they have largely turned this around in the last few years and today we are taking a look at their Home Guard haversack:
The Home Guard haversack was introduced as a cost effective alternative to a traditional webbing haversack. It was made of rubberised canvas with a simple shoulder strap and could be worn either as a satchel, or by tucking the straps under the arms as an improvised rucksack. The haversack was square in shape, with a simple sewn in strap. This was size adjustable as it was folded into tucks and sewn from the factory. If it was too short, it was the work of moments to unpick the stitching on one or more tucks and extend the strap a little further. This detail has been replicated nicely by Soldier of Fortune:
The pack is made of heavy duty canvas and seems well sewn and compared to original examples a close replica. The pack has a simple top flap secured by a single strap and brass buckle and again the quality of brass has improved greatly over the years, the buckle being thick and well stamped with no sharp edges:
The original Home Guard haversacks had a single divider inside separating them into a front and back compartment and again this is copied faithfully in the replica:
Overall this is a very competent reproduction and as the canvas of original examples is often quite delicate today this is a much stronger and cheaper alternative than an original. It is offered on Soldier of Fortune’s website for a very reasonable £35 and if you are looking to re-enact the Home Guard it is a must have purchase.