What is a snapsack and what is it for?
A soldier’s snapsack was used to contain their daily rations with any personal belongings and extra clothing.
Snapsacks were military issue and they seem to have been provided even when other items, such as clothing, were unavailable. Surviving illustrations show that these snapsacks were of a quite distinctive pattern The two common varieties of snapsack, one that is slung over the shoulder and hung by the hip, made of a canvass material generally used by vagrants and gipsies and the other was a duffle bag sausage tube made of canvas or leather , pulled closed by cords at either end like a modem duffle bag. The cords also seem to have served as a carrying strap which was hung across the back.
Clearly, these 17th century snapsacks are quite different from the hessian haversacks carried by some English Civil War re-enactors. The latter style came into use some time in the 18th century and would continue in the Napoleonic and American Civil Wars, but it has no place in the recreation of a mid 17th century arm. Fortunately it is quite easy to reproduce a 17th Century snapsack.
Making a snapsack
The size can be varied, depending upon the use intended, but even a beginner should be able to sew together edges of a rectangle. Sources indicate that the snapsack could be of leather or linen canvas. Since canvas can expensive and difficult to work, heavy linen/linen union or calico could be used instead.
The cords can be made from sash cord or narrow rope leather or cloth remnant sufficient enough to make one snapsack can be picked up quite cheaply.