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TwistingInTheWind
11-18-2014, 15:16
I am a fan of external frame packs, but when I went to research options for replacing my old "vintage" pack I had a difficult time.
I quickly found out that the options are few when compared to other styles. It seems that the industry had moved away from the idea long ago.
I wanted to share some of the things I found during my search and spark a discussion about why you love the style you have: internal, external or no frame at all!

Kelty hasn't given up on the external! They are not the lightest but they have many options:
http://www.kelty.com/c-backpacks.aspx#subcategory=external-frame
They were so close to my "vintage" pack from the 70's that I didn't want to get a new one. I needed a better, softer belt and straps but I'd been through so much with my old friend that replacement didn't seem attractive.

Many people take the old 70's backpacks and spuce them up. Some strip the aluminum frames for dry bag carriers or make DIY bags for them. I've done all of these with my versatile old friend.
Ebay has them all the time for sale for fans of the Old School.

External frame AND lightweight?
Space age materials are changing the game. I need to get lighter (who doesn't?) and there are a few places where you can have your cake and eat it too!

ZPacks have the "Exo Backpack." It uses a carbon fiber frame.
http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/exo.shtml

Vargo has the "Ti-Arc" line using a titanium frame. 2 different bag styles and materials
http://www.vargooutdoors.com/backpacks.html
I chose the cuben fiber one for myself..;) I only have a 3 day trip with it but I loved it! Of course I was so happy to have a belt with some cushion on it (my "vintage" belt had no padding to speak of) that I think I could have been carrying boulders and been happy!

Osprey has a few but they don't expose much of the frame from what I can see in the pics.
http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/group/superlight/exos_series

An option I tried was taking the bag off of my "vintage" aluminum frame and hanging dry bags on it. Wasn't terrible but it wasn't for me.. I didn't care for fumbling with all the different tie outs.
LuxuryLite seems to have a pretty good thing going with theirs. I had bags all over my frame but they have it lined up nice and neat. Might have made a difference with the fiddling around with ties that was my stumbling block.
http://www.luxurylite.com/stackpackindex.html

I have heard that the original ULA ohm 1.0 had an external frame.. I can't find any websites for it but did see a handful for sale used when I Google'ed it.

Hopefully this helps someone overcome some of the difficulty I had when I went looking for options.
I would really like to hear why people like or dislike the external frame.
I know many of us were introduced to backpacking with this style and I would like to read about the "old school" vs the "new school" in a positive light.
:-?:-?:-?

KEEP THE WEIGHT ON YOUR HIPS!

TNhiker
11-18-2014, 16:29
i have a Kelty Super Tioga that i dont use that id love to sell off, if anyone is interested...

its in great shape.....

Feral Bill
11-18-2014, 16:48
I have a Mountain Master pack from the early 70's. With an upgraded hip belt it works like a charm. Lighter than my big internal Dana, too. My son loves it.

mankind117
11-18-2014, 16:54
Another company is a new one, seekoutside http://store.seekoutside.com/
I started using their unaweep pack for general backpacking this summer and love it. It is more comfortable than any internal frame I have used. It is quite a bit different other external frame packs in that the frame has some articulation so at light loads it is not as stiff as a traidtional internal frame and hugs your body much more like an internal frame. Hence it feels much more stable. They are also lightweight. My unaweep with over 5000 cubic inches of capacity is a little over 3 pounds and the xpac fabric is fully waterproof.

mankind117
11-18-2014, 16:56
In regards to your other question about why an internal vs external, I find that the unaweep belt is more comfortable and doesn't slip as the frame "hangs" from the belt by two widely spaced attachment points. Unlike an internal frame with a lumbar pad and stays terminating there, there is no pressure on the small of your back where the stays or framesheet would terminate in an internal frame.

TwistingInTheWind
11-18-2014, 18:03
Wow! that Unaweep is really cool! I've never heard of an articulating frame like that!
Seems pretty light pack for its size... and also looks like it has a lot of versatility in that you can use the frame for different bags or just strap gear right to it bare bones.

mankind117
11-18-2014, 18:28
If you get the evolution frame you can strap anything to it. With the unaweep the encasements of the evolution system are integrated into the bag so save some weight. I think it is clever the way they do the compression. The talon compression panel adds a good amount of external storage that is useable even when the bag if full but also is incredibly versatile for strapping stuff on the outside.

Just Bill
11-18-2014, 18:54
An external frame is still pretty handy for youth group, guided, or family trips. Not too shabby on canoe trips either.
Very versatile and easy to reconfigure odd shapes, heavy loads, or emergency gains in gear. Lash two together and you have a stretcher.
For young hikers they "grow" well, and group repair kits are easier to stock.

Realistically though- outside of those types of trips they don't make ton of sense for most folks because of balance, bushwhacking, or even snags on maintained trails.

But they still have their place- and with lighter materials you are seeing more hybrids like you pointed out, though true external frames with all the benefits above are hard to find. My Dad still likes them and found a few models at Gander Mountain and Bass Pro- they are still popular with hunters.

Feral Bill
11-18-2014, 19:43
I suppose Jansport needs a mention. That Unaweep is very interesting, though.

CrumbSnatcher
11-18-2014, 20:12
i have a Kelty Super Tioga that i dont use that id love to sell off, if anyone is interested...

its in great shape.....what color? picture? thanks

CrumbSnatcher
11-18-2014, 20:13
i have a Kelty Super Tioga that i dont use that id love to sell off, if anyone is interested...

its in great shape.....how many miles on it?

rafe
11-18-2014, 22:12
I used a Camp Trails "Adjustable II" until about seven or eight years ago. 4 lbs., loads of volume, pretty comfortable. Took me a long time to find an internal frame pack that suited me. Now that I have, there's no turning back.

Wise Old Owl
11-18-2014, 22:28
That's funny ther' Kelty with a odometer.... watch out for roll backs....:eek:

gbolt
11-18-2014, 22:45
I am refining my equipment and going lighter, so I have my eye on some internal frame packs but have not bit the bullet yet. The ULA Ohm is in the number one spot followed by the ZPack Arc Blast. I am still using my late 70's REI Wonderland Trekker. I just saw a used one on EBay for $89. It carries anything from 25 pounds to 65 pounds with ease. I think it weighs in at close to seven pounds by itself, but rides so nice, I haven't had issues with it. The hip belt is thick and comfortable as well. I honestly would not purchase a new pack; unless it weighs less than 2lbs and my total weight, food and all, is under 25 pounds. I just love the pockets and not having to "baby" the pack. Can't tell you how many times I have lost my grip and had it drop to the ground at the end of a long day hiking. Plus, the external frame matches my age/look/personality. Old but durable and still getting the job done!

TNhiker
11-18-2014, 23:31
how many miles on it?




Ha....probably less than 40.....

i bought it at a time when I wasn't doing much backpacking, and when I started getting out more---I bought an internal....

moytoy
11-19-2014, 02:47
I'll never give up my external Kelty completely although I do have other packs both internal and no frame. My one and two day warm weather trips (what I do mostly now) I use a Go-lite Jam. I used a Kelty knockoff for years ( circa 1969) and still have the frame. I just can't seem to get the motivation to build the replacement sack and belts.

daddytwosticks
11-19-2014, 08:07
I have a new Osprey Exos 48. Although not a true external frame pack, it is the most comfortable pack I have ever used. :)

OCDave
11-19-2014, 09:15
My first pack was an REI Wonderland. Comfortably supports monster loads however, the noise eventually became unbearable. Squeaking and rattling with every step starts to get in the way of enjoying the sounds of nature. I replaced it a couple years ago with a Catalyst. I still have it but I can't imagine carrying it again.

Tipi Walter
11-19-2014, 09:31
I met a guy on my last trip who was using an external frame pack called the Alpenlite. Check out the fotogs---

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpack-2014-Trips-152/Halloween-Snowstorm/i-drjQnXF/0/L/TRIP%20160%20123-L.jpg

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpack-2014-Trips-152/Halloween-Snowstorm/i-q886CZJ/0/L/TRIP%20160%20126-L.jpg

gbolt
11-19-2014, 19:42
OCDave,

That was the Pack? I thought it was my knees, shoulders, and back! lol. Actually, it does Squeak and rattle; however, I don't know any different, so it is kind of soothing to me. Amazing what becomes a new normal. As mentioned, I am looking at the Ohm but still haven't ruled out the Catalyst. PM if you have any added insight.

thecyclops
11-23-2014, 11:41
i have a Kelty Super Tioga that i dont use that id love to sell off, if anyone is interested...

its in great shape.....

I have a Kelty external,super tioga 4900 that I use very little,is HUGE and wont fit inside a tent very well,but would not trade it for anything....I dont use it soloing,but when the family goes and I have to carry the lions share of the load,this is the pack and in all honesty,rides as good or better than my internals,just soooo damn wide.

CrumbSnatcher
11-23-2014, 12:48
GA-ME 4 times wearing kelty external frame packs(3 Super Tioga's & a 50th year anniversary)
i have 3 more Super Tioga's in the hiking closet. :-) i hope to use them before taking my dirt nap.

Tipi Walter
11-23-2014, 13:08
GA-ME 4 times wearing kelty external frame packs(3 Super Tioga's & a 50th year anniversary)
i have 3 more Super Tioga's in the hiking closet. :-) i hope to use them before taking my dirt nap.

Yes, the Tioga and the Super Tioga etc, but have you ever heard of the Ultra Tioga?? It came out a decade or more ago and I actually got one but gave it to my backpacking buddy Johnny B cuz over 75 lbs the dang thing killed my hips. Here's a neato pic of the Ultra Tioga---

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2005/Nine-Days-With-Johnny-Be-Trip/i-rSnj88J/0/L/45-5%20%20day%202%20%20leaving%20crowders%20at%20horn %20in%20the%20west-L.jpg
Here's the Ultra Tiogo on left on the BMT/Fodderstack Ridge.

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2005/Nine-Days-With-Johnny-Be-Trip/i-3tTGgWx/0/L/45-35%20%20jb%20filterng%20water%20at%20the%20little% 20snaketooth%20nutbuster-L.jpg
The beefy harness system of the Ultra. On the Nutbuster Upper Slickrock Trail.

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2010/18-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-jhsRk4d/0/L/TRIP%20113%20108-L.jpg
Might as well add this pic of my old Kelty 50th Anniversary pack and here used by backpacking buddy Hootyhoo on the Sycamore Creek trail.

Feral Bill
11-23-2014, 15:14
That's a lot of pack. Do those pups carry anything?


Yes, the Tioga and the Super Tioga etc, but have you ever heard of the Ultra Tioga?? It came out a decade or more ago and I actually got one but gave it to my backpacking buddy Johnny B cuz over 75 lbs the dang thing killed my hips. Here's a neato pic of the Ultra Tioga---

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2005/Nine-Days-With-Johnny-Be-Trip/i-rSnj88J/0/L/45-5%20%20day%202%20%20leaving%20crowders%20at%20horn %20in%20the%20west-L.jpg
Here's the Ultra Tiogo on left on the BMT/Fodderstack Ridge.

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2005/Nine-Days-With-Johnny-Be-Trip/i-3tTGgWx/0/L/45-35%20%20jb%20filterng%20water%20at%20the%20little% 20snaketooth%20nutbuster-L.jpg
The beefy harness system of the Ultra. On the Nutbuster Upper Slickrock Trail.

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2010/18-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-jhsRk4d/0/L/TRIP%20113%20108-L.jpg
Might as well add this pic of my old Kelty 50th Anniversary pack and here used by backpacking buddy Hootyhoo on the Sycamore Creek trail.

CrumbSnatcher
11-23-2014, 15:25
Yes, the Tioga and the Super Tioga etc, but have you ever heard of the Ultra Tioga?? It came out a decade or more ago and I actually got one but gave it to my backpacking buddy Johnny B cuz over 75 lbs the dang thing killed my hips. Here's a neato pic of the Ultra Tioga---

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2005/Nine-Days-With-Johnny-Be-Trip/i-rSnj88J/0/L/45-5%20%20day%202%20%20leaving%20crowders%20at%20horn %20in%20the%20west-L.jpg
Here's the Ultra Tiogo on left on the BMT/Fodderstack Ridge.

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2005/Nine-Days-With-Johnny-Be-Trip/i-3tTGgWx/0/L/45-35%20%20jb%20filterng%20water%20at%20the%20little% 20snaketooth%20nutbuster-L.jpg
The beefy harness system of the Ultra. On the Nutbuster Upper Slickrock Trail.

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2010/18-Days-in-the-Bald-River/i-jhsRk4d/0/L/TRIP%20113%20108-L.jpg
Might as well add this pic of my old Kelty 50th Anniversary pack and here used by backpacking buddy Hootyhoo on the Sycamore Creek trail.Tipi i do know of the ultra, my favorite is the super tioga, absolutely a great pack for hiking the Appalachian Trail, after a few hundred miles i almost never put a pack back on my dog, i loved being able to carry her load for her, food,water, snacks, air mattress, etc.. but if she did carry a pack it was usually lite. i would start off the day without her pack on her for a couple miles and have it off her for the last 3-5 miles of the day for her to stretch out. i think the most my pack ever weighed was up roan Mtn. around 70 pounds my first year. i didn't resupply as often on the first hike. i was always a pack mule, but i think my total pack weight was usually around 35-38 pounds or so on avg.

anarky321
03-16-2015, 13:51
Mountainsmith Master 3500cu - pretty much impossible to find now but it's VERY close to a Kelty Trekker 3900/3950cu Green/Black

3025130250

for me ~4000cu external is as good as it gets because of the amount of stuff you can strap to the bottom of it and the main pack compartment is (relatively) small which keeps the weight closer to your back

the Trekker 65 is a good pack but they insist on making it in red only which sucks

Wanderingventurer
04-15-2015, 21:32
An external frame is still pretty handy for youth group, guided, or family trips. Not too shabby on canoe trips either.
Very versatile and easy to reconfigure odd shapes, heavy loads, or emergency gains in gear. Lash two together and you have a stretcher.
For young hikers they "grow" well, and group repair kits are easier to stock.

Realistically though- outside of those types of trips they don't make ton of sense for most folks because of balance, bushwhacking, or even snags on maintained trails.

But they still have their place- and with lighter materials you are seeing more hybrids like you pointed out, though true external frames with all the benefits above are hard to find. My Dad still likes them and found a few models at Gander Mountain and Bass Pro- they are still popular with hunters.

I absolutely LOVE my new SeekOutside Unaweep. The articulating frame handles off-trail, bushwhacking, scrambling and the like as well or better than any internal frame pack Iíve used before. This is by far and away the most comfortable pack Iíve ever carried.