View Full Version : external pack opinion?

07-16-2004, 23:01
Hey guys, I grew up hiking w/ an external frame pack and I'd like to purchase a new one. I demo'd the jansport carson 80 pack today at a local outfitter. Any have an opinion on this pack or know of an external they really liked?


Jack Tarlin
07-17-2004, 12:27
Along with Jansport, you might also want to check out Kelty (www.kelty.com) which has been making excellent external-frame
packs for decades.

If you're considering a larger pack, the Tioga is
probably your best bet.

Kozmic Zian
07-17-2004, 17:46
Yea....External Frames. I used one on my Thruy, but....don't think I would again. It served it's purpose and got me there, but today......well, light is right and Ex-frames are just to large and heavy. Depends tho', on what you're doin'. If you're out for a week or more, or wilderness hiking, you might want to consider an Ex-frame. They carry heavy loads better, IMHO, than internals. If you're considering an AT THruy, the lighter Internals will carry 4 days with 3000ci, and some weigh under 3lbs, going down to several ounces with some of the 'supra-lights'. It's a choice....go to the outfitter and pack it with what you plan to carry. Learn what to carry here, on WB! JT's right about the Keltys (Trekker's Good)....check 'um out...KZ@

07-17-2004, 18:57
I have a Kelty Trekker and used it for a week long section hike. I really liked it. When I got really hot after a hard climb, I'd just arch my shoulders and let that breeze blow between my back and the pack. It was great. I like having all the pockets on the outside of the pack for organizing my stuff. I know it's not the 'in' thing to own an external these days, but someone would be hardpressed to talk me into an internal at this point.

Pencil Pusher
07-17-2004, 20:59
I have a cheap Campmor special, the Camp Trails 'Wilderness'. I've only used it to carry big lumpy things. I wouldn't recommend it. It has this bar on top I don't much like and the thing is such a behemoth. The upshot of its size, I cut the fabric inside so it could fit a seven gallon water jug. Heck, all the old climbers of yesteryear made many an ascent with external frame packs so maybe it is just marketing hype.

07-17-2004, 22:11
Considering the modern materials and knowledge availible I think it is a shame when they release a topline external and it weighs 8 lbs....

none the less for heavy loads they still seem to carry far better then most internals.

for 30 and less pounds go internal over 50 I would go external. Kelty does make several decent models that arent too expensive. If ya got the bucks there are a few good hybrids around that claim the best of both worlds but I couldnt say myself how they really do.

07-17-2004, 22:35
External frame packs? Carry loads heavy or light better ,more comfortably. Strap firewood , cases of beer , papooses to them. Lean them against a tree, and the pockets make a set of dresser drawers, just like home. Get out what you want without unpacking the whole thing. I got a huge frame pack at the Salvation Army for ten bucks, no brand name, I've put a couple or three hundred miles on it. If the shoulder straps wear, just replace them with Alice Pack or after market straps. Rig up a tump-line to it, you can carry a third of your body weight, half your weight in a pinch. (Ask any 60 year old former boy scout what a tump line is) Get rid of the waist belt, you don't need it if you pack it properly with most of the heavy stuff up top. You can tie your wet tent, tarp, poncho, socks,etc to the outside and keep whats inside dry.

The down side? They weigh an extra pound or so. I feel this is offset by the advantages. Dissenting opinions welcome.

07-17-2004, 22:52
I'm still using a Jansport External Frame that I purchased in 1994.(don't even recall the model name) Yep, a real work horse 10 years old and still going strong. I've never used an internal frame because I have not needed a new pack since they have become pack of choice. I suppose I will break down soon and retire my old friend and will have to make the choice to stay with the external or try the internal frame.

07-17-2004, 23:43
Well they dont have to weigh over 1.5pounds:


I've got close to 170 AT miles on one and you can read my assessment in the light gear forum here at Whiteblaze.


The only problem with this pack is the price but as others have noted many will spend that much on a sleeping bag or paddle, but all the benefits of the external are now back minus the weight.

If you have to have an internal frame consider this cult classic:
It dissapeared for a time but is now back. With either the LLP or the Mithril
you wont be in a cookie cutter world propelled by advertising.

I've got both and have many miles on each (many miles is relative here at WB considering the miles covered by some of our members) and currently choose the LLP over the Mithril....both fit well, both carry well, both have the capacity I need for year around hiking, but the LLP has ventilation that the Mithril or any other internal will never have and the LLP has the truly brilliant front pocket which is something other manufacturers should have discovered years ago.

Good luck with your decision.

07-18-2004, 00:43
Looks like an interesting get up. But 400 bucks for a pack is obscene in my world.

07-18-2004, 03:46
External packs are still the best way to carry weight down a trail, when properly fitted and used correctly they will carry 100% of the weight to the hips...that makes carrying weight alot easier. The downside to this is that most external packs have no flex, and balance off the hips, so when you lean to one side they tend to shift. You can counter this by packing heavier gear lower in the pack, it makes a world of difference.

Kelty, Jansport, Camp Trails all make decent external packs. All things considered I would recommend Kelty. Personally I love the Jansport frame but I think kelty has better packbag designs. Try em all on, with 30lbs and see what works for you. They are relatively inexpensive, very roomy, you can carry just about anything with a external, better ventilated, etc... Good luck.

07-18-2004, 04:17
really great advice guys, looks like Ill be doing some store demos tomorrow

Kozmic Zian
07-18-2004, 12:07
I have a Kelty Trekker and used it for a week long section hike. I really liked it. When I got really hot after a hard climb, I'd just arch my shoulders and let that breeze blow between my back and the pack. It was great. I like having all the pockets on the outside of the pack for organizing my stuff. I know it's not the 'in' thing to own an external these days, but someone would be hardpressed to talk me into an internal at this point.Yea.....One of the best things about a external is just that, you get cool air on your back!....An internal is always there, against the skin, takes some getting used to. Wish they'd make a smaller, lighter frame pack.... like Kelty does with its 'Cloud' Internal. Now that would be hummin'! KZ@;)

Pencil Pusher
07-18-2004, 15:18
Only because my pm fell on deaf ears, the Kelty Cloud referenced above is an internal frame backpack with removable stays. For just a low $640.

07-18-2004, 21:25
lots of benefits have been covered in various reviews of the LLP here and elsewhere and for most externals, what I have found to be the most significant advantage is that the LLP will stand on its own, next in ranking is the compartmentalization/gear location via the cylinders, next is that abs. no weight is on my shoulders couple with the front pocket that I've learned to load up to counterbalance the load in the rear....

07-19-2004, 12:46
Pack selection is very personal. A pack which is perfect for one person may be completely awful for someone else. I have been using the LuxuryLite for the last month or so. My experience has not been as positive as MedicineMan's. I love the compartmentalization, front pack, and the lounger feature, but it does not approach the carry comfort of my two packs (Granite Gear Vapor Trail and Osprey Aether 60). Bruce has been great to work with, the new hip strap might make the difference, but right now, I am finding my internal frame packs significantly more comfortable than the LuxuryLite. To be fair, I used an external frame pack 25 years (Kelty Tioga, JanSport D2) and was never comfortable, but figured that carrying a backpack was suppose to be painful. A few years ago I discovered a number of frameless and internal frame packs which I could (with appropriate carry weight) wear all day without pain or bother. So far, I haven't found an external frame pack that satisfies me since my carry comfort expectations were reset.

07-19-2004, 13:52
Besides all of the good advice in previous posts on this thread, the EF pack (The newer ones) have a bar across the top that enables them to be hung on the pegs in a Shelter or on a hook.

Another advantage is the Colin Fletcher use of the Backpack as a back rest when taking a break along the trail.

07-19-2004, 22:26
we are on the same page in terms of comfort but I on the other hand was always more comfortable with an external as far as pain goes....but it is individual characteristics that rule over anything else, like any internal would eventually hurt my back after a long hard day (even the Mithril) and I think this is from simple compression of the spine with the weight forcing straight down via the shoulders despite my best efforts to strap the hip belt as tight as possible to carry as much as possible on the hips...this hasn't happened to me with the LLP so that is one reason I tout it so highly, but a person with maybe little hip padding may find that all the weight solely on the hip to be miserable......always best to try before you buy and its good LuxuryLite provides 30days free use to see if it will work for you, are all companies like that? probably not but you know how that goes.
The hip belt issue with the LLP was discussed among a couple of us at Bears Den a couple of weeks ago with one interested observer pointing out his belief that it is scimpy for weights over 30lbs....I couldnt respond because I dont carry that much even on winter hikes with my heaviest load so far in the 26lb range....now my old Jansport D2 would easily carry 45-50lbs but alas my body refuses that kind of punishment now :)