View Full Version : Retro Backpacking

2007-07-18, 07:08
After reading the article in "Backpacker" on retro backpacking how many still have and use external frame packs? When I go to some of the AT picture/journal sites it seems that there is alot of external frame backs on the AT. I may dig my Kelty out and try it again. Anyone tried one of the new Mountain Hardware external frame packs?

2007-07-18, 08:04
I still have my olive-green Kelty that I purchased at Clem's Backpacking Sports in Fairbanks in 1978. I've still used it occasionally through the years. One of the nickel zippers failed about ten years ago and I called Kelty and they said it was under warranty and told me to mail back for repair. How many companies would do that?

2007-07-18, 08:28
I still have my vintage 1969 Kelty A4, and use it when I have to carry heavy stuff for trail work. Quality stuff, but it doesn't match the comfort of some of the new stuff

2007-07-18, 13:14
I still use my Camptrails external frame. I always thought internal frame packs were too hot to hike in. My frame is from about 1978 but I had to put a new bag on it about 10 years ago.
The balance isn't as good when scrambling but better (I think) for trail hiking. They aren't as roomy as some of the internal frame packs but that just means I have to leave more stuff behind. I strap my hammock around the outside now so I have plenty of room for 3-4 days worth of stuff; seems thats about all I get out for anymore unless I'm hunting when it does get a little crowded in there.

Jim Henderson
2007-07-18, 13:56
I still use my Kelty really beeg one, I forget the model, but it is red and has an aluminum frame and sits over my head, I am 6'4".

Internal frame packs make me sweat too much.

Problem with the Kelty is that I always pack way too much stuff. A minimum load might be 50 pounds and 80 used to be my norm when I was in decent shape.

Don't backpack enough so that is probably why mine is in such good shape even after at least 30 years.

Jim Henderson

2007-07-18, 20:59
I converted my original POS external fram pack to a meat pack. Getting a little bent up over the years, a bit bloody too. I also shop the garage sales to pick up extra packs for packing elk out. I drive wooden dowels up each upright tube to stiffen the pack so it doesn't disentigrate with the extra weight.

2007-07-18, 23:06
Iceman, I like the idea of packing wood down the frame to reinforce it. Jim, having gone internal a few years ago, I appreciate the sweat issue, but my Gregory pack is So confortable compared to the external frame's I've used. Lower Back blisters HURT.

Has the army fully transitioned from Alice Packs to Molly packs now? I used my alice pack when living in the city to move heavy weight to stores for sales (big, heavy books) it was better than my internal frame packs for it, but the GP large I used would have sent me off more than a few cliff faces if I wasn't used to the way it spread weight (two feet laterally).

That said, I still have the external frame pack that hauled my ass through the deserts before I was old enough to walk (Mom and dad were desert rats, and dad was a prospector, I still enjoy the story of my dad and a friend pulling my mom up a fifty foot cliff with me strapped to her back) Someday I hope to drag my own rugrat around in the ugly green thing.

2007-07-19, 00:17
Used to have an big old canvas Gregory external frame but it disappeared somewhere. I think my brother used it when he was fighting fires and decided it was his. On the other hand I haven't seen him with it in all the years since it vanished, so it may have grown legs and walked away on it's own (that's happened to a fair amount of my gear over the years).

I also lost a few wood frame packs, but I may have given them away to charity, a yard sale, or to cousins. I never used them very much and I don't really remember what happened to them.

I still have the no-name external frame pack my Dad bought me when I was in Boy Scouts. I wanted something "shiny and new" for Boy Scouts. I was going through a phase where I thought new was better, and Dad found this pack at a sidewalk sale for between 5 to 10 bucks. He bought 2, one for me and 1 for himself. Mine was heavy orange nylon and had a new innovation that we'd never seen on a pack before - a waist belt (a strap of 1" webbing with a buckle).

I still remember the first time I used the belt and the difference it made. It made me a big fan of waist belts on packs.

I pulled it down from where it was hanging in the garage last year. Repaired and modified it (made new shoulder straps, replaced the waist belt, etc.) and used it for 1 hike. It's still a fairly good pack but I'm actually happier with my homemade rucksack.

I think I'll save it for heavy loads.

Correction by way of edit: I started to think about my old canvas pack (what I was calling a Gregory) and did a little research. According to what I found out Gregory never made an external frame pack under the Gregory brand. On top of that he didn't make Gregory packs until 1970. So my canvas pack couldn't have been a Gregory as it was older. Dang it!
In my mind I can see an embroidered mountain with what I thought was the name Gregory under it. This was on the cover flap. Now I wonder what it actually said. Going to bother me.

2007-07-19, 00:58
Spice 1, I retired from an SF Guard unit in 03. I was issued all three packs, the ALICE, the MOLLE, and the Gregory. I think the Gregory weighed nearly 10#...empty. The MOLLE was a POS. I used my ALICE. I put a good waistbelt and some Ranger Joe shoulder straps on it. It is currently my "bug-out" pack.

2007-07-20, 06:39
Many people like ALICE packs, there is a site for the tacticaltailor where he enhances ALICE gear.

2007-07-20, 17:18
Tactical Tailor makes high quality stuff. Blackhawk makes a replacement pack for the ALICE frame, all codura, heavy but durable. We always called the ALICE pack the Green Tick, as in it was sucking the life out of you.

2007-07-21, 12:33
External all day every day. Internals are too hot, too cramped, too hard to pack well, and I'm too lazy to keep repacking the thing. I have an old Jansen pack, bout 3800 ci, with two main compartments with four side pockets and two rear pockets. I love it.