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  1. #1

    Default external frame pack.. anyone still use them?

    Wondering if anyone still uses the old workhorses of external frame packs? Thanks

  2. #2
    GoldenBear's Avatar
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    Cool Raised hand

    I will continue to do so until it wears out.
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  3. #3
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    Lots of people still use them. Although not thought of as such, the zPacks backpacks such as the ArcBlast are indeed external frame packs.

  4. #4

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    I still have my old Camp Trails but prefer my newer Vargo exoti ar2. The Vargo has a titanium external frame and weights under three pounds.

  5. #5

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    Kelty Super Tioga and Seek Outside Unaweep are my load haulers. Winter backpacking or Daddy Pack for family trips call for the ability to carry weight in the pack and strap more weight to the outside. Makes the three season pack seem light and airy as a bonus
    “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait until that other is ready...”~Henry David Thoreau

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  6. #6
    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    As stated above, not uncommon. I use the Osprey AirSpeed series(Exos, Levity, Stratos) which have a perimeter frame outside the pack, the great part about that is it provides a large air gap between the pack and your back and the mesh suspension which is on your back does not hold heat so its great for warm weather.

  7. #7

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    I can't remember the last time I saw a frame pack on the trail. I still have two - my 7 pound Camp Trails and a newer Jansport, used just once for a couple week long trip. Put a lot of miles on the Camp Trails in it's day.

    Anyway, haven't used either in a long time.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  8. #8

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    Converted my Kelty Super Tioga frame for carrying tools for trail maintenance.
    Dan


  9. #9
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    I've been using a Jansport since the late '90s, so you'll see an old-fashioned external frame pack if we cross paths on the trail. I used the first one from about '98 until a strap snapped when I slipped on a muddy patch near Vandeventer (TN) Shelter in 2016. I found the identical model in perfect shape on Craigs List for about $50, and I've used it since then. I love my pack.

  10. #10

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    The last external frame pack I used was for a 21 day trip in 2017---with a Seek Outside Brooks pack. I started the trip with about 85 lbs---and the pack performed poorly.

    Trip 186 (3)-XL.jpg

    P1000001-XL.jpg

  11. #11
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    I gave away my last external frame pack about 6 years ago as I hadn't used it in years and didn't see a reason to use it in the future.

    Okay, I actually still use an Osprey Exos. So I'm talking old-school, rectangular type (and curvy rectangular Jansport type) external frame packs with bags attached to the frame, not the modern "external" frame packs as noted above by Coffee and Crossup that are more of an integrated external frame.

    Tipi shares that he used one semi-recently for a long trip with a big load. The big load may or may not have anything to do with Tipi's choice.

    For what it's worth, many people think of frame packs as better at carrying big loads. I strongly disagree, having carried big loads on long climbing trips in the past. I remember being thrilled, back in the early 80's when I hefted my new Wilderness Experience internal from pack with 96 lbs of gear and food (yep, it looked pretty much like Tipi's typical load) because it was so, so, so much nicer to carry than the external packs I'd used in the past.

    My experience suggests that old-school external frame packs do a better job handling very awkwardly shaped and awkwardly sized loads compared to internal (or modern integrated external frame) packs. You can securely tie and carry a moose carcass, a bushel box, or some big contraption to an external frame in I way you never could to an internal frame pack. BUT, for a heavy load that fits inside your pack reasonably well, the internal frame packs hold the load closer to your back and shape better to your back and in way that makes carrying heavier loads both more comfortable and more manageable.

    But hey, if you have an old-school external frame pack that is still in working order, and you don't want to drop more money on a new pack, and your hiking stays mainly on trails (those pack frames love snagging on things when bushwhacking and were awkwardly top-heavy when managing rough terrain) those old packs worked pretty well. Live a little history and enjoy.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    the pack performed poorly.
    Walter, care to give some specifics? Thanks.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    when I hefted my new Wilderness Experience internal from pack with 96 lbs of gear and food
    Saw one in 2014 on a trip---

    Trip 156 359-XL.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by BradMT View Post
    Walter, care to give some specifics? Thanks.
    They say it's designed for "100 lb loads" but for me it wasn't comfy with that amount of weight, i.e. I wanted to take it off every 10 minutes. The main problem is the frame hits my hip flesh under load.

    P1000001-XL.jpg

  14. #14
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    I have a Kelty Trekker that carries weight wonderfully - it practically hikes itself - but I'm still trying to learn how to pack efficiently. It has too many pockets and dividers and such, so my Tetris skills are of little value, and I have trouble carrying much volume of gear. Space disappears quickly in that pack. I'm also not keen on the fact that, despite all its pockets and compartments, it has no hipbelt pockets and the only water bottle pocket (if it really is one) is way up at the top, not very reachable. Perhaps some day I will just cut out the divider for the sleeping bag compartment. I don't like making irreversible mods, but I really hate that divider. I'd also gladly do without the 4 side pockets in exchange for a larger main bag. If anyone knows of aftermarket replacement bags for that frame, I'd be keen to learn about them.

    My other backpacking pack is an old (c 1999) TNF alpine pack that also lacks pockets on the hipbelt, and sports a not-reachable bottle pocket. But the bag is just one big compartment, so packing is simpler. It also has a huge expansion sleeve. I think I measured it at 17 inches! Somewhat less if you assume you need some material to come in when you cinch it. Anyway, that sleeve would give substantially more room ... however, it lacks frame support, so I'm not sure how you can just expect to stack stuff up and risk it flopping over. It's sort of an internal frame pack, two carbon-aluminum stays (in X formation) that are mostly internal. Tons of places to attach stuff on the outside. It gets a lot more use than my Kelty, but I'd like to reverse that, esp. for summer, when the Kelty should vent much better.

  15. #15
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    I use it for any loads north of 30 lbs (trail work, packing up downhill skis and boots.).

  16. #16

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    And let's not forget the true Mother of Pain---the ALICE pack with frame---oh and put 65 lbs in it for sport---

    TRIP 145 175-XL.jpg

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    And let's not forget the true Mother of Pain---the ALICE pack with frame---oh and put 65 lbs in it for sport---

    TRIP 145 175-XL.jpg
    I’m choosing to forget that one and the 4 years I carried it. Haha

    thom

  18. #18
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    My KS Ultralight 50L is technically an (removable) external-frame pack. Probably not the “workhorse” type of pack you’re referring to, though.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    And let's not forget the true Mother of Pain---the ALICE pack with frame---oh and put 65 lbs in it for sport---
    I must be a genetic freak. The alice pack actual fits me.

  20. #20

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    I still use an external frame I got back in the 70's. It's had a few changes over the years--replacement shoulder straps and hip belts, for example. In it's current iteration, all unnecessary straps and stays have been removed, and I made a simple sil-nylon pack to mount on it. With the lightening efforts it is right at 3 pounds. I sweat like a horse, so I really appreciate the ventilation on my back!

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