Discussion in 'Backpacking' started by TrespassersWilliam, Nov 15, 2018.
I read that a couple of weeks ago. I was researching external frame packs and came to the conclusion that my med ALICE is good enough for a winter pack and that I don't need to buy anything else at this time. Good read.
Great read, I really enjoyed it.
Thanks @TrespassersWilliam, flashbacks to the early 70's, and my Universal external frame backpack, which I unfortunately traded for a Jansport internal frame pack. Wish I still had the Universal.....
I've always had external packs, and I'm only 24. I just like them better. My kelty something or another has a couple thousand miles on it in the last ten years or so. Two philmont treks and whole lot of smaller trips.
Though im dipping my toes in the water of internal frames with HPG. so well see what I think.
Honestly I think I'll like the internal ones better once I get the Aston house dialed in.
If I'm staying overnight or longer I almost always use my external frame pack. I have a smaller internal frame that I use occasionally for single night trips when I go for only minimal gear but nothing carries weight more comfortably than a external frame pack.
My external frame packs are quite light. The author surmises 7pounds, mine is less than 4. While it looks big, it is light, but also doesn't really hold much volume in the pack itself. It does carry weight well, but there isn't enough room to really make a difference compared to a 65L internal (or frameless) pack. My externals are relegated to hanging on my gear room walls and nostalgic memories.
I don't think I will have time to do any serious winter trips, but I'm trying to get ALICE ready none the less. I have a reflector oven tied to the inside of the frame next to my back. Going minimal means I can justify an extra item here and there.
I know my things like old friends, and they get me along my walk.
More than one fellow has told me I"m doing it wrong.
Still doing it my way.
When it gets to weigh more than I"m willing to tote, I have pack animals and a couple carts I can pull behind me.
Don't need much to go to the woods for a few days, usually most of it fits in my pockets and the cloths I"m wearing.
I just hunker down against a tree and nod off when i"m tired.
If it's really cold I will slip a poncho with a liner in it over top of everything else to stay a bit warmer.
It isn't a brag, nor a way of walking that I think most would care for.
it's what I"ve lived for so long I just do what always worked for me, and probably my ancestors too.
some day the young folk will be old like me, and the next batch of young folk will come along, some of them will have the latest, and greatest and be happy to share how good it is, and I"m sure it is. it's their walk, why'd I tell em that there way isn't the only one, let alone the best one.
Truth is everyone walks their own walk, some are just easier to spot.
That's freedom for ya; Ain't it?
Backpacks aside, there is an underlying mentality to this tale, I'd say.
The ones using those externals, often older folks, display a different mindset then the author. Durability vs. modern consumerism, selfconfidence vs. trendhunting, ease of mind vs. obsession.
I get the sense that those old canvas&leather, steelframed backpacks represent everything modern society no longer stands for. And v.v. perhaps.
My old Camp Trails is in the attic now, not used anymore but I know it'd be ready if I needed it.
I still have my external frame Kelty from the '70s. It revolutionized backpacking for me. After some years and many miles of abject misery lugging a leather and canvas Norwegian Bergans ruck the Kelty allowed me to enjoy the hiking part of hiking. I have a few modern internal frame packs I use now, but maybe I'll grab the Kelty next time I head out just for old time's sake.
This can be summed up with "awesome, people are getting outdoors". I started with an external frame pack and cheap crappy gear. I now have a nice mix of budget and high quality Ultralight gear and an internal frame pack. Who cares? If you're happy, safe and getting out there then that's all that matters. And certainly one thing I've learned is it's best to keep advice to yourself unless it's asked for. Sometimes it can be hard to keep your mouth shut, but advice is always better received when requested.
Started out backpacking in 1973 - 1974 with an external frame pack that I bought in a little backpacking shop in downtown Des Plaines Illinois called Erehwon (no where spelled backwards), would love to have that pack in my collection today. Lots of miles and memories with that pack.
Guaranteed! My three kids put a lot of miles on theirs this summer. The Camp Trails Scout is a GREAT pack, cheap, light and capable. Here's one of my girls after a 7 mile hike with hers:
I can so relate to this article, i have a external frame always have. And yes my brother, friends and myself would brag about how heavy our packs were, hell the fryin pan alone weighs 19#.
Good stuff I have both and think I prefer my external because it’s more comfortable although weighs 6 lbs more than my 1.5lb backpack. Unfortunately I haven’t been doing much backpacking lately though.
I was never exposed to backpacking as a kid, I wish I had been.
My first forays were with an ALICE pack. I've used an ALICE alot over the years, and can see the appeal of the Kelty external frames.
This reminded me of an article I found, and a page I think many here would enjoy.
Way back.... waaayyyyyy back, I had a cheap blue external frame that I think I bought either at a K-Mart or a Holiday gas station. I put a few miles on that old dog. It wasn't much, but it was mine.
Back in 1987, I bought a brand new pack, from a genuine outfitter. I bugged the heck out of the guy, asking questions and looking at different gear, and then finally ordered it. I was so happy! A real pack, with padded straps and pockets and everything. I soon had it loaded up and ready to rock and roll. I would unload it and load it back up and go through my gear. Before I had a chance to use it, our house burned down. What a tragedy. One of the first things I bought when I got my head back together was another pack. A Coleman Peak I with the plastic frame. Still have that. I also bought an internal frame pack. Still have that too.
@Gruntinhusaybah , thank you for providing the link, very informative! I discovered mine is the model D-4 on a mountaineer frame. I purchased it off the rack at Appalachian Outfitters in Oakton, Virginia in the early seventies.
I'm forever thankful. And so I've passed my good fortune on. Heck I even used my old external frame pack on my first sons, first camping trip. But the best part was having three generations on the trail. I was way out of shape back then. Getting back into backpacking was great, still have the dad bod, but not to that extent
Spy Rock! Take 2 by MJGEGB, on Flickr
Spy Rock! Take 2 by MJGEGB, on Flickr
Spy Rock / Crab tree Falls trip by MJGEGB, on Flickr
Spy Rock / Crab tree Falls trip by MJGEGB, on Flickr
Sadly my old man finally retired his old camp trails I believe. Need to get him back out on the trails with his new internal frame and silnylon tent.
My first ever backpacking trip was at Sunfish Pond in NJ. My dad got me a Wenzel 40° envelope sleeping bag that probably weighs 40 lbs. Not really I still have it and the kids use it for sleep overs, but it's bulky and heavy. He wrapped it in a trash bag and strapped it to the bottom of my school bookpack at the bottom of the shoulder straps using bungee cords. I'm not sure how the thing wasn't dragging on the ground as I was young and short back then, but it wasn't. The weight and the constant swinging of the sleeping bag along with the lack of frame, hip belt and all was killing my shoulders. Finally my old man got tired of my complaints and switched packs. He strapped the Green and Tan CampTrails above on me explaining that it weighed more than my pack, but would transfer most of the weight to my hips letting my legs do the work. I was instantly in love with the external frame pack. After that he got me the CampTrails pack that I'm wearing in the picture above for future trips. I was rather against the idea of trying an internal frame for the longest time all because of that memory from my childhood. It's amazing how strong a positive childhood memory can be.
I still have my old external frame pack made by Gerry. A name right up there with Kelty and Northface in the 70's but they faded from the scene. I took the belt off for my pulk but I am looking for a shoulder harness system for the pulk so the belt is going back on the pack. The pack really didn't hold a lot since the bottom section held a sleeping bag which left the top three narrow sections for the rest. It is all compartmentalized. I hitchhiked across the US with it and hiked in several national parks. I had the zippers replaced when they failed after several years. It still works and is comfortable enough. Newer packs I've tried are maybe only a 10% or less improvement in materials or other aspects.
You're a fan of Gerry gear? I have one of his tents. It's a blue pup kinda tent. Cool as heck. I never used it this summer at all. I had it in my van during out gathering, I could have set it up for you to sleep in.
About 30 years ago I joined the Boy Scouts. After a few months hauling stuff around in a duffle bag, my parents got me my first backpack. It was a Jansport, aluminum external frame, blue bag with a big leather patch that said JS. Those are my initials so I thought that bag was made for me! It served me well until about '91 when I discovered girls and stopped doing the camping thing all the time.
Jump forward to today and that pack still hangs in my garage. The nylon is half rotted out but that frame is like new. And adjustable... Maybe this winter, I'll make a new bag for it and take it out again. I bet I could fall in love with it again!
A quick and dirty pack basket could be fashioned using a plastic kitchen trash can attached to the frame. You could even make it removable. Just a thought.
I'm a die hard external guy for packing big loads. I've tried about half a dozen internals, and none carried big loads comfortably.
It would be interesting to dig out my old Kelty Tioga next summer and see how it feels when loaded with modern lightweight gear...
I had to go and dig this out right now. It's the one I used in high school and replaced, proudly, with an internal frame pack when I was in university. It's been relegated to the gear closet ever since. I think it's time to blow the dust off!
"Oh no!" @ your house burning down.!
Loading and unloading gear was one of the things that got me through university. Dreaming of trips in the future. I wish I still had the internal frame pack I upgraded too. I recall that it was Purple and I think it was made by either World Famous or Camp Trails. Yeah, that's just what a I need - another piece of gear. LOL!!
Back when I used to do winter outings with a medium Alice long ago I found it important to have a tough HD dry bag to strap the sleeping bag the bottom. If its not tough enough, thorns will tear it. You can fit a warm bag inside the medium Alice but it eats so much of the main compartment that it doesn't fit the other stuff.
for hauling big loads, there is no substitute for an external frame; for hauling light loads nothing beats a well built, lightweight internal frame
It was a pretty big bummer losing the house. It was just after Thanksgiving and we lost everything except what we were wearing. All of the Christmas gifts were bought and such. All of my guns and childhood stuff. But, you suck it up and move on.
But, yeah, remember how the new pack smells? And the tags were still on it. It was forest green and had the side pockets. I remembered that i had also bought a new sleeping bag too, and that was tied on the bottom. I would pack it up and walk around the house or the yard. Then a few days later I would unpack and go through my gear and repack with some of the same and some different. I had my Sterno stove in it, and an old boy scout mess kit.
I think it's pretty common for folks to do the pack-unpack-repack thing. Heck, I still do it. Just repacked my EDC pack with winter type stuff.
I have a lot of packs and I'm still kind of undecided about which is best! Certainly the modern breed of internal frame pack has a lot to recommend it; light weight, advanced suspension, etc. Most of packs are smaller and I only have maybe five packs that are larger than daypack size. Of those two are external frames (a medium sized Kelty and an expedition sized Dana Designs) with the rest being internal (the largest being a fairly old Mountainsmith). Ironically I think the Mountainsmith is heaviest pack I own despite being an internal frame. It actually doesn't have a great suspension, it kind of carries like a duffle bag with should straps and a padded waist belt.
I see advantages to both! The two packs I'm still thinking about trying are the Mystery Ranch Terraframe 80 and the Hill People Gear Qui-Ya. They seem to be among the best of their respective types.