Not sure if this is the correct forum for this, but here goes: I have a couple of 1960's vintage external-frame backpacks that have the old nylon web hip straps. When they first came out with the padded versions in about 1970, just about every camping supply store sold ones that could be retrofitted to an existing pack. Now I can't find any. Any suggestions (other than buy new packs)?
You might try army/navy surplus, or a place that caters to the military-esque crowd. I remember seeing web belts & retrofit pads & stuff as recently as 4 years ago at Brigade Quartermasters and US Cavalry. I haven't bought from them since then, so I don't know what sells now. Not sure if they're compatible with what you're looking for, but I hope it helps.
Thanks for the replies. I was able to find a couple of places that sell belts that look like they could be adapted, but they start at about $40 apiece. The cost of a new external frame pack is about $100, so I didn't see that as a cost-effective choice. What I ended up doing was buying a couple of padded belts for an ALICE pack at about $10 apiece including shipping. I have yet to receive them, but pretty sure I will be able to adapt them. If worst comes to worst, one of the packs is a Kelty, so I suppose I could contact them.
Actually, it turns out that the hip belts I bought are from a MOLLE - just arrived yesterday. Seems to work great on backpack #1, but I guess I will find out for sure when I actually use it on a trip. Has to be an improvement on the old nylon web strap, which wraps around at about mid-hip level, and doesn't do much more than anchor the bottom of the pack. Backpack #2 resides at my Dad's house, so won't get to install until the next time I go up there.
It will likely be a while (like next summer), since they are not actually my backpacks. IMHO, the padded belly bands are the last major upgrade that was done to external frame backpacks. My ca 1970 external frame pack (with padded belly band that I retrofitted to it a couple years after I bought it) is about equivalent to what is being sold today.