A friend gave me this 20 year old pack I thought I'd never use, but here I am. The guy that gave it to me said it had never been used. The inside waterproof coating is peeling off, and it's heavy - but it has all of the old-school tech features I need for a 1000 ft. vertical trail hike carrying winter hammock gear next weekend. It has good lumbar/hip pads/belt that rest in the right places, top of shoulder strap tensioners, and chest strap. My thing is kayak camping instead of hiking, but this is a one-off special event (cold butt group hang). I'm 58, in good health and physical shape, but 20 lbs overweight at 200. I have a total load weight of 31 lbs, and the pack holds it all no prob, using only about the bottom 2/3 of space. My main question is, am I better off to remove the actually heavy/large/thick aluminum stays at this weight, or keep them inplace? Also, should i try and spread load out along the full length of the pack instead and cinch up the slack in diameter? My bedding is light but pretty much fills the very bottom, and I'm trying to keep my 2L+ water higher between my shoulder blades. Filtering is out due to feral pigs soiling the supply. And a bonus answer would be, how to remove all that peeling rubberized coating that gets all over everything, or is it worth it for occasionally using this old pack? I thought about just putting anything needing water protection in a 40 gal contractor bag on the inside, and using a pack cover for the outside. THANKS!
Loc: Portland, OR
Whether to remove the stays is best answered by removing them and then carrying the load you expect to carry for a few miles around the neighborhood. You'll feel for yourself how much or how little difference they make in your general comfort and can decide if they're worth it.
Using a contractor bag inside your pack is an excellent idea. If you put everything in it that needs to stay dry, you can probably do without a rain cover on your bag - although it is possible that without a rain cover your bag might absorb enough water weight from rain that it exceeds the weight of the cover. That's not easily discoverable without further experimentation.
I agree with aimless... just want to add that it probably isn't worth removing the old coating. REI tried to sell me some special soap from Sawyer and say I could spend a day with a toothbrush scrubbing every inch of the surface.
I'm also guessing removing the stays won't be a good move with a 30 pound load.
As a veteran, I remember scrubbing every inch of a surface with a toothbrush. Suffice it to say it’s an experience I’ve never found necessary to repeat after basic training. I never found that it built any sufficient additional character, or had any other socially redeeming value.
Loc: North Georgia
I had the very same pack. Got it at LL Bean when I lived in Maine. One of the first internal frame packs. Can't say it was great, but it was rugged and got me through many lightweight backpacking trips (because I couldn't afford a tent or stove - I had a tarp, a pot and a fire).
I dumped mine for a much better load carrier in the early '90s. My friend kept using his, mostly for grocery store runs and that big, open sack could haul a ton of stuff a few blocks!