Loc: Tacoma, Washington
There seems to be an unlimited number of internal framed back packs out there. And as I renew my interests in backpacking, after an 30some year hiatus, I find that I'm drawn back towards the external style. Hoping there's more carrying comfort in the older style. about all there is out there is the kelty Tioga.... a brand that frankly, I've associated with low quality. I would like to take an externially braced one out on this years section hike. -just to try, not own at this point. Is there an rental option? And what other brands are there in the 55-65 range?
If you liked the old external frames, you'll love the new ones: Osprey's Exos and Atmos AG series are both good. Deuter also makes some; I forget what they're called.
You won't see the Exos or Atmos advertised as external frame (or as internal frame, for that matter), but they are; the perimeter frame and trampoline back are the giveaways. However, these are very high-tech internal frame packs - no more sewer pipes welded together, with the hip belt and boxy pack bag attached by some clevis pins. Now, you get a sleek packbag with all the bells and whistles, attached firmly to the the arrow-shaft high-strength aluminum frame, and a hipbelt that is integrated into the packbag and suspension.
They really are a breed apart from the old Kelty and Camp Trails pack frames we all used to have. As Carly Simon (Carole King?) used to sing, "THESE are the good old days!" Give them a try.
As far as rentals, I'm not much help. I think my local shop has these in their rental program; REI might, too. I don't know if any of the college programs have these to rent - they seem to lag the state of the (m)art by a good many years.
Up until a couple of years ago I was using a Camp Trails external frame I bought in 1990. I have no major complaints with it other than the weight which is well over 6 lbs.
Now that I 'm older, I'm looking for a lighter pack and most of those are internal frames. One of the packs I'm considering is the Osprey Exos which is one mentioned by Glenn. REI has a pretty good selection and I know they used to rent gear but not sure if they still do.
I think though that my preference would be to try some on with weights and see what works for you and buy it if it's not too far beyond your budget (the Exos at REI is $220). That way you'll have something that you like and fits you properly as opposed to a limited selection at a rental place.
Loc: Tacoma, Washington
Thanks all. It appears that I hadden't fully appreciated the current crop of backpacks available. I'm currently in the desert and hard to justify a 200rt mile outing to look at packs, but in a few weeks I'll be able to visit some good supply stores to look at the osprey offerings mentioned. P.S. from my surfing- Seattle ( home base) rents backpacks, but no mention of types or conditions...guess its a case of simply dropping in and talking to one of the staff.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
For me, the internal frame pack revolutionized my backpacking. The external frame inevitably zigged when I zagged, leading to some potentially serious falls. The internal frame pack moves with me, making hiking much safer.
YMMV, of course!
I still have my old Kelty external frame pack bought in 1986. I think it's a Tioga, or similar. If you want it, it can be had for the cost of shipping. Otherwise it goes to the local Goodwill.
Edited by OregonMouse (03/14/1703:35 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Seek Outside makes external frame packs that are exceptionally comfortable and can carry a heavy load when necessary with aplomb. I use one for winter camping and when I know I'll have to carry extra water. (I have no ties to Seek Outside, just a happy camper/customer).
For me, too, Mouse. I've tried the Exos and Atmos packs; they've reduced the zig-zag effect by half or more, but I can still feel it trying to argue with my directional choices. I always revert back to an internal frame. (Current favorites: Osprey Kestrel 48 or Deuter ACT Zero 50+15, with a very slight edge to the Osprey. This week.)
We all have had different experiences! I still have my old kelty (1968) as well as a newer kelty frame I got for $20 at an REI garage sale. I discarded the pack bag and put on new hip belt, sternum strap and shoulder straps (a lot lighter versions), and sewed my own bag (very light). The Kelty is now about 3.5 pounds, closer to 4 when I add the extension bar. I use the extension bar to latch the bear can on solidly (I actually put the extension bar on backwards for this use). My "home-made" Kelty works very well when I have to carry a lot. It definitely carries 40+ pounds more comfortably than my 2-3 pound internal packs. IT is the unlimited volume that I like. Especially long trip, with bear can, being the Sherpa for my family.
I grew up with external frames, mountaineering. We did a lot of actual technical stuff with these packs. I guess it is a matter of simply using what you have. I never gave it a thought that I could NOT do technical stuff.
Other uses for an external frame - lash two together and you have a litter to carry out an injured climber. Stand it up when setting up a tarp above timber (before days of trekking poles).
When I start with about 40 pounds, I always agonize over using the Kelty or an internal frame (comfortable to 35 pounds). Much of the time I just put up with the pain of the internal frame for about three days until the weight gets down to 35 pounds. So I can be comfortable the first few days or carry a pound more the last days. It is a toss up.
By the way, these heavy load trips are often 14-day trips without resupply. I rarely carry the Kelty for a trip of 8 days or less.
Forgot to add. With either types of packs, the small details of weight distribution obtained by very precise packing make a lot of difference. More so in an external, as it is less forgiving. When I pack it right, I rarely feel any zig-zag. I have done 3rd class climbing in my Kelty. As well as winter mountaineering (on skiis). And it is all about fit-fit-fit! If the pack does not fit you properly, it will pull you over.
I till have an old Camp Trails Adjustable II external frame that weighs in a 3 lbs 14oz. I see these on ebay every so often and even purchased one for parts.
I also have a new Vargo Ti Arc titanium external frame that weighs just under 3 lbs.
Building my own external frames to adapt to packs is an off and on hobby of mine. I have progressed through different designs. Below is a photo of a day pack to which I added a homemade external frame. It has only two contact points and no mesh, all ventilation. I have since added a water bottle cage to it that I can access without removing the pack.
There are a number of manufactures of external frames. The 'traditional' styles that I see online are made by Kelty and Alps. There are a number of manufactures specializing in military and hunting packs that also make external frame packs.