Backpack restoration

8:56 a.m. on July 19, 2007 (EDT)
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I've just inherited a late 60's or early 70's era Kelty external frame pack (welded frame, unpadded waist belt, etc.) in great condition, except for years of dirt and dust and stains. I have already washed the bag and have removed the straps and waist belt from the frame, I plan on soaking them in mild soap and rinsing.

My question: is it best to leave the back pad and webbing on the frame and simply scrub and spray, or should I remove them for cleaning? If I remove them, is there any trick to replacing them with sufficient tautness?

Any suggestions on replacing the waist belt with a wrap-around model?

11:20 a.m. on July 19, 2007 (EDT)
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From the sound of it, you likely have the Kelty Tioga frame pack. I use one for over 25 years, retired it for an internal frame pack and would use the Tioga on occasion today if I still had it. Regarding the cleaning; you mainly want to get the sweat salts out of the back bands. You can do this by removing the cargo bag and then just soaking the whole frame and suspension in several changes of water, starting with soapy water (laundry soap) and finishing with clear. If there is embedded dust and dirt in the webbing then use a soft brush to scrub a bit. Dry the pack thoroughly and you are ready to go.

Incidentally, I retrofitted a full padded hip belt to my old pack. I had to look around for the belt kit but found one and installed it. The pack carried a lot better with the padded belt in place. Check with Kelty to start locating the belt. IIRC, the kit cost me about $30.

2:37 p.m. on July 19, 2007 (EDT)
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Thanks for the suggestion. I was just going to spray off the back bands, but your idea sounds better. As I said, I have already washed the cargo bag, and plan on soaking and rinsing the straps. I guess I'll just do the same with the frame and back bands.

I believe it's a pre-Tioga version; according to the history stated on the Kelty web site, Kelty introduced the Tioga in 1973 with "a fully padded, one-piece waistbelt, larger-capacity bag, covered zippers, waterproof fabric, and a new cam-lock buckle." My pack features a two-piece unpadded waistbelt and the stainless steel quick-release buckle, which Kelty says was introduced in 1970.

But it's a pretty large bag on frame that is more rigid than my 1990's Kelty, so I'd hate to consign it to the dustbin of history. Plus, I like the red color.

1:24 a.m. on July 20, 2007 (EDT)
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rexim, 1973 says it is either the Backpacker or Climber model. The Tioga (which is basically the Climber) was the later name as you noted, while Dick Kelty continued the earlier names until close to when he sold the company. The main difference between the two is that the Backpacker has the uprights separate at the top of the frame, while the Climber has an additional crossbrace at the top of the frame (for better rigidity, but it added some weight). We have 2 of each - one each that Barb and I bought and the two from her parents when they stopped backpacking in their 70s. You could get a pair of foam pads to slip over the belt for a bit more comfort (we have 2 sets of those). The Climber was used for a lot of expeditions - Himalaya, Denali, Antarctica. If you look over in the News forum at my Mt Vinson (Antarctica) report, you will see a couple of photos where Brian Marts is carrying his gear in his Kelty that he used in the First Ascent expedition (the bright red parkas that the 4 from the original 1966 party are wearing in many of the photos of the 40th Anniversary trip are also from that first ascent expedition).

12:33 a.m. on July 23, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill:

I enjoyed the Mt. Vinson report, particularly your account of the privations you suffered when you were forced to extend your stay. Very cool photos, as well.

I followed Pika's suggestion and ordered a padded waist belt from Kelty. They were very helpful on the phone.

9:52 a.m. on August 23, 2007 (EDT)
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Replacement hipbelts for Kelty frames can be found at outdooroutlet.com. They sell a replacement belt that will fit just about any H-frame, and it's made by Kelty. Same for the shoulder straps.

3:14 p.m. on August 23, 2007 (EDT)
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Speaking of replacing waist belts in old Kelty frame packs... back in the late 70's when I used my D4 extensively, I replaced the stock belt with what was then an upgrade - it's a padded belt with the cam buckle.

But, while better than the original, this belt isn't very comfortable, because it's still a 2-piece belt, with each piece being fastened to the side posts.

Is there a true wrap-around waist "harness" system available like the ones used on the newer packs? This (the uncomforgable belt) is the one thing that might push me into "upgrading" to a new internal frame pack if I really do get into backpacking again. Hmm, but then I'd miss out on the novelty of carrying an "antique" on the trail ;-).

Apologies if I've hijacked the thread, but this is closely related :).

But back to the OP's question... I just did a similar cleanup of my (only 1 yr old) Kelty Redwing 3100 (day pack). It had lots of the "sweat salts" all over the pack and on the shoulder straps, and was pretty well impregnated with fine Sierra dust. I must admit it even smelled "less than desireable".

I have one of those "spray nozzles on a hose" in my shower, so I just took the pack in there, and used some unscented laundry soap and a scrub brush. No more stink and dirt! :)
I hung it upside down by the belt in the shower for a day, and it dried right out.

3:45 p.m. on August 23, 2007 (EDT)
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bh:

The replacement waist belt I purchased from Kelty is indeed a true one-piece wrap-around waist belt. It's not just fastened to the sides of the frame, but is sewn to a nylon web that is stretched around the frame. It is also attached to the side posts, both to prevent longitudinal movement and to help support the weight of the pack.

It's not as high tech as the waist belts on some of the newer internal frame backs, but is a significant improvement over the original two-piece nylon belt.

The Kelty parts department was a pleasure to deal with; they knew exactly what I wanted and shipped it promptly.

7:43 p.m. on August 23, 2007 (EDT)
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Rexim: thanks, I'll check that out! Good luck cleaning up your pack!

10:07 p.m. on September 17, 2007 (EDT)
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Update on the Kelty pack with new waistbelt: I used it for the first time last weekend on a solo hike along the shore of Lake Superior, carrying 40+ pounds, including camera and binoculars, and found it at least as comfortable as my Gregory internal frame pack.

5:17 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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Quote:

The replacement waist belt I purchased from Kelty
is indeed a true one-piece wrap-around waist belt.
It's not just fastened to the sides of the frame,
but is sewn to a nylon web that is stretched around
the frame. It is also attached to the side posts,
both to prevent longitudinal movement and to help
support the weight of the pack.

This sounds like what I have on my old Kelty D4. It's much better than what was on there originally, but it still doesn't feel like a "wrapround" belt like the newer ones on the internal frame packs. I think the "issue" is that I have a fairly thin build, so I'm not "wide" enough to fill out the belt. A true wrap-around belt (if not too big) would work better for me for that reason.

But on my recent backpacking trips, the pack, while not all that comfortable, wasn't bad enough to keep me from going again :).

10:52 p.m. on September 20, 2007 (EDT)
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I've gained 35 pounds since I quit smoking five years ago. I fill it out nicely, thank you.

Wish I didn't.

5:17 p.m. on December 8, 2007 (EST)
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I recently reacquired my late 1960s Kelty Tioga. I had loaned it to my son and then my grandson. The belt and shoulder straps were pretty stiff by then. I called Kelty to buy replacements and they asked me to send them back to them. A week later I got a new belt and shoulder straps back with "Life time warranty" written on the invoice. I am 68 and I love my Kelty better now than my internal frame Gregory Z55 pack.

7:11 p.m. on December 9, 2007 (EST)
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Bob:

I also turn to the old Kelty now, over the internal frame Gregory.

The new waist belt sure makes a difference; I may replace my shoulder straps soon, as well.

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