Upgrade or Modify and External Frame Vintage Pack

8:57 p.m. on March 25, 2013 (EDT)
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Hello everyone out there that still uses and loves an external frame pack.  Has anyone done any custom modifications or upgrades to your pack?  Please share your pictures and suggestions.  I got two vintage Kelty's (a large one and a small one) and have been doing some custom upgrades.  I will post some picture soon.  

Large one:

  • Added some lashing straps and webbing to lash to top cover down and removed the old cord
  • Pads were still good so those stayed
  • Took some PVC pipe, bolts, nuts, and sport nylon and made the external frame part of a PVC folding chair.  Adds minimal weight and is actually very sturdy and comfortable.

Small one:  

  • Sewed an external mesh pocket with webbing for lashing
  • Took the old dried padding out of the should straps and hip pads and remade/restuffed them with yoga mat.  
  • Added some miscellaneous webbing and webbing/buckles to keep the lid down
  • Sewed a thin nylon membrane (made from an old wind breaker jacket from the thrift store) inside the top of the pack to extend about 15 liters upwards.  Really made the pack volume usable. 
  • Sewed a pocket int he lid (taken form an old jacket)



Picture to come soon

12:02 p.m. on March 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Three cheers for external frame packs.  I have made no mods on my Kelty from 1976.  It sounds like you added a certain amount of weight.  I keep the pack in the house so I can look at it.  The bottom of the frame had no end plugs so I added 2 crutch tips to set it on when leaning against a tree or rock.

12:34 p.m. on March 26, 2013 (EDT)
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See, this is why I'm interested in external-frame packs. Modify, tweak, fine-tune, adapt. The more basic and accessible the machinery, the more flexibility you have. I will bookmark this thread for the day when I have one of my own. Thanks Eric!

5:21 p.m. on March 26, 2013 (EDT)
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never needed to modify my kelty. except for a hole to run my water bladder hose through. still works good just the way it is.

11:40 a.m. on March 27, 2013 (EDT)
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*weight: my pack already weighted 6 lbs so I don't really use it. The chair was just to see if it works. It is 8.8 lbs. ow (way too heavy). PVC was for trial, I would like to fit some light weight metal now that I know it worked.

*material: has anyone thought of taking the frame and sewing a new bag for it? It would fit on the original frame with no mods, but instead of packcloth, use lighter, more modern materials.

***these are merely experimental, maybe take the chair on low mileage camping trip, but I think there is huge potential!

I love external frames and wish I could create a light weight modern upgrade with a removable foldable chair. Any suggestions for cheap light material for the chair portion? I will post pictures tonight!

12:21 p.m. on March 27, 2013 (EDT)
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The old Yukon style of backpacking was to use a tarp to wrap up the camping gear and lash it to the packframe "manty style".  Maybe a small daypack for small items along the trail could be added as an update.

This is my style of lightweight backpacking.  A Kelty aluminum frame without a packbag weighs around 2.5 pounds.

6:26 p.m. on March 27, 2013 (EDT)
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I like it.  So you could keep your small items in a small day pack and then your tarp is used as your shelter and also to wrap all your larger items in?

6:39 p.m. on March 27, 2013 (EDT)
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The PVC elbows are not glued so I can pull it apart and roll the nylon up.  Here is what it looks like with the "seat" part up


Here is the smaller red pack with the jacket turned pack expander!



I cut the neck zipper from the jacket and took some scrap mesh fabric to make a zipper pocket in the cover of the pack (like most modern packs have)


This is with the seat up and the stand reclined.  There is a piece of paracord tied to the stand and the bottom of the frame to keep it from kicking out too far.

12:24 p.m. on March 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Yes.  I was really thinking of a lumbar pack or fanny pack.  Something small that you could actually wear facing forward for small stuff.  A few other modern gizmos could be hung on the waist belt or shoulder straps like a camera.  These old ways of doing things have been around for a long time.

I am amazed at the affect of marketing and rags like 'Backpacker" that encourage people to spend lots of money for an outfit and update it all the time.

7:45 p.m. on March 28, 2013 (EDT)
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I like the chair idea. reminds me of a slinglight.

April 23, 2018
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