kelty external frame

1:21 a.m. on October 25, 2007 (EDT)
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i recently purchased a kelty external frame backpack on eBay for $9, and i was just wondering how i could identify the model of the pack. it's in good shape, but i was just curious as to how well other people thought of it, but i don't know the model of it, so i haven't been able to find it. anyone have any tips on how to identify it? it's not labeled on any of the tags

12:32 p.m. on October 25, 2007 (EDT)
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If you email me a few pictures I can likely identify the pack for you.

12:48 p.m. on October 25, 2007 (EDT)
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You need to have someone familiar with Kelty packs over the years to identify it. But a few clues would help us (this is where we need A WAY OF POSTING PHOTOS ON THE SITE (hint, hint to Dave and Alicia).

Kelty has a very cursory history on their website - http://www.kelty.com/kelty/articles.php?cat=4

Color? The original bags were green (from the first in 1952 onward), with red being introduced in 1963(? maybe later. The Kelty history seems to say 1969, but the one Brian took on the 1966 Antarctic expedition and brought along on our 40th Anniversary climb was red, not green - look in the News section of this site for a photo).

Frame? The original Backpacker was an "H" shape with no top crossbar. The Mountaineer with a crossbar at the top was introduced in 1962 or 63. The Tioga was late in the 60s or early 70s, mainly the change being in the waist belt.

Waist belt? The originals, up into the late 60s had a 2 inch wide woven waist belt. In about 1964 or 65, you could get a black foam belt pad that slipped over the waist belt. With the Tioga came the fully padded waist belt.

Back panels? These were a solid nylon cloth, with the mesh coming in the 1970s (late 70s, I think).

Label? The early ones had the triangular label on which you could write your name with a laundry pen.

Maybe you can give more of a description to help with figuring the approximate date.

4:22 p.m. on October 25, 2007 (EDT)
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it is green, and i'll check the frame later on when i get back to my room. the waist belt is fully padded. it also has a triangular label with spot for my name. i'll check on the other details and get them on here as soon as i am actually in my room with the pack. thanks so far, though

10:33 a.m. on October 26, 2007 (EDT)
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The Massif series (Tioga/Serac/Expedition/Senora) also came standard with an extension cross bar at the top whereas the Mountaineer series did not. I believe the Mountaineer series sold this as an option. Can you post a link to the ebay auction? If my memory serves, the Massif series had five horizontal crossbars whereas the Moutaineer series had four.

Older Kelty's had brass zippers versus nylon zippers. I believe the Massif series had flaps to cover the exposed zippers and the Mountaineer series did not. This may have been true only in later models.

The packs all changed subtly over time with various features being added along the way. Vintage Kelty packs were made built rock solid, it's no wonder why they last to now.

7:18 p.m. on October 26, 2007 (EDT)
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Just looked at our Kelty's (my original 1960 Backpacker bought from Dick Kelty himself from his garage in Glendale, Barb's Backpacker, bought in about 1964, also directly from Kelty, but from his store, and Barb's parents' Mountaineers). The Backpacker has 3 horizontal bars and an open top above the highest horizontal bar (about 3-4 inches of "non-supported" vertical). The Mountaineer has a 4th horizontal bar within a half inch of the top of the verticals. My son's Tioga, bought in 1990, has the variable extension at the top that can be removed and the tube plugs put in to make it virtually identical (the aluminum frame part) to a Mountaineer (4 horizontal bars, while the Tioga has in effect 5, though the extension is a squared-off inverted U-shape, not the welded horizontal piece of the main frame). My son's Tioga has a grey bag, while all our older ones are green. Neither the Backpackers nor the Mountaineers we have has covered zippers, and they are all metal zippers. My son's Tioga has covered plastic zippers.

I also have a Kelty Sherpa from 1990. This is a massive expedition pack (7500 cu in bag) with a rather different frame configuration (has a lower shelf below the bag) and bag design (more like some of the internal frame packs, along with a variety of detachable pockets of several shapes).

By the way, there were several different bag configurations you could get by the time I got mine. Some were dropped later. One was the compartmented 3/4 frame length one with 3 sections at the top and a lower horizontal zippered compartment (I got that one, the sleeping bag gets strapped directly to the frame below or above the sack, depending on how you mount the sack). One was a large open compartment on top with a lower horizontal zippered compartment. Another had the whole sack as a single large compartment. Yet another was a full-frame sack that was a single large compartment. All versions had two side pockets, just the right size to slip a Svea 123 or Primus 71L or a Sigg fuel bottle into (or 2 of the rectangular fuel cans). You could get an optional pair of side pockets below the standard ones (total of 4). At some point, you could get a "map pocket" on the back of the main sack that later became large enough to put a folded poncho in. Sometime after the 1970s, there was also an optional pocket that went on the top flap.

There were also some custom versions made for expeditions, like the one Brian Marts brought along on the 40th Anniversary Antarctic Expedition that he had used on the original 1966 American Antarctic Expedition. As mentioned above, you can see that one (barely) in one of the photos in my writeup of the 40th that is in the Trailspace News section.

9:40 a.m. on October 29, 2007 (EDT)
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the pack has a crossbar across the top, a mesh back panel, metal zippers, and four pockets on the sides (two on each side), with one pocket on the top portion of the bag, and one lower pocket/compartment on the front under there. the top is a flap that folds over the top. it has a quick-release on the buckle on the waistbelt. the buckle itself is metal. the way the pack is set up, the sleeping bag should probably be lashed under the bag, since that's where the frame is exposed. i have been putting my pad there, and putting my sleeping bag on top, and putting the top flap over it, and tightening it down. when i got the pack, the seller had another one that looked identical, except that it was red, so i'm guessing it came in more colors than the one i have. all in all, it's an amazing buy, seeing as how i got it for $9!!!

11:35 a.m. on October 29, 2007 (EDT)
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the frame has a total of 5 horizontal bars, with the top bar starting about an inch from the top of the vertical bars, but it curves up and out a little. thanks for helping me out with this. i'm really curious about it now, since it seems like i got a pretty good pack

12:07 p.m. on October 29, 2007 (EDT)
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Without actually seeing it, it sounds like a Tioga with the upper extension from the early 1980s (this may have had a different model name). It does sound like you got a good deal.

One reason you probably got a good deal is that external frame packs are not "fashionable", hence are harder to sell when the owner is no longer using it for whatever reason. Never mind that they are better than internals for a wide range of applications.

By the time yours was made, Dick Kelty had sold his privately held company to a large corporation. Since then it has changed hands a couple more times, currently being a subsidiary of K2 (unless I have missed yet another sale recently).

3:48 p.m. on October 29, 2007 (EDT)
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the seller had two, like i said. the other one (which was red) went for about $90, so he was a little upset about it, i think, because it took him forever to ship it out. it was in really good condition, and i'm really glad i have it. i just got to use it this weekend for the first time. it handled really well, and i'm ver happy with it. i've always liked external frames, so i jumped at the chance to get this one. i also traded my room mate a skateboard deck for his old jansport external frame, since i had too many decks and he never used his pack. its too long for me, since it's a large and i'm only 5'7 1/2". that's why i got the kelty

2:32 p.m. on November 1, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill- Kelty is currently owned by Kellwood Company subsidiary American Recreation Products, which also owns Sierra Designs, Royal Robbins, Wenger, Wenzel, Slumberjack, and others.

7:25 p.m. on November 1, 2007 (EDT)
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Hmmm, sounds like Johnson Worldwide sold several of their subsidiaries, or did JWA get bought by ARP/Kellwood? It's really getting hard to keep up with who owns who these days. I understand that the automobile badge names are getting another "musical chairs", too. Lessee now, Volvo cars is Ford, but Volvo Trucks is independent (or maybe part of Scania), Land Rover is Ford, but Rover is BMW, or is it the other way around? Or maybe Skoda is buying them all???

I think I lost track after North Face spun off Sierra Designs after holding them for 3 or 4 years. Or maybe it was after Sam Johnson used his sporting hobbies and Johnson Wax fortune to start JWA.

3:38 a.m. on November 16, 2007 (EST)
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i finally managed to find this pack online. it is a tioga. and regardless of what it may or may not be worth, i will always be amazed at the deal i got on it. i took it out for an overnight with some of my friends, and ended up carrying it for a lot longer than we were supposed to be hiking, and it fared extremely well. thanks to everyone for helping me figure it out. i just wanted to know what model specifically it was, and now i do.

6:18 p.m. on November 26, 2007 (EST)
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Kelty gained its reputation in the early 1960s. Their packs can be seen in the 1963 National Geographic Magazine write-up of the American Everest Expedtion of that year.

At some point in the 1970s, the brand was sold for the first time, and the quality declined. Further, many people believe that pack technology surpassed Kelty's a long time ago. The brand's history is truly impressive, and doubtless valuable to its present owners, but that may be about the best you can say for it.

Sad, but perhaps true.

July 31, 2014
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