Anyone upgrade a vintage Kelty external-frame backpack?

6:25 p.m. on April 13, 2011 (EDT)
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I have a very old (1978?) Kelty external-frame backpack that is still in amazingly pristine, original condition.   Has been used v sparingly, and stored most of its life.

I'd like to put it back into service.

Don't even know the capacity of the pack.  Medium-Large, I'm guessing.  It's red packcloth with a blue lower-center pocket-flap, that's covered by the long top-flap (if nothing is rolled-up into it).

 

What suggestions do you have for upgrades?   The obvious one, is a sternum-strap, if there is one that will adapt.  Did not have one, as per original.   Are there smaller packs available that can be substituted and mounted on the still almost-perfect frame?

 

Anyone ever experiment with small clevis-pins instead of those pesky Kelty wire circlips that break your fingernails?  Nylon pins would be cool (and not 'squeaky') if they might be available.

 

 

r2

6:43 a.m. on April 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Consider replacing the shoulder and hip belts.  The padding in your original equipment is probably dried and hardened from age.  Also the replacements will include upgrades like the sternum strap and other ergonomic features.  Contact Kelty to obtain your replacement stuff. 

When you suggested using clevis pins, I think you meant cotter pins?  Split rings and cotter pins will work fine.  I don’t think using nylon pins is a good idea.  The forces will be focused onto a small area where the cross section of the pack frame tube meets the pin, and would probably cut through the pins holding your straps and belt.  You might get away using nylon pins to attach the pack bag to the frame, however, but why flirt with a breakdown?

Ed  

11:39 a.m. on April 14, 2011 (EDT)
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The only thing on my old Kelty pack that doesn't function 100% is the waste belt. The buckle system tends to slip sometimes. I need to look at it when I get some free time.

12:58 p.m. on April 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Consider replacing the shoulder and hip belts.  The padding in your original equipment is probably dried and hardened from age.  Also the replacements will include upgrades like the sternum strap and other ergonomic features.  Contact Kelty to obtain your replacement stuff. 

When you suggested using clevis pins, I think you meant cotter pins?  Split rings and cotter pins will work fine.  I don’t think using nylon pins is a good idea.  The forces will be focused onto a small area where the cross section of the pack frame tube meets the pin, and would probably cut through the pins holding your straps and belt.  You might get away using nylon pins to attach the pack bag to the frame, however, but why flirt with a breakdown?

Ed  

 

 

Hello, Ed ~~

 

Is that a Kelty on your back in your avatar photo?

I am going to contact Kelty, as you suggested, to inquire about replacing the belts.   I went into one of my regional outdoor stores (EMS), and looked at the new ones.   Tried a couple.   Nice.  Different (and improved) belts.

You're right about the pins ... my terminology was incorrect.

BTW -- Years ago, a guy in the 'fab-shop' (construction) on a project I was involved in had a Kelty pack.   He fabricated a cool upper-section -- the 'hoop-looking' part that telescopes down into the vertical aluminum receiving tubes.   It had a cantilevered profile that protruded out over his head.  He laced some material through drilled holes, and made a little "canopy" / roof over his head.   Used it like a sun-shade, a rain and snow shield, a 'shelf' to secure lightweight items.   I told him to contact Kelty about it ... don't think he ever did.   Wish I had asked him to fab one for me.   I suppose a guy in the trades that has a tubing-bender and some round, tubular aluminum stock could do the same thing.

"Necessity is a Mother .... "

 

 

r2

 

Comfort the disturbed ...

Disturb the comfortable ....

1:09 p.m. on April 14, 2011 (EDT)
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On another forum that I go to several of the members have completely done away with there pack bodies and just use the frame. They keep there gear organized in dry bags and strap them to there Kelty frames. They make it sound like a pretty good system.

1:09 p.m. on April 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Last year I picked up a 1970s Kelty Tioga. I replaced the shoulder and hip belt from another brand backpack. Everything fit without a problem. You might just want to shop at goodwill and other secondhand stores for another whole pack, looking only at the straps.

4:09 p.m. on April 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks, Guys, for the suggestions.


I just called Kelty, and they want $50 for waist belts and shoulder straps (w/ sternum strap included, plus a few pins and rings).

 

I think I will watch for a 'beater' or decent used one at yard-sales, GoodWill, 2nd-hand / thrift stores.   This pack I have, has decent belt and straps ... albeit a little stiff and narrow (no sternum strap, though ... but, I see O.R. has one available for $8).

Gary's suggestion is interesting.   I believe (?) I saw somewhere (advertisement?) a concept backpack with a similar ladder-style external frame backpack, that loaded 'cylinders' made from hi-tech, water-proof,  soft materials with zippers.   The 'cylinders' were mounted horizontally, and could be individually mounted and unmounted.

 

 

r2

 

4:31 p.m. on April 14, 2011 (EDT)
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You're thinking of a Luxurylite pack:

http://www.luxurylite.com/stackpackindex.html

4:55 p.m. on April 14, 2011 (EDT)
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You're thinking of a Luxurylite pack:

http://www.luxurylite.com/stackpackindex.html

 

BINGO !!

That's it!   Thanks, SnowGoose.

Wow!  Not cheap.  Interesting concept, though.  

Has it been tested (by mags / forums / dedicated hiking websites) ?

 

r2

 

 

7:30 p.m. on April 14, 2011 (EDT)
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9:04 a.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Is that a Kelty on your back in your avatar photo?

Yes.   It was Kelty’s second largest bag at that time, a Sonora I think.

I liked the awning idea your friend fabricated, but is sounds like it would get in the way while trying to get the pack on or off.  Perhaps if it was hinged so it could be flipped up out of the way.  Back in the day I too tried to come up with a shade device.  I tired many configurations, much to the amusement of my companions.  The only one that seemed to work and not be a pain was a small beach chair umbrella you could clamp to the pack frame.  It was good on desert hikes, especially the Grand Canyon, but tended to get fouled up in low hanging limbs while passing under trees on forested venues.

I also added some nylon straps to the pack to facilitate securing items stacked on top and on the back of the pack bag.  Another add-on is straps designed to secure a bear canister where the sleeping bag is typically attached to the bag.  I'll take a few photos of these enhancements on my next trip and post them here.

Ed

5:35 p.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Is that a Kelty on your back in your avatar photo?

Yes.   It was Kelty’s second largest bag at that time, a Sonora I think.

I liked the awning idea your friend fabricated, but is sounds like it would get in the way while trying to get the pack on or off.  Perhaps if it was hinged so it could be flipped up out of the way.  Back in the day I too tried to come up with a shade device.  I tired many configurations, much to the amusement of my companions.  The only one that seemed to work and not be a pain was a small beach chair umbrella you could clamp to the pack frame.  It was good on desert hikes, especially the Grand Canyon, but tended to get fouled up in low hanging limbs while passing under trees on forested venues.

I also added some nylon straps to the pack to facilitate securing items stacked on top and on the back of the pack bag.  Another add-on is straps designed to secure a bear canister where the sleeping bag is typically attached to the bag.  I'll take a few photos of these enhancements on my next trip and post them here.

Ed

 

 

Nice job of color-coordinating your pack and shirt.   Too bad we can't see how close you came with the pants and socks, as well.

 

All-seriousness-aside ... would enjoy pics of your rig.  That looks similar to my pack.  No model name or label to indicate specs.   Mine does have a lower blue (denim-colored pack-cloth) zip-flap.  Maybe (?) provide a few various pics, if you can.   Would appreciate.

 

 

r2

9:08 a.m. on April 16, 2011 (EDT)
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robert rowe

the method that luxurylite esposes is not a new idea. gerry cunningham came out with his cwd packs in the 60's. cwd is controlled weight distribution. his packbags were divided into 4 horizontal sections that are accessed by zippers. the largest section was at the bottom and would hold the sleeping bag. the other 3 sections would hold everything else. with this type of packbag you could put heavy stuff high and keep it there for trail packing or put it lower for off trail packing. there are a few gerry frame packs on ebay right now. i love these old packbags. i believe nols also used the lurylite, stuff bag system, in the early years. the main drawback with the gerry packbags is that they don't work very well for large bulky items. i think they are nicer than using stuff bags because they make for a smooth outer surface that won't snag on branches, or collect snow, like  the stuff bag system will.

if you want to trade your old hip belt, or buy a  newer one, i might just have one for you. i don't think i have any shoulder pads. i am always on the lookout for old kelty hardware as i reuse it on homemade straps. i think i might have a camp trails type that is in good shape. i would recommend staying with kelty belts and shoulder straps, and i think if you can find some vintage kelty stuff, it is better than the newer stuff that is available. imo the old metal quick release buckles  were the best ever made. the old shoulder straps had brass buckles that wouldn't rust. i don't really care so much for the new plastic stuff. it is light and works real well and is pretty durable but they can break if they get shut in a car door or stepped on.

you an see some pixs of the gerry stuff either on ebay or http://www.oregonphotos.com/Gerry1.html. if you really like the gerry packbag i do have a size large/xlarge that i would be willing to sell. they use the same hole pattern as the kelty mountaineer/backpacker frames so it should work with your frame.

hope this helps

7:22 a.m. on April 17, 2011 (EDT)
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robert rowe

the method that luxurylite esposes is not a new idea. gerry cunningham came out with his cwd packs in the 60's. cwd is controlled weight distribution. his packbags were divided into 4 horizontal sections that are accessed by zippers. the largest section was at the bottom and would hold the sleeping bag. the other 3 sections would hold everything else. with this type of packbag you could put heavy stuff high and keep it there for trail packing or put it lower for off trail packing. there are a few gerry frame packs on ebay right now. i love these old packbags. i believe nols also used the lurylite, stuff bag system, in the early years. the main drawback with the gerry packbags is that they don't work very well for large bulky items. i think they are nicer than using stuff bags because they make for a smooth outer surface that won't snag on branches, or collect snow, like  the stuff bag system will.

if you want to trade your old hip belt, or buy a  newer one, i might just have one for you. i don't think i have any shoulder pads. i am always on the lookout for old kelty hardware as i reuse it on homemade straps. i think i might have a camp trails type that is in good shape. i would recommend staying with kelty belts and shoulder straps, and i think if you can find some vintage kelty stuff, it is better than the newer stuff that is available. imo the old metal quick release buckles  were the best ever made. the old shoulder straps had brass buckles that wouldn't rust. i don't really care so much for the new plastic stuff. it is light and works real well and is pretty durable but they can break if they get shut in a car door or stepped on.

you an see some pixs of the gerry stuff either on ebay or http://www.oregonphotos.com/Gerry1.html. if you really like the gerry packbag i do have a size large/xlarge that i would be willing to sell. they use the same hole pattern as the kelty mountaineer/backpacker frames so it should work with your frame.

hope this helps

 

 

Thanks Dan ... and for your generous offer(s).

 

My straps and belt DO have the older metal buckles.   They aren't in bad shape, after-all.   Still 'life' left in them.   I think the stiffness in the shoulder strap padding might work out, with some use ... as the pack has been in storage most of its life.

The bag itself, apparently, is the Large size (not X-Large).

I'd like to find a smaller bag, for week-end'ers / overnights.

Gerry stuff is interesting.   Looking at the eBay offerings you referenced.

 

 

Yogi Robert

8:53 a.m. on April 17, 2011 (EDT)
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robert

the gerry frames are usually not quite the same quality as the kelty ones. i have seen quite a few or the gerry frames bend and split. they did use several different frames over the years. i have seen quite a few of the gerry bags mounted on kelty frames.

the problem you are going to have in trying to mount a smaller bag or your large frame is that the smaller bags were made for a narrower frame. large and xlarge are the same width as are the small and medium. you might have to go with the stuff sack, luxurylite approach.

kelty had two basic styles of frames in the old days,  the backpacker,mountaineer and the massif. you need to figure out which one you have as the pakbags had different hole spacings. check this page out http://homepage.mac.com/inov8/Compass/pictures/image645.jpg you might find your model there. the only difference between the backpacker and the mountaineer frame is the number of cross bars, 4 versus 5. rei is only showing the mountaineer and massif frames in 1978. 

sometimes i find kelties at good will, garage sales, and craigslist real cheap. you might be able to find some shoulder straps and belts that are in better shape that way. i actually prefer unpadded shoulder straps and hip belts. i've found a 4" unpadded strap to be way more comfortable than a 2" well padded strap. ymmv on that one.

i don't think you can go wrong upgrading an old kelty. best of luck

 

 

6:20 p.m. on April 17, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks, Dan (lazyA4).   I'm learning a lot.

My pack-frame is the 5 crossbar version.

  BTW -- that link you provided for me is unaccessable from my PC.  Malware and filters rejected it as malicious

Probably not going to be easy finding 4" belts and straps.   I used to have some of these ....   I used to 'autocross' a Porsche.   The seatbelts and safety harnesses are required to be dated on the labels.   The ones that expired were perfectly good for a lot of things, including street cars.  They were very comfortable, but the 'quick-release' buckles were TOO EASY to activate, and massive, by the standards you would apply to backpacking belts.   Wish I still had some.   Oh, well ....

There's a Kelty bare-frame and belts (sans bag) that just came-up on eBay today.   Might bid (?).

Yogi Robert

9:34 p.m. on April 17, 2011 (EDT)
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robert

when i click on the same link it does go through for me. might be a compatibility thing as i am on a mac. i also noticed that the h is not _ on my original link. you might try this link instead. 

http://homepage.mac.com/inov8/Compass/compassbrands.html

then click on the rei page. once there you will see a page that lists kelty packs. i tried to link you directly there, and that is maybe why you can't go there. if you click on the kelty page you will only get a more modern kelty info. the rei page has some scans from the 1977 rei catalog. there is a whole page that shows the mountaineer and the massif frames and what bags went with them. lots of vintage gear info on that site. be sure you check out their link page too. 

the massif frames also had a 5 cross bar frame. 

if you do find a source for 4" webbing please let me know. i have been unable to find that stuff also. i made my own tree climbing harness out of binder strap material like they use on semis. that stuff is wide enough just too heavy for backpacking. back in the 70's cannondale used to make backpacking equipment. their original day packs had 4" flat nylon webbing for shoulder pads. i have been saving up some of the mesh backbands from external frame packs, i want to try and make some shoulder straps out of that stuff.

stephons warmlite used to make an external frame pack. instead of shoulder straps they had a mesh band that covered the top of your shoulders, more like a tumpline for you shoulders than a shoulder strap.   

hope that link works better

6:17 a.m. on April 18, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks, again, Dan ... but even your newer link provided won't work for my PC  (it's old ... steam-powered; but, I have pretty extensive malware, filters and anti-virus software installed, due to learning the 'hard-way').

I'll be on the look-out for wide strapping.   I get around.

Was wondering (?) ... what about soft, natural-leather ?

Yogi Robt

6:39 a.m. on April 18, 2011 (EDT)
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Just thought of another couple potential sources of wide-mesh material, possibly suitable for belts, shoulder-straps:

Plumbers use a mesh (plastic?) material that comes in various widths, to suspend pipes under and from residential home floor-joists.   Also commercial and industrial job-sites applications.

Body-shops (auto repair) and surf-shops have bulk (rolls) of fibre-glass mesh on hand.   That stuff is very soft, and very strong.   Can probably be folded back on itself (doubled) and stitched.

Also, awning and canvas fabrication shops (like sail manufacture and repair shops, like we have around here, along the Chesapeake), might be a good source.

Personally, I think leather might be the way to go.   I know a guy that does all sorts of custom fabrication and leather repairs.   Had him make me a cool natural (tanned) leather hatband for my 'planter's hat'.   Also, it looks cool when it becomes sweat and water stained.   Looks 'lived in'.  Gets softer, too.

Yogi Robt

11:17 a.m. on April 18, 2011 (EDT)
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Dan ~~

That homepage-link you provided keeps coming-back to me, indicated "prohibited".

Suggestions (other than getting a Mac, which I wish I could do) ???

Yogi Robt

12:41 p.m. on April 18, 2011 (EDT)
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robert

can't figure out why you are having problems with the site. i know that it is a popular one. maybe there is something there. doesn't seem to effect my computer. you can try accessing it from a public library. i know that some of the stuff that is posted there was donated by trailspace memebers. you might also try to google it first and see if that works. maybe there is something malicious coming from my computer. i don't have any of that kind of software.

leather is an old standby. the usual way i have seen it used is with a felt backing. nylon is much more water resistant and lighter. i would be a little wary of using the fiberglass cloth. i would think you might end up with the fibers breaking and embedding themselves into your clothing and skin. thanks for your suggestion.

if you want a positive id on your pack you could post a pix i am sure that if i can't id it someone here can. although i have a kelty that i have been unable to figure out what model it is. it is divided into a top and lower section with four side pockets like the classic d4. both of the main sections are panel loaders. i have seen a couple with the same build on the bay. mine is the only one that i have ever seen with a beautiful canary yellow color.

is the hip belt on your kelty 1 piece and directly attached to the lower backband or a two piece hip belt that is attached to each side of the frame with kelty pins? 1 piece probably a massif frame unless it was upgraded at some point. 2 piece most probably a mountaineer frame.  the mountaineer frames have totally straight cross members in the frame, while the massif frames are not totally straight. there is a slight change in elevation where they connect to the frame. the fact that the packbag is 2 colors is a little confusing to me. 

thanks for the suggestions and best of luck

 

12:48 p.m. on April 18, 2011 (EDT)
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robert

can't figure out why you are having problems with the site. i know that it is a popular one. maybe there is something there. doesn't seem to effect my computer. you can try accessing it from a public library.

FYI, the links work fine for me.

1:10 p.m. on April 18, 2011 (EDT)
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alicia

thanks for checking that out. my last pc died a slow death and am really quite happy with this new/old powerbook g4.

any new info on a trailspace library for old catalogs? i know that you are busy.

best of luck

2:05 p.m. on April 18, 2011 (EDT)
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My PC is steam-powered, as I mentioned.  

( Aaarrghhhh ). 

However; it has nearly every virus-protection, malware, anti-spyware,  and filters extant.

It creaks and groans (like me).

My Kelty frame has 5 cross-bars, none of which are straight.   Hipbelt is one-piece attached to lower back-band.   I'm guessing this is the 'massif' (?) you described.

Pack has two large sections with panel-loaders,  then a total of five (5) side pockets.   Three (3) almost equal (but not quite) sized pockets on one side ... and two (2) on the other side.   One of these two (the upper-most) is 18" tall.

Going to public library this afternoon.  Will check that link you provided.

Yogi Robt

4:31 p.m. on April 18, 2011 (EDT)
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I have returned from the public library ... and, was able to access the website links provided by Dan ... (Thank you, again, Dan).

I have determined that I have the Massif frame with the top-extension accessory.  The bag must be the Serac II (or III ?).   It does have a different side-pocket configuration ( five, instead of six ... with one extra-long pocket).   At 5327 cu.in.,  that is going to be larger than my usual needs.   Can always down-size somewhat, which is what I shall endeavor to do, with finding a smaller bag to switch-out, when the need arises.

Yogi Robt

5:09 p.m. on April 18, 2011 (EDT)
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robert 

those are nice packs. if the quick release on the cam side of your hip belt is all metal, it is one from the first 2 years of production on the massif frame. if it is plastic then it is a later version. providing it is the original belt.

might be tuff to find a smaller packbag to fit that frame. you can always make some compression straps to reduce the volume. that way the whole pack is closer to your body. it will pack better that way. and that when you get 50 miles out and find that 20 lb rock that will look so good in your flower garden at home, you will have the room to pack it home.

happy trails with the kelty

5:32 p.m. on April 18, 2011 (EDT)
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Yes, Dan ... metal quick-release buckle ... in excellent (no corrosion) condition.

Metal (anodized brass) buckles on shoulder straps.

In the past, I have used my sleeping-bag pad / mattress loosely coiled inside the bag, much like a 'liner'.   It always prevents objects from poking holes in the bag material.   Will have to experiment with cinching the bag to reduce volume, as you suggested.

It's a "keeper" !

Yogi Robt

4:26 p.m. on April 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Since it is hot and hunid here in the Carolina Lowcountry I use my Kelty in a different manner. Took of the large pack sack and put on a smaller Kelty sack probably a women's or kids sack about 3000ci. Put cleevis pins in the top groments and heavy duty cable tie downs on the rest of the pack groments. Makes a good pack for did I mention it is hot and humid here is SC.

4:33 p.m. on April 19, 2011 (EDT)
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I lived and traveled throughout the South, in my work, for several years.

The heat ... the humidity ... were almost unbearable for me.   Didn't care for the food, either.   Fried chicken everywhere.

Did I mention I am from Nu Yawk ?   And, did I mention I am a vegetarian for over 35 years?

Yogi Robt

10:51 p.m. on April 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Hey, Dan (lazya4) ~~

Did you incorporate some-sort of sternum-strap into your rig?

If so, what did you use.   If not ... why not?

Yogi Robt

4:05 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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robert

the gerry frames are usually not quite the same quality as the kelty ones. i have seen quite a few or the gerry frames bend and split. they did use several different frames over the years. i have seen quite a few of the gerry bags mounted on kelty frames.

the problem you are going to have in trying to mount a smaller bag or your large frame is that the smaller bags were made for a narrower frame. large and xlarge are the same width as are the small and medium. you might have to go with the stuff sack, luxurylite approach.

kelty had two basic styles of frames in the old days,  the backpacker,mountaineer and the massif. you need to figure out which one you have as the pakbags had different hole spacings. check this page out http://homepage.mac.com/inov8/Compass/pictures/image645.jpg you might find your model there. the only difference between the backpacker and the mountaineer frame is the number of cross bars, 4 versus 5. rei is only showing the mountaineer and massif frames in 1978. 

sometimes i find kelties at good will, garage sales, and craigslist real cheap. you might be able to find some shoulder straps and belts that are in better shape that way. i actually prefer unpadded shoulder straps and hip belts. i've found a 4" unpadded strap to be way more comfortable than a 2" well padded strap. ymmv on that one.

i don't think you can go wrong upgrading an old kelty. best of luck

 

 

 Thanks for this old link. That was about the time that Kelty changed their logo from the mountain peak patch to the double delta for the lack of a better description. I remember reading this page while deciding what pack to get when I was replacing my old Camp Trails. I ended up with a Tioga and later got a Serac along with an old BB-5 that I acquired from a friend when the internal pack craze took off. Lucky for me neither the BB-5 nor the Serac never fit him but they have done well by me.

Another good writeup on these Kelty's can be found in Harvey Manning's old book Backpacking One Step at a Time. P148 or so....

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