External Frame Backpacks

Brands

Outdoor Products
L.L.Bean
Kelty
Mountainsmith
ALPS Mountaineering
Alite
Vargo
Camp Trails
Norrona
Barney's Sports Chalet

Genders

Unisex
Men's
Women's
Kids'

Price

less than $100
$100 - $199.99
$200 - $299.99
$300 and above

Recent External Frame Backpack Reviews

Kelty Yukon 48

rated 3 of 5 stars Great, durable backpack, used from Cub Scouts to present (I'm 30). I've had this pack since I was 12, and save for a couple squirrel holes internally (my bad. [cub scout]), it's held up amazingly. I've recently gotten into lightening my load (considerably), and took a seam ripper to it (it's from 1997, and I couldn't stand getting rid of it) to fit my new lightweight approach. It now sits just over 3 lbs, and functions as an extremely comfortable (and rugged...(can't do the Cuben/sil-nylon, as I… Full review

Vargo Ti-Arc Pack

rated 1.5 of 5 stars Bling backpack, in beta. The market Vargo is aiming for with the ti-Arc can be worked out by three statistics: the median fit for its waistbelt is over 40", the base model costs three hundred dollars, and its capacity is that of a generous daypack. Rich weight-weenies out for a stroll & a picnic? Right... ...well, not far off as a judgement, if a bit unkind. The basics are good—arguably very good: the (vented titanium) lumbar pad, its padding, and the associated waistbelt assembly are absolutely… Full review

JanSport Carson 80

rated 4 of 5 stars I had a hard time finding an external pack of this size and i'm quite happy with the Carson. If the bag is on, have to unbuckle to reach back far enough to put bottle back in. With the zipper facing front, everything wants to fall out when I open it from the back, which to me is the normal way. Was surprised that the waist belt fit as well as it did, since it's a little narrow. Construction is good and no problems in three years I've had it.   Full review

JanSport Carson 80

rated 3.5 of 5 stars I've had the Carson 80 since 2008, replacing an old Jansport D3. At the time I bought it, my son had outgrown his little Kelty external frame boy's pack, and needed a decent upgrade for a 2010 trip to Philmont Scout Ranch, and all the shakedown trips before shipping out. I decided since I would be going on the shakedown hikes, and that I might also be going to Philmont, that I did not want to lug my old, Cordura D3.   I have, over the intervening years, found that the Carson fits and rides so… Full review

Savotta 906

rated 5 of 5 stars Superior military type backpack that will serve you well the rest of your life. Got one years ago and honestly this is a superior military type backpack that will serve you the rest of your life well. Have tried it in Siberia, Alps, Lapland, and Norway in many locations for several days serious hikes with "all you can carry loads". Strong fabric with dark green color, nothing like those modern days bright color fabrics that just doesn't fit you into the nature. After fixing the 906's adjustment… Full review

Kelty Unisex Yukon 3200

rated 4 of 5 stars I've had this pack for 15 years now. It's been on week-long canoe trips, overnight whitewaters and getting ready for an A/T thru hike. Awesome pack for the money. It's small for an external frame, but it keeps the weight down and with today's ultrlight super small equipment it's a lot of room. I was about 5' 10" and 150 lbs when I bought this pack for Scouts. I am now 6' 3" and 200 lbs and still find it comfortable to use. When I first got it it was nice because I could carry luxuries on a 2- to… Full review

ALPS Mountaineering Bryce

rated 5 of 5 stars My summer camp bought 60 of them. In two years nothing broke except the front connector strap. Not because it was built badly, but because some of the campers over tightened it. Full review

JanSport D3

rated 5 of 5 stars A great pack with lots of room for everything. Fits like a glove. Wish I could find a replacement pack for this well made, comfortable frame. I bought this pack used in 1991 at a yard sale for $10. I had just entered the Boy Scouts with my 11-year-old son. Twenty five years later I'm still in the scout program, having served in either scoutmaster or assistant every year, and I'm still using this JanSport backpack. I've owned several others, which I still have as loaners to kids that don't have a… Full review

Kelty 50th Anniversary Pack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars I first used this backpack to evacuate from New Orleans the day after Katrina hit. While wading through waist deep water in the street the pack sat securely on my back fully loaded with clothes, tools and camping equipment. Another feature I liked was that my weapon and other gear I needed was easy to use due to the slim profile. Several months later I used the pack to move from Portland, Oregon, to Rhode Island by air and the pack held my extreme weight of gear without complaint. If you are looking… Full review

Top-Rated External Frame Backpacks

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Outdoor Products Mantis Dragonfly
$60
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
L.L.Bean Hunter's Carryall Pack
$79 MSRP
Kelty Sanitas 34
$90 - $119
Kelty Jr. Tioga 34
$90 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Youth Scout
$91
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Bryce
$104
user rating: 2 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Zion Pack
$117
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1)
Kelty Cache Hauler (Frame Only)
$120 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Yukon 50
$170
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
ALPS Mountaineering Commander
$130 MSRP
 
Alite Hatcher Backpack
$131
Kelty Trekker 64
$140 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Trekker 65
$180
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Kelty Yukon 48
$170
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11)
Kelty Super Tioga
$180
user rating: 4 of 5 (9)
Kelty Tioga
$180
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Kelty Cache Hauler
$220 MSRP
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Vargo Ti-Arc Pack
$300
Vargo Ti-Arc CF
$400
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Camp Trails Wilderness (External)
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Norrona Reconpack
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Camp Trails Omega Outfitter
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Outdoor Products Firefly
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Barney's Sports Chalet Super Moose
 
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Camp Trails Night Song (External)
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Bergans Powerframe 3800
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Seek Outside Paradox Evolution 4800
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Camp Trails Omega/Camo
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Bergans Powerframe
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Recon LK100
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Karrimor Condor 60-80 (External)
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Nimrod Pack System
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (38)
U.S. Armed Forces ALICE Pack
user rating: 4 of 5 (14)
JanSport Carson 80
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
JanSport Scout
user rating: 4 of 5 (4)
JanSport D2
user rating: 4 of 5 (3)
High Sierra Bobcat 65
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Savotta 906
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Camp Trails Adjustable III
 
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Diamond Brand Blue Ridge 5
 
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (5)
Camp Trails McKinley
 
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (3)
Camp Trails Explorer
 
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (3)
Camp Trails Denali
 
user rating: 3 of 5 (13)
U.S. Armed Forces MOLLE Pack
OneCoolBackpack EcoPack-1
 
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Stansport 597-f
 
user rating: 1 of 5 (1)
Stansport External Frame
 
user rating: 1 of 5 (1)
Asolo Expedition 70
 
user rating: 1 of 5 (1)
Peak 1 Bitterroot
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (17)
JanSport D3
discontinued
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