Kelty Trekker 3900 ST
I was looking at internal frame packs when an old…
Design: External frame pack
Size: 3900 cu. in.
Number of Pockets: 7
Max. Load Carried: 50 lbs.
Height of Owner: 6'
Price Paid: $160
I was looking at internal frame packs when an old timer at the local shop talked me into trying a Kelty external frame. Great decision, this pack is wonderful!
Don't be fooled by the 3900 cubic inch size spec; that only includes the pack bag and not the things you can lash to the frame. I usually strap my tent or sleeping bag (or both!) to the frame below the pack bag so there is lots of room inside for other gear. Given that feature, this pack is probably equivalent to a 5,000 cu.in./80 L internal frame pack.
The first time you load up the pack and try to swing it over your shoulder you might feel a little unbalanced. The weight is held a little higher and farther away from you back than most internal frame bags. I got used to it pretty fast and now it isn't a problem, but I'm sure it puts off a lot of people.
Fit: The 'ST' is for 'short torso', though I'm a tall male and it fits me better than the regular version. The frame can be shortened or lengthened to fit a large range of torso sizes. The shoulder straps can be mounted in four different positions for wider or narrower shoulders, or mounted at a slant if you have trouble with them rubbing your arm pits. Ask your local store about different waist belt sizes, too - Kelty makes them!
Best feature: This pack is indifferent to loads. The pack fits and carries the same whether I'm hauling 10 pounds or 50 pounds. This is especially nice since my girlfriend has back problems and I often carry half of her load on top of my own.
Worst gripe: Jingly noise. Everything is attached to the frame with pins and split-rings that can jingle and squeak when you walk. It's getting better as time goes by, but I still notice it occasionally.
I admit that I use an internal frame pack for snowshoeing and skiing since having your load held close makes quick movements much easier. But for muti-day hikes in the summer and fall this one fits the bill.
I have had this pack for around 8 years. The 5 1/2…
Number of Pockets: 7
Max. Load Carried: 45 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'4"
Price Paid: $100
I have had this pack for around 8 years. The 5 1/2 pound rating may seem heavy by "modern" standards, but I found the assets offset its weight. I find I stay cooler than with an internal frame.
I like how I can handle the frame without putting stress on the fabric. I prefer the multiple pockets versus the unibody design of the internal. I treat the pockets like "rooms"--one is the "kitchen", another is the "bedroom", another the "bath", etc--so I can find things and stow things quickly and efficiently.
Most people would call this a 3-4 day pack. With careful planning and good food choices, I have hiked 8 days comfortably out of this pack. That is when it weighed in at 45 pounds. Most of the time, I really work to keep it at around 32 or so.
One complaint I have heard about this pack is that it is hard to adjust. Like anything, one must find a good starting point to fit him or herself. I have found this pack very adjustable, and have fitted my pack to people of varying heights and weights. The hip belt is padded and comfortable. I can change strap heights. I can adjust the top rail to carry things on top of the top flap. I can adjust the width of shoulder straps.
My friend has the Sierra Crest version of this pack made for REI. She likes hers equally well. But I will let her put on her own review :)
My husband bought an internal frame for himself when we started upgrading equipment. He hated it. We bought him the men's version of this pack, and he is much happier.
I have found that I do not really get anymore hung up in foliage than my daughter who has an internal frame (which she loves).
The only reason I would consider a new pack is to trim weight with the new generation of materials as my body ages. But for now, I will stick with this tried and true design.