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Kelty Trekker 3900

2 reviews
5-star:   0
4-star:   1
3-star:   1
2-star:   0
1-star:   0
3

Well, I just joined Trailspace and saw that no one…

Rating: rated 3.5 of 5 stars
Price Paid: $100

Well, I just joined Trailspace and saw that no one has reviewed the K3900.

I’ve had this pack for several years now and it’s the only pack I own and know anything about.  I’m 5’7 155lbs (this pack dwarfs me).

I mostly hike within short driving distance of East Tennessee (Knoxville) so I’ve packed extensively in the Smokies, Cherokee National Forest (mostly South Cherokee), and Big South Fork. (Eastern woodlands etc…)

I’ve found this pack to be incredibly durable; nothing has ever broken on it (or even come close.). I don’t keep records but I’m pretty sure I’ve logged a couple thousand miles with this pack over the last 5 years or so. I’ve heard people describe the toughness of a pack in terms of “throwing it down a ravine and going after it”; I’ve actually done that with this pack and it was no worse for the wear.

I can’t yet compare its comfort to others but I find it very comfortable with any load attempted thus far (max for me is about 45lbs or so). The mesh back-panel works well for me. (Although I still don’t quite get the selling point of “ventilated” packs as if they will reduce sweat: where are these peoples hiking that they don’t sweat?)

It is very easy to overload the external pockets and throw the thing off balance.

This is definitely not an “off-trail” pack as the massively square frame will seemingly go out if its way to grab branches and arrest your progress.

Summary of Pro’s and Con’s:

Pros:

Extremely durable

Very effective suspension

Encourages the wearer to walk upright

Lot’s of pockets (only a plus if you like pockets, I guess)

Mostly waterproof (been poured on many times without the inside getting wet)

Has shelf to strap stuff to (thereby increasing its capacity)

Cons:

Heavy by modern standards (mine weighs 5.8 lbs empty)

Very square (making it really only good for open trail)

Makes you look a little funny when wearing it (someone called me “Sponge-Pat-Square-Pack once”), oh yeah and I scared a horse the other day (the rider blamed my big pack)

Doesn’t balance well side to side

1

I love my Trekker and wish it was the lovely cherry…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: ~$140

Summary

I love my Trekker and wish it was the lovely cherry red of this new one! Mine is a rather drab silver and khaki. But I don't see it while I'm hiking and it feels great. I like the Trekker for a few reasons, and I shopped around heaps before buying it from REI three years ago.

  1. I am 5'5" and have a short torso. I had trouble finding a pack that was short enough for my back but had enough capacity for multi day hikes.
  2. I have a few issues with my back and every other pack I've used gave me lower back pain, middle back pain, neck pain. I was at the point of thinking I would need an Alpaca or Donkey!! 
  3. The Trekker has a wonderfully solid and well padded waist belt which is able to be positioned and to stay up on the top of the iliac crest rather than too low on the hips, which was a problem for me.
  4. The pockets and compartments are positioned high on the external frame, well away from the lower back. Many packs were putting pressure below the lower arch of my back, causing pressure and pain. With the Trekker there is no pressure below the small of my back.
  5. It's very adjustable.
  6. I like the pockets, easy to keep everything handy.
  7. I just find it easier and less tiring to carry. It doesn't pull back or down on my shoulders like an internal frame pack does (and I've had a few).
  8. Itself it's not a lightweight pack, and yet it feels lighter to carry the load because of the way it carries the weight up away from your back.

On the down side, like all external frame packs, it's unstable on rough ground, and can feel a bit scary on a cliff edge in high wind. (So I don't go there, easy — don't like heights much anyway).

Another couple of peeves — the pockets at the top on the sides are asymmetrical, with a double-pocket on the top right which means you need to be very careful to even up the weight in these two pockets. It's tempting to carry water in the sleeve of the top right hand pocket as it's easy to get to without taking the pack off, but you need to be careful to have the same weight on both sides or it tilts the pack sideways which puts uneven pressure on your hipbelt and shoulders etc. That's a bit of a design flaw in my opinion and would prefer the same pockets on both sides.

Also there is a large pocket on the back (or front... ?) of the pack which has a handle on it. This tempts baggage handlers etc to lift the full weight on the pack from this handle which puts enormous pressure on the pocket's zipper and stitching. Mine has only been lifted this way once or twice, and the stitching is coming undone so needs to get a repair. I have bought a duffle bag to put the pack in for use on planes/trains/buses to stop this damage but could also I guess just cut this handle off.

It's not great for standing up on floors which are even slightly slippery — it slides down with a thump - as it sits on the two plastic button-thingys on the ends of the frame! On natural surfaces it's fine. When fully laden it towers up above head height and you have to make allowances for that or you'll bump into things!

If you are doing rock scrambling and so on an external frame pack is cumbersome, but for decent loads on well maintained trails, and for people with dodgy backs like me, it is a godsend! Can be hard to find a pack cover to fit.

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