User Review: Kelty Trekker 3950
Design: External Frame
Size: 3950 cubic inches
Number of Pockets: 8
Max. Load Carried: 47 pounds
Height of Owner: 5 Feet 8 Inches
Price Paid: $90
I purchased my Trekker for a 300-mile thru-hike of the Long Trail in Vermont's Green Mountains. It was my longest backpack, I knew I'd be packing a lot of weight, and I needed a pack that gave me piece of mind on the trail.
My first day's load was 47 lbs, and the pack distributed the weight well. The extra large hip belt cushioned the load and transferred around 80% to my hips; sore shoulders were an extreme rarity for me. As the load lightened (as I wised up and dropped some gear) the fit improved, but a 45 lb load is well within the "feel-good" range for this pack.
The adjustor straps and webbing all held throughout, and were easy to adjust and whether on the move or standing. I had one of the metal loops on the frame pins wiggle out around mile 90 (from deformation due to weight, but the pack has two spares and it never happened again. The frame, pins, and welds never showed any sign of failure.
The top-load capability made packing easy, and I took advantage of the webbing inside to keep my heavy items close to my back (once I discovered it was there!). The outside pouches are of considerable size, although at first I wanted to be able to stuff more gear into them. The external frame gives you tones of space to strap, bungie, or tie darn near anything to the outside.
Being an external frame, it sat somewhat precariously while I made exposed moves, but that comes with the territory. It does have a better chance of throwing you off-balance than an internal frame, in my opinion. Also, scrambling was more difficult because the pack frame inhibited my ability to look up as I was crawling along.
I think external frames look incredible, some strange mix of size and nostalgia, and the Kelty Trekker made me look like one tough hombre. It is on the heavy side at ~5.5lbs, but it has an aluminum frame, for crying out loud. I'd call that light. Your pack is an extension of yourself; don't drain your wallet and leap at that Gregory. For long trips without a lot of exposure, an external frame will do the job wonderfully.