External Frame Backpacks

The best external frame backpacks, reviewed and curated by the Trailspace community. The latest review was added on November 30, 2018. Stores' prices and availability are updated daily.

Recent External Frame Backpack Reviews

LuxuryLite StackPack

rated 4.5 of 5 stars I have used the pack for a total of 20 days—two trips into the Gila Wilderness and two into the Pecos Wilderness. My pack has an external frame and four 25-litre, waterproof bags. The bags only weigh 4 oz. each, and the total empty weight for a 75-litre backpack is 32 oz. It is very comfortable to wear, however unconventional its design is. No signs of wear yet. The most weight I have carried so far is 28 pounds (my first trip), as I am solo hiking (and kind of a newbie). The pack is infinitely… Full review

Camp Trails Explorer

rated 5 of 5 stars This pack is sturdy and roomy. Perfect for the average amateur hiker. Bought this pack in 2007 for a five-day hike of the Appalachian Trail (from Springer Mountain to Neels Gap—36 miles). A group of me, two adult brothers, and a teenage grandson each. I hauled all my gear—food, water, water filter, sleeping bag, etc., plus the tent for myself and my grandson—through the heat and thunderstorms of July. This pack was flawless. I don't have anything to compare it to. I've never had any other… Full review

Kelty Trekker 65

rated 3 of 5 stars Lots of room, comfortable after alteration. Lacks a critical adjustment option, but with some imagination and a trip to your local machine shop the pack can be re-engineered. I like external frame packs because they sit off my back and allow air to circulate. My 25-year-old one finally bit the dust, so I bought the Trekker 65. Unfortunately, the vertical position of the pack on the frame is not adjustable, leaving the pack way too high on the frame. Kelty could not correct the problem, but with… Full review

Kelty Women's Sierra Crest

rated 5 of 5 stars I love this pack! I have had this pack since 2003. It has seen probably 1,000 trail miles, in all weather conditions. It was one of the few packs at the time I could find for a person with an extra-small torso height, narrow shoulders, and size DD chest that actually worked with the chest strap and arm straps not digging in. Plus, I love the way an external frame pack feels on my body... seems to shift more of the weight to my hips rather than my shoulder tops. At the time (2003), no other packs… Full review

U.S. Military ALICE Pack

rated 1 of 5 stars Primitive, heavy, and outdated, an Alice Pack would never make it into my gear collection. We used these in the NZ Army back in the '80s. Like a lot of the gear back then it was 1960s Vietnam era.Back in those days the gear was so bad that soldiers would go out and buy their own gear, mostly civilian issue.  SAS soldiers used to go out and buy MacPac and Fairydown backpacks. The Alice Packs were just not capable of carrying sufficient load comfortably and I can only suggest they are basically rubbish. Full review

U.S. Military ALICE Pack

rated 4 of 5 stars Not a bad pack as long as you are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the design. The as-issued ALICE does the job and holds up well to rough use, but it lacks the comfort of more modern designs and the refinements and fashionable trends of civilian products. However, upgrade the straps and the waist belt with MOLLE II replacements and you've got one solid feeling pack that is comfortable and does just about anything you want a pack to do while remaining simple in nature. Consider adding the… Full review

JanSport Rainier

rated 5 of 5 stars I, literally, lived out of this pack for four years. It was spacious, had plenty of room for everything I needed. I'm 6'4" and was grateful for the longer frame. When packed right, it was good for the long haul and routinely took me several miles down the road or trail. Having started off with milsurp packs, the Rainier was a dream to own.  Full review

Kelty Cache Hauler (Frame Only)

rated 5 of 5 stars Absolute best pack for hauling out elk from deep in the back country. Carry 120-150 pounds, no problems other than being tired. This is the absolute best pack you will ever need to haul out a whole deer, elk halves or quarters, moose, caribou, bear, you name it! I have had 150 pounds on this pack numerous times and this pack is still very comfortable!  It fits perfectly. When loaned to my buddies they rave about the pack and most have bought one themselves. If you like hunting in the deep backcountry,… Full review

Camp Trails Ponderosa

rated 5 of 5 stars I have an old Camptrails pack too. Not sure of the model but it is one of the larger ones. Purchased April 9, 1974 -- I still have the receipt. With a few trips to the shoemaker to sew in some Cordura, it is still usable. These packs are made of iron. To stay in shape, I put 50 lbs of free weights in it, raise my treadmill to 15 degrees, put a 5 lb weight on each ankle and cover a mile in about 18 minutes. The divide between the top and bottom compartments is still holding up. Full review

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6)
Kelty Trekker 65
$180
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (2)
ALPS Mountaineering Zion Pack
$136
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Kelty Yukon 48
$143 - $179
Kelty Trekker 64
$149
Kelty Sanitas 34
$99 - $119
user rating: 5 of 5 (8)
Norrona Recon
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Camp Trails Wilderness (External)
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Kelty Cache Hauler
$220 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
L.L.Bean Hunter's Carryall Pack
$79 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Nimrod Pack Systems Haul Frame Pack
 
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: 5 of 5 (2)
Camp Trails Ponderosa
 
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)
ALPS Mountaineering Bryce
$149 MSRP
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Bergans Powerframe
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
The Big Heavy
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Recon LK100
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Karrimor Condor 60-80 (External)
user rating: 4 of 5 (41)
U.S. Military 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: 4.5 of 5 (1)
LuxuryLite StackPack
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1)
Seek Outside Unaweep 6300
$429 MSRP
user rating: 4 of 5 (2)
Kelty Cache Hauler (Frame Only)
$120 MSRP
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 Gear Blue Ridge 5
 
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (5)
Camp Trails McKinley
 
user rating: 3.5 of 5 (3)
Camp Trails Denali
 
user rating: 3 of 5 (14)
U.S. Military MOLLE Pack
user rating: 3 of 5 (2)
Vargo Ti-Arc Pack
$300 MSRP
OneCoolBackpack EcoPack-1
 
user rating: 3 of 5 (1)
Stansport 597-f
user rating: 2 of 5 (2)
ALPS Mountaineering Commander
$130 MSRP
 
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: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Yukon 50
$120 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Mountainsmith Youth Scout
$109 MSRP
Vargo Ti-Arc CF
user rating: 5 of 5 (19)
JanSport D3
discontinued
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
JanSport D5
discontinued
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Dana Design K2 Longbed
discontinued
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