External Frame Backpacks

The best external frame backpacks, reviewed and curated by the Trailspace community. The latest review was added on September 12, 2019. Stores' prices and availability are updated daily.

Recent External Frame Backpack Reviews

rated 4 of 5 stars
Kelty Trekker 65

I started out with external frame packs in the '80s, joined the internal frame craze in the '90s, and joyfully returned to external frames with this pack about nine years ago. It is an eternally adjustable, heavy-load-eating comfort-monster. This pack can be tweaked endlessly to find that perfect fit. The frame itself can be shortened or lengthened, the pack body lowered or raised on the frame, the hip belt and shoulder straps replaced. To that end, I am a slender man, and found the factory-installed… Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Kelty Trekker 65

Lots of room in this pack. I am a big guy and it fits very comfortably and does not shift much. I would recommend this pack for people who tend to pack a few more things than the average hiker would. I use it for three-day trips and it still has plenty of room left. This pack fits very well and as I have mentioned I am a 230+ guy. The pads fit very well and are comfortable around the shoulders and waist. Depending on where you like to sit your pack I feel this one rides very well when I have it… Full review

rated 4 of 5 stars
Savotta Saddle Sack 339

A robust well-made bag that will last for decades. Heavier than many other backpacks, its environmental credentials, durability, robust construction, and ease of use more than make up for it. The Savotta Saddle Sack is a real workhorse. Yes, it is significantly heavier than most other modern sacks but, unlike them, this pack is likely to be still be carrying loads for decades to come and it can take a serious amount of abuse. This is central to the company’s values which reject our "throw away… Full review

rated 5 of 5 stars
JanSport D3

Bought in 1986. Max weight carried for extended trips 87lbs. I bought my D3 in 1986 and used it on several trips from two weeks on down. The earlier models were better than later models. My father bought one in 1977 and he used it for years.My heaviest load was a long trip in Wyoming and pack weighed in at 87 pounds. In the '70s my father carried a 95-pound load with it. Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Kelty Super Tioga 4900

Ageless. I purchased this in 2002 from Sierra Trading Post and it has gotten moderate use for the last 16 years doing hikes in the area's National Forest. This has never let me down and is still in excellent condition. The only negative I have to say about this is that it is so huge that I would tend to overpack with too many unnecessary items. The frame is adjustable and I had it set to the shortest adjustment as possible and it fit my 5'7" frame just about perfectly. As I aged so did my spine… Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
LuxuryLite StackPack

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

rated 5 of 5 stars
Camp Trails Explorer

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

rated 3 of 5 stars
Kelty Trekker 65

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

rated 5 of 5 stars
Kelty Women's Sierra Crest

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

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Kelty Trekker 65
$126 - $189
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Kelty Yukon 48
$119 - $179
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: 4.5 of 5 (1)
High Sierra Titan 55
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: 4 of 5 (1)
Savotta Saddle Sack 339
 
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
user rating: 5 of 5 (20)
JanSport D3
discontinued
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
JanSport D5
discontinued
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (6)
Dana Design K2 Longbed
discontinued
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Trekker 4300
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Continental Divide 5300 (External)
discontinued
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