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 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 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 1 of 5 stars
U.S. Military ALICE Pack

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

rated 4 of 5 stars
U.S. Military ALICE Pack

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

rated 5 of 5 stars
Kelty Cache Hauler (Frame Only)

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

rated 4 of 5 stars
Norrona Recon

Used this backpack for approximately 15 years. Best use for heavy loads. The carry system on this backpack is impressive. The foam straps feel molded to your body. The quick height adjustment is very easy to use. It also adjusts well from a tight fit in challenging terrain to more relaxed in easy terrain. The backpack is huge! 125L is a lot. The backpack is designed for hunters and recon troops who need to carry a lot of heavy equipment or even a whole reindeer. In this size of backpacks there is… Full review

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Kelty Trekker 65
$135 - $199
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Kelty Yukon 48
$139 - $179
user rating: 5 of 5 (8)
Norrona Recon
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)
Outdoor Products Firefly
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Barney's Sports Chalet Super Moose
 
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)
The Big Heavy
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (1)
Recon LK100
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)
Diamond Brand Gear Blue Ridge 5
user rating: 4 of 5 (1)
Savotta Saddle Sack 339
 
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: 2 of 5 (2)
ALPS Mountaineering Commander
$130 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Yukon 50
$120 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (21)
JanSport D3
discontinued
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (8)
JanSport D5
discontinued
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (7)
Camp Trails Wilderness (External)
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
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Dana Design Longbed
discontinued
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (3)
Camp Trails Ponderosa
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12)
Kelty Super Tioga
discontinued
 
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9)
REI Trekker Wonderland
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Outdoor Products Saturn
discontinued
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
K2 Shortbed
discontinued
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Kelty Radial Light
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Camp Trails Omega Outfitter
discontinued
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Haglofs Alaska
discontinued
 
user rating: 5 of 5 (2)
Dana Design K2 Terraframe Longbed
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Pacific Crest 5000
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4)
Kelty 50th Anniversary Pack
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Outdoor Products Trailhead Framepack 8.0
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Kelty Trekker 3900 ST
discontinued
 
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3)
Camp Trails Night Song (External)
discontinued
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2)
Camp Trails Adjustable II
discontinued