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External Frame Backpacks

The best external frame backpacks, reviewed and curated by the Trailspace community. The latest review was added on May 10, 2022. Stores' prices and availability are updated daily.

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8)
Kelty Trekker 65
$230
user rating: 4 of 5 (42)
U.S. Military ALICE Pack
$130
user rating: 3 of 5 (15)
U.S. Military MOLLE Pack
$35
user rating: 5 of 5 (8)
Norrona Recon
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 (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 (2)
Vargo Ti-Arc Pack
$300 MSRP
OneCoolBackpack EcoPack-1
user rating: 2.5 of 5 (3)
ALPS OutdoorZ Commander Frame
$130 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Yukon 48
$180 MSRP
user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5)
Kelty Yukon 50
$120 MSRP
user rating: 5 of 5 (22)
JanSport D3
discontinued
user rating: 5 of 5 (9)
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)
Kelty Cache Hauler
$220 MSRP
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

Recent External Frame Backpack Reviews

rated 2 of 5 stars
U.S. Military MOLLE Pack

Not durable at all. Frames will fail under heavy load. On the fence, did a lot of operations with this pack. Relatively comfortable and fits all body types. I've been debating reviewing this one for a while. A large amount of these packs are on the market for a fair price, so it got me thinking about my experience with them. I received this pack at the basic school circa 2003. It was a lot larger than the medium-sized Alice and I thought it was pretty comfortable for me to put on and carry a load. Full review

rated 3 of 5 stars
ALPS OutdoorZ Commander Frame

Huge carrying capacity, it fits me after modifying with a smaller hip belt. Bought the frame then took off everything except the shoulder straps. The hip belt was too large, bought a smaller one.  Put a pack on the frame (PACK BAG ACCESSORY FOR COMMANDER) as found on this website https://alpsoutdoorz.com/pack-bag-accessory-commander.html.   There were no shoulder strap lifters so I bought another cross tube to have someplace to attach the load lifter straps. Finally, I had a pack, 86 liters capacity… Full review

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

Great pack overall.   That's the boys and me on a 4-mile hike with the large Alice.  After 20 plus years I've gone full circle back to the Alice. Everybody on the internet complains about this pack being uncomfortable, but it's probably the greatest military ruck ever made. At 5'9" I've found it almost ideal for me with very minimal changes. I had been through three iterations of Marine Corps packs, Alice, MOLLE, and the ILBE when I was in, and this was hands down the best one. I had to chuckle… Full review

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Kelty Yukon 48

Yukon 48 is my fugged-about-it pack. It might not do everything well. However, you can trust the pack to do just about everything. It's the multi-tool of the backpack world. Construction: There's nothing particular unique or exciting about the Kelty frame pack. Humans have been using external frames for thousands of years. For instance, most people will notice Native American cradleboards are essentially small, baby-laden external frames. You have a rigid frame with a bundle attached to it. The… Full review

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