Trailwise Freighter Frame

rated 5.0 of 5 stars (1)

Trailwise is no longer in business, and the Freighter Frame has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best external frame backpacks for 2020.


This has passed the test of time (30 years approx) for someone interested in "heavy" or sometimes "painful" loads.

It is a bare frame with a shelf (nylon fabric from main frame to bar attached at the bottom of main frame) that "flops open". Add on some D-ring to the pins (have a few extra pins too for the heavy load days) and straps. Away you go. Put on whatever you fancy. 

Care in loading up though. Ideal load is heavier higher and ligher lower (heavy low and you lean too far forward, too heavy on top and you do a flip (or face plant - don't reccomend either really).  A little pratice and you'll have it sorted out in no time. 

Unlike the mountain crews/hut crews (their pack boards have hooks up both sides, 25 ft of manila rope, a heavy corsette, and leather straps for shoulder/chest straps), small rachet straps or cam style cinch straps work well. You don't need to tie knots that when get wet with the load tugging on them become impossible to untie.  Care on rachet straps as the nylon straps racheted in too tight, can break the frame. 

Takes only a few minutes to load up vs. a bigger pack back that you need to carry a smaller pack somewhere to go off from base camp. Say a Berghaus rucksack strapped on, not so good for the "death loads" but good for climbing! Use the bare frame to strap on all of your needs and march onward. Take breaks once in a while for circulation to catch up with the "death loads".

It is light weight and reasonably durable.

If loads are going to run over 45+ kg / 100 lbs frequently, might look to the woods crews pack boards.Each board weighs in at 6.8 kg / 15 lbs +- vs. ounces for this Freighter frame. A fully laden Freighter Frame "crashed" might have a few structural issues and loose a pin or two.

Crash one of the "other things" (pack boards, alias torture devices - they even look like torture devices!) and they survive pretty well.  Usually better than the person who crashed them.  What it means really, they carry a good load but are only aluminum alloy tubing.

Price Paid: $100 USD approx.

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