I get a lot of looks of awe and astonishment whenever I come hobbling along the trail with my Adventure16 external hip hugger backpack.; some sort of remnant artifact left over from an era of archaic travelers. The external frame backpacks are being replaced by internal frame backpacks.
In my first years as a Poway Backpacker, I remember being wowed by Scott Rinehart’s old external frame Adventure16 backpack. By sheer chance, I came across an almost identical Adventure16 backpack at an army surplus outlet on Big Bear Mountain. The nice gentleman running the shop clearly had no idea that there was a diamond in the rough. I purchased the pack for $5 and have brought it with me for more than ten years now!
People ask me all the time, “Why not get yourself a nice internal frame backpack?”
It comes down to one thing for me, organization. I find that the compartmentalization of the older external frames is far superior to that of the newer internal frames. Ask me if you can borrow something from my pack, and I can guide you to exactly where it is. Ask my good friend Jane if you can borrow her trowel and you will be greeted with a sigh and a ,”Oh noooo, I just packed my backpack.”
The Internal frame structure is essentially just a very big empty bag that you are left to cram your life into. Inside the compartmentalized external frame backpacks, I have a spot for socks, underwear, and swim gear, another compartment for the cook kit, and a final compartment that stores my toiletries. You get the idea!
I am not saying you shouldn’t get an internal frame backpack; in fact, they are generally lighter weight and substantially more comfortable. I am just stating that if you are like me, and need everything in your life to be organized, then the external frame Kelty backpack might be the right choice for you. I am sure I will get an internal frame backpack eventually, but for now I prefer the satisfaction I get from seeing the bewildered looks on people’s faces as I come tromping by with my massive pack.
Don’t let the backpack explosion happen to you!