Welcome to Practical Backpacking™ Forums (PBF).
You are currently viewing PBF as a guest which has limited access. By becoming a PBF member, you will have full access to view and participate in tens of thousands of informative discussions, to view links and attachments (photos), and will gain access to other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free! Click to Become a PBF Member! Be sure to also explore the Practical Backpacking Podcast.
|Gear Workshop The Gear Workshop forum is for the discussion of homemade backpacking gear and gear modifications and repairs.|
||Thread Tools||Display Modes|
External Frame Pack (Kelty Trekker) Modifications
Reviewing the forum on external frame packs--as usual, some love them and some don't, but the main complaint is weight. I've noticed that a few people are still hauling their Kelty Trekkers.
Well, that's what I use. I've tried internal frame packs, but I get a really poor fit between them and my scoliosis (and broken/dislocated spine). So, I've put up with the weight of my external frame. The comfort is guaranteed and I can make sure all the weight is on my hips.
The snag, though, really is the weight. A typical men's Kelty Trekker is currently listed as being about 83 oz (5.2 pounds or 2.35 kilos). Well, I've gotten mine (a men's) down to 1.67 kilos (59.4 oz). Mine is a 1996 model (probably, I got it for Christmas 1996) and I'm not at all sure about the starting weights for that model. It does have an adjustable (expandable) frame and I've read that current models do not. Adjustable frames add more weight.
So, here's what I did, but I've no data on the weight loss for each item.
As soon as I got the pack, I immediately switched out the belt and shoulder straps. I used the shoulder straps from my 1989 Diamond Brand external frame pack and bought the basic belt (size small) for external frame packs from Campmor (who may still sell them). I switched the belt, because the original belt was bruising my ribs!
I also immediately cut out the internal map pocket because it didn't look like it was the sort of thing I'd find very usefull (never missed it). I removed all easy to remove tags, stickers, and brand names, leaving only the 'washing instructions' on the inside and the Kelty embroidered detail (those are exceptionally tedious to remove) on the pack flap. Finally, I cut the cord cinching the top to just right for the width of that opening.
belt (replaced with campmor belt)
shoulder straps (replaced with straps from 1989 pack)
internal map pocket
tags & stickers
Rather quickly, I removed the netting that's supposed to help circulation between the pack and your back. The main reasons were: 1) I couldn't keep it tight enough, 2) as I tightened it, it stretched and narrowed, and 3) the aluminum plates to hold it wide started to poke me in the back. That webbing had to go. I found that two pack straps worked perfectly, had duel use (if I ever had to carry extra stuff on the pack), and were much lighter.
webbing, string, & aluminum spreaders (replaced with two pack straps).
At this point, I had probably removed most of the weight and was fairly close to my current weight of 1680 g.
I was pretty happy with this until I had to do some bushwacking by crawling uphill through bamboo (Fall 1998) and got all hung-up in the bamboo. Some was unavoidable, but the bit of wire that went down the pack, parallel to the frame to hold in all the pins was something I could fix. I removed the wires and replaced them with key-chain rings (not having access to standard rings for packs).
Outside wires (replaced with key chain rings)
All this lightened things up quite a bit and I was happy with this pack until I started reading about ultralight backpacking... I also looked at the Luxury Lite packs and noticed that they were lots lighter, but was concerned about how well their belt would work with my back (i.e. probably not). Also, I'm reluctant to spend so much on a pack that might not be able to take me falling down on top of it when I slip and fall on the trail.
So, further lightening up the Kelty involved getting drastic...
By this time, the rubber pack strap holder thingys were falling apart. I've never used them anyway. So, it was way past time to remove them. It was easy to do this, because the glue was also >10 years old. I also noticed that I never used the pick-ax loop and really didn't need the pocket on the outside of my waterbottle pocket (newer models don't have this--pity!). So these got removed. The pack cover had a pocket that I had only used to carry my bug net and it could easily go elsewhere, so I removed that pocket, too. Then I started thinking about how I packed this pack and realized that I really didn't like the zipper pocket in the base of the pack for the sleeping bag. So, I cut out the divider (haven't missed it) and cut off the metal zipper pull-tabs.
rubber pack-strap thingys
pocket outside the water-bottle pocket
pocket on pack flap
metal zipper pull-tabs on the sleeping-bag pocket
I've never considered any pack water proof or even water resistant. To me, the purpose of the pack is to take all the scrapes, scratches, and punctures, thus protecting what's inside. So inside, everything is packed in a garbage bag (current upgrade is a huge silnylon bag from sea-to-summit).
At this time, I also looked at the fact that I've never adjusted the frame of this adjustable pack. I tried a few hikes without the top bar, but found I really used it to heave the pack around when in camp and to rest my hands when hiking downhill. I always had it at it's lowest position. This piece of aluminum had a >4-inch overlap with the rest of the pack frame. I hacksawed off 2.2 inches from each end. The adjustable frame was collapsed as far as it could go, so I sawed off almost 5 inches from each end.
4.4 inches of aluminum tubing from top tube
about 10 inches of aluminum tubing from frame
Then, I noticed that my belt had three brass grommets and some really long webbing with which to attach the belt to the frame. So, I cut off the bottom grommets (leaving two on each side) and cut off about half the webbing for no loss of function. I also (expending a tedious half hour for a weight loss of <5 g) removed the little webbing pockets for the wire that used to be used to keep the pins from falling out.
2 brass grommets
about 12 inches of webbing
tiny webbing pockets.
Total weight now is 1680 g (or 59.4 oz or 3.71 pounds) for almost a 1/3 drop in pack weight.
Further lightening up will:
A) involve really drastic modifications like removing remaining side pockets, the pack flap (both used frequently), or even removing the pack itself or
B) really tedious tiny things like trying zip-ties instead of pins (hmmm), replacing cord with lighter-weight cord, replacing metal&string zipper tabs with string zipper tabs (for a loss in function, I think), and removing the sleeping bag compartment zipper (which will have to be sewn up with something heavy duty like waxed cord or dental floss).
So, my 'lightened' external frame pack has lost hardly any of it's original function and comfort and load-bearing ability (when needed) and is now in the same class as many internal frame packs mentioned in this group (i.e. many of the postings here: " Big 3 Weight (3-Season)"