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Tried and True
Kelty Trekker 3900 Backpack
Stand up and walk like a human. That’s the promise of Kelty’s original external-frame design, which enables hikers to carry big loads without leaning forward, as most internal frames encourage. In 1979, our testers took Kelty’s Tioga for a trial in New York’s Catskills, and reported they could stand perfectly straight without the harness causing pinching or tugging.
Nevertheless, internal-frame packs started dominating in the mid-1980s, as they delivered better stability for scrambling, climbing, and skiing; they’re also easier to check when you’re flying. But for no-nonsense trail packing, the external still delivers. One tester took the latest iteration, the Trekker, up a Colorado Fourteener, and says, “It was comfortable with a 35-pound load and the weight was evenly distributed.” And standing up straight, she reports, meant her back felt great at day’s end. $140; 5 lbs. 6 oz.; kelty.com.