Close banner

Support Outside Online

Love Outside?

Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today.

Contribute to Outside

Do large external-fre backpacks still exist?

Do really large (6,000 to 7,000 cubic inch) external-fre backpacks still exist? If so, where can I find one? Lovett Statesboro, Georgia


The big external-frame pack has not quite gone the way of the dinosaurs, but for all intents and purposes it’s extinct. The last serious effort to turn out a competitive external-frame pack came seven or eight years ago, when Dana Gleason of Dana Designs put out some external-frame packs. I still have one that I bought on a closeout—it consisted of a Dana Designs Terraplane bag attached to a really excellent metal frame. For packing big loads, it is a great pack.

Kelty Tioga 5500

Tioga 5500

Kelty still makes a few external-frame packs. Its Tioga 5500 ($170; steps right out of the 1970s, with a rigid metal frame, big padded belt, and comfortable suspension. Rated capacity is 5,500 cubic inches, but that’s misleading. You can strap stuff onto it and easily carry another 1,000 cubes. The Super Tioga has a little nicer bag, but it’s also a touch smaller. It’s being closed out for $140 at Campmor (

Cabela’s ( also makes decent external-frame pack called the Alaskan Outfitter Pack. One interesting feature on this pack is a sort of shelf that folds down and extends out from the bottom of the pack. Carry a half cord of firewood there. Price is $209, and rated capacity is 5,300 inches, which again is up for interpretation.

And that, my friend, is just about it. Prowl around for a Dana Design K2 Longbed pack; maybe you can find one used. A guy in my area has one on Craigslist for $200.

Check out the new 2007-2008 Winter Outside Buyer’s Guide, packed with reviews of more than 300 new gear must-haves. It’s available on newsstands now.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
Filed To: Extended-Trip Backpacks
Lead Photo: courtesy, Kelty