Gear Guy

Do they make external-fre packs with titanium?

I recently completed a two-week, 96-mile trek in Alaska's Brooks Range. I thought that I was traveling as light as possible until I encountered a couple of wandering hikers who were carrying external-fre backpacks fashioned with titanium fres and Kevlar fabric. Their packs, from Cp Trails, weighed at least half of my Longbed pack, and mine was smaller. After returning to civilization I immediately visited the store where they told me such packs could be purchased, but the sales staff gave me that "what planet are you from?" look upon hearing my tale. Assuming they are the ones from another planet, can you help me find a super-lightweight pack weighing less than four-and-a-half pounds, with up to 6,500 cubic inches of capacity? Is there such a creature still being made out there? Fred Kodiak, Alaska

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Well, somebody is smoking something in this tale, but I can’t tell who. I’ve thought about this, researched it, called around, thought about it some more, and I can say definitively that I am not aware of any external-frame packs that use titanium and Kevlar. Certainly not Camp Trails, which makes perfectly fine packs (for example, their McKinley, $150; but nothing like the high-end variety you mention. I mean, that would be a pretty exotic frameĀ—titanium has certainly dropped in price as it’s found its way into mainstream consumer products, but it remains a challenge to shape and weld, plus is still a moderately expensive material from the outset. The other main external-frame makers, Kelty and JanSport, similarly have no Ti-Kevlar packs in their lineup. These days the “best” external-frame pack is commonly held to be the Kelty 50th Anniversary model ($240; Your Longbed, alas, no longer is made, which is too bad.

So I’m stumped. Maybe one of these wandering souls was carrying a prototype? Maybe they made their own packs? If anybody has seen or heard about a titanium-frame pack, please clue me in. To my knowledge, there is no such creature as an external-frame pack weighing less than four-and-a-half pounds with a capacity above 5,000 cubic inches. If there is, and it costs less than $1,000, I want one, too.

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