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Vintage Kelty/Gerry's Backpack

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One of my favorite pieces of gear. My nearly 50 year old Kelty external frame with a surprise add on.
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Text Comments (88)
deepwoods 666 (14 days ago)
Hi I actually picked one up at an antique store for twenty bucks mine's red I customize it so it would be clips instead of draw strings
Bluecollar Backcountry (14 days ago)
Sounds like a nice score. The red was really popular In the 70s. You might like my video from about 7 months ago "Must watch video 1972" Thanks for watching and commenting 👍
Jack Kennedy (1 month ago)
A fascinating piece of outdoors history, and I thank you for it.
Bluecollar Backcountry (1 month ago)
@Jack Kennedy Thank you very much Jack. Your kind words mean a lot !
Jack Kennedy (1 month ago)
@Bluecollar Backcountry Good to know that the heirloom will be passed along., whether entirely voluntarily or not ;-). You have a very friendly, approachable demeanor, and I'm most happy to have just subscribed.
Bluecollar Backcountry (1 month ago)
Thank you Jack. It doesn't get much use these days but I'll always have it until my oldest daughter gets it. She's already claimed it. Lol Thanks for watching and commenting. I appreciate it 👍
Johnny Sullivan (1 month ago)
Iove history and love the outdoors So I'm loving this video
Bluecollar Backcountry (1 month ago)
Thank you Johnny. I haven't used this old pack in a few years but I'll never get rid of a piece of backpacking history. My oldest daughter has laid claim to it when I pass away. (She said, not to be morbid or anything ) Hahaha Thanks for watching and commenting
Jeri Atrix (1 month ago)
I have the exact same pack, including the color.
Bluecollar Backcountry (1 month ago)
That's really cool. Because of the age, the material is getting a little thin so I haven't used it in a while, but I'll never get rid of it. I just see it as hiking history 👍
John Emerick (2 months ago)
Great video! I just scored an old school Kelty at a thrift store...subbed 👍
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 months ago)
@John Emerick Lol, I've been told that I look like a few different people..........All handsome young men. Bahahahaha
John Emerick (2 months ago)
@Bluecollar Backcountry when the video started, I first thought you were the guy Tim, from "Moonshiners". 😁
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 months ago)
Great find John. I get mine out once in a while but being 50 yrs old the material is showing it's age. I'll never part with it though just because of the history of it. Not to mention my oldest daughter has already laid claim to some of my old gear. Lol Best of luck with your adventures 👍
James Holland (2 months ago)
It's cool to see old gear external frames are very comfortable, but I'm from the old school I still use a camp trails camo pack from 92
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 months ago)
That's pretty cool ! I still get mine out once in a while but the material is showing it's age now and I don't want to ruin it at this point. One of my daughters has laid claim to it. 😆 Thanks for watching James I appreciate it.
steven johnson (4 months ago)
just found a pre 1963 for $4.00 at a yard sale, I feel lucky!
Bluecollar Backcountry (4 months ago)
That's a very cool find. I see stuff like that as backpacking history while others just want to get rid of it. 👍 Thanks for watching and best of luck with your adventures.
I just learned so much. Thank you for making this video. I just bought 2 kelty packs at a flea market for $15 for the pair
Thank you sir! Hopefully the weather will allow me to try them out this weekend! 🤞🏻
Bluecollar Backcountry (5 months ago)
Sounds like you got a very good deal. Thank you for watching and taking the time to comment. Best of luck with your adventures.
sarah perreault (7 months ago)
Thanks for this good history and explanation. I have been trying to decide what to do with my dad's Kelty from the early 1960s. He and my brother hiked the John Muir Trail with his Boy Scout Troop many summers. It is actually quite comfortable and I think I will keep it.
Bluecollar Backcountry (7 months ago)
Hi Sarah. Thank you so much for watching and I think it's really cool that you have your dad's pack, that I'm sure took him places that brought him great pleasure. That's definitely a piece of gear to cherish.
Yumcha Brea- (11 months ago)
I just picked up a kelty  just like yours . But without the inside pockets. I remember all the scout leaders had them back in the early 70's. we were All envious ! 50yrs. later! If I wear it? I'm a RELIC! I love it!
Bluecollar Backcountry (11 months ago)
Hahaha I'm pretty sure that puts me in the relic years also. "But" it's pretty cool to have a piece of backpacking history. Thank you Yumcha for watching and commenting. Best of luck with your adventures.
Blessed Armadillo (11 months ago)
Great video, thanks for posting. I have a Kelty Mountaineer that I've had since the late 70s and it is still in great shape. Interesting fact: I'm tall and have the XL frame with a top extender bar and I just weighed this thing and it is 4.2 pounds. That is less than many internal frame packs of today (e.g. the Osprey Atmos)! Yes there are ultralight internals that will be considerably less but there are a lot of internals that weigh more.
Fuzielectron (3 months ago)
Blessed Armadillo, I think that most people do not realise that little detail that these old packs are lighter than they appear and in fact lighter than a lot of modern packs. Kelty packs are near impossible to find in the UK but being an external frame fan since the eighties I have accumulated a few of the European types, some average 3lbs. Even better if carrying 50lb+ loads. Such versatile devices, long lasting and hard wearing, none of these modern packs will be in use in thirty years. I have one pack dismantled at this time a Karrimor and the frame itself is just at the 1lb mark or slightly over, my intention is to rework the belt, shoulder harnesses and bag over with modern materials, hopefully it will be a sub 2lbs pack and still have the ability to carry 50lbs as and when required. Blue Collar Back country, thank you for an excellent and informative video, hopefully like fashion, these things will go the full circle and come back into vogue. It blows my mind every time I pull out my still functional hirty year old external frame and rock with it on the path, they are comfortable and tough and I have more than my money's worth out of them.
Bluecollar Backcountry (11 months ago)
Blessed Armadillo Thank you for watching and commenting. There's just something really cool about having vintage gear that's still worth using today. Make me wonder if today's gear will hold up that many years. I appreciate it 😆
Nathaniel Betteridge (1 year ago)
And yyou say youre no expert...Lol proceeds to give 12 minutes of detailed history
Nathaniel Betteridge 😆 Lol Thanks Nathaniel. I appreciate you taking the time to watch and comment.
Alexander Weaver (1 year ago)
So glad to have found this video! Cool pieces of history on both packs. I have three external frame packs , one is a vintage model with no patches or names and looks to be home made. The frame is black paint on aluminum with a black pack and I would estimate the capacity to be 60 liters. The black nylon bag has red piping sewn on the edges of each pocket and the main flap. A simple cord runs from each outer edge of the main flap and is secured by two formed wire hooks on either side of a large front pocket. I found it at a Salvation Army thrift shop stuffed in a barrel full of golf clubs...cost me $7. I took it home and "revitalized " it and it is a beautiful pack. On an outing I stuffed it with 35 pounds of gear and it performed well beyond my expectations. The other two are a current day Field & Stream pack and a Norwegian Army Rucksack made famous in the Kirk Douglas movie, "The Heroes of Telemark." Consequently, the NAR is also referred to as the Telemark Rucksack. This pack is also steeped in history: designed by the Norwegian, Ole Bergan, in 1908, first used in 1909 and still used in training purposes by the Norwegian Army until 1999 or possibly 2012. I was lucky to find one in a Pennsylvania military surplus store for $45. It's a great bushcraft backpack and many will disagree with me that it outperforms the Swedish LK35, a tremendously popular bushcraft pack that is extremely hard to find. I tried for several months. Anyway, I use both internal and external frame backpacks. My planned adventure determine what backpack I use.
Alexander Weaver That's a great story on your pack. It's amazing how comfortable the old packs can still be. Kelty even offers upgraded shoulder straps and waist belts for the old external frame packs. Thanks for watching and commenting and best of luck with your adventures.
Oregrown Budman (1 year ago)
I just picked up a red kelty after 68...mine has the sun valley tag...but she is a 5 bar v frame. I cant wait to get it out on the PCT this summer! Mine has the waist belt as well! Love the video!
Oregrown Budman Thanks Budman. Pretty cool 😆 It's surprising how comfortable the old pack is. Have a blast on the PCT
Jeri Atrix (1 year ago)
Remember Holubar, Camp Seven, Class Five, Snow Lion? Another very popular external frame brand was Camptrails.
Chris Chase (1 year ago)
Super cool. Love this bit of history you shared. I see people wearing Gerry jackets quite a bit...never knew they made backpacks once upon a time.
I love the old ALICE packs.
Kirby Hill (1 year ago)
I love my Kelty Trekker.
Kirby Hill (1 year ago)
Bluecollar Backcountry 65 litre
Kirby Hill That's a good one. 65 liter ??? Best of luck with your adventures and thanks for the comment.
plejaren giants (1 year ago)
Its an awesome pack. Great upload!
Doane Turner (2 years ago)
Have one myself, pre 63, thrift store find in great shape. Love the pack, comfortable a packs a ton. Thanks for sharing the info and great video.
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
Doane Turner Thank you Doane. It's pretty cool having a piece of backpacking history that is still usable equipment. With all of the advancements in today's stuff it's surprising how comfortable the old packs can be. I hope to do a video this summer on old backpacking stoves. I appreciate you taking the time to watch and comment, and best of luck with your adventures.
Jerry Bartlett (2 years ago)
Wow. History flashbacks for me and my Kelty. Got mine for a Christmas gift in 1972, was 10 years old and wanted to have that pack. Got it and never looked back. Hikes all over the plains and mountains of Arizona. Finally had to trash it a few years back, just to much damage from years of service but wish I had kept it anyway. Well hindsight is 20/20. Thanks for the look back. Think that I might just have to replace it with another one. External frames rule.
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
Jerry Bartlett Thank you for the comment Jerry, pretty cool memory.
Osca Alva (2 years ago)
I'm from Canada pretty hard to pick up a Kelty pack in stores very expensive in Toronto have to go online for a simple 120 $ Kelty pack goes for twice the price here thanks allot for part history
Andres Herrera (2 years ago)
Hi there! I just bought a extremely similar pack from St. Vinnies for 10 bucks...it is my first pack and I could tell it was vintage. I am excited to see what kind of adventures I'll take it on :) Mine has slightly different tag that looks more modern, as well as a section at the top that slides up and down on the top of the frame, which yours appears to not have? The waist strap is also padded andhas a different hook style belt at the front instead of the jaw type. Thanks for sharing!
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
Andres Herrera Hi Andres, Sounds like you have a little newer model but it's still cool having some vintage gear isn't it ? If you ever need anything for it you can call Kelty customer service and you can still get replacement parts if you need to replace anything. Thanks for sharing and commenting and I hope you have great adventures with yours my friend.
Kentucky Woodsman (2 years ago)
Neat bit of history and some really cool vintage packs Tony! Pretty cool how Kelty got their start in business. That Kelty pack you have there is in excellent condition. I am surprised you have not heard from Kelty wanting to buy it off of you. I have the old aluminum frame Sunbacker brand pack (I want to say it was sold by J.C. Penny in the 70s and 80s) that I used backpacking in the Boy Scouts. I have no idea why I have hung on to it all these years. I just can't stand to part with it for some reason. I enjoyed the video! Thanks for sharing!
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
Kentucky Woodsman Thank you Chris. That's why my room is so full, not wanting to part with stuff that I've used in the past. I told a lot of folks after my 10 question tag video, that I may have to have a sale one day. Lol That is a nice old pack that one of my daughters will probably wind up with one day.
Stephen Hill (2 years ago)
I love hiking with an external frame. Thanks for the history lesson.
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
Stephen Hill Thank you Stephen. I appreciate the comment. I think people would be surprised how comfortable an external frame pack can be. Seems these days they are almost phased out. Thank you for watching and good luck in the outdoors
Jeff Davis (2 years ago)
Thanks for sharing I really enjoyed it and learned something new.
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
Jeff Davis Thank you Jeff. I'm no expert but I like to share a little of that stuff from time to time. There are lots of people new to backpacking so a little history helps. I appreciate you taking the time to watch and comment.
Vincent Rodriguez (2 years ago)
I just picked one up for $20 my first pack ever and it's the same frame you have, except for the fact that I have a top riser bar that telescope up and down to add a sleeping bag or something like that. no dividers. My waste buckle is a two Metal peace's that hook to each other. Last my bag has no red lacing all green, the label has red stitching with yellow mountains and it reads Kelty Owner only, no city or zip code. I thank you for sharing your knowledge on this video.
Vincent Rodriguez (2 years ago)
That's what the plan is, I need to order a couple of pins and the keyway wire for one side. Other then that I can't wait to put it in use. Thanks for your reply
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
I bet you can call Kelty customer service and describe it to them and find out more info. Sounds like you picked up a piece of history. Thank you for watching and the comment.
I checked mine out. It only has four cross members, and no internal compartments. The pack attaches to the frame the same way, except instead of one long wire, mine has independent circular wires on each pin. It looks like there used to be some kind of liner in the pack that has disintegrated over the years. I had to brush it all out. It is very light. I don't use it, but for $20.00 I couldn't pass it up!
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
Hey Chris. The frame with 4 cross members was the standard backpack frame. If you freeze frame the old Kelty ad in my video you can see in the 60's the frame by itself sold for $7.00. Wild huh ? I know the key wire was not very popular and split rings were used on the belt and shoulder straps, so maybe someone converted yours to split rings to get away from the key wire. I still use mine on occasion if I'm just doing an overnighter, and it's more comfortable than it looks like it would be. For $20.00 I think you picked up a nice piece of history and a keepsake anyway. Thanks for commenting.
SouthPaw Bushcraft (2 years ago)
What an amazing history of a beautiful vintage pack! I LOVE it!! ~Dawn
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
Thank you so much ! Out of all the things I've saved this is one of my favorites. I used this not long ago on an overnighter and it's suprising how well it sits and carrys. I appreciate you watching and taking the time to comment. Tony
Opal Preston Shirley (2 years ago)
Really enjoyed this bit of history I've never heard any of this. If you ever get more it would be great. Thanks. atb Opal
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
It's pretty cool knowing a little of the history and origins of the equipment we love as hikers and backpackers. Thank you for taking the time to watch and comment. Tony
Kyle Styer (2 years ago)
This was awesome, ty!
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
Thank you very much. I appreciate you watching and taking the time to comment.
bigmac (2 years ago)
What chair is that your sitting on?
bigmac (2 years ago)
+Bluecollar Backcountry SUHWEEET, can't wait!
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
As a matter of fact I'll be doing a review on that very soon. I picked that up for less than half of the price of the same chair with a big brand name on it.
Jason Smith (2 years ago)
Mine says Sun Valley, Calif. 91352. Do you have an idea what year this was?
Jason Smith (2 years ago)
Thanks! Will do!
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
Wow ! That would be hard to say. They moved to Sun Valley in 1968. I know they were bought out in the early 70's for a few years and Dick stayed on as chairman, but I don't know if they moved. In 1998 the headquarters moved to Boulder, Co but I don't know about manufacturing. I bet if you called Kelty, with a little info and a pic or two, I bet they could nail it down for you. Sorry I couldn't be of more help. Let me know what you find out.
Jason Smith (2 years ago)
I've got this exact pack with dividers and extra pockets on sides. I found it on eBay for $35 w/$25 shipping. It also has American, Canadian, Mexican and Brazilian Flags sewn on rear of top flap. I expect the previous owner hiked the PCT. I hope to earn this badges myself one day. Have taken it on early spring Virginia 3 day hike on AT with 30+ lbs. I've since lightened the load but it set nice and balanced. Highly recommend this pack!
Jason Smith (2 years ago)
Been thinking of uploading-will do on next hike after Thanksgiving.
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
Pretty cool stuff. I'd like to see that in a video some time.
Jason Smith (2 years ago)
Thank you for responding! I'm happy now to know what model I have. The shoulder straps are in perfect condition and the belt is a preadjusted buckle that clip into place-I have another pack that has your style of buckle also with the wires that run through pins.
Bluecollar Backcountry (2 years ago)
That's pretty cool ! Makes you wonder about the history of that particular pack with the flags sewn in doesn't it. Crazy how comfortable those old packs are. You can order updated shoulder straps, and waist belt from Kelty by calling their customer service and describing the pack, and sending pics. I prefer to keep mine original because I just think It's cool. I still assume it's the model A with extra pockets sewn in, and no one has ever offered any different suggestions. Neat story Jason. Thanks for sharing, and good luck on future hikes and backpack trips. I appreciate you watching and taking the time to comment.
interesting history, thanks for sharing, enjoyed.
Mike D. (3 years ago)
Great video, do you have a link to the pic of the vintage advertisement?
Jason Smith (2 years ago)
I paused video and screen shot it. Such a cool find! I found this exact pack on eBay. Really enjoy it.
Bluecollar Backcountry (3 years ago)
Thanks Mike. I appreciate you taking the time to watch. I have an old print of that Kelty ad that I scanned. If you message me through YouTube messages and send your email address I'll scan it again and send it to you
Woodlands North (3 years ago)
Very cool old-school backpack. I bet it rivals many on the market today.
Campfire Steve (3 years ago)
Nice detective work on the age of the pack. That old ad is amazing. The waist strap innovation info is news to me. I can't use a waist strap anymore due to a back issue, but the majority of the population is happier.
Love vintage gear. Due to space issues I had to shed some of my collection. I enjoyed learning the history as that is something I don't always know about the old gear I collect. I would love to run into one of these while garage sailing.
TheGoatMumbler (3 years ago)
Great story! Love that old gear.  I had a Gerry scout tent, down jacket and vest from 1974. I sold  that stuff at Cullum & Boren sporting goods in Town East Mall in Mesquite, TX.  when I was in high school. The tent has been long gone and I wore out the jacket and vest about 10 years ago. The jacket made me look like the Michelin man!
Bluecollar Backcountry (3 years ago)
+TheGoatMumbler That would be cool if you had any photos from back then, Michelin Man. LOL
ATH Outdoors (3 years ago)
Very interesting! Thanks for posting this.
Hike with Mike (3 years ago)
very interesting story, love to hear stories about how small businesses began, love Kelty...great gear....and I still prefer the external frames over the interior frames, but I am just old school I guess!
Bluecollar Backcountry (3 years ago)
Thanks Mike. Kelty & Gerry's have so much more to their stories. Cool thing is how light and comfortable a 50 year old pack can be. Thanks for the comment and watching.

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