Kelty - Freighter Frame Pack

Kelty - Freighter Frame Pack

England, Mike
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KELTY - Boulder, CO
Freighter Frame Pack - $214
www.kelty.com
800-423-2320

The longstanding debate over internal vs. external frame packs is one that won’t be settled soon, even if the soft-pack adherents do have the majority vote. One arena in which there’s no argument, however, is hunting—even the most diehard softy can’t deny the superiority of a frame pack when it comes to hauling out game. Which brings us to Kelty, one of the few pack-makers that has never lost faith in the external frame. This year they’ve added a new model to the lineup: the Freighter Frame Pack, a bomber frame-and-packbag system that is sure to make your soft-pack-wearing friends jealous, even if they won’t admit it.

I took the Freighter on an early-season bowhunt in the Anaconda Range, loaded down with gear for three days. Frame packs are notorious for their high-riding, top-heavy loads, but with all the straps cinched, the Freighter sucked tight to my back and rode well. The waterproof flap and spindrift collar kept the pack contents dry. Excellent pocket placement and easy-to-grab zipper pulls meant ready access to snacks, spotting scope, bonesaw, first-aid kit, and other essentials. And removing the packbag? Four pins, two Velcro straps, and less than a minute later, I was ready to load meat onto the frame. The foldable bench helped support the heavy load—though it could have used a locking mechanism to keep it secure, especially with lighter loads and when bending forward. And I’m not sure if the designers intended this, but with the shelf extended, the unloaded frame made a great camp chair.

The Freighter has some little touches too: handy map pocket; pull-out, blaze-orange raincover; extra pins, in case you drop one in the snow; and my favorite, a clever re-direct system on the waistbelt so you can tighten it by pulling in, across the body. I would have liked longer straps for the top panel, to access the main compartment without unbuckling, but that would mean dangling straps while hiking. Six in one, half-dozen in the other—like the internal vs. external debate itself.
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