The Return of External Frames

The Return of External Frames

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Be ready to confront those buried memories of wearing bulky hand-me-down external frame backpacks this spring because Vargo will introduce a new line of the old school pack design. Their goal? Beyond the retro cache, they claim that these ultralight packs will provide unparalleled support-to-weight ratio. Use of titanium alloy in the external frame should help them get at least part of the way there—the projected weight comes at just under two pounds, which is lighter than the pack we dubbed the world’s best ultralight backpack. The new design boasts 36 liters of internal storage, an ergonomic lumbar support plate, a ventilated shoulder harness, a streamlined arc design, and an option of ripstop nylon or cuben fiber fabrics. At $300 for the nylon model, the price point seems right. But the real test will be how heavy loads carry on the trail. Either way, the retro packs should look good with your ironic mustache.
—Nathan Borchelt