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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Backpack repairs

 What you see here is my fathers 1980's model Kelty backpack.  I think he purchased it when he and my brother backpacked The Absaroka Range in Montana in 1982.  He told me when he purchased this pack, it was the largest pack they sold.  My father brought two of everything into the woods and he had a large frame as well, so carrying this large pack was no chore to him.
 I inherited this pack in 1999 and have used it since then.  Now over time there has been items that need some maintenance.  The zippers have not fared as well as the rest of the pack.  I decided to drop the pack off at a friendly tailor to see if they could repair it at a comfortable price.
 The first thing the tailor wanted to do was replace the zippers with Velcro.  I was not too hot on that idea but once she told me the zippers were going to cost me a pretty penny we went back and reviewed the areas Velcro could work.
 I am real nervous that the tailor might not be able to replace some of these zippers or just that something might not go right and my pride possession from my father might not be able to make it into the woods again.  Now this pack is so large that having six broken zippers has not slowed me down one bit.  I am not sure of the size but extra large does not do it justice.  The canvas on this thing is just amazingly thick but also not too heavy.  It has that waxy feel to it as well and repels moisture if a quick rainstorm hits and I can't get my poncho out in time.
 From the picture above you can see my fathers handy work of making a modified waist belt.  In the 80's waist belts were no more than just 2 inch wide webbing with a metal buckle on it.  My father the engineer he was and an FAA instructor took a bunch of padding sown into some heavy duty canvas and a flight buckle and made the most awesome waist belt I have ever had on.  I added the blue zip ties to keep my fishing pole strapped to the side of the frame.  I am not the engineer my father was.
 What is nice about an external frame pack is that first of all they vent air to your back very well and you can adjust and modify them.  See in the picture above the bare frame.  The tailors first question was, when she saw the pack that could we remove the metal.  I took two minutes and with the slide of two pins the cover slid right off.
 When I got back to work I thought if the zipper replacement did go wrong I still could have a pack made to fit my frame.  I could even just buy a new pack that fits this frame.  The results will be back in less than 2 weeks.
In the end this is a 30 year old pack that has been from Texas to Wyoming and all places in between.  Now there are newer and fancier packs, but when I wear this pack it just takes me back to when I was on the trails with my dad.


  1. What happened? I hope you didn't go with the velcro! I don't think it will hold, and it probably won't last many seasons. Yeah, I know this was years ago, but curiosity is killing me!

  2. I think your waterproof is wearing down too, I can see it in the different shades of coloring. It will need to be removed and redone. I found a link for that, I'm going to try it on a nylon tarp I have with quite the funk.

    The reason you don't want to use velcro is that it won't hold under stress as well as a zipper. Too much weight, or a tugging in the wrong place and it will give way. Your best bet is to try talking with Kelty first and find out if the have a lifetime guarantee on their products, if not ask what they would charge to fix the zippers. If that does not work, buy your own zippers and then find a tailor who does luggage repair, because THEY will know their stuff.

    Anyways, I imagine you are through with the whole project. I should look through the rest of your blogs. But perhaps someone will chance through here as I did and find something they can use.