In High School, used an old canvas Boy Scout rucksack for trips into the woods on the old family farm and into the swamps of the coastal rivers of south Georgia. It currently hangs on the high gable wall of my log house attached to an old BSA wood frame I bought on e-Bay to go with it. That pack rode a lot on my shoulders as well as tied into canoes we paddled for days on end on those rivers that were like some primeval place from the beginning of time. We encountered gators, wild boars, bobcats, cottonmouths hanging from willow tree branches, and yes, even a couple of those Deliverance characters tried to shoot us a couple of times. (Of course, they had a reason-we found an abandoned VW bus way out in the swamp-no wheels-we thought it'd washed there in a flood. Couple of these boys were just with us, not really scouts. They thought it'd be fun to turn the thing over, bust out the glass, and remove the roof with an ax. Just as we were paddling away, .30-.30 rounds started spashing all around us in the water. Turns out they'd bought the thing at a junk yard & dragged it down there so they'd have shelter if fishing and a torrential dounpour came along. Fortunately, they decided not to cook us or do any other swamp redneck things to us: You know what tune he's playin! ) Ah, that pack brings back some good memories.
For serious packing in the mountains, I started with what NOLS was using back in mid-70s: Kelty's best external frame with a special XXL bag made by Paul Petzoldt Wilderness Equipment out of Lander Wyoming. Experimented with a couple of early internal frame packs, then went to Synergy Works Expedition sized top loader: 6500 c.i. in main bag and about 1200 more with 5 large externally attaching pockets. When that wore out, moved to Gregory's monster Denali Pro and attached big Osprey crampon bags on the sides for use as side pockets. This combo was over 9 lb. Then tried Kelty Red Cloud 110 and Red Cloud 90 in an attempt to start going lighter weight (love the big zip side pockets on those two. Lately, as I'm closing in on 60 y.o., have decided to go ultralight so recently got an Osprey Exos 58 Lg (actually 61L) @ 2 lb. 10 oz., a 16 oz down bag, 6 oz wind parka, 6.5 oz rain fly,titanium bowl, pot, spork, even 0.5 oz titanium trowel, etc. Don't think I can ever hit SUL though, 5 lb. base is pretty extreme, though I may look at a SUL pack some day.
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Started in 1965 with my brothers old BSA frame pack (canvas). Earned enough money to buy the best Kelty with extender bar in 1968. Used that Kelty until 1997! Broke the frame and Kelty replaced it free. Bought a new bag in 1990 but used the same frame. I still use the Kelty- but have modified it and made my own light weight bag. First internal frame in late 1990's - Mountainsmith - never fit right but a good pack. Bought my current pack, Golite Quest- my first woman's specific pack and it fits! I have also had tons of alpine mountaineering day packs - best is Arcterex Khamsin 38? - the small one - I actually did a 7-day trip in this pack. Still use that too. If I have to go more than 12 days or carry more than 45 pounds, I still prefer the Kelty. I have the total weight down to under 4 pounds. Oddly, I really like external frame packs.
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I started in the late 70's, using a Sears Hillary external frame. Then switched to a Camp Trails and used it in the 80's. Due to kids, and a family, didn't backpack much in the 90's. When my sons started scouts, I went along backpacking and camping. I went from a Gregory Lassen, to an Granite Gear Latitude Ki. In 2010 I purchased by latest pack, a Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 Ki. For the big 4 my bag, ground pad, and pack & tent weighs in at 6 pounds.
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