Saturday, November 8, 2014

Vintage Kelty gets a MOLLE makeover

Picked up an old Kelty external frame backpack for cheap on Ebay but, alas, it came with shoulder straps that had hardened with age to the point of being unusable.

Good frame, good pack. Good hardware holding it all together. Everything good but the shoulder straps.

Used to be, you could buy replacement shoulder straps at most sporting goods stores. But browsing online, I found nothing of a commercial nature that came close to looking like a fit. I read Kelty does sell parts for its vintage gear, but blogs and message boards said it's pricey. And I'm not going to put a lot of money into a 35 dollar pack.

So, I got creative.

Pulled a set of MOLLE straps off a milsurp pack in the basement (a pack I'll never use, just too bulky and heavy). Decided to use the waist belt and padding as well.

With MOLLE before pack reinstalled

Straps and pads view

Gotta say, I'm pleased with the way it turned out. Yes, it's just a wee bit heavier pack than it was, but as it originally came, the 29 inch frame seemed a little small for my 19 inch torso. The MOLLE gear strapped on in such a way to give much wider range of adjustments. I did keep the original upper back cushion, it helped to stabilize the upper MOLLE pad.

Rear view pack re-installed

No load testing yet, but everything fits real snug. Worst case, I may need some plastic tie-downs to prevent any up-down slippage. The frame is still plenty accessible for attaching a sleeping pad and/or tent below the pack.

I actually first thought ALICE straps would be a good fit for this pack, and I could have kept the original Kelty waist belt. But I had the MOLLE gear on hand, so the old Kelty got a MOLLE makeover.

No modifications to the frame whatsoever. What I've done is completely reversible should I ever find commercial straps. But I think I'm going to like this backpack even better the way ti is now.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Doug,

    That is a good idea, I still have my packs from when I was in the service. YOu can pick up surplus Alice pack shoulder straps real cheap and that would work well with some of the older packs, especially with the no padding straps.