Gerry External Frame Backpack – Early, Leather Bottom Model- Boulder, CO

Vintage Gerry External Frame Backpack - Early Leather Bottom - Boulder, Co - Med

Early Gerry external frame pack. This pack bears the Gerry Boulder, Colorado label and denotes production prior to the company being purchased by Outdoor Sports Corporation. This pack exhibits many of the common traits that came to dominate external frame pack construction in the 1970s up through the 1980s, but has its differences. The white leather bottom for instance is a great touch and common for construction of day packs which are often sat on the ground, but the added weight of the leather and lack of need for a toughened bottom would mean it was a feature not built to last. Secondly the one main compartment could make getting to what you needed on the trail difficult if packed incorrectly. This one large compartment construction would soon give way to more compartmentalized construction. (Gerry’s later Vagabond pack would take compartmentalized to whole new levels). The primitive waist strap is also an area later designs would improve upon. Though this bag does feature the patented buckle design it bolts directly to the frame and does not form a full padded belt. This is before the notion of “shoulder the load with your hips”

Beyond its shortcomings the pack is still beautifully designed and constructed. There are four canister style side pockets with leather pull tabs (missing on one). The bag is constructed of 100% nylon which was probably still somewhat exotic in its time. Padded shoulder straps. There’s also a pretty ingenious handle built into the frame.

The label is marked ‘Second’ meaning they found there was something wrong enough with it to not be sold as new, or possibly it was a prototype model later sold as a second. A small tag above the label has it sized a medium. Definitely a cool bag for any collection or use for its intended purpose.

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Alpine Designs External Frame Backpack

Early external frame pack boards were made from wood or solid metal, then came the aluminum. The innovators  at Alpine Designs saw  a new  progression in this pack made of a PVC plastic frame. It’s definitely one of the most unique external frame packs I’ve encountered, and probably for good reason. The use of plastics instead of aluminum seems to save no weight at all (if not adding some). It’s also hard to imagine this plastic could withstand the stresses, shock and temperatures of an aluminum frame. Still this pack has survived rather well with no cracks and all plastic hardware intact.

Regardless of materials, this pack is very well constructed with plenty of details that make it Alpine Designs. Leather zip assist tabs, integrated pack handle on the frame, and innovative lace loops to secure the top hatch to name a few.  This pack also features very thinly padded shoulder and waist straps. It has no lashing squares but does have two pair of D rings on the underside.

Pack make-up includes:
1 top entry main compartment
1 front entry second main compartment
2 top entry side canister pockets
2 front entry secondary side canister pockets
1 small front entry compartment on the outside of the secondary main compartment.