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#13522 - 05/03/11 04:16 AM Kelty Milspec pack
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1566
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
I picked up a Kelty Gila (6503 ci) this week, mostly because the ridiculously low price was irresistible, but also because my number one packing issue always seems to be space, even when I am keeping weight down . (I sleep REALLY cold* so I tend to pack a lot of light fluffy stuff). Also, it fits like it grew out of my back.

This is one of four or five monster packs Kelty has produced for extended ops in desert and mountains**, and man, does it have room. In addition to four front and side pockets , and a 660 ci lid, it even has pouches between the suspension and the back.

That's where my question comes up: anybody have experience with this Mystery Ranch suspension/frame? Its got more doo dads than you can shake a stick at, and since it is military, user info is a little hard to come by. The entire suspension is supposedly removeable, for instance, which I would like to take advantage of for travel, but I am wondering how easy that is, and if its worth it. Any suggestions on wrestling with this baby?

* Another Whitney saga
** The top of this line is the Eagle, at 7850 ci.


Edited by saltydog (05/03/11 04:16 AM)
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#13526 - 05/03/11 05:49 AM Re: Kelty Milspec pack [Re: saltydog]
Fishmonger Offline


Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1033
Loc: Madison, WI
you have a Kelty or a Mystery Ranch pack?

Rebranded MR?

re MR suspension: their web site has plent of info, even videos how to adjust it.

I gotta go check those Kelty packs, because the only reason I didn't buy an MR so far was the prices
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#13550 - 05/03/11 02:12 PM Re: Kelty Milspec pack [Re: Fishmonger]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1566
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Its a Kelty Gila 6503, listed here and there, though not where I bought it, as carrying a Mystery Ranch suspension, although that could have been puffing. I didn't care, since it rides and feels like it was made for me. A quick check of the MR website didn't reveal too much, I'll have to drill down a little later. The only one of the Kelty MilSpec series on the Kelty site is the Eagle 128 (7850) which looks identical to my Gila, except for that frame, and is a few pounds heavier. Seems to have a much simpler frame. Makes sense since I have seen the Gila described as listing at 600. ( I assure you, I didn't pay anywhere near that for mine.) Price diff must be in the frame.

Mine is definitely an internal/external hybrid frame, with at least an inch of padding, including the 2 or 3 layers of "hydrophobic" mesh, and at least 3 different stiffening components, mostly external to the bag. Includes a "back balancing" plate, which is essentially a big dish that distributes waist belt buckle pressure over the abdomen. Looks funky but what a difference it makes. Very Different from the frame shown on the Eagle at the Kelty site. The Eagle lists at 400, and I have seen it for as low as 275 . That is way below the Mystery Ranch list.

Surf the web, ebay, etc and you can find these here and there. Search terms: Kelty military MOLLE, Gila, Eagle, Kodiak.

Not my pack (mine was even cheaper!!!) but identical, except without the Balancing Plate:





Edited by saltydog (05/03/11 02:17 PM)
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#14158 - 05/17/11 06:56 AM Re: Kelty Milspec pack [Re: saltydog]
John P. Offline


Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 52
Loc: Palmdale
I'll be really interested in your personal review of this pack and suspension system as I'm on the lookout for a 6000+ci pack. I have a Dana Designs Astralplane (7000ci!) that was the state of the art suspension system when I bought it some 20 odd years ago but it has seen better days and there is much better stuff out there. Mystery Ranch has really brought their suspension system to a new level so it would be great to hear your hands on experiences.
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#14171 - 05/17/11 03:57 PM Re: Kelty Milspec pack [Re: John P.]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1566
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
OK: at the risk of increasing demand for this scarce item:

Haven't had this pack in the backcountry yet, but I did travel with it last week on a 6-day field job and it performed like a champ. My retired military client wanted to buy it off me, but I can't part with it. Haven't had a chance to really put it through its paces, but carrying well over 50 lbs of field gear short distances, comfort is limited only by leg strength. On the back and hips, it feels like a wetsuit vest, or maybe a second skin. No pressure points anywhere, and I wasn't even using the abdominal plate.

Only weak spot: the fabric on the sewn-on front pouches (the side pockets are MOLLE bags) is a little light, Chafed through when I put some steel GI canteens with raised seams in them and someone loaded my pack on its front in the truck. A little adhesive patch fabric fixes that, and would recommend that for prevention. Few outside attach points: one vertical daisy chain and lower straps. No ice ax loop. COuld be easily rigged at the lower end of the daisy chain.

Interesting special gear features. Hydration bladder pouches between the external component of the hybrid frame and the pack, mesh pockets under the side pouches, which themselves are also ski slots. Internal padded radio carrier also happens to be about the size of a bear canister.

Except for that minor fabric deal, the pack is killer. Also seems to be waterproof fabric throughout, so no pack cover necessary. Huge lower compartment takes an entire GI sleep system: Big bag, liner, pad, bivvy cover. I also love the color: I like to go low profile, can't stand the bright colors in a lot of tent/clothing/bag fabric, and most camo. This thing blends in anywhere.

All in all, I am now very torn between the Gila and my vintage Serac for my HST trip this summer and definitely the JMT next year. I updated my Serac with Kelty's best civilian external suspension, but it can't touch this. Keeping my eye out for more of these for my boys

Also, I don't think is actually a Mystery Ranch suspension: I would contact Kelty directly for info on that. But it is infinitely adjustable and unbelievably comfortable.

For a Kelty in this range, I would also look at the Eagle (7850 CI, the only one listed at Kelty's web site)

http://www.kelty.com/c-backpacks.aspx#subcategory=militarytactical

and the Kodiak (7203) I Don't think the Eagle has quite the suspension system of the Gila, but the Kodiak does.

Also, with troop drawdowns, more of these packs may be coming home, or unissued ones surplussed.
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