Jul 25, 20163137 views

DIY - Kelty PK 50 Pack Modifications

The Kelty PK50 is a 3175 cu in (52 L) pack that weighs 51 oz (1450 g) in size M/L. I like the main compartment and front stash-it pocket, but wish the hipbelt pockets were bigger. The hipbelt padding and shoulder straps are quite comfy, and together with the curved single stay and hourglass frame sheet, the pack carries pretty comfortably. However, it has an overabundance of pockets and straps - way too many for the ultralighter. So I decided to do some minor modifications and share my experience.
Net result: in about 20 minutes I was able to cut or remove about 13 oz for a new weight of 44 oz. I ended up with a much cleaner looking pack that probably has a volume of 35 to 40L - perfect for most overnight trips. With a sewing machine, I could drop another ounce or two pretty easily, maybe more. FYI - the drop page is here: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/kelty-pk50
On my scale, my pack weighed 56.8 oz. The rain cover (3.6 oz) and front pocket (6.5 oz) are both removable, making a savings of 10.1 oz - the first and easiest steps in dropping weight.
Next I took out the scissors to remove any superfluous stuff. First I cut out the "wing" pockets. I would have removed the entire wings, but the water bottle pockets and compression straps are basically integrated into the wings. I think there is a way to cut them away partially but that is a project for another day.
Next I cut the length of some of the straps, especially the front compression straps and the hipbelt straps. Too long? Cut it down!
Inside the pack, I cut out the hydration pocket (but left the strap at the top to hang a hydration reservoir) and the sleeping bag separator shelf and buckles. I removed some of the extra buckles (shown here - how to pry apart the buckles that are sewn into the pack).
I ended up with a 44 oz pack that is much simpler and cleaner looking.

If I spent a little more time on the sewing machine, I would:
  • Double-back the straps that I cut short, so they wouldn't slide through the buckles, and probably cut more of the straps shorter
  • Cut away the wings to just have straps and water bottle pockets, or sew the water bottle pockets to the main compartment
  • Sew shut the bottom access and cut off the extra fabric and roll closure system


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Here's a very well published old trick. Take out the frame sheet and roll your closed foam pad into a cylinder that fits just inside the pack like a sleeve. Pack you gear inside this sleeve. The full cylinder has rigidity that makes it act as a frame sheet and provide padding to your back.
This is pretty cool. Frankly I'm attracted to it because of the bottom entry. Hiking long trails, I often just want to grab my sleeping bag and pad outta my pack to throw down in a shelter, but most packs require one to dump out their pack to get to them. Nice for hiking to dusk, and being able to quickly setup camp.
The framesheet and stay are actually removable by design(as stated in previous comment). In the main compartment there is a velcro flap to remove them, saving 11.7oz of weight. I've done this for overnight trips with less than 10lbs and its was comfortable. This gives it the versatility of being a framed and frameless pack. Also possibly giving the ability to insert your own lighter weight framesheet and I bet you could fit a inflatable pad back there if you wanted to have a air frame. See pictures below for details:

You can also easily remove the framesheet + stay if you want to lighten the load. And you can easily put them back in later on.
Have you done this? Can you post some photos? What is the weigh savings? Thanks!
See my new comment in the main thread
My usual pack is the gregory baltoro 65 Medium, which is quite a heavy back. I'm usually the mule and often I like to bring friends along who aren't accustomed to backpacking. I frequently carry extra water, food, and a 2 person tent. My average loadout is around 25 lbs, not including the actual pack. This varies depending on how many nights I plan on being out and may go up to 30 - 35 lbs. I have loaded up my pack with weights and I feel it very comfortably holds 50 lbs, although this is not a very realistic scenario.
I have recently borrowed a friends hammock on a 2 nighter, and have been experimenting with much lighter alternatives than my 2 person tent setup. I'm looking to trim down some weight on my sleep setup with a hammock and by eliminating other pieces of gear. I'm not a seasoned ultralight person by any means; I'm merely breaking into this style of backpacking. I appreciate your input on this subject. -Keever
TheBeaver - Well, you simply can't beat the price of the PK50 right now. So if you're looking to go lighter, this is a low-risk way. Keep your Gregory for when you're the mule, but use the Kelty on lighter trips, as this probably won't replace your Gregory.

If you want something with a more stout frame, you could check out the slightly larger Klymit Motion 60 (this should be available here in early August), which weighs 41.4 oz. It's a bit more expensive, but will likely carry better. https://www.massdrop.com/buy/klymit-motion-60l-backpack

There are other packs that are more expensive, but I figure if you're considering the Kelty then you might not be looking for a $200-300 pack.
Does this Kelty also come perhaps in a <30L daypack version?
Very good ideas here. I'm always eager to shave ounces. You mention that you found the hipbelt and shoulder straps comfortable. This is my only reservation about the pack. They appear rather slim in comparison to packs I am used to. I'm wondering, what the total weight of your typical loadout is when using this pack? Anyone else that can comment on the comfortability would also be highly appreciated. Thanks for your time- Keever
I think the idea of comfort is relative - what type of packing are you using now that you will compare this against, and how much weight do you think you'll carry on most trips? The padding on this pack is much more substantial than any other pack that I own. The single stay is sufficient for the weight I carry. What are you using now TheBeaver?

When you're lightening the load, the general recommendation is to lighten your pack last. However, sometimes the pack can be the catalyst for going light - if you have less space and less carrying comfort, then you'll be pushed to really evaluate the value of each piece of gear.

Hopefully others can chime in as well. Several hundred members have gotten this pack through previous drops.
Great suggestions Danny. I'm glad I'm not the only one that modifies gear to better meet my needs. My wife was horrified the 1st time she watched me take a brand new piece of gear and start cutting stuff off.
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