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Vintage Backpacks

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Two major outdoors-products companies, Kelty and JanSport, are taking a retro tilt with backpacks for 2011. This month, both companies unveiled backpacks for next year’s line that look like models as seen on the Appalachian Trail circa 1964.

JanSport and Kelty retro backpacks

The JanSport D2 is an external-frame pack based on the company’s original backpacking model from the 1960s. The company is marketing it as “tried and true old school with new school innovation baked in.”

Enormous capacity to the tune of about 5,200 cubic inches of space is a main feature. It can haul enough equipment for a week in the woods. Set the D2 on the ground and it’ll stay freestanding, its compartments and square pockets accessible like drawers in a chest.

JanSport D2

The D2 has a big external frame that can adjust to fit adult backpackers of most heights and body types. Despite its overgrown size, the D2 weighs just less than 6 pounds, which is only a bit heavier than modern-day, internal-frame packs of the same capacity.

The D2, one of several retro models JanSport now sells, will cost $275 when it ships to stores this winter.

Kelty’s to-be-released Vintage line includes five retro backpacks and a duffel bag. The company’s product developers drew inspiration from classic ’60s and ’70s designs to build the Vintage line, which, like the JanSport models, is touted to blend old-school looks with modern functionality.

Kelty Mockingbird

The Kelty Mockingbird model is a stand-out. It has leather accents, metal hardware and exposed zippers. A classic 500D Cordura fabric is employed for the 1,700-cubic-inch pack.

Modern touches on the Mockingbird include cell phone sleeves and laptop-friendly sizing. The side pockets are removable on this top-loading pack, which is made for outdoors or everyday use. The Mockingbird will cost $124.95 when it comes out in early 2011.

“There is a world-wide vintage trend going on,” said Sue Edmiston, a marketing director at Kelty. JanSport and Kelty know that even backpacks are not spared from the trend of borrowing looks from decades past and making them new again.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.

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