Recently added item(s) ×

You have no items in your shopping cart.

  • Awesome Gear, Amazing Service

Kelty Tioga 5500 Classic External Frame Backpack

Item # KEL19123A

Sale Price $179.95


You Save $20.00 10%

Sale Price $179.95


You Save $20.00 10%

Availability: In Stock!

Ships Monday.

Availability: In Stock!

Ships Monday.

A trail-tested workhorse, the Kelty Tioga 5500 Classic external frame backpack offers heavy load hauling capability, convenient access and fit adjustability. An array of features adds to the pack's reputation for reliable backcountry performance.



A trail-tested workhorse, the Kelty Tioga 5500 Classic external frame backpack offers heavy load hauling capability, convenient access points and fit adjustability. An array of features adds to the Tioga 5500's reputation for providing reliable backcountry performance.

The Tioga 5500 Classic's rigid aluminum frame provides excellent stability and support. In fact, if you're carrying heavy loads over well-maintained trails and even terrain, it's hard to beat an external frame pack. However, it is important to remember that the rigidity of an external frame can hamper flexibility for off-trail scrambling.

A fully adjustable suspension system accommodates torso lengths ranging from 16-22". The Tioga 5500 Classic's ventilated backpanel, adjustable dual-density waistbelt and padded shoulder straps work together to further enhance fit. Belt stabilizer straps help to transfer weight onto the hips and load-lifter straps let you adjust the "ride" of the pack. The Tioga 5500's adjustable sternum strap fine tunes the positioning of the shoulder straps across the chest to prevent chafing under the arms.

Equipped with many zippered pockets, the Tioga 5500 Classic allows you to separate and organize gear while providing quick and easy access to whatever you might need while on the trail. An integrated spindrift collar on the top-loading main packbag enables you to carry even more gear.

Other features found on the Tioga 5500 Classic include an enclosed sleeping bag compartment, a lid pocket, zippered side pockets, a mesh water bottle pocket, a daisy chain attachment system, lash points and an ice-axe loop. A lined internal sleeve makes the Tioga 5500 Classic hydration system (sold separately) compatible.

    Packbag Features:
  • Hydration compatible
  • Top loading
  • Sleeping bag compartment
  • Top lid pocket
  • Multiple zippered side pockets
  • Daisy chain and lash points

  • Suspension Features:
  • Adjustable suspension
  • Ventilating waistbelt, backpanel and shoulder straps
  • HDPE-reinforced waistbelt
  • Sternum strap
  • Belt stabilizers


Best Use Backpacking
Access Top Loading w/ Lower Sleeping Bag Compartment
Warranty Lifetime
Volume 5500 cu in
Type External Frame Backpack
Torso Adjustment Yes
Sternum Strap Yes; Adjustable Position
Item Weight 5 lb 9 oz
Hydration Compatible Yes
Frame Material Aluminum
Fits Torso 16"-22"
Dimensions 31" x 23" x 16"
Detachable Daypack n/a

1-10 of 13

  1. 1
  2. 2
It's BIG!

Likes: This pack is SUPER organized, which is something i absolutely loved about it. It also has tons of space, durable material, and may very well be the toughest and strongest pack on the market. When carrying 30 pounds or so, it was remarkably comfortable. I LOVED how padded the shoulder straps and waist belt were. I also loved how much stuff you can lash to the pack. It's easy to walk upright and not hunched over with this pack.

Dislikes: I need to preface this by saying I have always used internal frame backpacks, and my most recent one was the most comfortable pack ont he market - the Osprey Atmost 65 AG. This needs to be said because I spent the bulk of my time comparing the Tioga to the Atmos, which isn't a fair assessment since the two of them kind of polar opposites. I purchased the Tioga based off my dad's recommendation, and he's had a Tioga for the last 20 years and swears they are the best pack on the market. And so (from an internal frame backpacker's mindset), these were the things I didn't like.

- The clevis pins about broke my fingernails off horsing around with them during the pack adjustment period.
- The pack put a lot of strain on my neck and cut off the circulation to my arms when carrying 45 pounds (I horsed around with adjusting this thing for an hour to try and fix that but to not much avail).
- My back was just as sweaty when using this as it has been when using internal frame backpacks (I mention this only because I've read so many reviews from people who say it had the best ventilation that resulted in little back sweat).
- Improper Balance can be an issue when using an external frame pack, and I think that's worth mentioning since I've spent the past 18 years using internal frames and not having that problem.

For those people who love external packs, I think I can vouch that this is a terrific one to have. But if you've always used internal frames, you may have difficulty being sold on it.

Reviewed by David B. - October 8, 2016
Great pack!

Likes: I live in Breckenridge and use this pack for anything from few day to multi week trips. This is only my second season with it, but its holding up great and no complaints so far! I love the fact that it is an external frame pack and when compared, it is actually lighter than any internal frame packs of equivalent size. The pack itself is pretty huge but that means everything including your tent and mattress pad can fit inside with the other essentials instead of strapped to the outside. Overall its a great pack; its sturdy, light, and can accommodate any backpackers packing needs.

Dislikes: The mesh support on the lower back was starting to tear where it attached to the frame. I called kelty and they shipped me a new back mesh piece immediately with no questions asked and at no charge. Very impressed.

Reviewed by Tommy J. - April 30, 2015

Likes: What drew me to the Kelty Tioga 5500 was the classic backpack look. This is my first backpack purchase and it has not dissappointed. With more than enough storage space, I love that it has the ability as an external frame to strap all kinds of gear on the frame for easy access. I would recommend this pack to everyone.

Dislikes: Nothing!

Reviewed by Inside Edge M. - March 12, 2015

Likes: Please read what I do not like first. By comparison, (1) the tension in the nylon mesh support band is far easier to reset, (2) the zippers are better, and (3) the bag flap is secured by straps with buckles, not chords through toggles. It is easier to carry on an airplane or in a canoe due to the smaller frame and two carrying handles. This pack is no longer on Kelty's website. Are they about to incorporate the best improvements into the old design? Then it would be worth the price.

Dislikes: I bought new a 1970s era Kelty Style No. Super Tioga (L) (blue bag) I have used to carry loads of 50 - 60 lbs many thousand miles in the mtns. The top grommet tore out of one pack strap; the other is about to. I bought this to replace it but will resell it after Kelty provides replacements in May. Its frame is 5" shorter and 1" narrower. As a result, (1) it shifts and rotates on my back when walking on even level ground so I can not use it to carry really big, heavy loads (isn't that what it should do?), (2) whatever is strapped to the bottom hits the ground instead of the frame, and (3) I can't get it on and off by balancing it on my thy unless something is strapped to the bottom.

Reviewed by William S. - January 5, 2015

Likes: Debated internal vs. external frame packs for a long time. I had been borrowing an internal frame from a friend and really hated the lack of airflow on the back. Not only did the Kelty solve that problem with a great system for keeping airflow between you and and pack, but I have found it to be incredibly versatile! It is not an ultralight pack, but is lighter than many internal frame packs I looked at. It packs well and has many adjustments that allow you to get a great fit. I love the waist belt tightening system. It has plenty of room inside the pack for most backpacking trips and room to attach more gear to the frame for longer trips if wanted/needed. Definitely recommend!

Dislikes: The only complaint I had about the pack, which was pretty minor, is the width of the strap on the waist belt. It is pretty narrow. I think a slightly wider strap would be a little more comfortable. Overall, not a big deal and doesn't bother me too much. If it weren't for that I would have given it 5 stars!

Reviewed by Kurt F. - July 2, 2014

Likes: Everything, this is exactly what I was looking for.

Dislikes: Nothing

Reviewed by Inside Edge M. - March 3, 2014

Likes: Top notch backpack. Large capacity, fully adjustable, and comfortable. Plenty of pockets and ability to lash additional gear onto the pack. I prefer external frame packs, and this one is excellent.

Dislikes: -

Reviewed by Doug H. - February 18, 2014

Likes: There are few options for external large frame backpacks and the Tioga 5500 by Kelty is excellent.

- Lots of pockets
- Lashing straps
- Sleeping bag compartment
- Lightweight
- Padded and adjustable shoulder and waist straps

Shipping was excellent, to my door in 2 days.
Reserving last star for after I actually get out and use it.

Dislikes: Nothing.

Reviewed by Inside Edge M. - February 13, 2014

Likes: This pack is roomy and all the pockets are great for organization. It is easily adjustable to fit. I love the way the pack carries the weight. Same load from my internal frame feels much lighter. Well constructed.

Dislikes: Nothing to dislike.

Reviewed by Inside Edge M. - November 5, 2013

Likes: I LOVE this pack , it's hard to find external frame packs , and I'm sad to hear that Kellty is only making them in a very small number . this is the BEST external frame pack that I have ever owned . Tough , Reliable , Durable , and rides very comfortably . I cant even tell that I'm hauling a 70 LB load

Dislikes: there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with this pack . I just pray that Kellty keeps making them

Reviewed by Stephen P. - August 16, 2013