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Kelty Tioga 5500 Classic External Frame Backpack


Sale Price $169.95


You Save $30.00 15%

Sale Price $169.95


You Save $30.00 15%

Availability: In Stock!

Ships Monday.

Availability: In Stock!

Ships Monday.
Item # KEL19123A

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.

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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


Real Customer Reviews

Average Rating:
(based on 18 real customer reviews)

1-10 of 18

  1. 1
  2. 2
In the mid-70s I bought my first backpack, a Kelty Tioga that I used for many years. Eventually I gravitated to internal frame packs, and for many years that's what I used. But there was always something about external frame packs that I prefered
Reviewed by David M. - December 10, 2017

Likes: comfort, design, organization, color, weight

Dislikes: nothing yet!

There is a reason this is a classic...
Reviewed by Adam P. - September 19, 2017

Likes: I picked this up for canoe camping hoping to use it as a carry yoke (extending the top brace) as well. that failed miserably (extension bent further mid-carry of a mile plus portage), but that wasn't the pack it was my construction. LOTS of room, light for what it is, and fairly comfortable (for an external frame pack:) ) I'll be repurposing for chainsaw hauling for trail crew work.

Dislikes: clips and pins holding the height adjustments in are easy to drop (and potentially lose) and could be re-engineered to be more adjustable. Waist belt could be better as well.

Great Pack
Reviewed by Victor R. - September 11, 2017

Likes: Light weight, plenty of room, well made, quality, comfortable

Dislikes: only one color, dark green

Reviewed by Ryan R. - June 11, 2017

Likes: It's big. It's sturdy. It's old school mountain man cool.

Dislikes: It could be easier to adjust the fit.

I just want to give this pack a great review. I used it three weeks ago on 3/31/17-4/2/17.
Reviewed by Craig A. - April 15, 2017

Likes: And everything fits. And yet still lite. I should of had a pack like this a long time ago. I`m hoping I`ll be able to fit everything in this pack, when I go away for a week in August.
I won`t ever have to buy myself another pack again. This pack will stay with me forever. And I will use it every time I go camping.

Dislikes: There is not one thing wrong with this pack to dislike it. Everything is right about this pack. All compartments are big and roomy. I can fit the whole world in there.

It's BIG!
Reviewed by David B. - October 8, 2016

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.

Great pack!
Reviewed by Tommy J. - April 30, 2015

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 Inside Edge Member - March 12, 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 William S. - January 5, 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 Kurt F. - July 2, 2014

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!

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