ALPS OutdoorZ Commander External Frame Pack Review


ALPS Outdoorz makes all sorts of gear from packs to chairs to gun cases.  One of their larger packs is the Commander.  This is a huge external frame pack for large expeditions.  This bad boy will hold everything except the kitchen sink – and even that’s up for debate.


alps-outdoorz-commander-external-frame-pack_2The Commander starts off with 5,250 cubic inches of storage and that doesn’t even include strapping things to the outsides or the frame.  Inside you’ll find a hydration pocket with port and several zippered compartments.  Constructed of Nylon ripstop, This bag has a high durability rating and resists damage from abrasive surfaces. Nylon ripstop is a woven fabric that is made with special reinforcing threads in a crosshatch pattern, which occurs at regular intervals of approximately 0.2 to 0.3 inches. The fabric resists rips and resists further damage by preventing small rips from increasing in size. The zippered compartments have paracord zipper pulls and an edge of fabric over the zippers, which helps to prevent contamination from debris. There’s also a row of webbing with loops for attaching gear on the front of the pack bag.


alps-outdoorz-commander-external-frame-pack_3The frame is made from lightweight aluminum and has a rectangular shape with rounded corners. There are three supporting internal cross-bars that are connected to the sides of the frame to provide rigidity and prevent twisting. The cross-bars are curved away from the back, which helps to keep the load away from your back. The frame can be adjusted for height variations by releasing the Clevis Pins and sliding the frame to the appropriate dimensions. The adjustable shelf is attached with Clevis Pins at the bottom of the frame and covered with nylon ripstop. Spring Clips are used to secure the Clevis Pins to the frame.  Some of the nicer features on this pack is a rifle holder and side pockets with looped latch closures for securing the top flaps to the pockets.


alps-outdoorz-commander-external-frameErgonomically speaking, ALPS got this one right.  The shoulder harness and waist strap are padded and there’s a cinching strap for securing the shoulder harness across the chest. Snap buckles are used to connect the adjustable straps while the shelf has two adjustable straps with snap buckles on each side. The unit is made more secure with the use of lashing straps. We were traveling over rough terrain in the Yukon Territory and after 18 miles the first day, I’ve got to say my feet hurt more than my shoulders!


One of my favorite aspects of this rig is the frame webbing that is used for ventilation. The webbing is lightweight and provides a luxurious amount of padding. I also liked the fact that the frame is lightweight, adjustable and can be easily cleaned.


The Commander is available in the colors of clay or charcoal and weighs 2 pounds and 3 ounces(not including frame). Overall, we’re talking about a total weight of 7 pounds and 5 ounces. The equipment is 38.4 inches long, 16.8 inches wide and 6.3 inches deep.


Tweet out to me so that others can benefit from your question too! Tweet to @SurvivalBloke

Meet the Author

I'm a former US Marine, full-time father and husband, and part-time survivalist. I like old things, like music, furniture and time-tested survival technique, but there's always a place in my heart for new technology such as weapons and sleeping bag fill. I'm here to share my knowledge and experience, and I hope you'll share yours as well.

2 comments… add one
  • Mat Feb 10, 2017, 3:31 pm

    I’ve been seeing reviews that the seams will rip with light use on this backpack. Has that been your experience?

    • Mike Feb 13, 2017, 12:46 am

      I haven’t found that to be the case at all Mat. I’ve got (3) of their bags, and I use them regularly. Neither of the three has shown any signs of coming apart. Possible bad run?

Leave a Comment