I have a Lowe Alpine internal 70+15 frame pack that I bought back in 1999. I didn't get to take full advantage of it before making poor storage decisions with it (in a bin in a sweltering attic, only to get taken out when I relocated to use as luggage or the once every few years camping trip). I pulled it out recently, as I would like to use more for it's intended purpose. The waterproofing had turned to crumbs- everywhere. I started reading up on getting rid of it and have made some progress with nail polish remover and a toothbrush. A friend of mine suggested soaking it with water and lemon oil, which seemed to help more (but took longer and I have been in a cycle of soaking and rinsing and hanging out to dry, which is leading to some fading but for a 21 yr old bag, not so bad). I still have some areas where the crumbs have accumulated and are harder to remove (side pockets, tight corners). I would like to finish the job of removing the gunk, mildew stink, and restore the waterproofing. Structurally, it still seems like a great pack. Anyone have tips for this project?
@stinemarie scrape away as much of the gunk as possible and go ahead and use the pack. Most of the packs of have been using have lost their waterproofing in much the same way. Actually, due to all kinds of factors, the waterproofing, even when intact, doesn't really keep that much water out of the pack. Anything that really needs to stay dry should be in some sort of sealed plastic bag/
Your bag will be just as useful without the waterproofing.
Here is a great article on the subject. Also, you can get waterproofing at REI/Walmart, etc...