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Internal or external frame?

backpacks-200x148I need a new backpack. What’s better: Internal or external frame?

– Confused Carl, Aptos, Calif.

Dear Confused, you must be a mind reader because thousands of other guys are wondering this same thing. Then again, if you really were a mind reader you wouldn’t need to ask me questions because you’d already know exactly what I was thinking, right?

I digress.

So, backpacking packs come in two types. External frames packs are those with a framework on the outside. These old-school-style packs are the best choice if you’ll be hiking mostly on groomed trails carrying lots of weight. They’re especially good at transferring the load so you can hike in a more comfortable upright stance. They’re also about half the cost of an internal frame pack, which has its support hidden inside like a skeleton.

Internal frame packs are usually more form-fitting, so they are better for guys who’ll be hiking rugged trails that require freedom of movement and balance. Most internal frame packs have one huge compartment with a couple of zippered access points, whereas external frame packs usually have lots of smaller compartments that make organization easier. You can also easily attach extra gear – such as a sleeping bag or fishing rod – to the frame.

Which type of pack is better is really up to you and your needs.

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7 Comments on Internal or external frame?

  1. Jeffplaiyz // June 25, 2020 at 1:46 pm // Reply

    helps with camping 6d

  2. qqljikfbuio // July 2, 2019 at 12:24 pm // Reply

    I get tired while hiking

  3. Turtlelover555 // January 9, 2018 at 4:54 pm // Reply

    I like Turtles

  4. External frames are the pickup truck of packs. Rugged,simple,easy to use. Cheaper too. Internal frames are like sports cars. Great performance if user is willing to learn to use one.

    • Troop 31 Vet // July 2, 2020 at 8:58 pm // Reply

      Ha! Pickup trucks haven’t been cheap or simple since the days when I was a scout. Go with what fits your particular backbone/shoulder architecture and pay especial attention to how the waist belt fits.—I’ve used both on multi-day backpack trips and they each have their benefits and drawbacks.

  5. I’ve had an external frame pack that’s been around for 20 years, still works fine.

  6. MinnetonkaBoater // February 17, 2015 at 1:47 pm // Reply

    You would be hard pressed to find an internal that can out carry and external for the same $.

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