Author Topic: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack  (Read 7440 times)

Offline caverdude

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choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« on: March 11, 2013, 09:30:48 PM »
How does one choose a good backpack? I mean there are hundreds of brands and kinds with many different prices. It almost makes the army duffel bag look like a good option (as in simplicity).

I was looking at internal frame packs at campmor. Its mind boggling.

Offline Ronin4hire

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2013, 10:39:56 PM »
Best bet is TRY it before you buy it...   How it FEELS on your back (with weight added) means everything.
Everyone can tell you their fav and a few horror stories, but it really comes down to what fits you.
Hit the big name stores to test several varieties but compare prices with online sites for the best deal.
Just be sure to add WEIGHT to the bag when you sling it on- at least 20#, sorta distributed inside the pack.
Much like shoes- ya never know if you like them til ya put em on and test em out!

Offline ridge rover

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2013, 07:22:48 AM »
Lotta first things to consider. Go to some decent people and find out your size. If you are in between like me.......Here's my story. Everyone I went to, even the great Dana Gleason, sized me wrong! My favorite pack was a big Dana Designs pack but it always hung low in the back. No one could get it adjusted right and they all said if you are inbetween, get the larger size pack. It was a large. When Dana sized my last pack, he said I needed a large. I said let me try a medium instead. After years of experience, I've found the experts were wrong and I was right in going with a medium!

Budget the amount you want to spend. Packs can get very good for different reasons. My wanna get pack is a Kifaru lighweight because the shoulder straps adust independantly from each other. Both my shoulders are shaped differently.

Top lid. Toss it with most packs. Light weight ones available if ya need it. You can always get pack pockets if ya need them. Pockets and zippers just add weight.

Its hard to go wrong with any Gregory. Start your search there and then branch out to other makers.

A mistake many make is getting a pack that is too heavy. Concentrate on empty pack weights, not volume. You seem like me, you need one pack that can do it all!

All hipbelts don't fit the same. Thats another reason to try on the pack first. Some belts do not conform flatly to your hips.

Search beyond Campmor to the makers websites

Offline BillP38

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2013, 08:11:37 AM »
  One thing you need to consider is where you'll likely be hiking. If you're in the southeast or southwest you may want an external frame to let you're back breath. In a more mountainous terrain an internal frame is good for tight spaces you'll find your self in.
  Don't be afraid to try out the less expensive store brands as well. Also visit an outfitter store, many have equipment you can rent so you can get a full test in real world conditions, i.e. climbs and descents will shift the pack and waist belt around as your hips move.

Offline Practical Prepper

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2013, 10:23:43 AM »
I agree with all above just wanted to add that there are different packs for different purposes external pack are usually designed to carry more weight easier but it carries it high and gives you an unbalanced feel however internal pack are better for mobility but won't carry as much weight. Also you have expedition packs that are usually a lot lighter and have less pockets because their main purpose is to get you to your destination and that's the only time you get in them then there are your multi packs that are heavier and have lots of pockets because you make lots of stops and need to organise you gear according to your needs. I have found that putting a bag of shot in the center most part of the pack "usually the hydration pocket" helps to give you a centered feeling. ALWAYS fit a pack with weight and then walk around trying going upstairs if you can jump up and down ect.

endurance

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2013, 10:45:49 AM »
I started with an external frame, but after 25 years of backpacking I can't imagine too many situations where I'd prefer an external over an internal.  You do need a frame.  A frame allows you to redistribute the weight from tight across your shoulders for nimbleness in uneven terrain to the comfort of taking the weight almost entirely off your spine and onto your hips.  That demands a good fit and good strap set up. 

To me, load lifting straps; a strap that goes diagonally at a 45 degree angle to the pack from the shoulder strap, is the single most important thing to get right.  Most people don't understand this strap and as a result, they don't have the ability to take the burden in their pack off their shoulders and properly transfer that weight to their hips.

Getting the right fit:


All the weight on one's shoulders:


Here's a good guide.

Personally, I want the lightest pack that will carry the smallest load I'll need to complete the trip.  The HE MAN conquests of my 20s are a thing of the past.  This summer I'll be doing the 480 mile Colorado trail with a 12-13 pound base kit, plus a maximum of 12 pounds of food and water (most days my water load will bring my total pack weight in at 18-22 pounds).  That's five days of food and just enough water to get me from source to source (frequently 2-3 hours between sources).

My pack is my Osprey Exos 34 for this adventure.  While I have a massive Arc'Teryx Bora 70, the pack itself weighs in at about six pounds compared to my sub-2 pound Exos.

For all of the above reasons, you need to get yourself into a real brick and mortar store so you can get the right size pack.  Buying on line is a complete crapshoot.

Offline The Professor

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2013, 11:36:24 AM »
I started with an external frame, but after 25 years of backpacking I can't imagine too many situations where I'd prefer an external over an internal.  You do need a frame.  A frame allows you to redistribute the weight from tight across your shoulders for nimbleness in uneven terrain to the comfort of taking the weight almost entirely off your spine and onto your hips.  That demands a good fit and good strap set up. 

To me, load lifting straps; a strap that goes diagonally at a 45 degree angle to the pack from the shoulder strap, is the single most important thing to get right.  Most people don't understand this strap and as a result, they don't have the ability to take the burden in their pack off their shoulders and properly transfer that weight to their hips.

Getting the right fit:


All the weight on one's shoulders:


Here's a good guide.

Personally, I want the lightest pack that will carry the smallest load I'll need to complete the trip.  The HE MAN conquests of my 20s are a thing of the past.  This summer I'll be doing the 480 mile Colorado trail with a 12-13 pound base kit, plus a maximum of 12 pounds of food and water (most days my water load will bring my total pack weight in at 18-22 pounds).  That's five days of food and just enough water to get me from source to source (frequently 2-3 hours between sources).

My pack is my Osprey Exos 34 for this adventure.  While I have a massive Arc'Teryx Bora 70, the pack itself weighs in at about six pounds compared to my sub-2 pound Exos.

For all of the above reasons, you need to get yourself into a real brick and mortar store so you can get the right size pack.  Buying on line is a complete crapshoot.

Endurance,

Want to pick your brain for a moment.

First, I'm sure we're hoping you'll post your trail info for us all to see.  I'm sure it'll be interesting for the BOB folks.

Second, I've been trying to incorporate more of the  ultralight (UL) concept into my BOBs.   One of the areas that I think would make a big difference to my kit is the pack, itself. 

In my case, I intentionally chose a "bombproof" pack with the expectation of having a pack that can withstand very rough abuse (such as throwing over obstacles or the wearer falling on it).  I finalized on a Kifaru Navigator, which certainly meets those requirements.

However, I'd love to pare 4-6 lbs off my gear.  By swapping to a UL pack and UL-style external pockets, I think that's more than do-able.  I am concerned, though, with the durability of said gear.

Do you feel the UL technology has come along far enough to think such a pack is reasonable for a BOB?

The Professor


endurance

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2013, 12:21:58 PM »
Endurance,

Want to pick your brain for a moment.

First, I'm sure we're hoping you'll post your trail info for us all to see.  I'm sure it'll be interesting for the BOB folks.

Second, I've been trying to incorporate more of the  ultralight (UL) concept into my BOBs.   One of the areas that I think would make a big difference to my kit is the pack, itself. 

In my case, I intentionally chose a "bombproof" pack with the expectation of having a pack that can withstand very rough abuse (such as throwing over obstacles or the wearer falling on it).  I finalized on a Kifaru Navigator, which certainly meets those requirements.

However, I'd love to pare 4-6 lbs off my gear.  By swapping to a UL pack and UL-style external pockets, I think that's more than do-able.  I am concerned, though, with the durability of said gear.

Do you feel the UL technology has come along far enough to think such a pack is reasonable for a BOB?

The Professor
I do plan on doing a thread on my trip.  Unfortunately, due to spousal concerns, I'm not going to do it the way I wanted, which would be as an 18-21 day through hike.  It's going to be broken up in segments over the summer to preserve marital harmony.  Ideally, two nine day stints (depart on Friday and picked up Sunday), plus a long weekend to finish off whatever doesn't get done.  I'll be resupplying along the way every five days, regardless of how it gets broken down.

I'm heavily influenced by Andrew Skurka and would highly recommend his book.  It's an easy read, an invaluable tool for trip planning, and has strongly influenced my approach to backpacking in the last few years (I was reading his blog before the book came out).  Here's a sample of one trip and you can check out his complete gear list for a 700 mile Alaskan hike.  He's done one better, a 4,600 miler in Winter-Spring in Alaska, too.  Most of his hikes are solo and even when he's carrying his boat, he's rarely over 30 pounds total pack weight.

Some of the reason I think it's so doable and transferable is that most of us approach a BOB with the camping technology that we grew up with as kids.  While 1000 denier nylon was an improvement on 14 oz. cotton tarps our dad's used when they were young, there's now waterproof silnylon that weighs less than two grams per square yard.  There's tents and shelters made of Cuben Fiber, a fabric with remarkable toughness and incredibly light weight.

When it comes to the pack itself, I've had my Exos since 2009 and last summer it got quite a bit of hard use.  So far it has held up well.  Do I expect it to last a decade of heavy outdoor use?  No, not like my older, heavier Bora.  However, I don't see either failing catastrophically.  What I see happening to the Exos is the loss of water repelling-qualities over time as the fabric wears, I see the bottom of the pack getting roughed up and likely developing small holes over the next few years.  I see the lightweight straps fraying.  Those things are going to happen a lot quicker on my Exos, but fundamentally, they've designed out the most likely points of failure, like zippers that will take a great deal of stress by building it as a top loader.  Pockets are mesh and elastic so they can be overstuffed without concern.  Of course you lose some of the convenience of a lot of pockets to store and separate gear, but that's what ziplocks and silnylon stuff sacks are for, in my opinion.  It has pockets on the belt for my food and camera, it has an internal pocket for my camelbak, and it has large side pockets I could use for bottles, but prefer to use for stuffing excess clothing as I heat up over the course of the day.

If your very nature is to toss around your BOB like it's bombproof, that will have to change.  Perhaps you could if you stuck the pack inside another duffelbag to minimize external wear and tear, but it might take a change in treatment on a day to day basis.  In the field I'm not worried about it, but there's no doubt the lightweight materials come at a cost of durability.  Too me, it's worth it.  I can't put the pounding on my knees like I used to and I'm damn sure not hiking 27 miles a day in the Colorado Rockies with a 45-50 pound pack on my back regardless of age.

Here's my current gear list (should be just under 13 pounds without food or water):
Quote
Starting equipment as follows (the stuff with brands is stuff I already own, the rest is likely stuff I’m considering buying):
Osprey Exos 34 backpack (34 liter capacity with hydration pouch)
100 oz. camelback bladder with Sawyer SP121 inline filter
Platypus 2.4L bottle
Western Mountaineering High Lite bag (40F rated)* Debating this vs. my existing 25F bag that weighs in a full pound heavier
Thermarest NeoAir X-lite pad
ZPacks Hexamid Solo-Plus Tent (haven’t purchased, but at the top of my short list)
Fancy Feast stove w/ 6-8 oz. alcohol and aluminum foil windscreen
0.9L titanium pan
Plastic spoon
3M Scrubber & visine bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap
Bic lighter
Standard book of matches
Fenix LD 01 light (clip reversed for mounting on hat brim as needed)
H&K 3.1” folding knife
Cotton bandana
Comfort kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, bandaids, pain relievers, sunscreen, superglue)
First aid kit
Android smartphone (serves as GPS with downloaded topo maps, camera, video camera, phone, e-mail, and works with satellite emergency communication for custom text messages)
5a/h lithium ion charger (good for 4-5 full charges of smartphone)
Delorme InReach (strongly considering, preferred over my existing SPOT which doesn’t allow custom text messages)
Trekking poles (serve as both walking aids and poles for my tent, 6’ of duct tape stored on handles)
Bear spray (10.9 oz., can’t recall brand)
30' 550 cord (orange with reflective piping)
CT trail data book
Pocket Kit (essentially this kit, plus disposable poncho, and mylar blanket.
Wallet

Clothing-
Ibex wool longjohns
Ibex wool Indie hooded base top
Smartwool shortsleeve t-shirt
Northface convertible pants/shorts (nylon)
Rain pants (need to upgrade, no brand in mind yet)
Northface longsleeve shirt (nylon)
Brooks hooded windshirt (silnylon-water resistant)
Golite hooded 2.5 layer goretex rain jacket
Down jacket w/ hood (need to buy a lighter one 12-14oz)
Defeet wool gloves
Golite fleece hat
Running hat
2 pair Defeet Wooliator short socks
Simblissity LevaGators (short running shoe gaiters)
Trail running shoes (currently Saucony, but I wear out 3-4 pairs a year and don’t always buy the same ones)
Sunglasses

Food-
Resupply every 5 days or less, carry ~6 days worth of calories leaving each resupply.  Calorie target is 3500-4000 calories per day.
1 cooked meal a day (will vary, sometimes FD meal, sometimes ramen w/ FD meat and veggies added, sometimes dried mashed potato based w/ veggies and meats, sometimes hamburger helper with FD hamburger)
Breakfasts will consist of mostly Quaker oatmeal bars, MRE muffin bars, fruit loops, etc.
1,200 calories a day will be trail foods like GORP, fruit bites, sports bars, etc.
Lunches will be light, generally MRE crackers with PB, J or cheese (yes, I actually like this stuff), clif bars, corn chips, and possibly tortilla-based sandwiches, too.

Offline The Professor

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2013, 07:58:54 PM »

If your very nature is to toss around your BOB like it's bombproof, that will have to change.  Perhaps you could if you stuck the pack inside another duffelbag to minimize external wear and tear, but it might take a change in treatment on a day to day basis.  In the field I'm not worried about it, but there's no doubt the lightweight materials come at a cost of durability.  Too me, it's worth it. 


Well, it's not in my nature to abuse my equipment, but I've been in a few situations where the circumstances are extenuating enough that the equipment may be pushed to excesses. I may have to, for example, toss my pack over an 8 foot fence rather than try to climb the fence with it on my back.

I may have to look into one of these lighter packs, or see if I can make one, myself.

Thanks!

The Professor


Offline ag2

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2013, 12:22:58 AM »
My first question is, what do you want it for?  What kind of activity?  If you are packing out meat, I recommend an older external frame from a garage sale.  Then take it home, make adjustments, check padding and straps etc.  The aluminum frame will allow you plenty of sturdy tie points for an extra large load.  I wish I would have kept mine.

I have a pack very similar to this one.  I like it for hunting because the hydration bladder is against my back, which helps to keep the weight close to my body (3 liters).  On my model, the smaller pack separates/opens up to allow a meat quarter to sit securely between the two.
http://www.sierratradingpost.com/camelbak-commander-xt-hunting-backpack-hydration-bladder~p~3672u/

For camping, hiking, long trips, listen to the other guys.  My experience is very limitted.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2013, 12:28:11 AM by ag2 »

endurance

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2013, 10:53:03 AM »
Well, it's not in my nature to abuse my equipment, but I've been in a few situations where the circumstances are extenuating enough that the equipment may be pushed to excesses. I may have to, for example, toss my pack over an 8 foot fence rather than try to climb the fence with it on my back.
...
If you do that a few times a year, no problem.  If you do it every time you see a fence nearby and toss it, you might have a problem.  The weaknesses show up in 1) resistance to abrasion, 2) resistance to puncture, and 3) seam strength.  To me, the first two are the greatest concern, but the least likely to leave you stranded with a failed pack.  The last one can obviously be mitigated by how much you stress those seams on a daily basis (are you packing it like a sausage, to it's very limits every time?) and what force you're applying to it by, say a 6-8' drop while it's overstuffed.  If it's not overstuffed, it shouldn't be a problem, so size and pack accordingly.  I push it trying to use a 37 liter (large size) pack for five days in Colorado's backcountry, but for the most part, the next size pack is a 50 liter, which is just too big for my needs.  I can mitigate this by keeping a relatively empty hydration bladder most of the time, carrying excess clothes on the outside of the pack, and keeping kit to a minimum, but that's kinda the opposite direction most preppers go.  I think you're one of the folks on the forum who's been there, done that with excessive gear and now finds yourself consolidating to less gear that is more dual purpose/multifunctional.  I'd say, with age comes wisdom, but I think it might be more, with age comes old knees. ;)

Offline joeinwv

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2013, 06:32:55 PM »
This is the best advice in this thread:

"...Personally, I want the lightest pack that will carry the smallest load I'll need to complete the trip."

Backpacking will teach you a lot. Can I carry a 50# pack all day, sure. Will I feel good, make good time and have fun, no.

35# including food and water is my sweet spot.

Get a bag that fits well and don't buy too much bag. The bigger the bag, the more junk you'll put in it.

Offline caverdude

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2013, 10:06:41 PM »
The last time I went camping my pack weight was down to 43lbs which included the 3lb  .22 and ammo. My sleeping bag is too heavy at 8lbs. Also that 43lbs included my 6lb hunting vest with emergency kit stuff in it. I think it also included some extra cold weather clothing.

Offline ridge rover

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2013, 11:56:13 PM »
Are you near an REI? They should have a 20-30% off sale soon. The always do this time of year. If not this month's end, it should be the next. Sometimes their sales are limited to members. It might be  frugal to check out.

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Re: choosing a good internal frame or external frame backpack
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2013, 09:43:32 AM »
The last time I went camping my pack weight was down to 43lbs which included the 3lb  .22 and ammo. My sleeping bag is too heavy at 8lbs. Also that 43lbs included my 6lb hunting vest with emergency kit stuff in it. I think it also included some extra cold weather clothing.
Poke around Skurka's website.  I really think there's some excellent messages that come through in his writings and blog.  When you're backpacking, you essentially do have everything you need in an emergency, so lugging around a survival vest when everything you have is designed to help you survive is redundant.  I used to do the same thing, but after really thinking about it, it's a waste of space and energy.  While I still keep some vestige of my old ways by carrying my pocket survival kit, that's significantly down from the extra five pounds of kit I used to lug around.  At the end of the day, I'd rather have the extra spring in my step to get me to a safer, more comfortable camp where I'm less likely to need all that extra stuff.