External Frame vs. Internal Frame Backpacks
Long and frequent has been the debate amongst hikers and campers regarding the use of internal or external frame backpacks. Many old timers insist that external frame packs are the way to go, mainly due to years of utilizing externals, and reluctance (like all of us), to change. The younger generation tends to gravitate toward the trendy internal frame packs. It seems that the new wave of hikers are as much concerned with form as they are with function.
In my experience, having owned and used both types of backpacks, I have compiled some recommendations based on experiences on (and off) the trail.
External Frame Backpacks
Pros– Generally less expensive, more compartments, pack doesn’t rest directly on back, increasing ventilation.
Cons– Usually more bulky than internal frame packs, can impede hiking, and storing in tent.
Internal Frame Backpacks
Pros– More streamline, more compact.
Cons–Can be expensive, few compartments, pack rest against the back.
In closing, in a normal hiking environment, (on trail), I clearly prefer an external frame pack. I find them more comfortable, affordable, and much easier to organize pack items. Internal frame packs make it difficult to retrieve items, as most items are stored in the same compartment. Internal frame packs do have their place, generally in off-trail adventures. External frame packs tend to get snagged on branches and such easily when off-trail.
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