Looking at getting into backpacking. What are pros and cons of both the internal and external frame packs? I'm looking to do a 4-5 day hike through RMNP and am looking at getting a pack to do this with. I'm not quite ready for a large investment and have found both type packs for around $100+.
Just not sure which is overall better. I'm not really looking to use it ever for a trip to the BDub. i have those packs already.
Thanks for any help with this question.
Courage is being scared to death... but saddling up anyway....John Wayne
Internal-frame packs fit more comfortably, ride more stably, and catch on brush less. External-frame packs are able to carry greater weight reasonably. The vast majority of backpackers these days are using internal-frame packs, myself included.
The only experience I have with external frame packs are the ALICE rucksacks in the army. I currently do a lot more backpacking than canoe camping and would never think about using an ALICE pack for either. The internal frame packs I've used are substantially lighter than external frame packs, handle a load well as long as they aren't over packed (I usually trip with 25 pounds but all my packs have held up well under 30-35 pound loads).
I think it's all about what you are comfortable with. I loved the Osprey Atmos, but ended up buying a REI Flash 65 on price and reviews, than fell in love. There's not a whole lot of suspension on the Flash, but it's comfortable for me and carries well. I just looked on their site and apparently they are no longer carrying it.
I also have a NF Terra that I use for overnights and day trips. About $85
I cannot make my days longer, so I strive to make them better.
I'll recommend used packs for a start. E-Bay has a lot of major name brands listed with good deals to be made. My go to pack for most use and canoe tripping was obtained thru the Buy and Sell forum on this site, (thanks bojibob!). I also use a framed pack, kind of a Frankenstein contraption, , Camptrails bag, Coleman Peak 1 frame, Camptrails shoulder straps and waist belt. 4 pins pulled and the bag can be removed to make a freighter type frame.
A well fitted external can carry more weight and weird shaped/bulky gear than an internal, comfortably and cooler in warm weather! Well used trails and warm weather are where they work best. Internal framed packs work better on more technical/difficult trails. They can be more streamlined and fit closer to your body, allowing better balance and maneuverability. Bag and pocket layouts are as personal as the suspension, so you should try out a few types/brands if you can. Your bag is out there, have a good time finding it!
"Decades, tempered by tedium and existential dread" quote from William Brumfield
Back when I was backpacking I had a Camp Trails external frame pack (Adjustable II). I tried a couple friend's internal frames and even used one for a 3 day winter trip. One thing I preferred about the external was because it was easier to strap on "Extra" items like sleeping pads. But, for me, the BIGGEST reason was they were cooler to wear. My back just sweated too much every time I tried an internal pack, even that 3 day winter trip.
"Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." Mark Twain
I've never used an external frame pack so I can't offer an opinion on that type of pack. I've always used internal frame packs. Ever since I became interested in backpacking (late 70's) all I heard was that internal frame packs were the way to go. The technology of internal frame packs has really advanced significantly since then. I don't know if the same can be said for external frame packs. I don't see them at the gear stores I shop at.
You should try on your pack before purchasing it. Every pack feels a little different and you should find a pack that fits your body and frame well.
quote mc2mens: "You should try on your pack before purchasing it." And by "try on", he means put it on, have the sales clerk adjust the fit, load it up with some gear or dummy sandbags, and walk around the store for an hour. :)
quote tonyyarusso: "quote mc2mens: "You should try on your pack before purchasing it." And by "try on", he means put it on, have the sales clerk adjust the fit, load it up with some gear or dummy sandbags, and walk around the store for an hour. :)"
+2 on the internal back sweat issue. If you are a back sweater, they can be not much fun. Look for ventilation on them, but external still better in that regard. If going used/Ebay route, find ones that you can research on sizing, also figure your size out, and buy adjustable ones that are in your range. Nicer packs are generally more adjustable, and can fit you easier.
both types of packs have there advantages. i use both. beware of purchasing on ebay, while there are many very good deals, there is a flood of chinese made crap. it will be fairly obvious what those are though. craigslist always has a fair amount of packs for sale, mostly high quality and really good prices.
For general backpacking on a 4-5 day trip like the one you have in mind, I prefer external frame packs because:
* they carry larger loads more comfortably
* have much better ventilation to the back than most internals
* are lighter in weight (speaking generally)
* are simpler in design
* are easier to load/unload
* have external pockets that are convenient to use
What's interesting about internal/external backpack choices is that if you visit any backpacking store, you'll find tons of internals and few externals, if any. However, out on the trails, external backpacks seem to outnumber internals, at least in my experience.