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Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Gear Forum
      Internal/External Framed Backpacks
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Last Visit: 06/26/2016 04:51AM
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Photo Journal
05/01/2011 02:10PM
I was just wondering what your thoughts were regarding internal or external frame backpacks. Which is better and more comfortable? Is Kelty brand a good way to go? I am leaning toward an external frame just for the reason that I will be able to put my tent on my pack. I see they have a few out there for around $100. Thanks, Brian
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1 trip report(s) Photo Journal Current Donor
05/01/2011 02:22PM
I'll assume that since you're asking on a canoeing bulletinboard, you'll be using the pack for canoeing AND backpacking?

You're opening up a can of worms by asking the question because backpackers debate the merits of internal and external backpacks about as often as canoeing people debate innie vs. outtie or bent shaft paddles vs. straight blade paddles. There is one constant though - most canoeing folks agree that a true canoeing-type pack is best for canoeing, mainly because of how it fits gear, rides in the canoe, handles on the trail, etc.

With that said, if you're looking for a one-pack-fits-all, I would recommend an internal frame pack. Not only are internal frames 'generally' preferred over external frames for backpacking, they'll fit in the canoe better without the aluminum tubing.

And, depending on the internal-frame pack that you buy, you'll be able to carry as much, or nearly as much, gear as a canoe pack.

"Keep close to Nature's heart, yourself; and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." ~ John Muir
Savage Voyageur  
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Photo Journal Current Donor Gear Reviews
05/01/2011 02:23PM
Nothing wrong with taking a internal or external frame pack in a canoe. I have seen it done many times with each. I would like to tell you that the frames of an external pack tend to catch on the gunnels and thwarts of a canoe, they tend to ride higher because of the frame. The frame riding higher can catch the wind some but it does tend to keep your stuff dryer because it rides higher.

The other point is internal/external frame packs portage better because of the shoulder and waist straps. I had a Kelty external frame pack that I started with and it lasted for many years. Quality stuff. I switched to Duluth packs many years ago. You now have many more options than I had so look around at other style packs too. CCS, Granite gear, to name a few. Check out the tab to the left that says gear guide. Others have made some reviews for you to see.

"So many lakes, so little time." WWJD
10 trip report(s) Photo Journal Past Donor Gear Reviews
05/01/2011 06:30PM
I'm late to this discussion and can't add much. I've canoe camped with all three styles and have settled on Canoe style packs - I have 'em all - Duluth Pack, GG, CCS, Kondos.

Canoe style packs are easier in and out of the canoe, ride lower and easier to waterproof with the liner. They do not carry as easily on a portage as a framed pack - but the vast majority of your time is spent in the canoe.

Good luck!

"You're not serious about wearing sandals on this portage.... are you?"
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Past Donor
05/01/2011 06:56PM
We canoe with external frame packs because we use knupacs (a portaging system that is not currently available). The external frames do catch a bit on the gunnels but it isn't big problem. We put the packs in bag down because they are dry bags on the external frames). I think our weight distribution in the boat is lower than other packs including canoe packs which sit upright. At least our weight distribution is lower than many canoes I've seen packed with traditional packs. Only the straps are riding above the gunnels.

If you put the packs in frame down then that will push the weight up and also means that you can't use the frame as handles to put the pack in and out of the boat. I wouldn't be so happy with the external frames in that case.

I do think that external frames carry big loads well. So use them if you feel the same way. If you are happy carrying the load you carry with an internal frame or a traditional canoe pack then those will catch less on the gunnels.
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Photo Journal
05/01/2011 07:02PM
Most regular canoe packs fit better and can have a larger capacity than a framed pack. I have both, but leave the framed pack home and take only the Duluth Packs.
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