Internal Frame vs. External Frame Packs

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Internal Frame vs. External Frame Packs

Postby 63ChevyII » Tue May 24, 2016 6:13 pm

Internal Frame vs. External Frame Packs

When looking for a new pack, do you consider external frame packs, or do you feel that the technology outdated? Do the lighter loads carried by hikers today make external frames unnecessary? I hadn't really considered buying one until I saw a surprising number of people coming over Kearsarge Pass using external frame packs this past July.

While it's been a goal of mine to reduce my pack weight in general, I usually carry a few electronic items that tend to push my pack weight into territory that's too heavy for most UL packs. These items include a Delorme inReach Explorer, my camera and camera clip, phone, solar charger and occasionally, a tripod. These items can easily add 10 lbs or more to my base weight. While many would consider these to be unneccesary or luxury items, they are essential for me to have the experience I want to have on the trail.

I've been using a Seek Outside Divide 4500 as my primary pack since February. Oddly, I didn't really realize how much I like this pack and how much it makes sense for me until I sat down to write my review this past weekend. I see it being my go-to pack whenever I carry more than 30 lbs, when it's preferable to strap items to the outside of my pack for extended periods of time (snowshoes, bear canister, crampons, ice axe, etc.) or when damaging my pack is a concern (brush and cuben fiber don't play well together). While heavier than what most would consider lightweight, the comfort and durability of this pack are well worth the extra weight in my opinion. It's one of the best packs I've ever used.  If your pack tends to be on the heavy side (30+ pounds) and a pack in this price range is in your budget ($350), you should give the Divide 4500 some serious consideration.

You can read my review in its entirety by clicking on one of the photos below:


Gear Review: Seek Outside Divide 4500 Ultralight External Frame Backpack
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Re: Internal Frame vs. External Frame Packs

Postby Ed » Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:39 am

I've wondered at the popularity of internal frame packs. Until the late 1970's, we used external frame packs for everything, including cross-country and ski trips, because we had nothing else. They were fine on trails, and would have been much better off-trail with trekking poles and sternum straps, which we did not have. I know internal frame packs are said to be better balanced, but I doubt many users carry them off-trail. I am sure external frame packs are better for loading, unloading and organizing. When internal frame packs appeared, I bought one of the earlier ones for ski trips, but I was not crazy about it.
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Re: Internal Frame vs. External Frame Packs

Postby Wildhorse » Sat Jul 09, 2016 3:35 pm

What I have found uncomfortable with external frame packs is that the constrain the movement of my arms. Does this one do that?
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Re: Internal Frame vs. External Frame Packs

Postby Sose » Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:31 pm

Bored and reading old posts. Like an old horse, my 1969 Kelty still serves me just fine for everything up to serious climbing and bushwhacking. The man knew how to make them!
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Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2016 2:19 pm

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