Which Kind Should You Get? External Vs. Internal Frame Backpacks

best pack for backpackingLooking to purchase a backpack for your upcoming trek over the river and through the woods? Camping backpacks fall into two main categories, internal and external frame. Both offer plenty of benefits, and which one you need depends on a number of factors, including how much hiking you’re doing, what time of year your excursion is taking place, and more.

 Let’s review the pros and cons of each option to help you make a decision:


Internal frame backpacks feature a metal — usually aluminum — frame that supports the pack from the inside. It helps place weight on your hips, which is the best place for carrying weight because it makes it easier for you to maintain your center of gravity. Internal frame backpacks are considered ideal for long treks over all varieties of terrain, as they form to the body and make it easy to stay balanced.

 Internal frame backpacks typically feature one large compartment, which can make packing a little challenging. There's also the sweat factor. Because the backpack is so snug against the body, it results in a whole lot of sweating, especially if hiking when it’s warm. Some packs include aeration features so your back gets to “breathe,” but how well such features work is up for debate.


External frame backpacks feature — that’s right — an external, highly rigid aluminum tube frame. They’re designed to carry heavy loads on long hikes; however, they don’t do so great on rough or otherwise uneven terrain. These packs don’t conform to your center of gravity the way internal options do, and besides, they are heavier. They feature lots and lots of compartments for easy packing, and they provide space and subsequently aeration. External frame backpacks are usually reserved for long trips requiring a lot of gear and not a lot of climbing or challenging hiking.

Internal frame backpacks have become the preferred option; however, if storing lots of gear is necessary, you may wish to go with an external frame pack.

Which do you prefer and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

About the Author:


Kent Page McGroarty is a freelance lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in AZ Central Healthy Living, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, SF Gate Home and Garden, LIVESTRONG, Moblized.com, I Do Take Two.com, and many other online publications. Twitter: @KentsStuff.


Survival Equipment, Survival Gear


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