Backpacks can be categorized into three types:
- Daypacks: Meant for single-day runs, climbs, hikes or bike rides, they are generally soft backed or frameless and are meant for light loads of about 10-15lbs. Good daypacks tend to have hip-belts to prevent the baggage from thumping against our body.
- Internal Frame Packs: Meant for bigger loads of over 15lbs and longer trips. They are framed internally with aluminum, titanium, plastics or Delrin rods thus hugging the contours of the bag and transferring the load to the hip and the spine giving a closer and comfortable fit. They are best suited for dynamic activities like skiing, climbing, and bushwhacking that need a good arm clearance, no wobbling and well-positioned center of gravity.
- External Frame Packs: Also meant for bigger loads on longer trips, but they are best suited for walking trails. Flung off a simple exterior frame, external frames have a higher center of gravity than internal packs providing good weight transfer to hips allowing hikers to walk upright and offer good airflow between pack and back. However, its structure makes it more susceptible to wobbling and thus not suited for dynamic sporting activities
Backpacks would be the right choice for those seeking dynamic, multi-sport backpack options
Key Features to Consider
Internal Frame Backpacks come in many shapes, sizes, materials and style and so it can be quite confusing to choose the right one.
Choosing the right one would depend on:
- The length of the trip – is it a day trip or for a week or more?
- The personal style of backpacking – weight-saving or comfort? dry terrain or rainy weather? Bulky gears and essentials or light-travel?
- Body type—length and width of torso, height and build – lean, bulky or athletic?
Some key factors to consider while buying are:
- Main compartment access – Top-loading backpacks are standard with Items not needed until later going deep inside end of the day go deep inside.
- Some packs offer zippered front or side exposing the full interior making it easier to reach items deep into the pack.
- Water-resistant – The Goodest Backpacks become all-weather friends without having to worry about keeping your items dry in bad weather. Waterproof materials with covered zippers make the bag completely water-tight. Even if the material is not 100% water-proof, at least being semi-water-proof provides some time to take cover during rain and keeping the items inside safe.
- Lockable Zippers – are a very over-looked feature. Not only does it give peace of mind while traveling by bus, train or airplane but also keep animals like raccoons, rodents, and birds out in the wilderness. Additionally, one can be assured that items would not fall out should the bag go tumbling down the hill or fall into a water body.
- Padded hip belt – they are extremely vital since the most of the packs weight would be supported by the hips. The hip belt helps in keeping the backpack properly in place and distributing the weight across the back, hips and shoulders. The padding helps to minimize discomfort and lesions at the point of contact and evenly distribute the load at the appropriate place and to help eliminate pain and stress.
- Padded shoulder straps – Like the hip belt, good shoulder straps are extremely important for support and correct distribution of weight. Padded shoulder straps allow space between the back and the pack, allowing for airflow and to making the journey more comfortable.
- Pockets – Pockets at the right places are essential to ensure quick access to essential items, proper storage, and placement of items like gears, water bottles, tools, and medications.
The various pockets to look for are:
- Elasticized side pockets that are flat when empty, but stretch out to hold tent poles, water bottles or other objects.
- Flip-belt pockets to accommodate small items to reach quickly like packets of energy gel, snacks, smartphone, etc.
- Shovel pockets are flaps stitched onto the front of a backpack with buckle closure at the top. Originally intended for a snow shovel, they can now pop many 3-season packs, serve as stash spots for a map, lightweight items or jacket.
- Front pocket(s) are sometimes added outside of a shovel pocket to hold smaller, less bulky items.
8. Capacity – the right capacity is extremely important equating to the right storage and available internal volume inside the pack.
The following can be a quick guide for the same
- Day/Overnight trip: 20 to 50 liters This would be sufficient for lunch and snacks, camera, shell and/or warm layer, several trinkets like emergency kit, small first aid kit, GPS
- Weekend (2 to 3 nights): 50 to 60 liters Can carry small tent, sleeping bag and pad, ultralight stove and cooking kit, clothing items, weekend meals
- Multi-day trip (2 to 5 nights): 60 to 80 liters For extra fuel, food and kitchen gear, bigger tent, bigger sleeping bag and pad, some additional items like camp shoes, chair, pillow
- Extended trip (5 or more nights): 80+ liters Mountaineering gear, essential food supplies.
- Ventilation such as a suspended mesh back panel sometimes also called tension-mesh suspension.
- Straps such as the load lifter and sternum straps that keep the backpack snug to the torso providing more comfort, better fit and saving energy during the journey.
- Attachment points for ice ax or trekking poles
- Sleeping bag compartment – which is zippered sport at the bottom to keep the sleeping bag
Choosing the right backpack
After taking into consideration all the key attributes to have in the purchased backpack, the adventurer must now consider the backpack best fitting his or her body type, shape, height, age, and gender. The backpack must fit appropriately to the torso and be snug on the hips. He or she should consider the following:
- Torso length – Extremely important to ensure the right backpack fit. Adjustable suspensions can be modified to fit the torso, especially if in between sizes. Drawback: Adjustable harness adds a little additional weight to a pack.
- Waist Size – Most of the backpack load, 80% or more must be supported by the hips and the hip-belts are generally adjustable to accommodate a wide range of sizes from mid-20 to mid-40 inches. Interchangeable hip-belts are available for extra-narrow waists who do not fit the standard hip-belt form
- Women-specific – Engineered for the female frame, these are generally shorter and narrower than men’s backpacks with the hip belts and shoulder straps contoured for the female body.
Before you make your final choice, I suggest that you read the review on external frame backpacks as well. Very similar to backpacks with an internal frame, they have a number of advantages one of which is that the external frame can be used to attach large objects to it.
Top 5 of Best Internal Frame Backpacks
With 55 liters storage, front and side accessible main compartment, water-proof materials, convenient sleeping bag compartment and dual side secure zipper pockets, the TETON Sports Scout3400 is favorite travel companion of many seasoned adventurers.
The dual aluminum frame contours naturally to the waist and shoulder providing comfort and support to the hips, spine and back.
The shoulder straps are adjustable allowing customization for various body types making it perfect for man, women or child.
The backpack is comfortably built with secure sleeping bags, high-density forms and lower compression straps for ultimate comfort and convenience.
The bag can several useful pockets and tool-packs for a longer expedition and can carry everything from climbing equipment to bear canisters.
The color is a lovely camouflage in the hiking trail and this is the best in the class bag for adventurers looking to trek king-style.
The TETON Sports explorer 4000 is amongst the biggest backpacks.
The backpack comes with an excellent airflow system, internal hydration system, well-padded shoulder straps and waist belts, and separate sleeping bag compartment which can be also be used to stuff pack towel, inflatable pillow, 20-degree bag, socks, amongst other things.
With plenty of pocket and tool-packs to fit many types of backpacking equipment, it is ideal for recreational hikers of all age, gender, and torso sizes from 5”1 into 6″4in tall
Top loading main compartment with side-loading access to items placed deep inside, ergo-fitting shoulder harness, sternum strap and load lifters, 100% water resistant material and packaging, separate sleeping bag container has everything that an adventurer would dream for!
Additionally, the Appalachian is extremely cozy and airy with airflow channels in the molded back-panel and inbuilt hydration reservoir for convenience while climbing or technical trails.
Made with extremely durable dura-lite nylon, this is one backpack sure to last for a lifetime
The zippers are the side providing access to the main compartment provides quick access to items deep within and many useful side-pockets for the accessories.
The Best Internal Frame Backpack comes with a rain-cover making it 100% water-resistant even when put in the lake.
The adjustable waist strap is an useful feature that extends from 20” to 50” and back straps adjustable from 1.5” to 9” making it suitable for use by every member of the family!
The backpack also carries plenty of loops for hooking climbing gear. This is one heck of a buy.