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View Full Version : Who uses an external frame pack?



santa
11-15-2008, 01:32
I have had my internal since 8th grade. Its the only thing I have ever used. I was considering getting a new pack and was wondering advantages of external. From what I can tell they are easier to organize but you forfeit balance. Arent they a little heavier as well? They also dont lay against your back which would be useful for summer?

Nest
11-15-2008, 01:42
Used an external on my thru this year, and will use it again next year even though I have an internal frame also. It is a little heavier than most packs, but some internals are the same weight or heavier. Gregory for example has very durable internals, but they weigh the same as a nexternal for the same capacities. The instability isn't really an issue on the AT. Not enough places to put you in an unstable position. Another down side is that they are just generally larger, and sometime a pain when hitching. If two or three of you have to get in one small car, the internal frame will usually take up a lot of space. Again, not a big deal and I was able to deal with it.

As far as the air gap part, I think it is a major plus. It does keep you cooler and cleaner in the summer, but also in the winter. You sweat regardless of weather, and the externals breath a lot better. This also keeps the smell of your pack down. You walk into a building with a coule hiker packs at the entrance and you immediately smell them. My external never got a funk because t didn't soak up every bit of sweat that formed on my back.

They are also more durable. I've used mine as a makeshift ladder to climb a tree once because I was bored. Most hikers don't carry one, so it's easier to spot your pack, and let's your friends know you are in town when they see it. Also, because when you lean it against a tree the frame keeps the pack material well above the ground it keeps your pack drier. A lot of hikers got the bottom of their packs soaked when they had to set them down.

In other words, they are great. Try one on, and if you like it get it. If it doesn't feel right, then stick to an internal.

santa
11-15-2008, 01:50
Thank your, your post was exactly what I was looking for.

santa
11-15-2008, 01:50
You*********

Marta
11-15-2008, 07:11
You*********

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Externals are heavier than the lightest internals, and quite a bit heavier than frameless packs. IMO, their disadvantages quite literally outweigh their advantages. But I'm not a young, strong male, so I obsess about weight of all sorts.:rolleyes:

shelterbuilder
11-15-2008, 07:36
Yes, externals tend to be a bit heavy. However, for those of us who are "organizational freaks" (and we know who we are), all of the pockets are great for organizing your stuff. I also love the fact that they are well ventilated.

Before internals became the norm, when comparasions were made between internals and externals, they used to say that if you needed a pack that had no frame to catch on brush or rocks (for bushwhacking and/or climbing), or if you wanted to carry your load REALLY close to your back, then buy an internal; otherwise, buy an external. Which I did. And remember, just because you have all of that organized space doesn't mean that you HAVE to use all of it.

BTW, in the interest of disclosure, I STILL don't own an internal frame pack. My old frame pack still serves me well after all these years. YMMV.

papa john
11-15-2008, 08:14
I have some of each. 3 external packs and 2 internals. I will be carrying an external pack next year. They ride better, are pretty much bombproof and it is just easier to find stuff during the day without having to empty your pack out when you want something. Yeah, they are heavier but the way they are designed that weight is somewhat mitigated by the suspension system. I have yet to find an internal frame pack that truly is supported by the hips. Most of them are a big drain on my shoulders. With the externals I don't have that issue. Plus, you don't have that monkey clinging to your wet back all day.

superman
11-15-2008, 09:06
I have a bunch of packs. My lightest pack is a G-4 but that just holds all the heat to my back so I only use it in the spring and fall when it's cool. It has plenty of room for the cool weather clothing.
A life time ago I started with a external frame pack and I've gone back to it. I like any and all vetilation I can get on my back in the summer. Since I use much lighter gear now the total pack weight is ok.
I used an Osprey 3500 CI pack on the AT. It worked fine and it limited my weight by making myself only carry what I could fit into the pack. With my new gear that isn't an issue any more.

Mercy
11-15-2008, 09:13
Or, you could go middle of the road:D

The Osprey Atmos/Aura are internal frame, with a mesh that holds it away from your back. They have several pockets for the organizer guys.

They have no torso adjustment, so it either fits or it doesn't. I was glad it works for me!

I think a couple of other brands have the mesh back, too.

rafe
11-15-2008, 10:51
I hiked for 30 years and a couple thousand miles with an external frame pack. Every few years I'd try some internal-frame pack, never found one I liked much. That all changed about 2 years ago when I tried a couple of Granite Gear packs. The GG Nimbus Ozone is my current favorite for "long" hikes. I use the GG Vapor trail for weekends and day hikes.

One aspect that hasn't been mentioned yet. It's pure physics. An internal frame pack is more compact and closer to your back. That keeps your overall center of mass closer to your normal balance point and reduces the energy required to hike. You can move more quickly and feel less fatigued at the end of the day. In Zen terms: you are more "one" with the pack.

Lyle
11-15-2008, 12:45
What are the current models of externals that folks like? I have a couple of 70's vintage Tiogas, but both have A LOT of miles on them and are probably due for replacement for any extended hiking. Tioga still the go-to external it once was?

papa john
11-15-2008, 13:03
All of mine are pretty old. I just bought a like new Jansport M-series Yosemite off ebay. It is a monster pack but I won't fill it up with weight, mostly bulk.

CrumbSnatcher
11-15-2008, 14:11
kelty super tioga or kelty 50th year anniversary.

Nest
11-15-2008, 20:26
The Kelty Trekker is what I used. I think it's one of the heavier externals, but it's what was sold where I live. I love the padding on Keltys though. Very dense and comfy.

papa john
11-15-2008, 20:59
The Kelty Trekker is what I used. I think it's one of the heavier externals, but it's what was sold where I live. I love the padding on Keltys though. Very dense and comfy.

Hey Nest, great minds think alike, the Trekker is my favorite external pack as well. It will be going with me next year.

I met your Mom at the most recent SEHHA get together. She is a riot! She kept it lively around the campfire telling us about your thru-hike. Sounds like you had a great time. Hope to see you out there.

Nest
11-15-2008, 23:11
Hey Nest, great minds think alike, the Trekker is my favorite external pack as well. It will be going with me next year.

I met your Mom at the most recent SEHHA get together. She is a riot! She kept it lively around the campfire telling us about your thru-hike. Sounds like you had a great time. Hope to see you out there.


I'll be doing a thru again next year, so if you're out there we might run into each other. I will be at the April hangout next year because that's where I will pick up my dog for the hike, so maybe I will see you there.

squirrel bait
11-15-2008, 23:31
Kelty all the way. Bought mine right here on the WB. But then so did I my tent, REI Roadster, sleeping bag, tarp from JRB and self infalting pad. I love the pockets for ease of use, it's resistance to break down, ability to overload it and the configuration on how you carry your tent and sleeping bag. Very comfortable for me but as they say YMMV. Plus they are very distinctive. Though alot of them are blue. Oh, and you can hang some very interesting stuff from them.

Nest
11-16-2008, 00:15
Oh, and you can hang some very interesting stuff from them.

You know that metal wire in the top pocket that keeps the pack's shape and keeps it from crushing down? Part of my thru i have quite a bit of extra space in my pack and once I put an entire birthday cake from a grocery store in the pack. The wire kept the cake safe, and I ate it over the next 2 days on the trail. Also strapped an entire watermelon to the top bar of the pack to eat for lunch that day.

I think that's the best thing about an external. Internals have a very specific weight rating, and once you exceed it the frame bends and the pack gets extremely uncomfortable. An external could hold 100 lbs if you really wanted it to. You don't want to go heavy regardless because you are still carrying it, but it's nice to have that option.

Sloth71
11-16-2008, 01:04
Does anybory make a newer and lighter external frame? I had a Kelty I loved! I agree with you Nest that the padding all around, hip belt, shoulder straps, lower back pad, was like driving a Caddy. having said that, I would love to find one a bit lighter.

Nest
11-16-2008, 03:13
Does anybory make a newer and lighter external frame? I had a Kelty I loved! I agree with you Nest that the padding all around, hip belt, shoulder straps, lower back pad, was like driving a Caddy. having said that, I would love to find one a bit lighter.

Can't really vouch for it, but there is one that's a plastic frame. Dick's sporting goods sells it, so you could look it up on their website. I don't know the name of the company who makes it, but again if you check their website you can find it. Sells for around $50, so I'm not too sure about the durability. I tried one on and considered it, but turned it down because a piece of the frame dug into my hip. Otherwise it seemed ok. The materials don't seem to be nearly as durable as a Kelty, but it stands a chance of surviving a thru hike I think. There was a girl this year that did a section starting in Damascus that carried it. Started with a 90+ pound pack and it held up. We sent her back to MRO to re-outfit and she got down to 50 something pounds. So it held up to that abuse atleast.


P.S. Hey 85 (the trail name we gave her), if you are reading this send me a PM. Wanna know how the section hike went.

papa john
11-16-2008, 08:41
I'll be doing a thru again next year, so if you're out there we might run into each other. I will be at the April hangout next year because that's where I will pick up my dog for the hike, so maybe I will see you there.

I'll be picking up my section hike in Erwin on 5/1 and going until I can't go anymore. Might see you out there.

Retro
11-16-2008, 10:21
I own both. I can readily say--

External all the way!

My 1970 Kelty D4 weighs in at 4.5 pounds, is far easier to organize, much more comfortable, tough as nails, and HAS survived serious thru-hiking with ease.

Did I mention that my total pack weight for my last thru was 37 pounds?
But that also included 6 days food, 2 liters of water, some serious winter gear, a hefty trash novel, and a SVEA123 (remember those?). Sure the pack could probably hold ninety pounds worth of shredded Golite gear, but what's the point?

With better weight distribution, better ventilation, comparable weight, great durability, easy accessibility .... uhm what are the con's again? Just never having to think about dumping out my pack out on the shelter floor again to dig for some silly little doohickey makes me smile...

The only drawback? I had to take my pack off three times going through Mahoosuc notch. Oh, and the Lemon Squeezer? Forget it.

But to be fair; a couple of minor concerns:

Technical Climbing the northern sections of trail was somewhat more difficult (the weight rides high)... and hitching rides from compact cars wasn't so easy

Other than that, I really don't understand why there's so much hype about internal frame packs.

Sloth71
11-16-2008, 10:34
Yeah all things considered, I'd vote external if the weight was SIMILAR. I'd even sacrifice a bit to get the comfort and convenience of an external.

shelterbuilder
11-16-2008, 12:43
... I really don't understand why there's so much hype about internal frame packs.

My personal opinion is that a lot of the hype is consumerism-driven, just like in any other product market. "We gotta make 'em buy the latest and greatest, even if they don't need it."

I'm not saying that there ISN'T a market for internals, but I do think that the current market has been artifically inflated for decades.

IMHO....

warren doyle
11-17-2008, 19:27
I do.

dmax
11-17-2008, 20:30
Me too.

Ziggy Trek
11-17-2008, 22:28
External works for me! Mine is actually lighter than some of the internals I've tried. I don't mind looking out-of-touch with the marketing zombies.

Mine is ROOMY and helps me win the weight vs. volume vs. preference issue. My internal packs force me to choose compactness over preference. And you gotta love the pockets for organization.
I also like the cooling effect for summer hiking. Never had a problem with balance when climbing or bending after learning how to carry myself. (of course I have a counterweight above my belt:o)

Gray Blazer
11-18-2008, 15:01
.(lanretxe) trtopnaj s07 a esu I

taildragger
11-18-2008, 15:22
Early 90's Coleman peak 1, kevlar framed. This thing is my midsize pack, larger than my small internal, and smaller than my whitney. Its a good pack, the padding on the waist kinda sucks, but I could replace the belt if I really wanted to. Good overall pack, its seen some miles.

MaineSurveyor
11-18-2008, 15:30
.(lanretxe) trtopnaj s07 a esu I

Maybe you spelled 'trtopnaj' wrong?:-?

RichardD
11-18-2008, 15:55
I use a Luxry Lite. It is a very different external frame pack, it is very lightweight and very versatile. It takes some getting used to but with the front pack is the most comfortable long distance pack I have tried. It is very expensive.
Several people I met on the trail have not liked the Luxury Lite, it seems you either think it's great or terrible.
The only other packs I have to compare it against are my first pack, a ROKK Internal frame, a ROKK external frame and a Kelty 50th Anniversary External. The 50th Anniversary was and is a good comfortable pack but the Luxury Lite is a much lighter pack and is a lot more comfortable.
The Luxury lite comprises a carbon Fiber frame with shoulder straps. Three duffels velcro to the frame, they come in a variety of sizes and a variety of fabrics. The Hip belt is separate and the frame slots into it very easily. A front pack hooks over the frame and under the hip belt to provide counterballance. A liter of water in the front pack takes all of the weight off your shoulders.
The only comfort problem I have had is that after about 5 weeks of hiking my hip becomes bruised, the padding on the hip belt is a bit thin.

CowHead
11-18-2008, 16:01
When I going backpacking for camping deepinto the woods or hunting season I used my Cabela tank 6.5 lbs empty big enough to almost sleep in lol

partinj
11-18-2008, 17:12
Hi i havw a Jansport External pack it fit like a glove when it is full don't feel
like i am carry anything at all. You can look on Campmor site they still sell
Jansport and Kelty right i think they are having a sale on pack.
The web site is
file:///C:/WINDOWS/TEMP/moz-screenshot-3.jpg
www.campmor.com
P.S if any of you guys want one campmor is having a sale BogAgnes sleeping Pads petty good prices. :-?
file:///C:/WINDOWS/TEMP/moz-screenshot.jpgfile:///C:/WINDOWS/TEMP/moz-screenshot-1.jpgfile:///C:/WINDOWS/TEMP/moz-screenshot-2.jpg

berninbush
11-18-2008, 17:39
I've often wondered if an external frame could be manufactured in such a way as to double as the framework of a camp chair, without making it ridiculously heavy.

skinewmexico
11-18-2008, 18:01
I've often wondered if an external frame could be manufactured in such a way as to double as the framework of a camp chair, without making it ridiculously heavy.

I don't know, but I fit my chair kit in the pad pocket of my Gossamer Gear Mariposa, and the stays help transfer load.

If I use an external, I have a Kelty 50th Anniversay. Great pack, not hot, and weighs a lot less than most of the gigantic "bombproof" externals people think they need.

Jim Adams
11-18-2008, 23:39
Anyone know anywhere that sells new hip belts for externals?

geek

taildragger
11-18-2008, 23:41
Anyone know anywhere that sells new hip belts for externals?

geek

I think it might be easier to cannibalize a pack off of e-bay.

But, in my searching, I didn't find anyone that made new suspension for my pack

Feral Bill
11-19-2008, 00:27
Anyone know anywhere that sells new hip belts for externals?

geek
I got one last year from Eureka's retail outlet. It took a bit of exploring on their website IIRC. I may be using my old external more now.

JAK
11-19-2008, 00:35
Has anyone tried a simple triangular frame?

http://www.primitiveways.com/pack_frame.html

skinewmexico
11-19-2008, 00:36
Anyone know anywhere that sells new hip belts for externals?geek

What brand? Kelty sells replacements....

tom_alan
11-19-2008, 00:45
I have a North Face pack that is frameless and works great for two or three days out (little small for longer hikes). I also have a Gregory internal pack that I like and it doesn't seem as bulkey as my friends Kelty external frame pack but he swears by his pack. We both are able to get our pack weight down to 30 to 35 pounds for the longer hikes.

http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/files/1/8/7/6/6/116-11_11_2008.jpg
Greenhorn Mountain, Colorado 12,346ft Tuesday, November 11 ~ North Face Bag.

http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/files/1/8/7/6/6/100_1276.jpg
Me with my North Face Bag and my friends Kelty External bag.

http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/files/1/8/7/6/6/your_favorite.jpg
Me with my Gregory pack carrying the same weight as John with his old Kelty pack.

Whiskyjo
11-19-2008, 02:02
My wife and I both still use the Gregory Evolution external packs, yes a bit heavy but well balanced, May be Im just too set in my old ways but I just can't get the feel for internals.

Gorp-Gobbler
11-19-2008, 02:27
I'm still using the same Kelty Tioga that I bought in '74. I've been section hiking so it's been in and out of car trunks many times.

I like the life time guarantee that comes with it.

Had a mouse chew a hole in an outside pocket to get to my gorp bag. Took it back to the store where I bought it. They sent it off for repair. It came back with a new pocket and a sternum strap which it didn't have before.

That's not bad.

Talk about birthday cakes and water melon. I saw a guy open his and he pulled out two two-liters of Coke and two medium size pizzas. Pizzas weren't messed up either and they tasted good along with my mac n cheese.

fiatspider2000
11-19-2008, 04:38
I hiked 200 miles of northern Maine this past summer using a Kelty external frame. My pack weight w/o water was never over 32lbs when I was going through the 100 mile wilderness. The pack rides higher than the internal frames and in a few places I would have to stoop lower to work my way under fallen trees, but all in all it did very well.

Others in the group thought that it was heaver because it looked bulkier, but when they picked it up they were surprised that it didn't weigh more.
Popeye

chazmo
11-19-2008, 10:21
I use the 30 + year old external frame I had when I was a Boy Scout. It still fits my torso perfectly--I haven't grown much over the years, except sideways :D

I have made a couple of sets of shoulder straps and hipbelts for it, as replacements are hard to find. It now sports a silnylon packbag, and with the minimalist straps/belt (all inexpertly sewn by me) it weighs under three pounds.

I sweat like a horse, and can't stand a frameless pack against my back!

Gray Blazer
11-19-2008, 11:53
Maybe you spelled 'trtopnaj' wrong?:-?
!tihS