Recently I went into a camping and outdoors store to find a camping backpack and I admit I was confused when the sales clerk asked me if I wanted an internal or external frame pack. What’s in a frame? Camping backpacks by any other name are camping backpacks…or so I thought.
Not all Backpacks are Created Equal
As the name suggests, internal frame backpacks come with an internal frame that gives the backpacks their solid look. The frame is usually made of a strong elastic material that provides backpacks with their shape, but does not cause discomfort to the user as he carries the bag on his or her back.
Internal frame backpacks are suitable to use for a light to medium load. Overloading their outside compartments (sleeves and pockets) is discouraged as this can spread out the weight of the load unevenly and may cause shoulder and back pains.
On the other hand, backpacks with external frames are able to carry a heavier load than their internal frame counterparts. The aluminum brace on these bags provides external support to the backpack, as well as protects your back from possible injury and discomfort should the bag’s material rub your skin as you move by lifting the backpack off your back.
For short mountain climbing, trekking, hiking, or camping trip lasting only for a few days, an internal frame backpack is a good choice. Many around-the-world travelers and backpackers also find internal frame packs to be best suited for their needs. However, for trips of long duration where it is necessary for you to bring lots of equipment, an external frame backpack is more a more suitable choice; provided, you load things properly.
For campers who want to bring their children, external frame backpacks are equipped with accessories, such as hooks, sleeves and pockets that provide you more options for things you want to bring such as a tent, hiking poles, or sleeping bags that could not fit inside.
Related Post: Five Tips for a Successful Family Camping Trip
How to Load Stuff inside Your Camping Backpack
The rule of thumb for packing internal frame backpacks is as follows: place the heaviest items at the bottom of the pack, resting against the internal support. Medium-weight items, such as clothes and towels should be packed in the middle, and all light items go on top.
For external frame backpacks, load things in reverse – the heaviest items on top and the lightest at the bottom of the pack. The middle space is reserved for medium-heavy items.
There you have it – simple tips on how to properly choose the right backpack for your camping needs. Knowing the difference between an internal frame and external frame backpacks can help you plan your camping and traveling more easily – and help you pack efficiently.