Three Things to Consider Before Buying an Internal-frame Backpack

Shouldering a heavy load is easier with a system designed to distribute the weight.

Hiking with a backpack.
Well-designed backpacks keep the brunt of the pack weight close to your core where it causes less stress on your body.Tristan Pineda

If you plan to own only one backpack for all-around outdoor use, consider making it an internal-frame pack, if for no other reason than most modern backpack innovations have revolved around this style of pack versus external-frame designs. The result is a more streamlined pack that holds the weight of your gear closer to your center of gravity and comfortably carries any load over variable terrain. Internal-frame designs also offer the broadest range of sizes (capacity) and weights, making it easy to find a pack for your intended pursuit. Here are a few things to think about when looking for the ideal internal-frame backpack.

TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack; High-Performance Backpack for Backpacking, Hiking, Camping
The straps and belt on this model make it easy to adjust for any body size.TETON

You can decipher backpack volume in either liters (L) or cubic inches (cu), depending on the manufacturer. For day trips, you need a bag capacity of about 15 L to 30 L (roughly 1,000 cubic inches to 2,000 cu). Multi-day trips, winter camping, and specialized expeditions, like photography shoots, ski touring, hunting, or fishing, demand roomier packs. The largest packs range from about 50 L to 80 L (approximately 3,000 to 5,000 cu).

Osprey Atmos AG 65 Men's Backpacking Backpack
This model has a removable top for day-hiking after you reach your basecamp.Osprey

When evaluating any pack, the most important adjustment points are at the shoulders. There should be at least two tuning methods on the main pack straps. One raises or lowers the load along your torso, and a second shifts the pack closer to or further away from your core. Both are important for comfort and stability, depending on whether you are hiking uphill or downhill. No matter the terrain, one of the major advantages of internal designs is that they transfer the weight onto your hips while also keeping the pack off your back for breathability.

Mardingtop 65+10L/65L Molle Hiking Internal Frame Backpacks with Rain Cover
This model has mole webbing to attach tools, trekking poles, and other accessories.Mardingtop

Intended use should be your final consideration before you buy. If you want an internal-frame design mostly for backpacking, but one that is adaptable to hunting, then get comfortable with the practice of boning out big game in the field. In addition to reducing weight, de-boned game is easier to load into an internal-frame pack. A bag that features multiple compression straps, daisy chain loops, and other attachment points will make securing and hauling unconventional loads more practical.

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