Re: Backpacking Equipment
Peter Farnham (pfarnham@CAPACCESS.ORG)
Mon, 29 Dec 1997 22:52:50 -0500
I've got both an internal frame and an external frame pack. Internal
frame pack is an REI generic model, about 5,000 cubic inches. Very nice
pack--on sale for about $150.00 a year or so ago. Carried it on our HA
trip on the AT this past summer with no problems. It has one big
compartment, with a top that opens and a zippered panel in front to get
into it without having to come in through the top of it all the time.
A pack this size is plenty big enough to hold a sleeping bag plus all the
needed personal gear and your share of the crew gear as well. Other
advantages--it hugs your body and doesn't have any metal corners, like an
external frame does, to get hung up on vegetation, etc. It also has a
great suspension system--by pulling and tugging on various tabs, straps,
etc., you can transfer the weight almost anywhere on your body you want
it to be. Of course, the bulk of it should be on your hips.
AS for the external frame pack, it holds about the same aount of gear,
but that counts the sleeping bag being tied onto the frame underneath the
pack. Thus, the bag is exposed to the elements. But, if it is in a
waterproof bag, that solves the exposure problem in case it rains.
Externals are also a LOT cheaper. You can get a fine external for 2/3 to
half what a comparable internal frame pack costs. Mine is an Eddie Bauer
(when they made camping equipment, before they got yuppyfied); I bought
it in 1982 or so and it is still going strong (thing refuses to die).
Disadvantages--not as adjustable (although you can get external frames
that adjust quite a bit). Not as good bushwhacking (frame gets caught on
Oh, I forgot--on a hot day, an external is a little cooler, since air can
get in between your back and the pack. ; An internal hugs you real
close. However, I sweat a lot when I hike, so I've not noticed an
appreciable difference in this regard.
Bottom line--for younger scouts, I'd go with an external. If you do most
of your hiking on established trails, external too. If you bushwhack or
go cross country, or are an older, committed backpacker, and want to
indulge yourself, get an internal. I like them both, and use them both.
SM, Troop 113
GW District, NCAC
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City