Choosing a Backpack
How to Choose a Backpack
Some people need to get out more. Way out, that is — beyond the limits of a day hike, out to lovely, lonely places
where a person has the time and space to absorb the deeper satisfactions of what John Muir described as "vast, calm,
measureless mountain days."
It takes a backpack to get you there. Modern backpacks, unlike their shoulder-gouging ancestors that you sometimes
still see hanging in a neighbor's garage, feature intelligent design concepts that provide surprising comfort and load-
carrying efficiency. Such advancements have made the art of self-propelled adventure a much more agreeable
Here are some tips gathered over the years by REI that can help you sort through your options:
Select Your Style: Internal or External
Long-haul backpacks (suitable for 2-day trips or longer) are known as frame packs, meaning a metal frame supports
the pack-bag and helps focus the weight where your body can most effectively carry it — on your hips.
Manufacturers offer 2 styles of frame packs: internal-frame packs and external -frame packs.
Internal -Frame Packs
Internals feature a narrow, towerlike profile and integrate their framework inside the pack, behind the shoulder
harness. The frame usually consists of "stays," or flat bars, about an inch wide and 1/8-inch thick. Stays are usually
aluminum and are configured in a V-shape. Alternative frame materials (such as composites) and stay-alignments
(parallel, X-shaped; U-shaped) are sometimes used. Stays are removable and can be shaped to conform to your
Internals are popular packs with many advantages:
• Flexibility. Stays make internals stiff, but not rigid. This allows the pack to more easily move in harmony
with body movements, a big plus for climbers and skiers.
• Balance. Internals hug your body. This holds your equipment closer to your natural center of gravity and
helps you keep your balance when it counts — for example, while you're scooting across a log above a