How to Choose the Best Internal Frame Backpack

If you are planning on exploring the wilderness, the most important tool that you can have at your disposal is a backpack. Not just any pack, however, but an internal frame pack to be more specific. This type of backpack is the new breed, quickly taking over the outdoor gear industry.

Picture Brand Rating
Picture Brand Rating
Gregory - ( Baltoro 75 )

Gregory Baltoro

65-95 L / 3966-5797 CI

4.8

407 reviews
Kelty - ( Redwing 40 )

Kelty Redwing

32-51 L / 1953-3112 CI

4.9

166 reviews
Gregory - ( Zulu 55 )

Gregory Zulu

30-65 L / 1831-3966 CI

5.0

120 reviews
Gregory - ( Deva 80 )

Gregory Deva

64-85 L / 3905-5187 CI

4.5

214 reviews
Mystery Ranch - ( Pitch 20 )

Mystery Ranch Pitch

17-42 L / 1037-2563 CI

5.0

11 reviews
Osprey - ( Mutant 38 )

Osprey Mutant

26-35 L / 1587-2136 CI

4.9

25 reviews
Kelty - ( Coyote 70 )

Kelty Coyote

40-80 L / 2441-4882 CI

4.8

15 reviews
Kelty - ( Redcloud 110 )

Kelty Redcloud

80-110 L / 4882-6712 CI

4.9

9 reviews
Mountain Hardwear - ( Direttissima 35 )

Mountain Hardwear Direttissima

35-50 L / 2136-3051 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Gregory - ( Stout 30 )

Gregory Stout

30-75 L / 1831-4576 CI

4.7

42 reviews
Salewa - ( Peuterey 40 )

Salewa Peuterey

30-40 L / 1831-2441 CI
Exped - ( Black Ice 30 )

Exped Black Ice

30 L / 1831 CI
Salewa - ( Guide 45 )

Salewa Guide

35-45 L / 2136-2746 CI
Salewa - ( Pure 25 )

Salewa Pure

25 L / 1526 CI
Exped - ( Glissade 25 )

Exped Glissade

25-32 L / 1526-1953 CI
Gregory - ( Verte 15 )

Gregory Verte

15 L / 915 CI
Exped - ( Expedition 100 )

Exped Expedition

25-65 L / 1526-3966 CI

4.5

4 reviews
Arcteryx - ( Bora 65 )

Arcteryx Bora

49-63 L / 2990-3844 CI

4.9

8 reviews
Deuter - ( ACT 65 )

Deuter ACT

22-65 L / 1342-3966 CI

4.7

113 reviews
Osprey - ( Talon 44 )

Osprey Talon

6-44 L / 366-2685 CI

4.7

412 reviews
Osprey - ( Comet  )

Osprey Comet

30 L / 1831 CI

4.4

215 reviews
Osprey - ( Kestrel 48 )

Osprey Kestrel

26-46 L / 1587-2807 CI

4.8

378 reviews
Osprey - ( Kresta 20 )

Osprey Kresta

18-38 L / 1098-2319 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Osprey - ( Tempest 40 )

Osprey Tempest

6-40 L / 366-2441 CI

4.5

102 reviews
Gregory - ( Jade 53 )

Gregory Jade

28-63 L / 1709-3844 CI

4.8

42 reviews
Osprey - ( Exos 58 )

Osprey Exos

38-58 L / 2319-3539 CI

4.7

445 reviews
Herschel Supply Co - ( Dawson  )

Herschel Supply Co Dawson

21 L / 1251 CI

5.0

8 reviews
Mystery Ranch - ( Coulee 40 )

Mystery Ranch Coulee

40 L / 2441 CI

4.9

6 reviews
Osprey - ( Perigee  )

Osprey Perigee

29 L / 1770 CI

2.0

2 reviews
Osprey - ( Parsec  )

Osprey Parsec

31 L / 1892 CI

4.3

4 reviews
Granite Gear - ( Lutsen 35 )

Granite Gear Lutsen

35-55 L / 2136-3356 CI

4.8

58 reviews
Deuter - ( Airlite 28 )

Deuter Airlite

16-28 L / 976-1709 CI

4.4

32 reviews
Deuter - ( Trans Alpine 30 )

Deuter Trans Alpine

30 L / 1831 CI

4.3

3 reviews
Osprey - ( Kamber 42 )

Osprey Kamber

22-42 L / 1342-2563 CI

5.0

6 reviews
Exped - ( Torrent 50 )

Exped Torrent

20-50 L / 1220-3051 CI

4.5

19 reviews
Deuter - ( Guide 45+ )

Deuter Guide

35-45 L / 2136-2746 CI

4.7

3 reviews
Klymit - ( Splash 25 )

Klymit Splash

25 L / 1526 CI
The North Face - ( Banchee 50 )

The North Face Banchee

35-67 L / 2136-4088 CI

4.4

8 reviews
The North Face - ( Terra 55 )

The North Face Terra

38-55 L / 2319-3356 CI

4.8

110 reviews
Black Diamond - ( Nitro 22 )

Black Diamond Nitro

22-24 L / 1342-1464 CI

5.0

21 reviews
Gregory - ( Maya 22 )

Gregory Maya

5-22 L / 305-1342 CI

4.1

17 reviews
Thule - ( Capstone 22 )

Thule Capstone

22-50 L / 1342-3051 CI

3.4

21 reviews
Deuter - ( Futura 32 )

Deuter Futura

30-44 L / 1831-2685 CI

4.7

36 reviews
Mystery Ranch - ( Cairn  )

Mystery Ranch Cairn

38 L / 2319 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Osprey - ( Questa  )

Osprey Questa

27 L / 1648 CI

4.8

52 reviews
Black Diamond - ( Magnum 20 )

Black Diamond Magnum

16-20 L / 976-1220 CI

5.0

8 reviews
Klymit - ( Stash 18 )

Klymit Stash

18 L / 1098 CI
Deuter - ( Guide Lite 28 )

Deuter Guide Lite

28 L / 1709 CI
Gregory - ( Amber 34 )

Gregory Amber

28-71 L / 1709-4332 CI

4.9

52 reviews
Marmot - ( Graviton 58 )

Marmot Graviton

35-58 L / 2136-3539 CI
Herschel Supply Co - ( Hanson  )

Herschel Supply Co Hanson

14 L / 854 CI
Kelty - ( Redtail 27 )

Kelty Redtail

27 L / 1648 CI

5.0

3 reviews
Exped - ( Cloudburst 15 )

Exped Cloudburst

15-25 L / 915-1526 CI

4.0

10 reviews
Klymit - ( Dash 10 )

Klymit Dash

10 L / 610 CI
Deuter - ( Pace 36 )

Deuter Pace

3-36 L / 183-2197 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Black Diamond - ( Bolt 24 )

Black Diamond Bolt

22 L / 1342 CI

4.8

6 reviews
Fjallraven - ( Kajka 65 )

Fjallraven Kajka

20-85 L / 1220-5187 CI

4.7

25 reviews
Mountainsmith - ( Mayhem 45 )

Mountainsmith Mayhem

35-45 L / 2136-2746 CI

4.0

3 reviews
Deuter - ( Zugspitze 24 )

Deuter Zugspitze

22-24 L / 1342-1464 CI
Mountainsmith - ( Lariat 65 )

Mountainsmith Lariat

58 L / 3539 CI

4.3

3 reviews
Deuter - ( Freerider 26 )

Deuter Freerider

24-30 L / 1464-1831 CI

4.8

37 reviews
Kelty - ( Riot 22 )

Kelty Riot

15-22 L / 915-1342 CI

5.0

2 reviews
Exped - ( Core 35 )

Exped Core

35 L / 2136 CI
The North Face - ( Borealis  )

The North Face Borealis

25 L / 1526 CI

4.8

15087 reviews
Arcteryx - ( Arro 22 )

Arcteryx Arro

22 L / 1342 CI

4.7

35 reviews
Herschel Supply Co - ( Barlow Large )

Herschel Supply Co Barlow

20 L / 1220 CI
Deuter - ( Speed Lite 10 )

Deuter Speed Lite

10-20 L / 610-1220 CI

4.6

402 reviews
Osprey - ( Bitstream  )

Osprey Bitstream

30 L / 1831 CI
Osprey - ( Momentum 32 )

Osprey Momentum

26-32 L / 1587-1953 CI

4.6

42 reviews
Herschel Supply Co - ( Heritage  )

Herschel Supply Co Heritage

22 L / 1312 CI

4.4

7 reviews
Herschel Supply Co - ( Mammoth  )

Herschel Supply Co Mammoth

18 L / 1098 CI
Herschel Supply Co - ( Iona  )

Herschel Supply Co Iona

24 L / 1464 CI
Deuter - ( Giga 28 )

Deuter Giga

28-31 L / 1709-1892 CI

4.6

17 reviews
Herschel Supply Co - ( Lawson  )

Herschel Supply Co Lawson

22 L / 1342 CI
Deuter - ( Walker 24 )

Deuter Walker

16-24 L / 976-1464 CI
Exped - ( Transit 40 )

Exped Transit

28 L / 1709 CI

4.5

8 reviews
Osprey - ( Atmos 65 )

Osprey Atmos

50-65 L / 3051-3966 CI

4.8

580 reviews
Osprey - ( Aether 85 )

Osprey Aether

60-85 L / 3661-5187 CI

4.8

709 reviews
Osprey - ( Farpoint 70 )

Osprey Farpoint

38-76 L / 2319-4638 CI

4.7

370 reviews
Osprey - ( Ariel 65 )

Osprey Ariel

55-75 L / 3356-4576 CI

4.8

281 reviews
Osprey - ( Aura 65 )

Osprey Aura

50-65 L / 3051-3966 CI

4.7

179 reviews
Thule - ( Guidepost 65 )

Thule Guidepost

65-85 L / 3966-5187 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Deuter - ( Aircontact 65+10 )

Deuter Aircontact

60-70 L / 3661-4271 CI

4.8

20 reviews
Granite Gear - ( Blaze 60 )

Granite Gear Blaze

55 L / 3356 CI

5.0

22 reviews
Mountain Hardwear - ( Ozonic 50 )

Mountain Hardwear Ozonic

50-70 L / 3051-4271 CI

4.3

7 reviews
Kelty - ( Revol 65 )

Kelty Revol

50-65 L / 3051-3966 CI

5.0

2 reviews
Deuter - ( Quantum 60 )

Deuter Quantum

60 L / 3661 CI

4.3

3 reviews
Black Diamond - ( Mercury 55 )

Black Diamond Mercury

55 L / 3356 CI

4.5

28 reviews
Gregory - ( Cairn 68 )

Gregory Cairn

69 L / 4210 CI

3.7

3 reviews
Boreas - ( Tsum Trek 55 )

Boreas Tsum Trek

53 L / 3234 CI
Kelty - ( Reva 60 )

Kelty Reva

45-60 L / 2746-3661 CI
Exped - ( Thunder 50 )

Exped Thunder

50-70 L / 3051-4271 CI
Mountainsmith - ( Apex 60 )

Mountainsmith Apex

52-95 L / 3173-5797 CI

4.9

13 reviews
Exped - ( Lightning 60 )

Exped Lightning

60 L / 3661 CI

4.8

31 reviews
Kelty - ( Catalyst 46 )

Kelty Catalyst

46 L / 2807 CI
Exped - ( Vertigo 45 )

Exped Vertigo

45 L / 2746 CI
Mountainsmith - ( Pursuit 50 )

Mountainsmith Pursuit

50 L / 3051 CI
Osprey - ( Raptor 14 )

Osprey Raptor

10-14 L / 610-854 CI

4.8

370 reviews
Deuter - ( Compact 2 )

Deuter Compact

2-10 L / 122-610 CI

4.7

14 reviews
Fox - ( Convoy  )

Fox Convoy

3 L / 183 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Osprey - ( Wayfarer 70 )

Osprey Wayfarer

70 L / 4271 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Osprey - ( Waypoint 80 )

Osprey Waypoint

80 L / 4882 CI

4.4

6 reviews
Deuter - ( Transit 65 )

Deuter Transit

40-65 L / 2441-3966 CI

4.8

6 reviews
Osprey - ( Variant 52 )

Osprey Variant

34-49 L / 2075-2990 CI

4.3

52 reviews
Deuter - ( Traveller 60 )

Deuter Traveller

60 L / 3661 CI
Deuter - ( Ontop ABS 28 )

Deuter Ontop ABS

20-28 L / 1220-1709 CI
Osprey - ( Xena 85 )

Osprey Xena

70-85 L / 4271-5187 CI

5.0

17 reviews
Gregory - ( Denali 100 )

Gregory Denali

72-97 L / 4393-5919 CI

5.0

3 reviews
Camelbak - ( MULE 15 )

Camelbak MULE

2-15 L / 92-915 CI

4.8

102 reviews
Camelbak - ( Fourteener 20 )

Camelbak Fourteener

17-24 L / 1037-1464 CI

4.8

32 reviews
Camelbak - ( LUXE 14 )

Camelbak LUXE

14 L / 854 CI

5.0

21 reviews
Osprey - ( Pixel  )

Osprey Pixel

22 L / 1342 CI

4.6

30 reviews
Klymit - ( Motion 60 )

Klymit Motion

60 L / 3661 CI

4.0

1 reviews
Boreas - ( Buttermilks 40 )

Boreas Buttermilks

40-50 L / 2441-3051 CI

4.9

16 reviews
Camelbak - ( Quantico  )

Camelbak Quantico

23 L / 1403 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Deuter - ( Gravity 50 )

Deuter Gravity

12-50 L / 732-3051 CI

3.7

4 reviews
Granite Gear - ( Crown 60 )

Granite Gear Crown

60 L / 3661 CI

4.8

60 reviews
Granite Gear - ( Nimbus 70 )

Granite Gear Nimbus

64 L / 3905 CI

4.0

22 reviews
Kelty - ( Sanitas 34 )

Kelty Sanitas

34 L / 2075 CI
Mountainsmith - ( Spectrum  )

Mountainsmith Spectrum

12 L / 732 CI
The North Face - ( Microbyte  )

The North Face Microbyte

17 L / 1037 CI

4.5

424 reviews
The North Face - ( Surge  )

The North Face Surge

31 L / 1892 CI

4.7

3945 reviews
Deuter - ( Race EXP )

Deuter Race

12 L / 732 CI

4.7

142 reviews
Mammut - ( Neon 45 )

Mammut Neon

12-45 L / 732-2746 CI

5.0

3 reviews
Arcteryx - ( Altra 85 )

Arcteryx Altra

50-85 L / 3051-5187 CI

5.0

11 reviews
Black Diamond - ( Pilot 11 )

Black Diamond Pilot

11 L / 671 CI

2.6

5 reviews
Burton - ( Booter  )

Burton Booter

Camelbak - ( Franconia 24 )

Camelbak Franconia

24 L / 1464 CI

4.7

3 reviews
Exped - ( Mountain 20 )

Exped Mountain

20-32 L / 1220-1953 CI
Fjallraven - ( Stubben  )

Fjallraven Stubben

27 L / 1648 CI

4.9

11 reviews
Kelty - ( Red Cloud 90 )

Kelty Red Cloud

80-90 L / 4882-5492 CI

4.8

12 reviews
Mammut - ( Creon 28 )

Mammut Creon

20-30 L / 1220-1831 CI

5.0

2 reviews
Montane - ( Summit Tour  )

Montane Summit Tour

50 L / 3051 CI
Mountain Hardwear - ( Summitrocket 20 )

Mountain Hardwear Summitrocket

20-40 L / 1220-2440 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Osprey - ( Ace 38 )

Osprey Ace

38-75 L / 2319-4576 CI

4.6

16 reviews
Osprey - ( Cyber  )

Osprey Cyber

22 L / 1342 CI

5.0

10 reviews
Osprey - ( Meridian  )

Osprey Meridian

60 L / 3661 CI

4.6

26 reviews
Deuter - ( Helion 80 )

Deuter Helion

60-80 L / 3661-4882 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Deuter - ( Ontop 28 )

Deuter Ontop

20-30 L / 1220-1831 CI
Dynafit - ( Speed 20 )

Dynafit Speed

20-28 L / 1220-1709 CI
Pacsafe - ( Toursafe EXP34 )

Pacsafe Toursafe

42-106 L / 2532-6468 CI

4.4

8 reviews
YETI - ( Panga 75 )

YETI Panga

75 L / 4576 CI
Burton - ( Wheelie  )

Burton Wheelie

121 L / 7383 CI

4.9

81 reviews

Your Guide to Understanding Internal Frame Backpacks (Buyers Guide)

To truly appreciate an internal frame backpack, though, you need to understand the various factors surrounding it. This includes its design, purpose, advantages and disadvantages, and more. Here, you will be able to answer any of the burning questions that you have had about internal frame backpacks. Happy Reading!

If you are shopping for a backpack to take on your travels or while exploring the great outdoors, you are more than likely to almost exclusively come across internal frame versions. This modern design has all but taken over for external frame backpacks due to its improved attributes. Here are the various details that you should be aware of regarding internal frame backpacks:

The Structure of the Internal Frame Backpack

The first thing you need to consider is the frame of the internal frame backpack. As the name suggests, the frames of these backpacks are not visible as they are placed within the structure of the backpack. This frame consists of any number of metal stays. These can be placed in a varying manner but the intention behind the design is the same. The frames need to hug the natural curvature of the back, making the backpack more comfortable and stable for you.

The actual outline of the frame can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Not to mention, that the structure has changed quite a bit since its inception and now there are a greater number of options available. In the beginning, internal frame backpacks used one or aluminum stays that sat right behind your back. The stays were pre-curved to fit the natural curvature of your spine although it could be adjusted for a more custom fit.

These days, however, you can also find X shaped frames that provide you with a multidimensional suspension system that offers up even more stability. Another popular invention is the introduction of frame sheets. Some of these have metal stays incorporated into the sheets while others have external bars that as small springs. The main focus of this evolving technology is to improve the comfort and balance associated with this type of backpack.

The stays and the frames on these backpacks were typically made from aluminum. While this material is still quite common, alloys are also growing in popularity. They tend to be more versatile and have greater durability as well.

Best Internal Frame Backpack

Is an Internal Frame Backpack Right for You?

While these are certainly well-designed backpacks, they are also suited to specific types of individuals and outdoor activities. To determine if an internal frame backpack would be the right choice for you, look at some of the benefits and downsides associated with this design:

Advantages

Greater Stability

One of the key features of the internal frame backpack is that it hugs your back more closely. This provides you with the ability to keep your center of gravity closer to what it normally is. As a result, when you are constantly shifting your body weight and balance on uneven terrain, it is easier to maintain stability. It makes your journey a lot safer. Not to mention, because of the close fit, the pack is less likely to move around and through off your balance.

Large Internal Capacity

These backpacks have large internal areas, which allow them to accommodate a greater number of items. Most, if not all, of the gear can be stored inside the bag. As such, these types of backpacks are well suited for long trips.

Protects Gear

As mentioned, with internal frame backpacks, most of the gear is kept inside the backpack. This helps to protect the gear on climbing expeditions or when you are crossing rough terrain. Since everything is stored internally, there is no chance of rocks or branches snagging on anything that you are carrying with you.

Ideal for Travelers

This type of backpack is relatively flexible which makes it easier to store and travel with. This is particularly true when traveling by plane. With these bags as your luggage, it is easier to store your backpack in the overhead luggage, depending on its size.

Offers Custom Fit

Yet another one of the perks of internal frame bags is that the straps on these backpacks are simple to adjust. Due to this, it is very easy to have almost any bag fit your height and size perfectly. This makes it much more comfortable for people of all sizes to carry.

Disadvantages

Odd Weight Distribution

While internal frame backpacks are capable of carrying greater loads, they don’t do so comfortably. Due to the design of the backpack, you are tasked with having to shoulder much of this weight. This is largely because the backpack causes you to carry the weight lower than usual. To compensate, you will need to walk while leaning forward so that the weight is distributed better.

Poor Ventilation

While one of the benefits of this backpack is that it hugs your back, it can also be seen as a disadvantage. This is particularly true when the weather is quite warm. This close fit means that there is no room for ventilation or for air to pass through. Therefore, your back can get quite sweaty during your hike.

Few Internal Components

One thing that internal frame backpacks can’t really offer you is organization. These typically are top loading backpacks and have precious few internal storage options. This can be quite frustrating to dig through, especially if you are carrying a lot of gear.

Minimal External Storage

With these backpacks, it is all about keeping your gear on the inside. So, there are few options available to carry gear externally. So, if you want easy access to your belongings or want to carry gear on the outside of the backpack, the internal frame backpacks can be quite frustrating.

What Size Do You Need

Since the internal frame backpacks are meant for a variety of outdoor excursions, they tend to be of all sizes. Here is a rundown of the most common capacities and for the activity and duration that they are suited for:

  • Daypack (20 – 40 liters): Backpacks with these capacities are typically meant for hikes that last no longer than a day. These capacities can carry enough stores of food, water, and gear for a short trip. There is usually space for an extra layer of clothing too. Some of these designs come equipped with external hydration packs.
  • Multiday Pack (40 – 80 liters): Backpacks of these capacities are capable of carrying supplies for between two to five days. There are perfect for overnight trips where you need to carry additional gear along with more clothes and food. You should be able to fit in a foldable tent in here as well.
  • Expedition Pack (80+ liters): This type of pack is great for outdoor trips that require a considerable amount of gear and supplies. Although external storage features aren’t usually found in internal frame packs, they are sometimes present in backpacks of this size. These packs can also be used for traveling purposes as well.

Length of Pack in Relation to Torso

As seen above, the pack capacities indicate that the internal frame backpacks usually range from medium-sized to quite large. The actual length of the backpack often plays as large a role as the capacity. The length is often directly related to how much stability to you can expect from your backpack. This is why, for the best hiking experience, your back needs to sit at a specific height on your back.

Ideally, your backpack should be no longer than your torso. In fact, it should sit between your shoulders and the topmost part of your hip bones. A backpack this length will be the most comfortable to carry around as it will distribute the weight around more evenly.

This is not always possible with the larger expedition packs. With these backpacks, the packs are longer than they are wide to help with stability. At the same time, you should look for a backpack that is only a couple of inches above your head. If it is any longer than that, it can have a negative effect on your back, posture, and balance.

The Suspension System

The more that you want to carry in an internal frame backpack, the more important the suspension system in place is. To start with, you will need wide straps with a little bit of padding. This is so that the straps will be spread evenly across each shoulder and will not dig into the skin. The straps should be adjustable so that you can change the length according to the length of your torso.

If you are opting for a really large or heavy backpack, you should consider a sternum strap. This should sit several inches below your collarbone and hold the pack securely to the upper portion of your chest. This strap will be important to minimize the movement of the bag while you walk.

One of the more important components of the suspension system is the hip belt. This is because they are responsible for distributing the weight of the bag across your hips. Since this is the way that you are naturally supposed to carry the weight, it is much better for your posture. The hip belt should sit just above your hip bones, be padded, and be fully adjustable as well. This way, you will be able to get a custom fit.

For women, getting a suspension system that has been fashioned just for ladies could be very useful. This will ensure that the backpack sits precisely where it needs to on your back. The straps will also be comfortable as they are meant to accommodate wider chest and hips.

This is what you need to know about internal frame backpacks and how to choose one that is specifically suited to you.


Last updated on November 14, 2017

Tweet
Share
Share
Email
Pin