Hiking backpacks with frames are lightweight backpacks with a rigid frame to provide structure and support. The frame will help the pack maintain its shape and prevent it from sagging when it’s loaded with gear, supplies, or food. A pack with a frame also tends to be lighter weight than one without since the frame itself is often made of lightweight materials like aluminum or plastic.

What Is the Difference Between an Internal Frame Backpack and External Frame Backpacks?

External frame packs offer more space for carrying gear than internal frame packs. External frame backpacks are better for hauling gear into the wild, such as when you’re out hiking all day with camping gear and supplies. If you want to carry a lot of gear while on a long hike, or if you plan on hiking with your pack over rough, uneven terrain, an external frame pack is the way to go.

Factors to Consider When Comparing Backpacks With Frame

When it comes to choosing a backpack with a frame, there are several things to consider. For example, will you be carrying a lot of weight in the bag? Is the pack body going to sit on your back or will it be supported by your shoulders? How often will you be using the bag and is comfort or durability more important than cost?


For heavy loads and long distances, something with a stiffer frame that’s made of titanium or aluminum is typically best. For lighter loads and shorter distances, a less rigid and breathable material like mesh can be the way to go.

External frame backpacks are designed to carry heavy loads more comfortably while keeping the weight centered on your hips instead of off to the sides where it can throw your balance off. Internal frame backpacks are best for people who like to travel light. If you have a small load, but frequently go on multi-day hikes, this backpack is the perfect balance of comfort and versatility.

If you plan to carry heavier loads an external frame pack is usually best. For shorter trips a lightweight pack with a low base weight or even a frameless pack will offer weight savings allowing for a more comfortable carry.


The shoulder straps of a hiking pack are used to distribute the weight of what you are carrying more evenly around your body. They are also designed to be adjustable so that the load can be fine-tuned for maximum comfort and safety. The waist belt or hip belt is a component of some packs whose job it is to help evenly spread out the pressure on your hips when you are carrying a heavy load. A sternum strap is important because it prevents the pack from moving around on your back and allows you to distribute the weight more comfortably.


In most cases, your torso length is the critical factor in choosing a backpack: it usually determines the number of different size and capacity models you can choose from. The backpack’s suspension system is designed to support the load, protect your back, and distribute weight evenly. A good suspension system should improve air flow against your back and help with extra storage space.


When choosing your framed hiking backpack you’ll need to consider the outdoor gear you’ll be carrying on your trip. Does the bag have external attachment points for your sleeping bags, tent poles and water bottles or will you be packing them in your bag? A trash compactor bag is also something you’ll want to pack for your trip.


Side and external pockets will come in handy for when you need to reach into other pockets inside your bag quickly. Side pockets also come in handy for storing your things while keeping an eye on them, such as a camera so you can take photos of moments without having to take out your camera.

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