Uses for External Frame Backpacks

Uses for External Frame BackpacksWhile largely supplanted by internal-frame backpacks, the external frame still has a place in the backpacking world. They may no longer be the dominant equipment in the field, but for certain specific uses an external frame may be hard to beat.


When it comes to heavy loads, external frame backpacks are tough to beat. While camping equipment is getting lighter and lighter, some users still need to carry big items, particularly people doing heavy work maintaining trails. For carrying axes, saws and brush-piles, an external frame pack is excellent.

Hot Weather

Internal frame backpacks sit tight against the back, making them streamlined for narrow trails. However, that strength can be a weakness when the weather is hot. External frame backpacks hold the packs away from the body, allowing for exceptional ventilation.


When it comes to equipping a growing child for the trail, an external frame backpack is a good option. Rather than picking up a new fitted pack every year during a child's growing periods, an external frame pack will often be adjustable and provide many years of use. Typically a set of pins will allow users to move the hip belt and shoulder straps independently, making for easy size adjustments as a child grows into a teen.

Organizing Groups

Multiple pockets and compartments on an external-frame backpack mean plenty of room for organizing equipment, for an entire family if necessary. One member of a hiking party with an external frame can easily divvy up food and have everything accessible for immediate use.

Article Written By Louie Doverspike

Based in Seattle, Louie Doverspike has been a professional writer since 2004. His work has appeared in various publications, including "AntiqueWeek" magazine, the "Prague Post" and "Seattle Represent!" Doverspike holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hamilton College.

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