as everyone has been saying- "Happy Holidays and Good Cheer" (and all that other good stuff)
Ok, enough with the greetings though, I've got some serious questions about which pack to get! So if you know your packs, keep on reading. So I'll explain my situation:
I have a external frame BSA pack which I bought for about $100 3 years ago. I have used it off and on, and it is in good shape. (I'll probably be selling it, so let me know if you're interested) I have used it in the Porky Pine Mountains for a week long trip. And I didn't like the pack that much. I mean it was great for carrying stuff, but it hurt, threw me off balance, and all I was hiking for was to get to the next rest stop. So this summer I am going to Philmont (Scout ranch in New Mexico-Tons of backpack, climbing,etc.) for a two week back packing trip. I want a new internal frame pack, for under $250. I'm not sure of my torso length yet, but I will say I am relativly slim(no beer belly). The trip will be 12 days and I am taking the train down there. In addition to Philmont, I hope to use it later for the weekend camp outs I go on (about 1 a month). The local shops around here are REI, Dunhams, Fontana, Gander Mountain, and Erehwon. And then there is always those mail order catalogs like campmmore. What pack would you recommend for me to get and use at Philmont as well as for the rest of my life?
Thank you for your help,
In a message dated 96-12-20 19:05:37 EST, email@example.com (Jon Stevens) writes:
> I have a external frame BSA pack which I bought for about $100 3
> years ago.
I don't know the brand. Is "BSA" = Boy Scouts of America? Anyway, you get
what you pay for in packs, like everything else, and $100 for a new pack with
internal or external frame just isn't going to get it. But you have learned
that for yourself.
> And I didn't like the
> pack that much. I mean it was great for carrying stuff, but it hurt, threw
> me off balance
A pack shouldn't throw you off balance is it is properly fitted, packed, and adjusted, though you will have lean forward a bit so the center of gravity of your upper body, plus the 30-60 pound hunch back, is over your hip joints. Careless fit, packing and/or adjustment is a recipie for trouble.
Buy your pack in a store, where you can try on several with sandbags inside and get some expert help (REI is is where I buy mine), so you get a proper fit.
Packing high density stuff close to your back will reduce the need to lean forward. Further, I see people make the mistake of packing (high density) water bottles in their outside pockets, either side (close to their back) or rear. So doing increases your pack-plus-upper-body polar moment of inertia, so it's harder to turn your shoulders, and harder to stop turning, once you have begun. Hence, keep the high density stuff near your spine, and save your lateral obliques for a macarena around the campfire.
Finally on packing, pack the high density stuff high for trail slogging and low for bushwacking. When high, you lean forward less, and when low, you aren't so top heavy. You can't have both.
Finally, finally on packing, try a 300 cubic inch fanny pack worn backwards (bellypack?). It's low, handy and offsets the hunch back, but only a tiny bit.
> So this summer I am going to Philmont (Scout ranch in New Mexico-Tons of
> backpack, climbing,etc.) for a two week back packing trip. I want a new
> internal frame pack, for under $250. I'm not sure of my torso length yet,
> but I will say I am relativly slim(no beer belly). The trip will be 12 days
> and I am taking the train down there. In addition to Philmont, I hope to
> use it later for the weekend camp outs I go on (about 1 a month).
> What pack
> would you recommend for me to get and use at Philmont as well as for the
> rest of my life?
Almost certainly more than one. E.g., external frame for smooth trails and deserts, internal for bushwacking, climbing, ski touring, and rougher trails. Smaller (3000-3500) cubic inches for fair weather weekends, larger 5000-6000 for 12-day carry-everything trips.
Hope these fragments help.
>In a message dated 96-12-20 19:05:37 EST, firstname.lastname@example.org (Jon
>> So this summer I am going to Philmont (Scout ranch in New Mexico-Tons of
>> backpack, climbing,etc.) for a two week back packing trip. I want a new
>> internal frame pack, for under $250. I'm not sure of my torso length yet,
>> but I will say I am relativly slim(no beer belly). The trip will be 12
>> and I am taking the train down there. In addition to Philmont, I hope to
>> use it later for the weekend camp outs I go on (about 1 a month).
>> What pack
>> would you recommend for me to get and use at Philmont as well as for the
>> rest of my life?
I have been to Philmont, the 12-day trip, and it was wonderful. You are going to love it. The southern Rockies have their own look and feel that I've never matched anywhere I've been.
My first backpack was a surplus US Army packboard circa 1945 -- that bowed piece of plywood with a big piece of canvas laced to it, and big iron hooks onto which you tied whatever you wanted. My Dad liked them for hauling game out of the boonies. I've also owned several versions of the BSA pack, and many other external and internal frames. I have a feeling that most of the input you get from this group will urge you to rush out and buy a macho internal frame -- and maybe you should, but let me offer a few accumulated truths to think about.
(1) Suspension considerations aside, the pack bag itself is more important than most realize. The ability to organize your gear, know where it is and lay your hands on it quickly without totally disorganizaing everything is a key to things like effective weight distribution, setting up or taking down camp in the dark, in the rain, or in a hurry; keeping break and lunch stops quick; and even keeping your pack outside your tent rather than sleeping with it. (At Philmont, you'll find that nearly everything but your teeth goes in the bear bag at night -- with good cause.) I like internal frames and use them a lot, but the BIG WEAKNESS of most is that they are just one huge bag -- no effective compartments, pockets, etc. Hitting the trail in the morning often means repacking the whole thing -- not a big deal in a base camp situation, but a real pain in a long string of trail camps.
(2) Internal frames are indeed superior for skiing, snowshoeing, scrambling,
climbing, cross-country, bushwhacking, etc. I think somewhat more than half
the people buying them for this reason never end up doing much of this, and
are simply satisfying a self-image. Soul-searching should be part of the
exercise of buying a backpack.
(3) A well-fitting and well-made external frame is, on the whole, more
comfortable than an internal frame. Hard, odd-shaped objects in the pack
are less likely to poke you. Ventilation around the back is superior, and
there will be much less wincing from that cold, clammy feeling you get when
saddling up a pack with a sweat-soaked shirt.
(4) An external frame pack can be a very balanced, secure unit if it fits
right and is adjusted right -- and like all packs, the waist belt fit is the
make-or-break item. The ability to organize your gear in pockets and
compartments makes it easier to balance the load. On the trail, you'll see
any number of internal frame uses walking hunched over, cockeyed, skewed
because they have to lash on gear or pack it in odd places. But it's true
that when you get off the trail and get your arms and legs doing strange
things and your torso twisting around at odd angles, you'll want an internal
frame because it hugs your body and goes where your body goes.
In summary, be tough with yourself about what you're really going to use
this pack for; and if you do buy an internal frame, look for pockets and
compartments. (In extenal frames, REI hands down. I like Camp Trails and
Kelty internal frames because of the great pockets; Oh God, I can hear
BACKPACK-L people cringing already.)
Tom Horton -- thorton@HFAonline.com
"It could probably be shown by facts and
figures that there is no distinctively native
American criminal class except Congress."
-- Mark Twain
>>> What pack would you recommend for me to get and use at Philmont as
well as for the rest of my life?
>My first backpack was a surplus US Army packboard circa 1945 --
My first pack was a military surplus triangular job with an external frame
that curved down around my kidneys. I used it for years, the same years
during which I thought bloody foot blisters were neccessary in order to
toughen my feet and my soul. When I got a couple of bucks, I bought a
Jansport external that was just big enough for weekends. I thought it was
great, but I didn't know there was any alternative to having the frame hang
up on branches, or to soaking my sleeping bag (in a stuff sack wrapped in
layers of garbage bags) when I put the pack down on wet ground, or when I
slipped in a creek.
I replaced the Jansport with a 70 litre internal when I was getting ready for The West Coast Trail. The WCT is 77 kilometres long, strenuous, rough, and wet. It's an easy plce to get hurt. That pack, with my sleeping pad and tent tied to the sides worked, but it was so clumsy that whenever I started to slip, the pack pushed me right over. Now I have an enormous internal - a North Face Expio, 105 - 115 litre pack I bought 2nd hand. Not too many bells and wisthles, but *everything* goes inside, and cinches down tight. I've used it on overnights, as well as on a week's outing to Mt. Assiniboine last season. Works fine for me. My only other pack (I sell gear I don't use, in order to afford new stuff) is a 3 litre day pack from Mountain Equipment Coop.
>I like internal frames and use them a lot, but the BIG WEAKNESS of most is
that they are just one huge bag -- no effective compartments, pockets, etc.
Hitting the trail in the morning often means repacking the whole thing
True, very true. A partial solution is finding an internal that's a panel loader. Cuts the packing/repacking time somewhat. And the pack must have compression straps which go around the zippered panel to ensure against zipper blowouts.
> A well-fitting and well-made external frame is, on the whole, more
>comfortable than an internal frame. Hard, odd-shaped objects in the pack
>are less likely to poke you.
I use a 3/4 length Thermorest, and I carry a short piece of closed-cell foam
that goes under my legs at night. I use the foam to pad the inside of my
pack against poking objects.
Ventilation around the back is superior ...
IMHO there isn't much difference, even on hot, exposed trails.
>(4) An external frame pack can be a very balanced, secure unit if it fits
>right and is adjusted right -- and like all packs, the waist belt fit is the
My experience is that the suspension's micro-adjustments are very important.
By varying the tightness of the load-lifter straps, for example, I can shift
the weight between my shoulders and my hips. In fact, my ideal pack would
allow me to change the angle of the hip belt. Well, that will have to wait
until I'm rich and famous!
SO: 1) Your decision will obviously depend on your budget, and the trails you choose.
2) Try several different packs. Must cities have places that offer rentals. Check a university or hiking/climbing group near you.
3) I think all the advice on this list has been excellent. Just thought I'd
toss in my few cents worth cause it's 30 below, I have the flu, and I enjoy
the chance to natter about gear.
P.S. Internals are much easier to schlep in buses, aircraft, and even in cars.
>>> What pack would you recommend for me to get and use at Philmont as
>well as for the rest of my life?
What I'd recommend you doing after you have decided on external or internal
as well as size and manufacturer. Is to go to where you are going to buy the
pack with the kit you would normally take with you and pack the pack.
Have the salesperson help you to adjust the pack, then see how it feels. Does it ride to high, is it well enough balanced for your body size. Can you easily get at your gear. I know for myself as a climber the ability to look up with a helmet on is important as well as things like ice axe loops.
But don't get a fancy pack with gizmos you'll never use because its' just a waste of money. Also try not to get a pack much bigger than you need. As I've always found if you have extra space you tend to fill it up with stuff that you don't really need. Beleive you me an extra pound may not seem like a lot at the trailhead, but a ways down the trail it will seem like you are holding the weight of the world on your back....
Hope I could help.....
Have a great New Year!