The Advantages and Disadvantages of an External Frame Backpack

by Gina Leahey
An external frame backpack is best for carrying heavy loads on well-established trails.

An external frame backpack is best for carrying heavy loads on well-established trails.

An external frame backpack looks like a regular satchel attached to a metal frame. It usually has extra space above and below for attaching sleeping bags and other gear. There are straps and netting between your body and the metal frame that prevent the metal frame from coming in contact with your back. There are many advantages and some disadvantages to using this style of backpack for carrying large loads across long distances.

Advantages

Since the satchel component can be removed from the frame, external frame backpacks can accomodate loads of varying sizes and weights. External frame backpacks also provide different places where you can hang additional gear or attach bulkier items such as sleeping bags and tents. In general, this style of backpack is less expensive than more sophisticated internal frame models.

Disadvantages

External frame backpacks usually take up more space when empty than traditional backpacks, due to their structured frame. In addition, the satchel portion of the external frame backpack tends to be smaller than alternative backpack styles.

Benefits While Wearing

External frame backpacks are popular with hikers because of their comfort.

Because of its unique frame and strap configuration, which lifts the load away from your body, external frame backpacks have better ventilation and are cooler to wear. Since an external frame backpack extends from below your waist through the spine, it enables you to walk more comfortably and erect.

Negative User Experiences

Users may become imbalanced if wearing external frame backpacks.

Users of external frame backpacks report that they can be heavier than normal backpacks and hard to maneuver on uneven terrain. The structured frame can become caught on trees while hiking. In addition, the metal frame can squeak and needs to be lubricated periodically.

About the Author

Based in Philadelphia, Gina Leahey has been a writer since she convinced her high-school newspaper to let her join. She has a bachelor's degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College and a master's degree in library and information science with a concentration in youth services from Drexel University.

Photo Credits

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