By: R. Maxine Lundquist
Internal frame backpacks are great for hiking. The straps on the frame help to distribute the weight of the contents and hold them in place so the load doesn’t shift as much, which is what you want when you are doing things like scrambling uphill over rocks and around shrubbery. They also have a tendency to sit a little lower on the back which can improve your center of balance, another plus when hiking rocky or hilly terrain. And because most of the gear is compartmentalized, less items can become snagged on brush and branches.
The best bang for your buck when you’re budgeting is probably the TETON Sports Scout3400 Internal Frame Backpack, which sells for around $65.00 to $75.00. It has lots of pockets and loops and is sturdy with adjustable shoulder straps, making it comfortable for most frames.
One very nice feature is the attached rainfly which comes in handy if the weather turns wet.
Another good internal frame backpack is another Teton–the TETON Sports Scout3400 Internal Frame Backpack. The Sports Scout is a little higher in price–around $75.00-80.00, and it has the added advantage of a padded lumbar area for extra comfort. It also has an airflow system to reduce heat. This can be handy for internal frame backpacks because they sit so close to the back that they can become sweaty.
The pack itself is roomy and holds a hiking sleeping bag nicely, with lots of pockets and loops and straps to keep everything in place. A good all-around hiking backpack.
Our last choice is the highest priced pack of all–High Sierra Tech Series 59404 Titan 55 Internal Frame Pack, which will run you about $85.00-$95.00, still a good price as far as internal frame backpacks go. It has a padded back area and airflow breathability, soft lashing hardware and mesh and zippered pockets both. It has a pull-out rainfly and is hydration-pack ready. The buckles are not the best quality, but they are standard and the straps are sturdy and adjustable.
Internal frame backpacks can run from $50.00 upwards of $300.00, so if you are just starting out or don’t go hiking every weekend, the above three choices are a good, basic purchase that will last you years.