New Backpack Advice

> Message Board Home > Hiking & Backpacking Gear > New Backpack Advice


By PDXHiker on 03/31/2011  12:39

I have an external frame pack that I absolutely love, but I'm once again being swayed by the neat new internal frame backs on the market now.  I had an Osprey Luna 85 some years ago and hated it.  It was the most uncomfortable thing I'd ever owned... but it's also possible I overpacked it, but it was the same gear I carry comfortably in my external frame K2.   I'm looking at the Osprey Xenon series (not sure if I want the 70 or the 85). 

I'm 5'1", 125 pounds, and generally pack 50 - 60 pounds for a week-long trip (yeah, I know...).  

Thoughts?  Should I stick with what I know?  Anyone know anything about the Xenon? 
It's not helping my pack-envy that my husband is planning to get a new internal frame pack this spring, either...


Total Posts: 53

By Forrest on 03/31/2011  14:09

Oh, such tough decisions!  If your current external frame pack is comfortable for you, why change?  Is it getting old, or are you just wondering if there may be something better out there?

Its probably best to head into a local store, load up a few different packs with weight, and try them out (you could probably even bring in your existing one and load it as well to see a fair comparison).  You could also probably get away with a weekend trip to test it out more fully.  Several outdoor stores such as REI have overly generous return policies, so you probably don't need to be worried about being stuck with a less than optimal bag.

I was personally converted to internal frames since they feel a little sleeker and less bulky, and my packs have all been pretty comfortable (and as shallow as it is, I just like the looks of internal frames better!).  My current pack, which is an Osprey Aether is great...but it is always a personal decision...and generally a difficult one.


Total Posts: 315

By PDXHiker on 03/31/2011  19:52

Thanks for the reply, Forrest -

Part of it is that the external frame pack is oldish (~ 15 years) -- but it's still solid, so that's not really a very good excuse.  But I'm also considering weight;  I could save about 2 pounds by switching to an internal frame pack.  Also is the fact that it's got some really nice features that my external frame pack doesn't, like a top that converts to a fanny pack and a place for my Camelback.   (Plus I've got to spend my REI dividend on something!)

I'm not worried about the investment so much as getting stuck on a trip where the pack doesn't work.   I got really burned by my Luna - it made me completely miserable on two different trips (one to Hell's Canyon, the other in the Strawberrys), and although I thought I'd thoroughly tested it things were totally different in the field.  So, I'm not sure if it was that specific pack or if internal frame packs just don't work for me.  I'm very short, and I wonder if I'd be better off just sticking with the external frame because I know it distributes the weight well on me.  

Ah, decisions, decisions!


Total Posts: 53

By Adam on 03/31/2011  20:50

External frames are work horses when it comes to heavy loads.  If you want an internal frame pack and still intend on carrying heavy loads on the trail, look at packs with multiple stays and sturdy frame sheets.  As I'm sure you know, internal framed packs vary depending on their intended use.  My guess is your last internal didn't have enough frame structure to support the weight you carry and/or wasn't fitted right for you.  My go-lite doesn't have a frame and is the most comfortable pack I've ever had with loads under 20 lbs, but when I get up around 30 or more it is the most uncomfortable pack I have ever owned.  I would suggest buying a light weight internal frame pack for those 1 and 2 nighters and save your external for those extended trips.


Total Posts: 114

By PDXHiker on 04/02/2011  10:01

Thanks for the good advice, Adam.  We're planning to do the Wonderland Trail this summer over 12 nights.  I wasn't sure if I should think about getting an internal frame pack to save two pounds, but it sounds like I'll be better off if I just stick with what I know will work for heavy loads.


Total Posts: 53

By erlall on 04/03/2011  13:33

My wife is about your size and she has 2 packs.  One is a Gregory Jade 50 and the other is a Granite Gear Ki.  She loves them both.  The Jade is a great option for 30lbs or less, the Ki and carry up to 40+ with the thicker hip-belt.  However, she is not comfortable carrying more than 30-35lbs - so both packs are nice options.  They would both be good options for you, however, for longer hikes, I would tell you to look at a Granite Gear Ki.

Good luck.


Total Posts: 50