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Which is Best: External or Internal Frame Backpack

Which is Best: External or Internal Frame Backpack

Should you choose an external or internal frame backpack? External frame backpacks used to be the main backpack everyone used but lately internal frame backpacks rule.

Although internal frame backpacks are the first choice for most people, you might still come across some die-hard external frame lovers. Is there still a place for external frame backpacks and how do they differ from internal frame backpacks?

External or Internal Frame Backpack: What is the Difference?

Well, you guessed it, the name says it all. An external frame has a visible frame on the outside and is more of a square looking backpack. The frame comes in quite handy for lashing on any extra gear but of course, you could lash onto a few branches too. Not an ideal situation… For that reason, external frame backpacks are better suited for well maintained hiking trails with clear paths.

The internal frame backpack has the frame on the inside, giving it a sleek appearance and a better fit. It fits tighter on your body making it the ideal backpack for adventure seekers who like to go off-trail. Chances of you hooking onto a tree or branch is less with an internal frame backpack.

A Few Other Differences to Take into Consideration


As with all things supply and demand rules here too. Naturally, with the bigger demand for internal frame backpacks, there is a far bigger range to choose from than for external frame backpacks.

This also means that most of the focus of future designs, will go into developing better and better internal frame backpacks. That doesn’t mean external frame backpacks aren’t still available, the range to choose from is just less.


You will be able to find bargains as well as expensive options for both internal and external frame backpacks. All things considered, price should not be the top priority for your choice.

First determine what kind of backpack would be the right fit for you and then start price comparisons in that range.

You May Be Interested In: Best Internal Frame Backpacks to Buy


When you fit an empty backpack the weight between an external frame and internal frame backpack might not feel like a big difference but after a few days of hiking with a full pack, every bit of extra weight counts.

External frames have thicker and heavier frames which automatically makes the backpack heavier before you even started packing. For internal frames, you will find a wide range from light to ultralight. Make sure you will be able to carry the load for your full hiking trip.

External or Internal Frame Backpack - Various backpacks


I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent trying to find my car keys in my handbag because of how unorganized it is. Non-organization while hiking can change a great trip into a rather unpleasant one pretty quickly. Especially in case of an emergency.

External frames normally have plenty of outer pockets which help with the organization of all your supplies and gear. Access to the main compartment is usually through the top of the backpack.

For internal frames the pockets vary from very little to plenty depending on the backpack. Access to the main compartment also varies. Some backpacks have access through the top while others have access through the middle of the bag.


The external frame allows for a large gap between the frame and the backpack, allowing air to freely flow across your back. The internal frame sits flush against your back resulting in a sweaty affair.

That said, most of the internal frame backpacks have ventilation channels for cooling or is equipped with suspended-mesh back panels. This allows for the good airflow through your back.

This is definitely something to consider if you are going to hike in a warm climate. Make sure you choose a backpack with good ventilation.


Both type of backpacks will hold the same capacity as per the bag instructions. The advantage of the external frame is that you can use the frame to add on more items.

Internal frame backpacks sometimes do offer lash patches that you can add on to carry extra gear but in general it is built for packing everything inside the bag.

Which One Should You Get?

Both internal and external frame backpacks have their pros and cons but the future of backpacks is probably going to be leaning more towards internal frame backpacks. Don’t automatically discard external frame backpacks by default though.

Keep in mind what kind of trails you are going to do, how long your hiking trips will be and what gear you will always carry with you before you make your decision.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope this helps you with making your decision and building a stronger life.

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I love helping women to empower themselves with knowledge and wisdom so they can build stronger lives and embrace a new better version of themselves. Let me show you how to connect a healthy body, mind, and soul so you can live with confidence. See Here >>

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