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Internal vs External

I have an external frame CampTrails backpack circa 1979. Empty it's a little under 4lbs. I've used it on 8 trips this summer after not using it for 38 years. Back in 1980, in a mountaineering class, we went to Dolly Sods in a snowstorm,across the Presidential Range in the Whites for a week, in winter (spent the night outside the Hut in the Clouds on Mt. Washington, yikes), and the Shenandoah's in winter (colder than the Sods!). 

On the trips this summer I've had friends suggest I need an internal frame pack. Possibly because I looked over burdened (poor pack job on my part). So for those of you who have used external and internal and prefer internal - tell me some reasons why you would think the internal is so much better? 

Thanks ahead of time,

Jamie

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Yeah this forum can be frustrating that way.  I have lost several posts particularly when replying via my smart phone.

I think your new pack was a wise choice.  Looks can be deceptive.  Old fabric can sudden give out without warning and internal corrosion can look just fine right up until it fails.

The Baltoro 75 is a great pack for heavier loads. I have a first generation Baltoro 70 and it carries really well.  Since it is on the heavier side, it is probably not the best pack for a long distance thru hike (where a lot of the discussion is centered these days).  However,  it is great for extended trips and weekends where you want some flexibility in what you take.

Earlier this year I did a 5 mile test hike in the rain carrying 47# gross as prep for a summer week long Sierra hike and hardly noticed the weight during the hike.  I did the day after because I was seriously out of shape but that was not the fault of the pack.  I think my starting max gross pack weight on the actual hike was around 43# with 2.5L water, a week of food in a bear can and a fuel canister.  The only issue I had was that in maintaining the pack I had forgotten to pop the belt pads back on to the internal hip belt which compromised the comfort until I figured it out. 

Those stainless "poppers" and "rivets" cause the 70 to creak annoyingly as the smooth heads rub on the adjacent material when the hip belt articulates.  I had put a bit of waterproof silicone grease on them to try and quieten them down. I'm not sure if I'd "recommend" that as a solution but it did seem to work to kill the creak. The 75 may use a different design and not have this problem.

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Generally external frame packs are stiff and unforgiving and internal frame packs are more body hugging and flexible making them much more comfortable for most people.

If your current pack works for you there maybe no particular reason to change it and personally I would look at getting your other gear lighter and more efficient first before switching packs.

On the other hand if you have never tried an internal frame pack you may just not know what you are missing so I would recommend renting one and/or getting fitted for one at your local REI or equivalent.

One other point...A pack from 1979 may not be in the best of shape.  With time, metal corrodes and fabrics rot.  If you are planning trips to the wilderness where you may experience difficult or extreme conditions and your life may depend on the reliability of your gear you may want to factor that into your decision. 

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I just wrote a long reply but lost it when it prompted for login... 

So yes, great point and it was a concern earlier this summer so I spent time checking everything, pins, any tears, etc...  all good, but it is always a concern for old stuff as you said.

That said - I researched, spent time at REI with some great staff who advised many things and wound up with a Gregory Baltoro 75. Gave it a long hike with 35 lbs today, very happy with it. Stable, much more comfortable, excellent.

Thanks for your feedback! 

 

Yeah this forum can be frustrating that way.  I have lost several posts particularly when replying via my smart phone.

I think your new pack was a wise choice.  Looks can be deceptive.  Old fabric can sudden give out without warning and internal corrosion can look just fine right up until it fails.

The Baltoro 75 is a great pack for heavier loads. I have a first generation Baltoro 70 and it carries really well.  Since it is on the heavier side, it is probably not the best pack for a long distance thru hike (where a lot of the discussion is centered these days).  However,  it is great for extended trips and weekends where you want some flexibility in what you take.

Earlier this year I did a 5 mile test hike in the rain carrying 47# gross as prep for a summer week long Sierra hike and hardly noticed the weight during the hike.  I did the day after because I was seriously out of shape but that was not the fault of the pack.  I think my starting max gross pack weight on the actual hike was around 43# with 2.5L water, a week of food in a bear can and a fuel canister.  The only issue I had was that in maintaining the pack I had forgotten to pop the belt pads back on to the internal hip belt which compromised the comfort until I figured it out. 

Those stainless "poppers" and "rivets" cause the 70 to creak annoyingly as the smooth heads rub on the adjacent material when the hip belt articulates.  I had put a bit of waterproof silicone grease on them to try and quieten them down. I'm not sure if I'd "recommend" that as a solution but it did seem to work to kill the creak. The 75 may use a different design and not have this problem.

@OldGuyot @JMeG sorry about the lost posts...please know that we are consistently working to improve this community (in content and technical capacity) and have added the lost posts to our "list." 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Don't mean to beat a dead horse. 

In the 60's there was only the coleman frame pack with bag attached (BSA used this) (I'm talking normal backpacking), in the 70's the big kelty frame pack was the rage, with countless imitators. "mountain climbers" used internal frame packs, because they just did.  I guess because they didn't sway all over the place.

Bear in mind, there was no internet shopping.  The only thing available for outfitting yourself was the local army/navy store for surplus stuff, then came REI and campmore, then LLBean, etc. with the ubiquitous mailed catalogs.  The ONLY place you could learn about backpacking stuff was from these catalogs or if you were lucky, a outfitter storefront.  If you didn't live in or near the mountains or forests even those where far and few between.

External framed packs were it for many years. The end of the 70's/early 80's saw more and more tweeking of internal framed packs, which wound up being extremely more comfortable as they improved, and eventually became mainstream.  They are SO MUCH more comfortable, and much lighter to boot than the old externals. (especially if fitted at you local REI store!, I did....I put my ego aside and went in for a fit...and then the correct size (ah hem), wow, what a difference!)

my two-cents

rei member since 1979

1985 AT in VA, small keltey and daypack1985 AT in VA, small keltey and daypack465897-R1-19-19.jpg465897-R1-14-14.jpg

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes
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