Frame Backpacks– The two most important factors for selecting frame backpacks are choosing the proper capacity and making sure they fit your torso properly.
Pack Capacity: When purchasing frame backpacks, select one with an appropriate capacity, or volume, to fit all necessary gear for anticipated seasons and duration of your trips. Frame backpacks often contain a number in their name which describes the capacity, or volume, inside the backpack expressed in liters. Why liters? Compared to cubic inches, they’re easier to remember and to compare.
Types of Frame Backpacks: These days, almost all frame backpacks feature an internal frame in design, however external frames are also available. The close-fitting and flexible design of internal frame backpacks enhances your balance and keeps your load stable on any terrain. This is ideal for many activities, such as mountaineering, skiing, scrambling and hiking in rough terrain. Internal frame backpacks also allow for more movement, letting your arms swing freely because of the narrow profiles. On the other hand, external frame backpacks help the backpacks to carry heavy loads. They also are divided into compartments, making it easier to organize and find items inside the pack compared to the single, main compartment of the internal frame backpacks. External frame backpacks still exist, although they are hard to find as retailers are attempting to move away from them.
Sizing and Fitting Frame Backpacks: The key to comfort is to make sure that you take the time to determine the proper fit for frame backpacks. Measure your torso, which is the distance between your C7 vertebra (the most noticeable protrusion on your upper spine) and the rear “shelf” of your hips. Your waist size also matters, though most hip belts can be adjusted to fit a wide range of waist sizes. Just make sure the hip belt is comfortable when you try it on. Many frame backpacks allow you to fine-tune their torso fit via easily adjustable suspension systems. The alternative is a fixed-suspension pack. This type is non-adjustable, but offers the advantages of being less complex and thus lighter than a comparable adjustable model.
Choosing the Correct Frame Backpacks Size: After you know the length of your torso, finding the right frame size is no problem. Although the sizes may differ a little, use the following frame size guidelines unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer. Note, however, that each frame size can be adjusted to fit a slightly larger or smaller torso size.
Extra Small: Up to 15-1/2 inches tall (up to 39 cm)
Small: 16 – 17 1/2 inches tall (40 – 45 cm)
Medium/Regular: 18 – 19 1/2 inches tall (46 – 50 cm)
Large/Tall: 20 inches and up (51 cm and up)
Women-specific frame backpacks are also available, though less common. These frame backpacks have narrower shoulder yokes, conically shaped hip belts and shorter torso lengths specifically designed to fit women. Youths and men with narrow frames sometimes find these packs are a better fit for them.
Determining Hip Size: Some frame backpacks come with the option of interchangeable hip belts. In this case, it’s a good idea to know your hip size. Wrap a flexible tape measure around the top of your hips, known as your “latitude line,” where you can feel your iliac crest.
Small: 22 – 27 inch hip-line (56 – 69 cm)
Medium: 28 – 34 inch hip-line (70 – 87 cm)
Large: 35 – 39 inch hip-line (88 – 100 cm)
Extra Large: 40 – 45 inch hip-line (101 – 114 cm)
A properly fit hip belt should straddle your iliac crest, sitting about an inch above and below your “latitude line.” This measurement is your hip size for frame backpacks.