There are basically two hiking equipment that can determine the overall comfort outdoors – the hiking backpacks and the hiking boots. These two items, in some cases, can also be the heart of the success of your outdoor adventure. Into these hiking packs, you would toss your food, clothes, stove, tent, sleeping bag and other hiking supplies and hiking gear.
Traditional hiking backpacks come in two major configurations: external- and internal-frame models. You can choose a wide array of sizes and weights in each of these two categories; and manufacturers design each for different purpose.
A third category of lightweight packs, ideal for ultralight hiking, are also available in the market. These are considered to be modified versions of the old frameless rucksacks that have incorporated the load-management designs of the heavier, internal-frame models.
External-Frame Hiking Backpacks
External-frame packs, such as the Coleman Exponent Livingston Backpack, come in frames which are visible outside the pack. You will put your hiking gear into the sacks which are attached to different parts of the aluminum-alloy frame. The purpose of the frame is to distribute the weight you carry when you go hiking.
Your center of gravity is rather high with an external-frame hiking pack. In some ways, and largely because the weight of the pack will exert less pressure on the upper back, shoulders, and neck, external-frame packs may seem more comfortable. However, the higher center of gravity can make your balance unstable, especially for women whose natural center of gravity is much lower. Other advantages of external-frame packs are the pockets and pouches that they usually have. These are particularly useful for sorting out your hiking gear.
Internal-Frame Hiking Backpacks
Internal-frame packs, like Coleman Chickapin X65 Internal Packs are very similar to duffel bags fitted with inside frames. The frame might be a frame sheet, stays, or a combination of both. The frame sheet (usually a rigid plastic sheet) helps distribute weight, much like an external frame, whereas the stays typically are metal rods inserted lengthwise to strengthen the pack.
You must see to it that the internal-frame hiking backpack you choose fits snugly on your back. Packs vary in length of torso, so you should look for the one that fits properly. Check if the stays in the internal-frame hiking pack need to be bent to follow the curve of your back. Since these types of packs are close fit, they are not carried up and apart from the body but will hug and follow the contours of your body. This feature makes it easier for you to maneuver when executing twist and bend movements.
Lightweight Hiking Backpacks
If you aim for lightweight backpack hiking, you’ll have to go back to the purely functional. Lightweight hiking backpacks are rucksacks ruthlessly stripped down to what is essential. Weight-bearing features that made traditional packs ride more easily on the back and the extra pouches are gone. Their back-to-the-basics attitude forces you to think through your hiking needs. If your load is not so heavy, for instance, load-lifter straps are unnecessary.
This makes lightweight packs tend to snag or pull your back down, interfering with your balance and straining your upper torso and neck. As a seasoned hiker, however, you can arrange your load to achieve some stability with the pack.