A lot of people seem to be asking why the shift from external supports on knapsacks to internal ones. I have to admit, I started to wonder the same thing. Was it because customers were losing interest in the external frame or was there another underlying reason?
It turned out to be an odd conundrum, simply because hard core users wanted more selection in externals whereas manufacturers were moving toward producing a larger variety of internals. As my brother and I researched a little bit more we found out why the popular trend to an internal frame hiking backpack.
Apparently, there are several reasons for the newer internal supports, but they all come down to one main trait and that is stability. Let’s take a look at how these models can be better for you than the external ones.
First, when the metal or aluminum supports are on the outside of the bag, they can get caught on things which can be irritating and at times downright dangerous. If you are traversing thick brush, for example, you don’t want anything hanging out that can be grabbed by tree branches, thorns on twigs, or prickly bushes.
As you walk, you have a certain momentum, and if that is broken, you lose stride and possibly your balance. Once you become wobbly, it is so easy to fall. Plus, when something heavy like your bag is caught, it can do damage to your body as it pulls you back. All of this comes back to the issue of stability.
Second, the flat bars that make up the inside support are often shaped according to a person’s back. To keep the load where it belongs, making it the most comfortable, as well as healthier or safer for various body parts, the supports should be made to transfer the load to the hips.
Third, the pack sits flush against your back making the body and sack one. With the proper adjustment of shoulder and waist straps, this should result in little movement of the pack, which is advantageous and safer when trying to get up tight hills, and when crevices can cause tripping. Rock climbers are particularly happy with this style.
Fourth, these models tend to be better than the old one size fits all. Again because the straps can be tightened and loosened, more precise sizing is possible. This is an obvious advantage for both short and tall persons. If your pack fits you better, then it is more comfortable and you can enjoy your hike instead of complaining about the load.
Fifth, the stays or flat bars that make up the support can be bent by hand giving the wearer control over the tightness and feeling of support. And if you are walking and the fit doesn’t seem quite right, you can mold the back stays on the fly to make things more comfortable and natural for you.
Sixth, although this has nothing to do with safety or stability, this type of knapsack folds up smaller and is less cumbersome for storing than its counterpart.
We had a lengthy discussion with our walking group and it seems that although everyone has their own preference, most of the participants have gone to the internal frame hiking backpack. Our buddy Jack said that his was more expensive to buy, but he really felt the difference when he used it a couple times.
He mentioned that his back wasn’t as sore that night. He also liked the fact of not being able to connect a bunch of stuff to the outside. In the past, he just took way too much junk he didn’t need and since this newer type frame discourages that sort of behavior, he was a lot happier.