Many of you are likely familiar with the advantages of an internal frame pack: better fit, flexible frame, lighter weight, adjustable load transfer, and better load distribution. However, unless you already own an internal frame pack, is is quite possible you will be daunted by the complexity of the fit process. So the best place to start as a first-time internal frame pack customer is to take the fear away from the buying process. You are, after all, buying comfort, not complexity.
Establish answers to the following qualifying questions:
- Where will the pack be used? Desert, Mountain, Trail, Expedition, Trekking, Travel
- What is the duration of trips planned? This influences pack size choices If the pack is only for 1 or 2 night overnight trips, anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 cubic inches is about right. Up to three days, you will want to lean toward selecting 4,000 to 5,000 cubic inches. Up to a week, think in terms of 5,000 to 6,000 cubes. And for multi-day winter and expedition use, think mondo-pack, 6,000 cubes and more. Never overbuy capacity because the axiom holds true for all – if you have the space, you will fill it, no matter how short the trip. Less is more.
- Who will be on the trips? If you are a parent, will the pack need to be larger to accomodate the need to carry extra gear for the family?
- Will there always be a buddy on the trips? How will loads be shared?
- Who will use the pack? Will there be multiple users of the same pack? If packs will be shared, this indicates the need for an easily-adjustable suspension system.
- When will the pack be used? Summer and winter? If summer, ventilation becomes more important. If winter, there is less need for highly padded suspensions.
- What specific features are necessary or important? Expandability; hauling larger loads, ski carrier, shovel pocket, ice tool loops, hydration system compatible or built in, travel (you'll need to buy a travel pack or a duffel to protect the straps), detachable daypack, weight (for fast packing)...
Trim down your choices of packs to two:
Work with your specialty salesperson. Choose two models that best meet the answers to the questions above. Remove the two packs off the wall and lay them together side by side.
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