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Snippet of Backcountry Hunting Podcast: Backpacks for Backcountry Hunting

Last Played: March 26, 2021
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Howie goes through the differences between External Frame and Internal Frame Packs for hunting. We hear the best brands and models to get for each type of frame while getting tips on how to get the right pack for you. Howie helps us determine the difference between carbon and aluminum framing and why you may want to use aluminum.
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the bomb. There's really nothing else that can compare. And there's one specific pack that I want to mention here. It's one that I have personal experience with. This is by Frontier Gear of Alaska. It's called the freighter frame, and there are three different bags that you can get. The frame itself is costly. It's nearly 300 bucks in. Each of the bags is just in excess of 400. So you're looking at seven 100 bucks or so to get this back. They're sold by Barney's Sports Chalet in Anchorage, Alaska. To this day, I've never found their equal in quality or capability. They are built to carry weight, and they're built to last forever. So check them out. Most of them, you know, I've never found a rating on it, but certainly they're rated at 200 plus pounds. I actually carried a friend of mine that way to 20 around on the shelf of my pack. When I got it with the bag on, he just hopped on, facing backward, leaned back on me, and around the office we went, and I was surprised at how easy it was. The pack and bag combination is gonna way around £9 so they're not super light. And if you're going in in a super cub, you're losing two or £3 worth of mountain house or whatever else you have to give up to take that pack with you. Sometimes it's worth it capacity, depending on which bag you choose. Ranges from about 6800 cubic inches to 7800 cubic inches. It's a lot, and remember these packs and the frames are very easy to tie extra stuff on to. So if you want to throw a gold pan and a little miners pick on the outside of your pack along with your moose quarter, be my guest. Let's move now into internal frame packs. These are, or word till recently, the most popular modern packs. And they have some significant strengths to hunters, particularly hunters who can bone off their meat and don't intend to carry more than about 80 or £100 on a regular basis. And if they're smart, generally not more than about £60 some of those strengths let's go right down the list. They're very sleek. Most of them are not as wide as the hunters shoulders, and many of them are as narrow as a hunter's. Torso is from armpit to armpit, so you can go straight through narrow corridors in heavy snag E brush and just slide right through without hooking. They're very nice for that. They tend to be lighter than external frame packs by one to £4. And they're quieter, too, because they don't have exposed metal on the exterior of the pack that can scrape against brush or create clinking sounds. When a contact brush or rock or whatever they're compact, they're just not as bulky on your back or on the ground or in the back seat of your truck or wherever you can get one into the side pan yards of a pack horse more easily. They're just a lot more streamlined type of back. As a result, of course, they don't have generally as high capacity, and we'll talk about that more in a minute as a last strength. That's worth mentioning. This type of pack tends to be very comfortable. They move with your body to have a little bit of flex in that internal frame, and they move with your body a little more easily So if you're ducking under heavy branches or crawling over logs and so forth, they will tend to, um, shape themselves to your back and move a little more like a part of you. It's still an awkward part of you, but they are a little better connected to you than a big external frame pack. Not that they're more stable. I don't want to say that because there's very few things that are more stable than are properly adjusted. External frame pack for carrying a lot of weight, right? So let's talk about the weaknesses of an internal frame pack right up front. They're not as good for extremely heavy loads. Now I have carried over 100 and 50 pounds in my old go to pack, which, by the way, is a Dana Design Terraplane. In what they called the overkill model, it has a little heavier fabric, little heavier zippers. The straps and everything were made to be robust enough to handle decades worth of use. Now I got mine. Let me think 26 or 27 years ago, and it's still packs like it was new, fantastic set up. When I got mine, I had a professional at the backpack shop helped fit the aluminum stays. This is part of the internal frame to the contour of my back, and at the time this was made a big deal of because it enabled the pack to conform to your body and carry as comfortably as possible. This professional told me, he said. You know, you can just buy a new back, go out and use it, and these aluminum stage over time with white in your pack will conform to your back, and the pack will seem to become more and more comfortable to carry. But, he said, it is of critical importance that it does eventually fit itself your back. Otherwise, you'll never have ultimate comfort. This can only be achieved through aluminum stage, which is worth pointing out, right, so I don't know. And let me just step aside here for a moment mentioned. Most of today's packs, including the internal frame stuff, has composite stays. These can't conform to your back. They have a memory. They always go back to the shape they were. So I don't know if maybe that conforming shaping to your back element has been judged in more modern times to be of less value than they thought it was at the time. Or if maybe they found a composite, the various backpack manufacturers that conforms to your back. Uh, adequately, when you put it on with the weight, I don't know. Uh, it's something I'll have to do more research on. So another weakness of an internal frame pack is as mentioned before there are often limited in capacity. Most of the popular models will hold anywhere from about 4200 cubic inches, up to about 5000 cubic inches and some of them significantly more. But those are a rarity. Let me just tell you this right up front, when you go shopping for an internal frame pack, always go to the expedition line. If you read the descriptions, I'll tell you, these are for a week or more backpacking trips, and it will just show you the packs up front that have adequate capacity for carrying a lot of meat, plus a hunting camp on your back. The final weakness with internal frame backs is that they often fit poorly, and this relates somewhat to those issues with the various days and so forth but more to the fact that many of them today are what they term adjustable. Usually it's a massive water Velcro and a strap or two that crosses it. And you can adjust your hip belt up or down to, uh, to make the pack a little more closely with the length of your torso. It's a bit of a stopgap solution, and yeah can work in some situations and others. It never really does. Unfortunately, a lot of people never know it because they've never used a pack that fit perfectly. And so they just accept that being massively sore at the end of the day of long packing is par for the course where it doesn't have to be. You should be very tired, Yes, but you don't have to be so sore that you feel like you've been beaten with a two by four right what you can do to try and ensure that your internal frame pack fits as well as possible as well. First go to a really good shop and talk to somebody who knows their stuff, not just somebody who claims to know their stuff for acts like they know their stuff. Sometimes you have to go back two or three times before you connect with, uh, an employee there that clearly knows. Then you'll learn right and look for a pack that has multiple sizes, ideally, at least a couple. And better yet, three or four different options inside. That way you can get the one that most closely matches the length of your torso and then make fine adjustments with the Velcro straps and so forth. That's a pretty
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