Internal frame packs for hunting?



No announcement yet.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Internal frame packs for hunting?

    I'm having fun reading about the packs that you would own if money where no object, but I have never considered and internal frame pack for hunting. Am I missing the boat? I have a great Osprey Aether 85 that I use for backpacking/scouting and mountaineering but I have always pulled my external frame and dry bag off the wall when it comes time to hunt. I would love to hear some pro's and con's about internal frames for big game hunts.


  • #2
    Internal vs. External

    Ah, the great debates of gear... freestanding vs. non, down vs. synthetic, internal vs. external...

    While I believe you can gather a substantial list of pros and cons, I am sure you will find most argument is based on (sometimes passionately) personal preference. You say "big game hunts" and that includes quite a few applications and scenarios, but I think we can generalize somewhat. Let's start a list with the "glass is half full" approach, but looking at the benefits of each:

    Benefits of External Frame:
    - Packbag away from your body increases airflow; cooler
    - More rigid for REALLY heavy loads
    - Bars (and sometimes a shelf) aid in lashing awkward items
    - Better weight transfer to hips

    Benefits of Internal Frame:
    - Weight is carried lower; better balance and less shift on uneven terrain
    - More compact; fewer snags, easier to pass thru tight spaces and glissade
    - Can normally compact/shrink the bag for use as a day/summit pack
    - Can be quieter since it doesn't have pins, though I have one pack that has a bit of squeak to it

    Weight and comfort are a tossup and depend more on the specific bags in question.

    I was a backpacker before I became a backpack hunter, and as a result have a tendency to favor backpacking/mountaineering gear over "hunting" gear. Partly because of that and my feelings towards the pros/cons, I am an internal frame guy. Not so much for hauling a moose quarter, but that is not typically what I do.

    Then there are the hybrids like the Kelty 50th Anniv or the MR NICE...



    • #3
      I should specify

      I guess I was thinking about walk in hunts primarily... if I were on a float hunt for moose or caribou I think the external frame is a no brainer. I was thinking more along the lines of an extended walk in hunt. I think you covered most of points I had been thinking about. I guess we will not have meat on our back for the majority of the time that we are in the field so maybe weight, silence and overall comfort should trump the handful of hours that I will have meat on my back. I just fear that on an 8-10 hour hike out with sheep meat on my back in an interior frame that extra body heat transfer could cause some spoilage or reduction of quality which I can't justify for the previously mentioned benefits. I guess your right about the great debate:confused:


      • #4
        extra body heat transfer could cause some spoilage or reduction of quality
        Interesting thought, but I don't think that is much of a concern. The reason why internal frames are warmer for the wearer is a lack of airflow between ones back and the padding/framing. To get into the main packbag, the energy would have to transfer via conduction, and most internal framed packs I would consider backpacking hunting with have quite a bit of padding/framing/material between you and the meat. If the heat were caused by friction your concern may be appropriate, but a well-fit pack shouldn't be sliding against ones back.

        I think one of the potential points of failure for internal frame pack users is if one picks a pack purely based on its size and weight. There are numerous packs on the marker that are large and lightweight. Some are great, but some are not adequate for sheep/goat loads. Many such inadequate packs are designed for winter mountaineering routes, wherein one carries about the same weight amount of gear as summer outings, but needs extra space for puffy jackets, pants, and whatnot.


        • #5
          Good points

          Thanks for the insight.


          • #6
            I read everything I could on this subject and purchased a top of the line external frame pack. I took it up a couple times and it seemed bulky and awkward in the mountains but I was hunting alone so I figured it was a requirement since I would have a huge load comming out if I scored a sheep. Circumstances changed and I ended up getting a partner and I made a snap decision a few days before the trip. I was at REI and I started trying on packs. I loved the feel of a gregory pack and I felt like I could adapt it well enough for a 2 person 1 sheep hunt. I was shocked how much better I felt in the mountains with the internal frame! I was so much more balanced that I didn't get as fatigued. I honestly believe that it is flat out safer! I however have no doubt that my Gregory would live a short life packing 100#+ loads! I am now on a mission to find an internal frame pack that is both super comfortable/stable and capable of carrying the heavy weight like the externals. I prefer the internals so much that I am willing to spare no expense to brige the gap.

            I will however allways have an external frame(-bag) in my inventory, when it comes to strapping an odd, bulky object to your back and carrying it from one place to another they can't be beat. A moose quarter (or two) is just such an "object". In my opinion there is none better for that than the Barneys freighter frame.


            • #7
              Check out this review......

              This is a pretty good review by Eastmans on internal frame packs. I have been researching all of them and settled on the Eberlestock. The entire review was to large for this forum however you can get it at Eastmans Hunting website.


              Attached Files


              • #8
                Originally posted by Brian Jackson View Post
                I just fear that on an 8-10 hour hike out with sheep meat on my back in an interior frame that extra body heat transfer could cause some spoilage...
                One way you might be able to deal with that is use your sleeping pad as an extra layer of insulation: you can fold the pad so it's sandwiched between the back panel & the rest of the contents, or you can roll the pad up, shove it in, let it unroll, and place the contents in the middle.

                You kind of need a big pack or a thin sleeping pad to get it to work well, unless you're the type who likes to travel light. Some people think that using a pad like this also adds enough rigidity to the pack that it actually helps transfer the load to the hips, but I haven't noticed much difference.
                Tsimshian tribe, wolf clan, the house of Walsk.


                • #9
                  Good idea...I think that I am sold on going with an internal frame pack. Now I have to decide on which one:confused:


                  • #10
                    A good place for gear reviews.



                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Brian Jackson View Post
                      Good idea...I think that I am sold on going with an internal frame pack. Now I have to decide on which one:confused:
                      Like one of the previous guys mentioned, I started out as a backpacker, and do most of my backpack hunting with an internal frame pack. If you've got the dough, get one custom made by Dan McHale in Seattle ( He's made three of them for me over the last 20-some years, and my latest one ran about 800 bucks, but it's absolutely the most comfortable fit you can imagine. You can specify all sorts of options to suit it to you and the types of uses you'll put it to, and Dan will work with you to figure out all the details. Worth every penny to me- he even custom-fit a way to put the holster for my .44 on the waistband. Check it out- you won't regret it!



                      • #12
                        Tom: I am working w/ Dan now to build my new pack. If you have any pics of yours I would appreciate you posting them up. I am also looking for suggestions on any modifications/accessories. I have a whole thread devoted to the pack. If you have any input here is the link to the "ultimate money no object mountain hunting pack" thread. I would be especially interested in seeing how the holster mounts to the waist belt. I don't carry a pistol on sheep hunts but It would be a nice option for regular back pack trips with the family. Any input you have would be welcomed!


                        • #13
                          McHale pack


                          I'll get some shots of the pack and the holster- do you want them posted on here, or would you rather I emailed them to you? Lemme know.

                          -Tom- alaskatrav49 AT


                          • #14
                            I have a thread on here devoted to my pack. If you can post them up there that would be much appreciated! I think it will be neat for members thinking about getting a custom pack built to be able to get a feel for what the process is like by following along. I know I would love to have found a similar thread as I was contemplating this purchase. Thanks again, the other thread is at:


                            • #15

                              I posted a reply on the other thread- I can't figure out how to insert the photos into these comments. I tried attaching photos, but it would only let me attach two. Any help greatly appreciated.


                              Footer Ad Module 300 x 300


                              Footer Adsense