November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Lightweight Internal Frame Packs: a State of the Market Report - Part 1A: Testing Overview and List of Packs Tested
Display Avatars Sort By:
Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Internal Frame Packs on 09/04/2010 19:18:48 MDT Print View

True Joe.

I agree with you.

Edited by FamilyGuy on 07/08/2013 23:13:50 MDT.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Off the Shelf? on 09/04/2010 19:41:03 MDT Print View

Well, ULA,Elemental Horizons,etc, are these considered off the shelf? Not really.
Just a way for these guys here to get free stuff, IMO anyway. What makes it relevant is many folks here may or probably are always going out and purchasing the "all new, latest and greatest lightweight pack" Which I was one myself, until I started to think about using one pack, maybe two for all types of trips. A pack that is light,versatile,simplistic, and bomber as well, thus enter McHale. When you finally settle on one pack, it will actually save you money, especially, if you're the type (was Me) that falls for this marketing ploy type stuff. All the packs that I've bought and sold over the last 5 years would have probably paid for 4 McHale packs. Not that I need 4 packs mind you :)

Edited by mfog1 on 09/05/2010 08:11:39 MDT.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Lightweight Internal Frame Packs on 09/04/2010 21:54:52 MDT Print View

Never heard of New Horizons, but yeah, ULA makes standard sizes and they're on the shelf.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Lightweight Internal Frame Packs on 09/05/2010 04:01:44 MDT Print View

> So what good does it do to compare a full-blown custom pack to what's available
> off the shelf? How is that fair, or even relevent?
I have no idea.

All I am saying is that we WILL report on any suitable relevant gear provided for testing.


Clayton Black
(Jivaro) - MLife
A Sampling Definition and Solution on 09/05/2010 07:55:03 MDT Print View

"Sampling is that part of statistical practice concerned with the selection of an unbiased or random subset of individual observations within a population of individuals intended to yield some knowledge about the population of concern, especially for the purposes of making predictions based on statistical inference. Sampling is an important aspect of data collection.
Researchers rarely survey the entire population for two reasons (Adèr, Mellenbergh, & Hand, 2008): the cost is too high, and the population is dynamic in that the individuals making up the population may change over time. The three main advantages of sampling are that the cost is lower, data collection is faster, and since the data set is smaller it is possible to ensure homogeneity and to improve the accuracy and quality of the data........."

Idea - Read the review(s), use the same techniques on your pack, post the results. Problem solved. You're represented and it gives you a chance to be reviewed on your review.

You'll just have to do some leg work (hehehe hiking pun) and not just finger work (hehehe typing pun).

Curt Peterson
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Caffin's Pack Article on 09/05/2010 07:58:55 MDT Print View

Gotta admit, I'm a little surprised by the complaining. Of course there will be some packs missing. Of course not everyone will think this was the perfect review for their needs. But dang, this is as thorough a roundup as exists anywhere, folks! It's easy enough to see how your favorite pack compares by plugging into his chart and comparing it to the packs he does cover. From my perspective it's nice to see some of these kinds of articles. It's what BPL used to do and probably the reason most of us joined all those years ago. I, for one, would like to encourage this instead of taking shots at what's wrong with it. I'm quite certain that if you go out and do a better, more thorough summary of the pack market BPL would be happy to publish it. Okay, back to my coffee now...

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
complainin on 09/05/2010 09:30:43 MDT Print View

yea its odd. Its obvious Roger worked really hard on this, he covered ALOT of packs, and this is only part 1A anyway. Good work Roger, your appreciated.

Edited by isaac.mouser on 09/05/2010 09:33:12 MDT.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Off the shelf? on 09/05/2010 10:21:56 MDT Print View

I would consider an off the shelf pack, as one that you could purchase from any retailer, like REI etc........ ULA does some custom work on request as well.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Lightweight Internal Frame Packs on 09/05/2010 11:04:45 MDT Print View

You win dude. I'm calling McHale Tuesday, and telling him to overnight me a pack so it will be here Wednesday.

Roger......thanks for another amazing test. I really didn't think you could top the stove test. Only bad thing about the stove test was that I thought I was going to have to remember some of the things I supposedly learned getting my engineering degree. Luckily I was able to skip over most of that!

Edited by skinewmexico on 09/05/2010 11:07:08 MDT.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Can be done on 09/05/2010 11:14:31 MDT Print View

Yes, it can be done, its called a McHale demo pack. (try before you buy) Which I probably had for over 3 weeks, and even used on a cut short, 6 day trip. When ULA, and Elemental Horizons are out of stock, you won't be getting one of their packs overnight or within a few days either.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Off the shelf? on 09/05/2010 12:48:50 MDT Print View

Lacking a hard definition I'd opine ULA is off-the-shelf, just eschewing a traditional wholesale-retail distribution network.

They're sufficiently small to simply sell direct to the consumer in the fashion of, say, Tarptent and Six Moon Designs, but their "custom" work appears primarily limited to monograms. One orders a ULA model by bag size then selects from among 5 (IIRC) hip belt sizes, but that's what all the big pack makers used to do until recently. However, stores seem to have rebelled against stocking an array of bags and belts and attachments for several makers, so the in-store custom selection is today rather limited compared to what it was as recently as five years ago. Pack prices have lowered commensurately. (You could once easily drop $400-$500 on an Osprey pack plus accessories.)

My definition of "custom" is to pick up the phone/mouse or appear in a store, provide measurements and have a pack (or sleeping bag or tent or...) made to order, not assembled from warehouse bits and shipped in a day or two. I've done this once each with a backpack and a sleeping bag. It's quite fun but time-consuming and costy, but there's something undeniably rewarding about having a pack that fits "just so" or a sleeping bag with the fabrics, colors, fill and extras all of my choosing.



Edited by halfturbo on 09/05/2010 12:49:35 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
review custom packs??????? on 09/05/2010 21:52:51 MDT Print View

someone's complaining that BPL isn't reviewing custom packs .... hmmmmm

there's a reason why its called ...well ... custom

Brian Macari

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Roger's MYOG Ext. Fr. on 09/06/2010 06:55:32 MDT Print View

Great job here Roger, whinin and complainin not withstanding. Is there anywhere you reviewed or even posted a picture of your external frame pack? It's stats seem quite impressive. Thanks, Brian

Nicolas Costes
(ncostes) - F
Kudos for attempting this enormous task on 09/06/2010 10:12:45 MDT Print View

Coming after the remarquable stoves articles, I am looking forward to reading the rest of those articles (I still long for getting the full MYOG article on the A-frame tent from Roger)

1 Remark regarding why manufacturer go for narrow pack:
a/technical reason: traditional climbing pack are narrow, without side pockets and very close to the porter's back (no airflow, alas) to allow for a better control of the mass while doing balance moves
b/marketing reason: easier to make customer believe that the pack is small

1 remark regarding european manufacturers:
you may want to have a look at the specialists' packs from cilao
or the mountaineering packs from OMM

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Roger's MYOG Ext. Fr. on 09/06/2010 17:39:12 MDT Print View

> even posted a picture of your external frame pack?
Yes, on my FAQ web site:


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Kudos for attempting this enormous task on 09/06/2010 18:28:02 MDT Print View

In addition to what Nicolas stated, there is another reason for a narrow pack.

In winter, cross country skiers want a narrow pack. They swing their arms back and forth a lot, and they don't want their arms colliding with a wide pack.


John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
Lightweight Internal Frame Packs on 09/07/2010 13:25:43 MDT Print View

Thanks for the insightful and informative report on packs Roger. A fine job as always.

Just wondering if you categorize your gear into individual stuff sacks when you backpack as shown in the report, or if that was just for the photograph.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Lightweight Internal Frame Packs on 09/07/2010 19:03:40 MDT Print View

Hi John

>wondering if you categorize your gear into individual stuff sacks when you backpack

Yep, sure do. Keeps everything tidy, clean and dry. In fact, anything critical is inside a plastic bag inside the stuff sack.

Note: our weather can be sunny one moment and pouring rain (or hail) an hour later. We do NOT get the weeks on end of fine weather you guys get in parts of the USA.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Kudos for attempting this enormous task on 09/07/2010 19:06:07 MDT Print View

Hi Bob

> cross country skiers want a narrow pack. They swing their arms back and forth a lot

Well ... my winter ski-touring pack is actually quite wide compared to most of the packs tested. Never had any problems with the frame though. Maybe I use the fish-scales more and don't wave my arms around too much. Easier that way.

And I find narrow packs a RIGHT PAIN to pack, and they roll across my back too much!


Roman Vazhnov
(joar) - F
bask light 69 on 09/08/2010 06:17:28 MDT Print View

Does some kind of a plastic sheet counts as internal frame?
weight 1150 gms
volume 69 liters