Internal vs. External Frame

When you go on a backpacking trip, your main pack is larger than the type of pack you use at school. Your first decision is whether to have an internal or external frame pack. Internal frame packs are the more recent innovation and are considered better for balance. It tends to be trickier to attach large objects to the outside of an internal frame pack.

Smaller boys just joining Boy Scouts may find that only one or two models of pack fit at all, so for new Scouts, your best bet may be to visit your local camping store to try on the packs. Get help from the sales staff as it can be unpleasant to find out you can't tighten your hip belt enough in the middle of your first big trip.

Take a look at the Backpack Buying Guide in the May 2009 issue of Boys Life.


Kelty Coyote 4750

Some of the major manufacturers of backpacks:


As for anything these days, you can get a pack online. Because of the importance of fit, we recommend that parents take their new Scouts to a camping store for this particular item. In Worcester, Massachusetts, New England Backpacker is a good place to go.

Weight / Packing

It is important to ensure that each boy stay within his limit on weight. Exceeding a boy's limit will tend to result in a greatly reduced ability to handle the trail (shorter time and distance). Smaller boys (60-80 pounds) should not carry more than 1/4 body weight, which is extremely challenging. They can move up to a 1/3 body weight as they get stronger and more experienced.


Fitting (adjusting) the backpack to the wearer is just as important to comfort and success as buying the right backpack. Different packs have different adjustments. The most important rule about fitting the pack:

Rain Cover

Unless you only hike in perfect weather, you should have a rain cover for your pack . Having one allows you to leave you pack outside your tent (always a good idea) even during rain storms.

Page updated 7/30/17
J. Froimson

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