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What to Look for in an External Frame Backpack

What to Look for in an External Frame Backpack

For avid adventure enthusiasts, choosing a backpack is no small matter. This piece of gear becomes an extension of yourself, says a great deal about who you are and how you approach the outdoors, and, most importantly, has a significant impact on your physical comfort.

Just as there are dozens of aspects to consider when choosing a vehicle or the right laptop, when choosing an externally framed backpack, there are a few key things to take into consideration that may make or break your decision. Whether you’re into summit pushes, high-alpine lake hikes, or rolling hills through lush forests, follow this advice when choosing your externally framed backpack and you’ll adventure comfortably and confidently.

Weight Distribution and Carriage are Everything

Externally framed backpacks are often short-changed by the hiking world because many hikers mistakenly assume that these backpacks are bulky or heavy. Vargo’s ultralight titanium frame is ergonomically designed to be durable and to sit close to the body while evenly distributing the weight of your backpack’s contents and ensuring that it sits comfortably on your hips. While other backpacks ignore the importance of weight distribution, Vargo knows that distributing weight onto the hips rather than the shoulders or upper body, while also keeping the bulk of your gear high and tight, means more comfort, stability, and mobility on the trail.

Furthermore, a unique feature of Vargo backpacks is the ergonomic lumbar support plate ensures the best load-transfer to your lower back, which reduces strain whether you are pushing up 3,000 feet of elevation gain or maneuvering over obstacles on the trail.

While all Vargo backpacks offer external frames and exceptional lumbar support, let’s break down each pack’s unique features so that you can determine which one is right for your adventuring needs.

Traditional External Frame Accessibility: ExoTi™ AR2 Backpack

This lightweight and efficient little number packs flat for easy transport, is hydration bladder compatible, and has load-lifting compression straps that ensure your pack carries high and tight against your back. The AR2’s ¾ length bag design is perfect for attaching gear, such as a sleeping pad or tent, to the frame below. Finally, fitting and adjusting this approachable backpack is made even simpler when you check out Vargo’s fitting and adjusting guide. Whether it’s a quick 5 miler just outside the city or a 10-mile trek through the remote mountains, the ExoTi™ AR2 will carry wonderfully well over anything nature throws at it.

Versatile Watertight Removable Bag: The ExoTi™ BOG Backpack

Want a backpack that is versatile that also protects your precious gear from the elements? The ExoTi™ BOG utilizes a roll-top design allowing you to pack all of your dry necessities (extra clothing layers, camp pillow, socks, etc.) into its unique 40-liter removable bag which is water resistant and has fully taped seams.

Carries Like an External with Internal Features: ExoTi™ 50 Backpack

With its 50-liter cinch top bag and removable floating lid, the ExoTi™ 50 is designed for hikers that want the best features from both internal and external packs. The fully ventilated and adjustable shoulder harness adjusts with ease to ensure a perfect fit. With the ExoTi™ 50, you can carry all that you need without worrying that extra ounces will mean more strain on your body.

Where These Packs Can Go and What They Can Do

Your new Vargo pack is versatile and perfect for all of your day hiking needs. Made to carry up to 30lbs comfortably, an overnight or 2-3 day trip is more than doable particularly for minimalists who prize lightweight mobility. Vargo backpacks will move with you as you push for a summit, cross scenic streams, and enjoy endless miles of rolling trails.

ExoTi™: The Bells and Whistles

Along with comfort, you’ll also enjoy the other fun and useful features of your Vargo such as exceptional back ventilation and hip belt pockets for sunscreen or cell phones. All of the Vargo backpacks offer ample water storage options, including additional water bottle pockets, because staying hydrated on the trail is crucial. While many backpacks throw on external attachment points willy-nilly, the Vargo packs keep the accessories simple and elegant by giving you, as they proudly state, “everything you need and nothing that you don’t.”

Some Takeaways: Where Do You Go From Here?

So, takeaways: Remember that weight distribution and lumbar support are key when choosing an externally framed backpack that’s going to carry well over any terrain. Also, an ergonomic design that moves with you and an adjustable yoke allowing you to essentially customize your backpack are necessities. Finally, keep in mind that an external frame does not mean your backpack will be heavy. On the contrary: When you choose Vargo, it means your backpack will distribute weight properly for maximum comfort and stability.

Now that you know, it’s time to pack up and head out! A few trails to try out your new Vargo pack on include, the alpine-lake heavy Bear Lake to Fern Lake Loop in Rocky Mountain National Park, the strenuous but rewarding Highline Trail in Glacier National Park perfect for those who want to practice their ultra-light packing skills, or the rugged Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park.