Aside from your boots, you probably won’t find a more important factor of your hiking experience than your backpack. Choosing the right pack can ensure that you grind out those miles as comfortably as possible while choosing the wrong pack can make your hike miserable. I’ve had the opportunity to hike for several days with both, so I can say from experience that you need to choose your pack carefully.
That being said, there are two main types of hiking backpacks based on their frames: internal and external frame. Since it is generally accepted that internal frames are safer, more comfortable, and distribute your pack weight more efficiently, we’ll review five of the best internal frame packs here.
Osprey Aether 70 Backpack
When it comes to your pack, comfort is key. You want something that molds to your frame and hugs your body to ensure that you have maximum stability. Here are some of its specs:
- Customizable IsoForm hip belt for the perfect balance of stability and comfort.
- 4-Strap compression system.
- Spacer mesh back panel and foam straps allow for moisture wicking comfort while keeping you cool in warm weather and combatting back sweat.
- Side loops for trekking poles, ice picks, and climbing gear as well as a bottom strap for your sleeping bag.
- External sleeve for hydration bladder and hose.
Kelty Catalyst 65
For the more casual backpacker who wants a great starting pack without investing too much money, you can’t go wrong with the Kelty Catalyst. Designed with accessibility and comfort in mind, this pack is great for everything from a weekend trip to a thru hike. It features:
- Easy access side zipper lets you find what you need without pulling everything out of your pack.
- Multiple loops and straps for hiking poles, shoes, and other gear.
- Removable day pack gives you options on what you need for the day.
- Stretch mesh belt and side pockets for on-the-fly access.
- Breathable and light material keeps sweat from accumulating.
The North Face Terra 50
This pack is more suited for a 3 to 5-day excursion with its 45-pound carrying capacity. Because of this it is slimmer and lighter than the other packs on this list. Complete with everything you need to carry all of your gear, this is the right fit for anyone looking for a weekend pack.
- Anatomically correct hip belt and shoulder harness to maximize comfort and prevent chaffing.
- Air circulation provided by vertical back channel.
- Gear loops and extra easy-access pockets for more convenience.
- The sternum clip is also an emergency whistle.
- Can support a water bladder.
Mammut Trion Guide 45
No pack brand is more focused on activity as Mammut. With almost every model designed to hold a whole assortment of gear in a lightweight manner that’s made to be more than just your ordinary hiking backpack. Whether you’re climbing a glacier or summiting a rock face, this is the move-with-you pack that you’ve been looking for.
- Water resistant material.
- Motion Butterfly DLT suspension straps for added weight distribution.
- Water bladder compatible.
- Features ski carrier, daisy chain for miscellaneous gear, and ice pick loops.
- Removable top lid for day excursions.
Gregory Baltoro 75
While other packs may focus on slimming down, the Baltoro 75 takes it in a different direction. Boasting over 4,500 cubic inches of volume capacity, you’ll be able to bring those extra items on your weekend trip that you would have otherwise left behind with another pack. The Baltoro 75 is winner of Backpacker Magazine’s 2015 Editor’s Choice Gold Award and Outside Magazine’s Gear of the Year Award.
- Integrated rain cover in separate compartment.
- Water bottle holster.
- Convenient zipper design to allow for easy access to items deeper into your pack.
- 15 different fit options.
- Removable lumbar pad.
- Extra loops and straps for all your gear.
- Detachable day pack.