How to Pack an External Frame Backpack


Internal frame backpacks provide a slim profile and close-to-the body fit, but some outdoors enthusiasts stand by the traditional external backpack. External backpacks are able to carry fairly heavy loads, and you can hang additional items on the frame on the outside of the backpack.

Things You'll Need

  • External frame backpack
  • Stuff sacks
  • Two small bungee cords
  • Carbiner
  • Lay your backpack horizontally on the floor, with the back of the backpack facing up.

  • Place smaller, softer and lighter items such as extra clothes and rain gear in a stuff sack. Cinch the sack closed. Place food in a separate stuff sack and cinch it closed. Place heavier items such as a camping stove, pans and cooking fuel in a separate stuff sack. Cinch the sack closed. Stuff the tent and the ground cloth into its own sack.

  • Insert the heavier items, such as the propane tank and stove, and the tent, into the backpack first, arranging them so that they will sit on the the part of the pack that will be closest to your body.

  • Place the stuff sack full of lighter items on top of the heavier items.

  • Cinch the top of the backpack closed. Tighten the straps on the side and back so that the items inside won’t shift around once the backpack is on your body.

  • Place your sleeping bag in its stuff sack and strap it to the bottom of your backpack using the straps attached at the bottom or two bungee cords. Cinch the straps tightly, or wrap the bungee cords around the sleeping bag as many times necessary so that it is secured close to the bottom of the backpack.

  • Open the carbiner and slip it through a loop at the top of your water bottle. Clip the carbiner midway up the side of the external frame.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you plan to be out in the rain, place the stuffed sleeping bag in another stuff sack or wrap it in plastic to keep it dry.
  • You also might want to clip a bag of items such as lip balm or a map to the external frame so you can access them without opening your backpack.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images
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