There are basically two types of packs which backpackers use, external and internal frame. The external frames are the kind which have metal or heavy plastic poles which you can see. The cloth bag park of the pack is then attached to this frame. For the internals, the frame usually consists of metal rods, called stays. These are located in special pockets that are located on the part of the pack next to you back. So on internal frames you don't see any metal poles at all, all the metal is sewn into the pack.

Now you may be asking, well that is fine and dandy, but which is better. If you ask this to a backpacker the answer will often be "it depends". External frames are noted to be easier to actually pack your equipment in because they have more pockets and because it is easier to tie things on the outside of the pack. An internal frame pack is known to be far more comfortable than an external frame. Where the external frame usually only touches your back in a few places, the internal frame is made to fit straight on your back, more evenly distributing the weight.

Size is the next big issue. The size of the pack you need depends on what you will be doing. Packs are measured in cubic inches (in the United States) and usually range from 3,000 to 7,000 cubic inches. Large day packs are usually around 3,000 and might be used for overnight camping if you donít plan on taking much. A good weekend or long weekend (3-5 days) pack ranges around the 4-5,000 range. If you really wanted to you could take one of these packs on a longer trip, but it would be a tight fit. I took a 5,000 on a 17 day trip, and I had stuff tied all over the outside of my pack. If you are going out for a long time, over a week with lots of equipment, you might think about a pack around 6,000. That will give you plenty of room to pack what you need and not worry about space. Any pack over 7,000 is generally made for long, winter expeditions, or people who feel like they should take everything the own with them on their trip.

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Buying Backpacks in Singapore
When it comes to backpacking and trekking, you will definitely need a backpack that suits your need. That is unless you are going on a tour which a suitcase or sports bag will do just fine. In Singapore, your choice is limited to what the suppliers have to offer and what they presume is popular and in demand. The market mainly consists of Lowe Alpine, Deuter and tatonka. There are a few other brands which are more expensive but itís worth considering if you are buying as a long term investment. They are Arc;Teryx, Osprey, Macpac, Mountain Hardwear and some other ulu brand from the states. If your budget is above $400, they can be easily found at Campers Corner. For those without spare cash like me, we will have to settle for Beach Road (Army market) or Sports Connection (Singaporeís biggest supplier of backpacks). They have quite a good variety of bags for us to choose from. In Beach Road, you can even bargain.
The following are the more popular backpacks on the market and their price ranges from $100 to $200. Lowe Alpine are the more expensive ones.
Deuterís most popular bag for backpacking is Aircontact 55+15. It has a unique air mesh system that only have 3 portions of the bag in contact with your back. This allows your back to breath while you walk. The bag can be further extended upwards to hold another 15 litres. There are lots of "stuffs" outside the bag so that you can add accessories to it. Another model is the Aircomfort series. Its biggest capacity is only 48 litres. It is only suitable for short trips, but this model is the most comfortable of the Deuter series as your back does not "touch" the bag. for those whose body heats up easily, this is the one for you.
Tatonka has the widest range of backpacks in Singapore mainly due to Sports Connections. The above 2 series are the most suitable for backpacking and price is just right. The Spire series are very well balance and stable when you put them on. They have roomy bottom compartment which are very useful for storing your bulky items. It has V3 system that helps you adjust the shoulder strap to match your torso length. Different series have different system. The Arapilies uses a V1 system as Arapilies, designed to carry heavier loads causing it to be more bulky and big.. Spire comes in 50/60/70/lady. So ladies out there, you will not ponder how to fit your slim body to the backpacks. Arapilies only comes in 50/60/70. It is designed for carrying heavier loads and more bulky stuffs. The only thing I feel about Tatonka bags is that the support for the backpacks are not very strong. The bag supports does not have any rigidness when you do not pack the bag full. And they tend to sag when carry a heavy load.
Lowe Alpine
Lowe alpine manufactures high quality products for the average backpackers like us who does not have the means to buy high tech stuff like osprey and ArcíTeryx. Lowe backpacks only have the necessary compartments, no more no less. You can add a few pouches if you like. The shoulder strap is adjustable to suit your torso length. It is very stable provided you pack your pack properly. It is also suitable for mountain climbing and cycling because of its slim design. You wonít have to worry about your pack been attacked by branches. Although it costs a little more than the other brands but it will last. And should worth considering if you can spent a few dollars more. For ladies, look out for the "ND" below the logo, they are especially designed for you all. The most advanced Lowe pack is the "Crossbow". It comes in 90+15 and "60+15" for the ladies. This backpack is huge, you can dump almost anything in it. It is more suitable for winter backpackers to put all the 4 seasons sleep bag and sweater etc. There is Delrin hoop that achors the compression system, allowing straps to secure the load evenly. And it costs $400++
The X-packs
Arcíteryx - The high tech backpack that uses material that are unpronounceable. It is said to be the most comfortable pack around. It costs $500++. With compression-moulded foam shoulder harness and hipbelt, they transfer the weight to all the right places. There is a divider insider the pack which can be zipped away so it can transform from 2 to a single compartment bag. Osprey - this bag just came to Singapore market last year. It can only be found at Campus Corner. Depending on the model, each is around $400-$500++. There are even a range of daypacks from around $200++. This is definitely for the rich people. MacPac - This brand has been around for quite some times. In Singapore there are limited model. They cost around $300-$400++. They are quite bulky and squarish. But they are very durable and strong.

Backpacks in Singapore are usually internally frames. So we donít have much of a choice to buy external frames backpacks.
Frames - Good frames will transfer the weight of the pack to your hipbelt, but also have enough movement of your shoulders. Usually internal frames conisits of 2 pre-bent parallel aluminium strays that lie on both sides of your spine.
Hipbelt - This is usually overlooked when buying backpacks. Hipbelts is the most important part of the carrying system for the backpacks. Too soft, and it will have to be clinched so tightly that it hurts. Too stiff, you will get blue black on your hips over a long period of trekking. You must find one that suits your hips precisely.

To buy or not to buy:
When you want to buy a back pack in Singapore, we are more disturbed about how much it cost than how practical it is. Some might prefer the usual backpacks but some will rather have the travel packs. Travel packs is well suited for the casual backpackers that travel from town to town, as it acts as a luggage when the shoulder straps are zipped to the back of the pack. They also offer easy excess to the main compartment with a zip around the edges. Some even comes with a daypack zipped to the front, thus saving the trouble of bringing another bag for your side trips. But travel packs are not suitable for trekking and rough backpacking on the trails. They provides little support to your load and causes pain to your neck, back and shoulders.

How to test before buying:
You must remember, not many people buy backpack.You are the customer. Donít be afraid to ask question about the backpacks and testing out before buying. Take your time to shop around. Itís all part of the fun.
1)After selecting the backpack, asked the seller to put some bulky weight into the bag.
2)Tighten the straps in the following order: hipbelts, torso adjustment, shoulder straps, then the tightening of the stabilising strap at the top of the pack leading to your shoulder strap.
3)You should feel the weight resting on your hips and not by slenching the hipbelt to your stomach.
4)Walk around in it, or even better find a flight of steps and start walking up and down. The load should feel stable on your pack and should not shift side to side as you walk.
5)Last thing, the correct capacity. Too big, you will have to settle for uneven load on your back which is not advisable when you are trekking for a long distance. Too small, you will have to limit the amount you have to carry.Often resulting in throwing away some stuff along the way.
Written by Yongcai, Abstract from Outthere, if not now, when

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