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Camp Trails Ranger and The Wilderness Backpacks

When choosing a backpack, you should ask yourself some very important questions. How long will you be needing a pack, for a day, a weekend, or an extended period of time? What kind of terrain will you be covering? Back country or developed? What kind of activity will you be doing while you have the pack on your back? What kind of gear will you need to bring? These are all important questions to ask yourself in order to determine whether you will need an internal or an external framed pack.

An internal framed pack can let you carry a large amount of gear comfortably over rugged terrain. The support system is built into the pack so it can provide you with better balance and freedom of movement. The internal frame also makes for easy storage in canoes, planes, or vehicles.

An external frame allows you to carry a large amount of gear comfortably over easier terrain. External frames place the weight of your load over your natural center of gravity. This allows you to walk more upright and conserve energy even while carrying heavier loads. This type of frame also holds the pack off your back, so air circulates, which keeps you cool and comfortable. The people at Camp Trails (www.johnsonoutdoors.com/camping/camptrails/index.html) sent me two of their packs to see what I thought of them. One was an internal frame (The Wilderness) and the other was an external frame (The Ranger).

The Wilderness comes in two sizes: medium (5928-6669 cubic inches - 5 lb 12 oz - fits torso 15" to 20") and large (6303-7044 cubic inches - 6 lb - fits torso 18" to 23"). They are made with an 8 oz pack cloth body and an 11 oz Kadora reinforced bottom. This is a large capacity bag that can hold a lot of gear for extended trips. It has twocompartments that you can topload or access through the bottom. The compartments come with a drawstring divider to keep your gear separated.




This bag has expansion straps, so it can grow to carry even more gear, or compress to keep the pack as compact as possible. Along with the two main compartments, it has six roomy pockets that allow you to keep your gear organized. Side tunnel pockets are for storing water bottles or tent poles. It has a convertible storm hood, with gear pocket, to keep your pack dry and this detaches to convert to a lumber pack. In addition to these many features, it comes with multiple tie-ons, with daisy chain, with six-slot lash tabs and web loops.

The Ranger is the external frame pack they sent to me. The frame that comes with this pack has what Camp Trails calls their "Comfort-Flex" external frame. This frame is designed to be virtually indestructible. Its inherent flexing capability lets the pack move with you. This conserves energy because the frame flexes with your body's movement every time you take a step. Its curved cross members allow the pack to stay off your back, giving you a cooler, more comfortable hiking experience. It allows you to carry a load lower to your center of gravity than traditional external frames. This combination allows for the high capacity and ventilation of an external frame, with the balance control of an internal frame. The frame also features adjustable shoulder straps in both width and height. It is available in three different sizes to fit every hiker.


The Ranger pack itself has a toploading main compartment and a bottom panel opening, which makes it simple to grab your gear. Along with the two main compartments, it offers five external pockets for even more gear storage. It has a mesh rain cover pocket for your wet rain jacket, an insulated water bottle pocket, a side organizer pocket for essentials like your map, compass, and flashlight, a daisy chain on top for tying extra gear, and six-slot lash tabs for an optional kitchen sink pocket that Camp Trails offers separately. This pack also comes in two sizes, medium (2880-3380 cu in, 6 lb 2 oz, fits torso 15" to 20") and large (3330-4330 cu in, 6 lb 8 oz, fits torso 17" to 23"). It is also made out of 8 oz pack cloth.

I found both of these packs exceptionally spacious, and well suited to organizing my gear. These packs made my outdoor experience hassle-free, to the point where I could get to any of my gear at any given time without ripping the whole pack apart.

Visit The Camp Trails web site at http://www.camptrails.com/

By: Dennis O'Donnell