Backpacks fall in to two basic types; ones with an external frame to which the pack bag is attached and ones with the frame built into the bag (internal frame). In my experience Scouts are better off with external frame backpack because they are easier to pack and adjust. Internal frame packs are generally lighter and have a narrower profile but more difficult to pack correctly and usually do not have the same range of size adjustments.
One key consideration in selecting a backpack for a Scout is whether or not it will fit him next year, let alone three years from now. Ideally the pack should be adjustable for a pretty broad range of sizes.
Proper fit is important to comfortably carrying a full pack; a pack that is too large or too small can make an otherwise fun camping trip kind of miserable. Packs should fit a Scouts torso length (from the base of the neck to the top of the hip bone) and his hip measurement (waist measurement just above the top of the hip bones). It’s important to note that trouser waist size and hip size may be two different numbers.
The Dragonfly from Outdoor Products is a great choice for Scouts because it’s flex frame can be adjusted for a 15-22 inch torso and a hip measurement from 25 to 36 inches. Adjustments are easy with the ‘clickfit’ sytem. The pack has a capacity of 2780 cubic inches and weighs just 3 lbs. 10 oz.. The Dragonfly has a great suspension system featuring padded belt and shoulder straps with load carrying adjustment straps.
We have recommended this pack for our Scouts over the past fifteen years and they have purchased dozens of them. While some of our Scouts decide to upgrade to a fancier pack after a couple of years most of them use their Dragonfly for five to seven years of backpacking trips.
I consider the Dragonfly the best value for money of any backpack available for Scouts.
Instruction PDF FIle