My favorite external frame backpack for Scouts is the Outdoor Products Dragonfly. Almost all of the packs available today are internal frame backpacks. Finding an internal frame pack for Scouts that has the right combination of features for a reasonable price is a challenge.
The best internal frame packs I have found for Scouts are the Scout 3400 and Explorer 4000 from Teton Sports.
Calling something ‘the best’ is different from calling something ‘perfect’ and that’s never more true than when I evaluate camping gear for Scouts. The ‘best’ gear has the best set of features for the best price, and the Teton packs meet the test.
FIT AND ADJUSTMENT
Three decades of taking Scouts backpacking have taught me that most important things about a Scout’s backpack is a proper fit and that it can be adjusted as a Scout grows. A top-of-the-line $400.00 backpack that doesn’t fit properly or grow along with a Scout is not only a waste of money, it’s going to be so uncomfortable a Scout will think twice before he goes backpacking again.
To carry correctly and comfortably a pack needs to fit both torso length and hip size. Torso length is measured along the spine between the base of the neck and the top of the hips and hip size is measured around the top of the hips, (don’t confuse this with waist size).
The Teton Scout 3400 adjusts from 15 -19.5 inch torsos (for people up to 5’9″ in height) and 26-60 inch hips, the Teton Explorer 4000 fits 16-23″ torsos and 26-70 inch hips. This broad range of adjustment virtually guarantees a Scout can use these packs through his Scouting years and into adulthood.
The shoulder straps, hip belt and back pads form the suspension system. A proper suspension system includes a lumbar pad, ergonomically curved shoulder straps, a sternum strap, and load adjusting straps, all features of the Teton packs.
Both Teton packs have side pockets, in my experience Scouts are better able to organize, access and pack their gear in a pack with side pockets. There’s space behind the side pockets on the Explorer 4000 to stow tent poles or other long items, on the Scout 3400 there’s provision for long items in the main compartment by unzipping the side of the divider between the upper and lower compartments. Both have zippered pockets in the lid, a mesh pocket on the back and two water bottle pockets at hip level. There are compression straps help stabilize and compress the load so the pack carries properly.
Both Packs have an upper and lower main compartments. Traditionally the lower compartment is for the sleeping bag, but the less expensive sleeping bags Scouts are likely to own may be too bulky to fit. In that case I recommend packing the sleeping bag a stuff sack, putting it in in the top main compartment and putting other gear in the lower compartment.
Both models have a compartment for a water bladder (up to 3 liters) and clips to hold the drinking tube on the shoulder straps. There’s also a built in rain cover. that stows in a zippered compartment on the bottom of the pack.
WHY ARE THESE THE ‘BEST’?
Outfitting a Scout for backpacking can be expensive, and a proper pack is a big part of that expense. At this writing the Scout 3400 is just under $70.00 and the Explorer 4000 is about $75.00 on Amazon – that’s an excellent price for packs with these features. Naturally these aren’t just used for backpacking, they can carry gear for just about any camping trip.
The only downside I can see is that these packs are a little on the heavy side (The Explorer 400o weighs 5 pounds and the Scout 3400 weighs 4.5 pounds) but a lighter weight pack is likely to be much more expensive.
|Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack|
|TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack|
These packs aren’t all that easy to find but they are available on Amazon:
After spotting these packs online and reading reviews I requested and received them from the manufacturer for evaluation.