Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack
- Compact internal frame backpack with a capacity of 3,400 cubic inches or 55 liters
- Dual aluminum stays with contoured shoulder, lumbar, and waist pads
- Height-adjustable shoulder straps accommodate wide range of torso lengths
- Top-loading main compartment, sleeping bag compartment, and pair of side zippered pockets
- Attached rain fly; compatible with most hydration systems; weighs 4.5 pounds empty
Previously sold as the Wilderness55, the Scout 3400 is perfectly sized for youth and the light backpacker. Complete with adjustable height shoulder straps, a rainfly compartment and rainfly, the Scout 3400 also features a padded water bladder pocket. Two side zippered pockets, side and front mesh pockets, and a top zippered pocket provide plenty of room for smaller accessories. A top-loading main compartment and a sleeping bag compartment complete the pack. Includes attached rain fly and is hydration system ready. Note that some product may say Scout 3400 while others will say Wilderness55, these are otherwise identical bags.Boasting a compact main compartment that measures a mere 3400 cubic inches, the Teton Wilderness 55 internal frame backpack is ideally sized for the light backpacker or young camper. Comfort-wise, the Wilderness 55 is outfitted with dual aluminum stays that adjust to the shape of your back, along with contoured shoulder, lumbar, and waist pads. In addition, the height of the shoulder straps is adjustable, helping the pack accommodate a wide range of torso lengths. The upshot is a well-fitting, lightweight pack (4.5 pounds without gear) that won’t put undue stress on your back and shoulders even after a full day of hiking.
On the interior, the pack holds a modest amount of gear in its top-loading main compartment and distinct sleeping bag compartment. Also present are several smaller pouches–a pair of side zippered pockets, side and mesh front pockets, and a top zippered pocket, to be precise–for storing such items as Swiss Army knives, snacks, and mini flashlights. And as with any good hiking pack, the Wilderness 55 has a padded pocket for your trail hydration water bladder (not included). The design concludes with a rain fly that keeps your gear dry in wet conditions.
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Finding the Right Backpack
For extended trips into the backcountry, there’s no getting around the fact that you’ll have to carry life-sustaining supplies on your back. Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for a backpack:
Internal vs. External
Up until late 1970’s, external frame packs–which consist of an exposed, lightweight metal frame attached to a fabric pack-bag–were the only thing going. In recent years, though, packs that place the support structure of the pack inside the pack, known as internal frame packs, have boomed in popularity.
The good news about internal frame packs is that they hold the weight of your load close to your body, making it easier to maintain your balance on uneven terrain. Meanwhile, internals provide stiffness and support, but they are not completely rigid, which makes them more flexible when you’re doing active sports. With the added flexibility comes a high degree of compressibility, meaning you can use the pack’s compression straps to cinch down your load and keep items from shifting and throwing you off balance. Internals also sport slimmer shapes that allow for more arm movement in all directions–another big plus for off-trail bushwhackers, skiers and climbers. Last but not least, internal frame packs offer a greater range of adjustability in the shoulder harness and hip-belt than external frame packs.
There are some negatives for internals. First, once packed, it can be difficult to grab needed items out of them quickly. And because internal frame packs consolidate the load into a single, body-hugging unit, proper packing is very important. To distribute the weight properly, you should pack your heaviest items close to your back and in the middle portion of the pack-bag. Plan on getting a sweaty back with an internal, too, given the fact that they are pressed right against you. Finally, internal frame packs are priced higher than external models.
External frame packs are very good at focusing the weight of a load directly to the right place: your load-loving hips. While internals, when properly packed, do this effectively, too, you can always rest assured that an external will distribute the load evenly, no matter how unevenly packed it may be. Externals also offer easy access to your gear via multiple, easily-accessible compartments. Plus, because externals don’t situate the load directly against your back, you’ll enjoy far more air flow. Finally, if you’re on a budget, or you’re buying for a growing child, externals are more affordable.
If you plan on hiking on easy to moderate trails and you don’t need a lot of body movement, you’ll probably be fine with an external. But because externals are so rigid and inflexible, challenging trails or any kind of off-trail pursuit can become painful and frustrating. Also know that your balance is far more compromised with an external frame pack during activities like stream crossings and hops through talus fields.
Packs for Shorter Trips
In addition to backpacks designed for overnight trips, rucksacks are great for day-trips, warm-weather one-nighters, single-day ski trips, or fast alpine assaults. Some rucksacks blur the line between backpack and rucksack with integrated internal supports and sophisticated hip belts and shoulder harnesses. Choose a pack in this category based on your intended use. Short day hikers don’t need an internal frame, while climbers and skiers with heavier loads likely do.
Sizes and Capacities
Packs in the 3,000 cubic inches and lower category are good for day hikes or overnighters in warm weather with minimal gear. Packs in the 3,000 to 4,000 cubic inch range are good for one- or two-night trips in colder weather. If you’re going to be out for up to three days, look for a pack in the sub-4,000 cubic inch range. Choose a pack with 5,000-6,000 cubic inches for week-long outings. And finally, for trips lasting a week or more, you’ll need something in the 6,000-plus cubic inch category. Keep in mind, though, that bigger packs weigh more, and since every ounce counts, you’ll want to choose a pack that offers just enough space for your outings and no more.