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White Mountain Backpacks™
619 Plenty Road, Preston,
Melbourne VIC 3072 Australia
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Backpack Selection

Backpack Selection FAQ's

What information is required in selecting a backpack?

  1. The type of backpack required for your purpose.
  2. The recommended size, or more correctly the length and the resulting capacity of that choice.
  3. The difference in materials, features and purpose of each backpack.
  4. The purpose of the personal customisation, or fitting of the backpack.
  5. How to maintain the contoured Internal Staves.
  6. The correct loading procedure for your backpack.
  7. How to reposition or shift the load while the backpack is worn.
  8. How to make all the available adjustments attributed to your backpack.
  9. The multiple positioning of the Daypack on Travel Backpacks.
  10. How to maintain, clean, repair, and care for your backpack.
  11. The warranty and support availability for your backpack.
  12. The optional accessories and replacement parts available for your backpack.

Internal Frame or External Frame

What is the difference between frameless and framed backpacks?

Frameless Backpacks are:

  1. The least expensive.
  2. Lighter and less bulky.
  3. Too small for anything but the shortest trips.
  4. Unable to comfortably support large heavy loads.

External Frame Backpacks are:

  1. Said to be easier to pack, extra exterior pockets make packing easier.
  2. Cooler with the external frame suspending the backpack away from your back.
  3. Great heavy load carriers on easy to moderate terrain and designed mainly for hiking on open trails.
  4. Stated as transfering more weight to the hips than Internal Framed Backpacks.
  5. Wider, heavier, sometimes taller and bulkier than similarly sized Internal Frame Backpacks.
  6. When fully packed, have a relatively high centre of gravity, making balancing difficult on rough trails, more difficult terrain, or in activities like skiing or climbing.

Internal Frame Backpacks are:

  1. Cool to wear, a well-designed internal backpack provides good back ventilation with minimum contact against the body.
  2. Designed to fit your body snugly and hold your load in close to your natural centre of gravity.
  3. More comfortable and better at distributing the weight evenly than External Frame backpacks.
  4. More streamlined than External Frame backpacks, allowing for more freedom of movement and easier passage through tight spaces.
  5. Easier to balance than External Frame backpacks. When fitted correctly, an Internal Framed Backpack feels more like you are wearing the backpack, performing better when off trail, skiing, and climbing.
  6. More difficult to pack as these have fewer pockets and load distribution is critical to backpack performance.
  7. There is a definite trend towards Internal Framed Backpacks and this is due to the improved functionality and better performance of these backpacks.

Internal Frame Backpacks when of good design and custom fitted correctly will outperform External Fame Backpacks for comfort and functionality. The main factor for purchasing an External Fame Backpack over an Internal Frame Backpack would be to carry large heavy loads over even terrain. Although there is some doubt that Internal Framed Backpacks provide adequate back ventilation, it is important to remember that like External Frame Backpacks, good Internal Frame Backpacks are only in contact with the lower back, upper shoulders, and the chest.

Should an Internal Frame Backpack be personally and professionally fitted?

All Internal Framed Backpack should be personally and professionally fitted, that includes having the Internal Staves contoured to your back regardless of brand, with explicit instruction provided on the use of each adjustment. These Internal Staves must be removed from the backpack and contoured to your back correctly, and not just simply bent in the backpack until the staves are "roughly" the correct shape. Be wary of information stating that the Internal Staves will mould to your back in time, as this is absolutely not true. If faced with this statement, have a demonstration of removing and bending the staves as this should demonstrate the inaccuracy of the statement "It will mould to your back in time". If of course these Internal Staves are soft enough to be bent easily, then the Internal Staves will not maintain the correct contoured shape and provide no load support. Be very wary of correct size of backpack and correct fit to prevent back injuries due to an ill-fitting or incorrect size of backpack.

Panel Loading or Top Loading

What is the difference between Panel loading and Top Loading Backpacks?

Panel loading backpacks:
  1. Have a large suitcase style opening making it easy to load and access the contents.
  2. Have adequate compression straps to prevent load movement and protect zippers.
  3. Have #10 size zippers in main panel loading compartments so the risk of failure is very small.
  4. Have more zippers that could potentially be damaged.
  5. More prone to water entry through zips and extra stitching.
  6. Should always have zip cowls covering all zippers to prevent water entry.
Top loading backpacks:
  1. Are fail-safe since these don’t reply on zippers.
  2. Are more water resistant with fewer zippers and less stitching.
  3. Can be difficult to access, particularly when the gear you want is at the bottom.
  4. In some cases can be extended upward allowing as much as 15L of extended packing.

Extended Loading

What is Extended Loading?

Most top loading backpacks close with a drawstring and have an extra extension that allows the pack to be overstuffed. All backpacks with an extended loading facility provide a backpack lid that can be extended to cover the top of the extended load. These extendable backpack lids are usually secured to the backpack with two or three extra adjustable webbing straps. An example of when you might overstuff a pack is at the beginning of a long trip when you have lots of food.

Backpack Size

What backpack size do I require?

Length is most important when choosing a backpack, and it is your Torso Length that determines this selection. There are as a rule five standard lengths of backpacks or more accurately five lengths of Internal Staves used on the global market: White Mountain™ uses four of these available Internal Stave lengths and specify each length to be as follows; Extra Small at 50 cm, Small at 55 cm, Medium at 60 cm and Large at 65 cm. Each of these lengths of staves varies by brand at approximately +/- 2 cm and all credible backpack manufacturers or wholesalers will supply the recommended back Torso Length for each backpack. Each backpack Internal Stave length usually accommodates a +/-5 cm variance of the optimum Torso Length. The length of backpack is therefore determined by your Torso Length which narrows your personal choice of backpack capacity.

Backpack Capacity

What capacity of travel, hike or hybrid backpack is required?

The maximum capacity of backpack you are able to purchase and fit correctly will depend on your Torso Length, which then determines the total backpack capacity. White Mountain™ would suggest purchasing the largest backpack capacity available for your Torso Length, as the really good thing about Internal Frame Backpacks are the compression straps provided when you don’t need all that extra space. White Mountain™ also suggests the best guideline for choosing backpack size is the longest trip you would take while relying on the backpack to carry all your supplies. This would depend on the type of equipment carried and individual requirements.

We can provide an approximate estimate as follows:

  1. Day Trips: under 40lt - 2,440 cu in.
  2. Overnight Trips: 45lt to 55lt - 2,750 cu in to 3,360 cu inches. Overnight, Long Days, Climbing, or Skiing backpack where there is little room for anything other than the very essentials.
  3. Week End Trips: 55lt to 65lt - 3,360 cu in to 3,970 cu inches.
  4. Overnight, 2 - 3 days, larger Skiing or Climbing backpack allowing enough room for the basics, a tent, sleeping bag, stove, food and essential clothing and footwear.
  5. Longer Trips: 65lt to 80lt - 3,660 cu in to 4,880 cu inches. 4 - 7 days allowing for the additional food and clothing.
  6. Extended Longer Trips: 80lt to 95lt - 4,880 cu in to 5,800 cu inches.7 days or more.

Backpack Loading

How do I load my backpack?

Information should be provided on loading your back pack, which in a custom fitted includes instructions on shifting the weight from the shoulders to the lower back, or from the lower back to the shoulders. If your backpack supplier is not able to offer genuine advice and custom fit the backpack correctly while demonstrating a clear understanding of backpack functionality, SHOP ELSEWHERE! When testing a weighted backpack the backpack should be correctly loaded, loading the backpack incorrectly would give the wearer a completely incorrect assessment of their chosen backpack.

Durability

Is the backpack durable?

A good backpack will last for many years. Check for durable materials, good straight well finished stitching, bar tacking or reinforced stitching in high stress areas, doubled stitched seams and zippers, quality zippers, quality buckles, reinforced Harness Shoulder Straps and reinforced webbing anchors or handles on travel packs. Enquire about the reputation of the manufacturer you’re considering.

Guarantee

What Guarantee should I expect with a backpack purchase?

White Mountain™ provide an excellent guarantee. From the date of purchase White Mountain™ products come with a Lifetime Guarantee against material and manufacturing faults. As can be expected damages caused by fair wear and tear, abuse or misuse are not covered by this guarantee. Please note that this Guarantee specifies the useful life of the pack.

Once you’ve answered the above questions and you begin to look at and try on specific recommended backpacks the next priorities are:

Final Selection

What do I look for after selecting a backpack?

  1. After fitting is the harness system comfortable?
  2. Does the backpack follow the contour of your back?
  3. Is the backpack of the correct length?
    Positioned correctly the Internal Stave is of the correct length
  4. Does the backpack feel comfortable on your back?
  5. Does it pinch, bind or restrict your freedom of movement?
  6. Can you look up without hitting the backpack with your head?
  7. Can you squat down without cutting off the circulation to your legs?
  8. Are all the organizational features you need available?
    Places to put the sleeping bag and foam mat, pockets for often used items, daisy chains or other facilities to lash things to the backpack, external compression straps to secure the load, and on a hike or hybrid backpack an extended loading facility. On a travel backpack, a harness cover, carry handles and a shoulder strap , an internal compression system for panel loading backpacks, and lockable zippers.
  9. Are the materials durable, fabric, zips, buckles and webbing?

White Mountain™ has done a great deal of research into Internal Stave curvature for each of the four available frame lengths. All backpacks come pre-fitted and provided your choice of backpack is of the correct length, it will be a near perfect contour to your back, this includes online backpack purchases.

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