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External hiking pack frame
One advantage of an external frame is you can remove the pack and use the frame alone, which you can’t do with an internal frame pack. ALPS Outdoorz

Internal-frame packs have dominated the backpacking market for decades. But when it comes to packing out game, there is still a case to be made for external-frame packs. In addition to serving as a standard backpack, an external-frame pack can be stripped of its bag and used exclusively as a pack frame. As long as it has a load shelf and tie-out points, an external-frame pack can effectively haul anything you can carry. Here are a few other reasons you should own one.

Full Pack

ALPS Outdoorz


Use a full external-frame pack while hunting or hiking just like any contemporary internal-frame pack. When it’s time to get an elk or moose out of the woods, just collapse the bag or strip it from the frame to avoid carrying any unnecessary weight. This is especially useful when making return trips for meat. Look for a quick-release system for detaching the pack, and an adjustable pouch for carrying your rifle when in hiking mode.

Frame Only



If you just want a meat-hauler, or maybe a second frame for a buddy willing to help retrieve game, consider investing in a frame only. They’re easy to keep in the truck or cabin and give you the option to equip a second set of shoulders for the heavy lifting.

Economy Models

ALPS OutdoorZ


You don’t have to spend a fortune to double your hauling capacity. Any frame pack with a load-out shelf, adequate hip and shoulder padding, and plenty of attachment points can serve as a pack board.