There’s nothing like backpacking out in the great outdoors, with gorgeous landscapes to boot. However, everything boils down to how well that gear is strapped to your back. Having the right backpack can be the difference between having a miserable time and what can be a delightful, successful hike. Hiking backpacks are, essentially, your turtle shell; that is, your house while you’re out in the wild. Everything that you are going to be using will be strapped to your back. So, it is not only crucial that hiking backpacks for women are light, resilient, and sturdy, but also fit you the right way.
What’s more, women’s hiking backpacks are different from men’s hiking backpacks due to different body needs and types. The capacities of women’s backpacks might be across the range, but more choices exist towards the lower end of the spectrum. Plus, women’s hiking backpacks also have shorter torso lengths, broader hip belts, and more slender shoulder straps. Read on to know about the best hiking backpacks for women out there.
Choosing the right Backpack for women
Hiking backpack capacities will, obviously, depend on the duration and kind of hike. Unassisted hikes will require you to have everything from a tent to food. Plus, it’s best if the backpack isn’t crammed to its maximum capacity and there’s some extra space. That being said, the general rule is ‘go small.’ Minimalist backpacks not only economize space but also keep the backpack light. Broadly, backpack capacities for women can be divided into 30-50 liters (1-3 night trips), 50-80 liters (3-5 night trips), and 70+ liters (more than 5-night trips).
Fit and Design
Women’s hiking backpacks are divided into frameless and internal frame ones. The latter has a plastic/metal frame is for heavier backpacks. It eliminates sagging, distributes weight across the body, and keeps the pack fairly rigid. Frameless ones are ideal for lesser weights and shorter hikes.
What’s more, it is important for the backpack to fit comfortably. For this, you need to consider two measurements – hip and torso size. Women usually have curvier torsos and narrower shoulders as compared to men, with their strongest asset being their hips. So, as a general rule, hip belts should distribute at least 80% of the weight to your hips. Generally, hip belts are adjustable from the mid-20s to the mid-40s inches. Plus, some backpacks even possess interchangeable hip belts. The second most important factor is the torso length. Many of the best hiking backpacks for women feature adjustable torso lengths, ranging from extra-small to extra-large.
Ventilation provides airflow to the back, keeping clothes and back drier and reducing heat in the body. To that end, there are various options and technologies among hiking backpacks, which include trampoline backpacks and suspended mesh backpacks majorly. Suspended mesh back panel backpacks boast of lightweight design to battle perspiration. Trampoline design ones, a.k.a. tension-mesh backpacks feature highly breathable meshes. Plus, they also have a frame that pushes the backpack away from your back.
Osprey Ariel AG 65
One backpack which is ubiquitous in all great hiking backpacks for women is the Ariel AG from Osprey. The nifty backpack has everything one could ask for in a great backpack, is chock-full of features, and offers a world of comfort.
Osprey Ariel is conceivably best known for its ridiculously customized fit and robustness. It was designed particularly keeping climbers, mountaineers, and backpackers in mind and for carrying heavy loads for longer hikes. The backpack comes in a range of sizes for fitting many body types. Additionally, the padded hip belt and shoulder straps can be interchanged, which allows the backpack to be tailored specifically to fit your body. This, combined with Osprey’s ‘Anti-Gravity’ technology makes it possible for the Osprey Ariel to carry loads of up to 60 pounds for more than a week.
What’s more, Ariel also possesses an extremely sleek organizational character. The backpack has three access points from the bottom, middle, and top, providing maximum accessibility. Moreover, the top lid is removable and can even be used as a day pack. The bottom compartment offers easy and quick access to the sleeping bag, while the attachment loops are great for strapping trekking poles to the bag too.
- Robust construction.
- Excellent for heavy loads.
- Presence of the hydration system.
- Pockets could be a little complicated.
Osprey Lumina 45
The Osprey Lumina 45 blends the signature suspension and comfort of Osprey with an amazingly streamlined and lightweight design.
Perhaps the best feature of the Osprey Lumina 45 is its construction and suspension. The backpack is superbly lightweight and breathable while still providing comfort and support. A full aluminum frame distributes the weight evenly across the shoulders and hips. The 3D tensioned back panel sits comfortably against the back. The padded hip belt and shoulder straps are not only made of soft mesh but are also wide. Moreover, the backpack weighs just 1.75 pounds, which is lighter than any other backpack on the market.
While this minimalist pack is narrow and a bit small, its organizational character is top-notch. Large external stow pockets and a full-size lid with two zip pockets make it perfect for packing all larger essentials as well as smaller items. Clearly, the Lumina is best used for a 2-3 day, quick and minimal hike.
- Super lightweight.
- Great lightweight material.
- Good compression straps.
- Overall capacity on the smaller end of the spectrum.
- Lack of versatility.
Granite Gear Blaze 60
Almost everything about the Granite Gear Blaze 60 is perfectly designed, including its ultra-lightweight, an excellent feature set, and tons of pockets. One of the best hiking backpacks for women hikers, the Granite Gear Blaze 60 is also the winner of Backpacker Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Gold Award for 2019.
The heavy hauler that is the Granite Gear Blaze 60 boasts of an enormous suspension capable of taking on monster levels of loads. The backpack possesses the brand-new Air Current frame which is available in three sizes for long, regular, and short torso lengths. Furthermore, every torso length features four separate shoulder strap attachments. When combined with the adjustable hip belt, it boasts of an excellent fit for women hikers of all shapes. Moreover, the frame also has breathable back panels which are great for venting.
The Granite Gear Blaze 60 weighs just 3 pounds, which is one of the lightest backpacks for the capacity. Its highly durable, thanks to the Robic fabric which is tear-resistant and lightweight. Plus, the backpack packs in a great set of features and is designed keeping in mind the avid hiker. The top-load backpack has a hidden front-access zipper, a removable top lid, and fantastically huge side pockets. What’s more, the hip-belt pockets on the Blaze 60 are amongst the most spacious amongst women’s backpacks.
- One of the most light-weight backpacks out there.
- Excellent for huge loads.
- Almost none.
Deuter Futura Vario
Deuter’s Futura Vario 45 + 10 SL is a seriously amazing backpack designed to suit the needs of women hikers specifically. Not only is the back length shorter and adjustable to torso-fit, but the narrower shoulder harness conforms to women’s bodies particularly. If that wasn’t enough, the padded hip belt lends further comfort.
Organized access is catchphrase of Deuter Futura Vario. One can get to just about anything in the backpack with the wide-open front and the sleeping bag compartment access without having to unload anything. The backpack does great on the pockets too. The rear stash pocket is surprisingly deep, as are the side pockets for water bottles and the hip belt pockets. Additionally, the backpack also has two long zippered side pockets to stash emergent stuff while on-the-go.
Another area where the backpack scores high marks is the adjustability of torso length. That, combined with the flexible webbing on the hip belt, allows women to customize the fit to suit their comfort. A removable and extendable lid, a number of lash points, and side compression straps add further to the versatility of the backpack. The only letdown of the Deuter Futura Vario is that for some hikers, the pack’s frame doesn’t distribute the load to the hips.
- At $170, its a bargain for a mid-level hiking bag.
- Numerous access points to the main compartment.
- Adjustable torso.
- Carries weight on shoulders rather than hips.
Deuter Aircontact Lite
Weight balancing is a breeze in the Deuter Aircontact Lite 45 + 10, which walks the walk with its breezy mesh paneling to numerous adjustment points. On top of that, the backpack even has a collar expanding to a 55-liter capacity whenever required.
Its the suspension and frame of the Aircontact Lite which is really its most outstanding characteristic. Known as the Variquick Frame System, the torso length is easily adjustable via the simple velcro yoke. What’s more, the frame design features a large central air channel which affords great ventilation. To top that, the padding keeps the frame locked closely to the hips and runs along the sides of the spine for superior comfort. Plus, the S-shaped female-friendly shoulder straps provide better clearance with the breasts.
The Deuter Aircontact Lite does excellent on organization and storage too. The top-loading backpack has three separate compartments – the main one, a top lid pocket, and a front hatch for the sleeping bag. Front stuff-it and side mesh pockets apart, the bag also has four webbing straps attached to the top lid for overstuffing the main compartment as and when needed. What’s more, the top lid even has a hidden access compartment below the lid for storing essentials like first-aid kits. All-in-all, the Deuter Aircontact Lite 45 + 10 is an excellent backpack option for weekend hiking trips.
- It provides a perfect weight balance.
- Straps/compartments organized usefully.
- Extremely adjustable.
- Access to hip compartments a bit restricted.
Gregory Octal 55
At $200, the Gregory Octal 55 is easily one of the best budgeted all-season hiking backpacks for women on the market right now. The backpack also works incredibly well for those who’re looking to move speedily on their backpacking trip, as it is also astonishingly lightweight.
Boasting of a ventilated ‘trampoline-style’ design, the Gregory Octal 55 is built for adequate airflow for the back. The back panel features a suspended breathable mesh that soaks up the sweat before it hits your shirt. It sits on a sturdy aluminum frame coupled with horizontal reinforcements. Female-specific hip belt and shoulder straps make the pack feel one with the body. Conforming to the body’s curves sans chafing, the pack easily transfers weight between the shoulders and hips.
The organization features of the backpack are equally commendable. The top-loading backpack features a top floating lid with two nifty pockets. A front stretch mesh pocket is excellent for storing gear that needs to be separate from all other stuff, like shoes or wet clothes. Two stretchy mesh side pockets hold the water bottles firmly even when the backpack tips over. Additionally, it even has holster-style front cutouts for those who prefer to store their bottles differently. Z-shaped side compression straps, ice ax loops, and adjustable elastic pole/shaft holders are excellent features found in very few other hiking backpacks.
- Extremely comfortable.
- Excellent feature set.
- Suspension lacks support for heavier loads.
Osprey Kyte 46
Good things come in small packages, and the Osprey Kyte 46 is a testament to that. Scoring high on the comfort and suspension fronts, the Osprey Kyte 46 is your go-to ultra-lightweight bag for speedier hikes and outdoor pursuits.
Hikers of all levels swear by the Osprey Kyte 46, which ensures all-day comfort in all kinds of hiking conditions and landscapes. Its signature LightWire frame suspension system easily shifts heavier weights to the hips, taking the load off the shoulders and back. The integrated, well-padded hip belt and shoulder straps make the pack feel light as a feather. Plus, the brand’s renowned AirScape system, which is a mesh-covered ridged foam on the back panel, allows ventilation and keeps the sweat at bay.
While there’s not much room for customization, the backpack more than makes up for it in the form of an adjustable suspension system. The compression straps keep the backpack close to the body, while the torso height is mightily adjustable. Additionally, the hip belt on the Osprey Kyte 46 is one of the most comfortable hip belts in the lineup. Plus, the backpack scores on the organizational front also, especially in the unique ice-ax loops, a large front mesh pocket, hip belt pockets, and large mesh pockets on the side as well. At less than $200, this durable workhorse is an extremely budget-friendly backpack.
- Extremely comfortable even with heavier loads.
- The main compartment could feel a bit narrow.
Kelty Redwing 40
The Kelty Redwing 40 might be described as a day pack, but its so much more. The versatile women’s backpack is suitable not only for overnight hikes but also short mountaineering trail treks too.
One of the biggest plus-points of the Redwing 40 is the female-focused, highly adjustable harness system. The hip belt, sternum strap, and shoulder straps have numerous adjustments points, allowing women to find the fit right for them. These features combine to distribute weight better across a smaller frame. An excellent touch is the elastic bands on the shoulder straps that can tuck away the sternum/load lifter straps. An aluminum frame is a base for the suspension system, with a generously padded back panel for allowing air to escape.
The Kelty Redwing 40 does particularly well with the pockets, which are totally seven in number. The top zippered pocket and the two large zippered pockets on the side are excellent for stashing away stuff quickly. Two mesh stretch pockets on the side hold water bottles of all sizes extremely well. If that wasn’t enough, the organization feature of the pack is a killer. The main compartment with a U-zipper design is large enough no matter what is thrown into it. Plus, the vibrant packing cubes not only keep stuff organized but also visible.
- An extremely snug harness system.
- Tons of quick-access pockets and compartments.
- Numerous dangling straps on the exterior.
North face Banchee 65
The North Face Banchee 65 is one of the top hiking backpacks for women for lightweight hikes into the mountains. The lightweight design pack is surprisingly comfortable and is ideal for long backcountry trips as well.
The suspension system of the North Face Banchee 65 is its highlight. A slightly curved aluminum frame with a comfy, breathable mesh back panel is ideal for hot, sunny days. The lumbar area boasts of a cushioned back support which could be extremely comfortable to women with curvaceous backs. However, its the weight aspect of the Bachee 65 that absolutely steals the show. The pack is as light as a feather but provides excellent support.
To top that, the Banchee 65 still provides lots of storage options and features with ease of access and top-notch organizational attributes. It possesses more than eight, well-placed pockets. The ‘beaver-tail’ pocket is a sweet addition for stuffing extra clothes and shoes, while the side pockets hold water bottles of all sizes extremely well. So, there’s a profusion of storage compartments without it being complicated or confusing to use.
- Comfy suspension.
- Exceptionally lightweight.
- Durability is a bit lacking.
Gregory Maven 55
One exceptional backpack that women hikers are absolutely stoked about is the ultra-lightweight, simple, and yet toughened Gregory Maven 55. The top-loading pack boasts of an extendable spindrift collar and a removable, floating, and adjustable lid. Heck, the backpack even allows for smaller, lidless use by attaching the sleeping bag divider as a flap. Another access to the main compartment is the sleeping bag compartment at the bottom, with the rain cover being an extra bonus. The only thing it lacks is the side zippered pockets, which could be very useful for stowing away stuff.
The Maven 55’s Aeroleon suspension system is what allows for a customizable, perfect fit. It features an ultra-light, supportive, and flexible aluminum frame for that extra bit of fine-tuning. Plus, the harness is contoured to fit a women’s frame. What’s more, the hip belt and shoulder straps are adjustable, contoured, and padded with the multi-density LifeSpan EVA foam. Even the lumbar zone comes equipped with a gription pad system for both saving energy and better transfer of weight.
If that wasn’t enough, the suspension also possesses the Matrix Ventilation System. An extremely breathable mesh sits atop a foam-matrix back panel, which not only evaporates moisture quickly but also boasts of excellent airflow.
- Lidless use.
- Daypack and rain cover bonuses.
- Excellent harness, suspension, and organization.
- Lack of side zippered pockets.
Gregory Deva 60
Everything about the Gregory Deva 60 screams burly, whether it is the durable buckles, the waist belt, and the large zippers. For women who have a heavier build, this backpack with its wide shoulder straps and overall burlier size is ideal.
The Gregory Deva 60’s women’s specific, pre-curved, and wide hip belt, harness, and shoulder straps work across a range of builds. The well-padded shoulder straps, waist belt, and back keep it comfortable even with heavy loads. Moreover, these extra features, while adding bulk, also lend comfort and protect areas prone to chaffing. Deva’s brand-new A3 bomber suspension system enhances carrying comfort and weight distribution. Plus, both the hip belt panel and shoulder straps pivot independently, which maintain stability when one walks over uneven terrain.
At 5.44 pounds, the Gregory Deva is one of the heaviest backpacks in its category, and the heft is visibly noticeable. However, the organizational features are toned down to make it simple and yet maintain ease of use. While the single large, stretchy outer pocket is extremely accessible, there’s only one side pocket for one water bottle. Thus, the slimmed-down extraneous storage takes the load off, keeping the pack simpler and lighter.
- Spacious, robust, and stable.
- Bulky and heavy.