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 our backs. Whenever we’ve hiked, having the right backpack has made all the difference, and we’ve had nothing less than delightful, successful hikes. Hiking backpacks are, essentially, our turtle shells. That is to say, they’re our home when we’re out in the wild. Everything that we will be using will be strapped to our backs. So, it’s not only crucial that hiking backpacks for women are light, resilient, and sturdy but also fit you the right way.
What’s more, hiking backpacks for females 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, hiking backpacks for females also have shorter torso lengths, broader hip belts, and more slender shoulder straps. Here’s a detailed guide to the best hiking backpacks for all the hiking enthusiastic ladies out there.
Table of contents
Osprey Ariel AG 65
Most functional features. One backpack that is ubiquitous in all good hiking backpack lists is the Ariel AG from Osprey, and we have to agree. The nifty backpack has everything we could ask for in a great backpack, is chock-full of features, and offers us 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 came in a range of sizes for fitting many body types. Additionally, the padded hip belt and shoulder straps could be interchanged, which allowed for the backpack to be tailored specifically to fit our bodies. This, combined with Osprey’s ‘Anti-Gravity’ technology, made it possible for us to carry loads of up to 60 lbs (27 kg) 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 us with maximum accessibility. Moreover, the top lid is removable, and we even used it as a day pack. The bottom compartment offered easy and quick access to the sleeping bag, while the attachment loops were great for strapping trekking poles to the bag too.
- This backpack has a robust construction.
- It’s great for heavy loads.
- It’s extremely adjustable.
- It even has a hydration system.
- The pockets could be slightly complicated.
Osprey Lumina 45
The Osprey Lumina 45 blends the signature suspension and comfort of Osprey with an amazingly streamlined and lightweight design.
According to us, the best feature of the Osprey Lumina 45 is its construction and suspension. The backpack is superbly lightweight and breathable while still providing us with comfort and support. A full aluminum frame distributed the weight evenly across our shoulders and hips. The 3D-tensioned back panel sat comfortably against our backs. Moreover, the padded hip belt and shoulder straps were not only made of soft mesh but were also wide. If all that wasn’t enough, the backpack weighed just 1.75 lbs (0.8 kg), which was 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 allowed us to pack all larger essentials as well as smaller items. We used Lumina for a 2-3 day, quick, and minimal hike, and we loved it.
Check out what Stumble Safari has to say about this backpack in this detailed review.
- This backpack is super lightweight.
- It’s made from an excellent material.
- It has good compression straps.
- It lacks versatility.
Granite Gear Blaze 60
We loved almost everything about the Granite Gear Blaze 60. Not only was it perfectly designed, but it was also ultra-lightweight, had an excellent feature set, and came with tons of pockets. In fact, the Granite Gear Blaze 60 was the winner of Backpacker Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Gold Award for 2019 and is considered one of the best women’s hiking backpack options.
It’s easy to see why. The heavy hauler that is the Granite Gear Blaze 60 boasts an enormous suspension that’s capable of taking on monster-level loads. What’s more, the backpack possesses the brand-new Air Current frame, 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 fits all of us women hikers of all shapes very well. Moreover, the frame also has breathable back panels, which are great for venting.
The Granite Gear Blaze 60 weighs just 3 lbs (1.3 kg), which is one of the lightest backpacks we found for the capacity. It’s highly durable, thanks to the Robic fabric, which is tear-resistant and lightweight. Plus, the backpack packs in a great set of features, which we loved as avid hikers. These include a hidden front-access zipper, a removable top lid, and fantastically huge side pockets. If that wasn’t enough, the hip-belt pockets on the Blaze 60 are amongst the most spacious among women’s backpacks.
If you want to know more about this backpack, check out the official product page.
- It’s one of the most lightweight backpacks out there.
- It’s excellent for huge loads.
- The short torso option is perfect for us women.
- It’s very expensive.
Deuter Futura Vario
The Deuter’s Futura Vario 45 + 10 SL is a seriously amazing backpack that’s been designed well to suit the needs of us women hikers specifically. Not only was the back length shorter and adjustable to torso fit, but the narrower shoulder harness conformed to our bodies very well. If that wasn’t enough, the padded hip belt lent further comfort.
Organized access is the catchphrase of Deuter Futura Vario. We could easily access just about anything, no matter the size, in the backpack. This was thanks to the wide-open front and the sleeping bag compartment, which gave us 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 where we’d 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, allowed us to customize the fit to suit our comfort. A removable and extendable lid, a number of lash points, and side compression straps added further to the versatility of the backpack.
- It’s a bargain for a mid-level hiking bag.
- It’s very well-ventilated.
- There are numerous ways to access the main compartment.
- It has an adjustable torso.
- We felt the weight more on our shoulders than our hips.
Deuter Aircontact Lite
Best weight balancing. Balancing the weight was a breeze with 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 we require it.
It’s the suspension and frame of the Aircontact Lite, the Variquick Frame System, that is really the most outstanding feature of this backpack. In fact, the torso length is easily adjustable via the simple velcro yoke. What’s more, the frame design featured a large central air channel that kept us ventilated all the time. To top that, the padding kept the frame locked closely to our hips and runs along the sides of the spine for superior comfort. Plus, the S-shaped female-friendly shoulder straps provided better clearance for our breasts.
We loved the storage and organization features in the Deuter Aircontact Lite. 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. So, we could actually overstuff the main compartment as and when we needed it. 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 was an excellent backpack option for all our weekend hiking trips.
- It provides the perfect weight balance.
- The compartments are useful.
- The straps are extremely adjustable.
- Access to the hip compartment is a bit restricted.
Gregory Octal 55
Best value for money. Costing just 150-200 USD, the Gregory Octal 55 is easily one of the best budget all-season hiking backpacks. Since we wanted to move quickly and speedily on our trip, we loved this backpack as it’s astonishingly lightweight.
Boasting a ventilated ‘trampoline-style’ design, the Gregory Octal 55 is designed for adequate airflow for our backs. The back panel featured a suspended, breathable mesh that soaked up the sweat before it hit our shirts. It sits on a sturdy aluminum frame coupled with horizontal reinforcements. But what we really loved were the female-specific hip belt and shoulder straps that made the pack feel one with our bodies. The pack even easily transferred weight between the shoulders and hips and conformed to our bodies’ curves without chafing.
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 was excellent for storing gear that we needed separate from all other stuff, like shoes and wet clothes. Two stretchy mesh side pockets allowed us to stash water bottles firmly even when the backpack tipped 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 rounded up the excellent features of this backpack.
- It’s extremely comfortable.
- The bag is very lightweight.
- It has a great feature set.
- The 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. This backpack scores high on the comfort and suspension fronts and has been our go-to ultra-lightweight bag for all our 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 allowed us to shift heavier weights to the hips, taking the load off our shoulders and backs. The integrated, well-padded hip belt and shoulder straps made 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, ensured that ventilation took place and kept the sweat at bay.
While there’s not much room for customization, the backpack more than made 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, especially in the unique ice-ax loops, a large front mesh pocket, hip belt pockets, and large mesh pockets on the side as well. Costing less than 200 USD for most colors and sizes, this backpack is one durable workhorse.
- The backpack is extremely comfortable, even with heavier loads.
- It’s very durable.
- We love the organizational features.
- The main compartment could feel a bit narrow.
Kelty Women’s Redwing 40
The Kelty Women’s Redwing 40 might be described as a day pack, but it’s so much more. The versatile women’s backpack is suitable not only for overnight hikes but also for short mountaineering trail treks.
One of the biggest features of the Redwing 40 that we loved is the female-focused, highly adjustable harness system. The hip belt, sternum strap, and shoulder straps have numerous adjustment points, allowing us females 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.
Since we’re a fan of more pockets, the seven pockets on the Kelty Redwing 40 were perfect for us. The top zippered pocket and the two large zippered pockets on the side are particularly 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 par excellence. 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 kept our stuff organized but also visible.
- This backpack has an extremely snug harness system.
- It has tons of quick-access compartments and pockets.
- It’s very lightweight.
- There are 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 mountainous hikes. Surprisingly, we found the lightweight design pack comfortable and ideal for long backcountry trips as well.
The suspension system of the North Face Banchee 65 is its highlight. The slightly curved aluminum frame with a comfy, breathable mesh back panel was ideal for hot, sunny days. Moreover, the lumbar area boasts a cushioned back support which was extremely comfortable for us women with curvaceous backs. However, it’s the weight aspect of the Bachee 65 that absolutely steals the show. The pack was as light as a feather but provided 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. Finally, 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.
- This backpack has a very comfy suspension.
- It’s exceptionally lightweight.
- It’s perfect for a variety of hikes.
- It lacks durability.
Gregory Maven 55
One exceptional backpack that we women hikers are absolutely stoked about is the ultra-lightweight, simple, and yet toughened Gregory Maven 55. The top-loading pack boasts an extendable spindrift collar and a removable, floating, and adjustable lid. Heck, the backpack even allowed for smaller, lidless use when we attached 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.
“We loved everything about the Gregory Maven, especially since it was the first time we were doing a strenuous hike. And the Maven made carrying everything all the easier.”WOW Travel
The Maven 55’s Aeroleon suspension system was what allowed 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 our 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 transferring weight better.
If that wasn’t enough, the suspension also has the Matrix Ventilation System. It’s an extremely breathable mesh that sits atop a foam-matrix back panel. So, it not only evaporates moisture quickly but also boasts excellent airflow.
- The backpack allows for lidless use.
- It can be used as a daypack and comes with a rain cover.
- It has an excellent harness, suspension, and organization.
- It doesn’t have side zippered pockets.
Gregory Deva 60
Most versatile. Everything about the Gregory Deva 60 screams burly, whether it is the durable buckles, the waist belt, or 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-specific, pre-curved, and wide hip belt, harness, and shoulder straps worked across a range of builds of the women in our group. The well-padded shoulder straps, waist belt, and back kept it comfortable even when we carried heavy loads. Moreover, these extra features, while adding bulk, also lent comfort and protected areas that were prone to chafing. Deva’s brand-new A3 bomber suspension system enhanced carrying comfort and weight distribution. Plus, both the hip belt panel and shoulder straps pivot independently, which maintained stability when we walked over uneven terrain.
At 5.44 lbs (2.5 kg), 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.
- This backpack is very spacious.
- It’s stable as well as robust.
- The large zippers made it easy for even large-fingered people to operate them easily.
- None, really.
While we love all our chosen options, we’ve curated a specialized list below with the best of the options to help you zero down on one product.
- Most functional features: Osprey Ariel AG 65
- Best weight balancing: Deuter Aircontact Lite
- Best value for money: Gregory Octal 55
- Most versatile: Gregory Deva 60
How To Choose The Best Hiking Backpacks For Women?
Hiking backpack capacities will, obviously, depend on the duration and kind of hike. For instance, unassisted hikes require us 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, our 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. We like the latter as they have plastic/metal frames for heavier backpacks. When we’ve used them, they’ve eliminated sagging, distributed weight across the body, and kept 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, we considered 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. So, look for those, too.
Ventilation provides airflow to our back, keeping our clothes and our backs drier and reducing heat in our bodies. To that end, there are various options and technologies among hiking backpacks, which include trampoline backpacks and suspended mesh backpacks. Suspended mesh back panel backpacks boast lightweight designs 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 our backs.