If you’re going hiking soon, you have to make sure that you have the right backpack for your needs. Whether it’s just for a day hike or an overnight camping trip or a multi-day adventure, carrying a comfortable pack that holds everything you need is a must. The best hiking backpacks for women are the ones that are specifically designed for a slimmer frame and shorter torso while not sacrificing on capacity and other essential backpacking features.
When choosing your backpack take into account trip length, capacity and weight of the pack and your body type. If you’re going to be doing mostly day or overnight hikes, a 40 or 50 liter pack is more than enough. 60 liter ones are good for 3-4 days worth of gear, while larger than 65 liters will be needed for an extended trip. You should try to stay clear of the over 75L packs because they tend to be too heavy for women when fully packed. Now is the right time to test your savvy packing skills!
To make sure that you’ll be comfortable carrying your gear for extended periods of time, make sure that the pack is appropriate for your torso length and not your overall height. Also choose a pack that will give you a snug hip strap fit to help take the weight of your shoulders. There are also some good backpacks especially good for carrying camera equipment on hikes.
There is a wide range of top rated hiking backpacks online but the following women’s hiking backpack reviews should help make your decision easier. They are all designed for at least a few hours of hiking, so are very sturdy and suitable for frequent use. However, if you only do very light hiking and more city or town walking and would prefer a very light backpack, consider the 40 litre Zomake foldable backpack.
Best Day Hiking Backpack
Kelty Redwing 40 for Women
Unlike most other packs for hiking, the women’s Redwing features front panel loading in addition to the standard top loading via a large U-shaped zipper opening that can be fully opened by undoing the external compression straps. Since a day long hike will require you to access items at any time, it is a useful convenience feature. In fact, this is one of the features that makes it not not only good for hiking but also a good travel carry on backpack.
In addition, there are lots of pockets throughout to keep your things organized. These include a large front organizer pocket and side and top zippered and stash pockets for every essential, like a camera, headlamp, map, energy bars, water bottles, etc. For snowy mountain hiking there is an ice-axe loop and a front daisy chain lets you attach a sleeping pad or anything else. This pack also has a dedicated hydration reservoir compartment that if not used, doubles up as a laptop sleeve. It also features water bottle mesh pockets on the sides.
For a maximum comfort fit to the woman’s frame, there is a lightweight Lightbeam fixed suspension system. An aluminium stay that runs right down the back and connects to the dual-density hip belt transfers the load from the shoulders to the hips. The support at the hips keeps you comfortable for long periods and a pulley-like cinch system helps you tighten the hip belt to ensure the maximum load rests on your hips and not on the shoulders. For heavier loads, and HDPE frame sheet boosts support. A sternum strap and stabilizer straps also play a part in lifting the load and maximizing the fit.
To keep you you cool throughout there is an Airflow back panel and Airmesh padded shoulder straps and hip belt. The material used is a blend of polyester fabric, one of which is a reinforcement fabric to ensure durability and many years of use.
The one negative about this bag is that the waist strap is detachable but it’s not easy to do nor to fix it back on. This pack may not be too comfortable for well built men, but there’s a men’s version too.
This pack is sized as a carry on bag, so if you need to quickly grab and go, there’s a top grab handle.
Colors: Black, Blue
Weight: 2 lb 10 oz
Measurements: 23 x 14 x 12 in
Torso Fit Range: 14.5 – 18.5 in
Hipbelt Fit Range: 27 – 42 in
Osprey Packs Women’s Tempest 20 Backpack
If you’ve heard about the iconic Osprey Talon Pack but found that it is not the best fit for women, you’d be right. You no longer have to forego the design because the Osprey Tempest 20 Backpack is the women’s version of the Talon. Its stretchable hip belt and adjustable shoulder harness system with sternum straps is specific to the woman’s frame, so you can be assured of a comfortable day hike for miles and miles. Both, hip belts and shoulder straps feature mesh pockets for secure storage of small valuables. In addition, the updated AirScape back panel is lighter and with more air flow to keep you cool and ventilated in the hot summer. It’s designed for fast movers so you won’t feel weighted down at all.
This pack has a dedicated 3 litre hydration reservoir compartment located between the back panel and main compartment and the hose can be routed through the elastic loops. You also have stretched mesh side pockets with compression for water bottles. A blinker light patch and a safety whistle are nice features to keep you safe while hiking.
For packing in your stuff, the main compartment is panel loading with double zippers and holds a zipped mesh pocket inside and at the back. A front stretch pocket lies in front and a stash pocket on the top. A lid locking mechanism lets you attach your helmet snugly to the front, while you also get an ice pick harness and a trekking pole harness that you can use while on the go without having to the remove the pack.
This nylon pack comes in four colors and you can choose between two sizes and load it up to 20 lbs of gear. The small is an 18 litre pack that fits torsoes 13 – 17 inches, while the medium’s capacity is 20 litres and fits torsoes 16 – 20 inches.
Colors: Black, Iris blue, Lucent green and Mystic magenta
Capacity: 18L, 20L
Weight: 1.55 lb, 1.65 lb
Measurements: 17 x 11 x 11 inches
Torso Fit Range: 13 – 17 inches, 16 – 20 inches
Best Overnight Backpack
Osprey Packs Women’s Viva 50 Backpack
If you want to buy just one pack that will serve you well for day hikes, overnighters, as well as 2-3 day thru-hikes this would be it. This is one of those deceptively small women’s hiking backpacks that can hold a lot as long as you don’t overload it. Its versatility, simple design and light weight is what is so attractive to female hikers.
The Osprey Women’s Viva 50 Backpack has a traditional removable floating top pocket with zippered mesh pocket underneath and can be extended to handle oversized loads. The main pack comes with a top loading design. The hip belts feature zippered pockets, there’s a stretchable mesh front stash panel and two mesh side pockets.
There is an internal hydration sleeve with an exit port, tool attachment loops with daisy chain ties, and trekking pole attachments that allow you to stow them and go without needing to remove the pack first. The sleeping bag compartment has a separate opening from the main compartment for easier packing and the sleeping pad straps are removable if you don’t need them. Everything is easy to use and access with the number of zippers, access points and straps kept to a minimum.
Dual side compression straps keep this nylon ripstop pack streamlined. The women’s-specific suspension system is one of the best available and can handle a good load while providing maximum comfort. The LightWire peripheral frame transfers the load to your hips and the torso harness, sternum strap and hip belt straps are all highly adjustable for varying torso lengths and girths and can be easily done without having to remove the pack. This makes it ideal for women of all builds to get a snug fit to the body. The back panel and shoulder straps are mesh ventilated for good airflow.
Colors: Sea Green, Cool Blue
Weight: 3.1 lb
Dimensions: 12 x 14 x 31 inches
Best Short Trip Backpack for Light Loads
Gregory Deva 60 Women’s Multi Day Hiking Backpack
The original unisex Deva 60 was popular but not light, which is why the new Gregory Deva 60 Women’s Multi Day Hiking Backpack is a welcome addition to the brand’s stable of hiking packs. Not only is it about 13 ounces lighter for the mid size pack, but women now have a model designed specifically for their shape and torsos.
It is top loading with a double barrel lid and two zippered pockets on top and single zippered pocket underneath, but you also have access from the front via a u-zip opening so you don’t have to unload half your stuff just to get to something else. The sleeping bag compartment has a separate opening with a removable divider so that the entire space can be fully utilized if you’re not taking a sleeping bag with you. The interior features one slip pocket and one zipped pocket. It comes with a rain cover that’s stored in a zippered pocket inside the pack’s front pocket.
There is an external hydration sleeve for your own 2L bladder that doubles as a daypack if you only need to go on a city stroll instead of a hike. There are 5 pockets in addition to the main compartment – a hide away water bottle pocket with drawstring closure to ensure the bottle doesn’t fall out, two side stretch pockets and two waterproof waist belt pockets for a phone and other electronic devices. Even if you don’t pack it to its full capacity, the cross over compression straps compress it evenly to keep the weight distribution even.
The new model now includes a ventilated center channel back panel over an aluminum alloy internal wire frame with narrower footprint. Its Lumbar Tune can be adjusted to provide custom lumbar support by removing the EVA foam shim. The pack remains stable while you’re on the move because of the hip stabilizing system that responds to movement and distributes the weight evenly and off your shoulders. The torso harness and waist belt system can be adjusted to fit your body, while the shoulder straps are tapered for women, however, all this must be done properly before setting out to get the maximum comfort fit.
Colors: Ruby Red, Egyptian Blue, Charcoal Grey
Capacity: 56L, 60L, 64L
Weight: 3.6 lb
Dimensions: 12.2 x 16.93 x 25.2 inches, 11.81 x 16.93 x 26.77 inches, 11.42 x 16.93 x 27.56 inches
Torso Fit Range: 14 – 16 In, 16 – 18 In, 18 – 20 In
Deuter Women’s ACT Lite 60+10 SL
For a pack that’s just as simple to use as the Osprey packs and with a comfort level similar to the Gregory Deva, the Deuter Women’s ACT Lite 60+10 is a low priced option at around $200.
The shoulder straps are contoured and narrow, with the torso fit range specifically designed for women and the harness system allowing you to adjust the fit to your body. Stabilizer straps also help ideally position the pack. Compression straps that cinch down also help with the stability of the pack. A soft inner foam on the hip belt makes it comfortable, while outer foam is added for lateral movement control and weight transfer. A hollow aluminium X-frame offers additional weight transfer, torso rigidity and flexibility for movement. To help you keep cool a special hollow foam creates an effect that pumps out warm air and lets in cool air.
The main compartment is top loading, plus there are two side mesh pockets for water bottles. A larger front stretch pocket is good for stuffing a rain jacket while the top lid compartment has two pockets for storing small items. This lid is also extendable, giving you an additional 10L over the main 60L capacity. There is a reservoir sleeve with a drink tube exit port for easy hydration on the go. A bottom compartment that shares a zippered divider with the main compartment is ideal for storing your bulky items like a sleeping bag. You can attach hiking gear to the front of the bag via the dual ice axe loops and elastic cord.
The negatives with this backpack is the lack of straps for a sleeping pad and it is not as spacious as some other options.
Colors: Blackberry/Silver, Emerald/Silver, Midnight/Cool Blue
Capacity: 60L + 10L
Weight: 3 lbs 11 oz
Measurements: 31 x 14 x 12 in
Best Multi Day Backpacks
Osprey Women’s Ariel 65 Backpack
If you’re looking for a pack for a heavy load to use over a number of days, the Osprey Women’s Ariel 65 is one of the top rated multi day hiking backpacks. It is quite compact for its large capacity and has a tough construction on the fabric, zippers and straps to withstand heavy use and loads. The straps are well padded to withstand heavy loads. The padding on the back frame is formed into an arch to allow for good ventilation.
The hip belt is heat moldable so as to be customized to fit you well. There is a lightweight LightWire peripheral frame with center stay for excellent even weight distribution. All straps can be adjusted for the best fit. While it may seem complicated in the beginning, it is easy to do while on the move and they can be utilized to tie down hiking gear.
The main compartment is easy to access. Apart from the large top opening, the sleeping bag compartment at the bottom has its own opening that can also be used for the main one. The front opening is similar to that of a suitcase but does not allow things to fall out as it zips only part of the way.
The main and sleeping bag compartments are the only two enclosed ones. The top lid pocket is removable and can turn into a convenient day pack and three mesh stretch pockets are just enough for efficient organization. There are ice axe and trekking pole loops as well.
The external hydration sleeve in the back panel makes refilling easy.
The negatives about this pack is that the construction is a bit on the heavy side, although this is what allows you to carry heavy loads. Osprey also has the very similar, slightly lighter and better ventilated Aura AG 65 that you may want to check out, but some women say that the Ariel is more comfortable to carry.
Colors: Deep Sea Blue, Summer Wheat Brown, Vermillion Red
Capacity: 59L, 62L, 65L, 68L
Weight: 7 lb 7 oz, 7 lb 12 oz, 7 lb 15 oz, 8 lb 2 oz
Measurements: 33 x 13 x 14 in, 34 x 13 x 14 in, 35 x 13 x 14 in, 36 x 13 x 14 in