Best Backpacks for Women: Choosing The Right Pack for Your Next Adventure

Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

When shopping for the best backpacks for women, paying attention to reviews can help you make the right decision. Reviews help you form a realistic opinion of how the backpack you’re interested in will perform.

Pay attention to what people say about volume, carrying comfort, dimensions, pocket amount, extra attachments and other unique specifications. Also, pay attention to pricing. It’s human nature to want to search for the best or cheapest deal.

However, your backpack is an investment and should be treated as such. This is something you will get multiple uses out of and will probably be subjected to tough terrain, weather and other challenges, depending on where you are headed with it.

Woman with a backpack in the wild

So, if you require a high performance backpack, you’re going to spend a little more. Simply put, you get what you pay for.

Backpack Diversity

Backpacks come in a diverse range of styles. One way to narrow down your search for the best women’s backpack is to figure out which style meets your needs. Are you going on a weekend adventure, a weeklong expedition, or something in between?

The backpack you ultimately choose will be unique to your needs and journey. Trip duration plays a big part in making the right choice as well, as it is directly linked to the capacity of your backpack. Shorter trips, such as ones limited to the weekend only, require a backpack in the 45-55 liter range.

Backpack Diversity

Longer trips or those involving kids would require a 60-75 liter backpack. If you like to travel heavier, backpacks even larger than 70 liters are available. Here’s a breakdown of some backpacking adventure types:

  • Easy Going and Leisure. Some people like to take their time and take in the sites around them, instead of covering large distances in a short amount of time. This is the leisurely hiking type.
    Taking photos, enjoying breaks and moving slower are all ok. Because of this, this kind of hiker isn’t as hung up on heavy gear and can afford to carry a bit of a heavier load, since they’re taking frequent breaks.
  • Quick and Light Hiking. Another backpacking style is the complete opposite of the easy going and leisurely. Covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time or even an extended amount of time is the main goal here. This type of hiker is focused on minimizing weight and will want a backpack that is lighter. Suspension is important here too, as you want a bag that will carry most of the weight and not burden your shoulders too much.
  • Super Light Backpacking. This particular style of backpacking is for weekender types, month and even weeklong. Regardless of trip duration, weight is the number one factor for this type of hiker. They are concerned with packing just the essentials, so they can get by with a much smaller capacity backpack. Because of this, they tend to be less picky about extra features too.
  • The Thru-Hike Trip. These hikes are for people who cover a lot of ground over longer periods of time. Similar to the quick and light hiker, this type of hiker is also weight conscious. Other things such as organization and simplicity matter too, as this type of trip requires thoughtful, more detailed planning in order to carry your gear, food, water, and tent.

Reviews of Women’s Backpacks

While you are checking out backpacks that might be a potential fit for your needs, remember to read through all the features.

Making a list of exactly what features you want and don’t want will help narrow down your search. Remember to keep specifications such as capacity, weight and durability in mind. Here’s some great options that might be what you’re looking for:

Osprey Women’s Ariel 55 Backpack

Osprey Women's Ariel 55 Backpack

Weight: 4.6 lbs (shipping weight)

Dimensions: 26 x 17 x 4 in.

Features: Easily refill with the external hydration sleeve, carry your load comfortably with the IsoForm technology hipbelt. Quickly access your gear through the j-zip compartment

Best Use: Great for overnight trips or shorter multiple day trips.

Description: Osprey is known as one of the top selling backpacking backpack brands around. This Osprey Women’s Ariel 55 Backpack is the fourth version of the Aether Aerial series.

Appreciated for its design, great fit and amazing carry ability, this backpack is great for extended cross country treks as well as shorter trips.

With technology, such as the IsoForm hipbelt and other unique features, this backpack is a number one choice for women.

Women specifically love the bottom entry to the main compartment, the generous number of pockets for better organization and the day pack that is removable. Women also love that its size is comfortable enough for those with a smaller frame, without sacrificing the amount of storage.

Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 58 Outdry Backpack Womens

Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 58 Outdry Backpack Womens

Weight: 11 lbs (shipping weight)

Dimensions: 27 x 16 x 7 in.

Features: Outdry technology makes this backpack waterproof. Undergone 24 hours of rain room testing. This backback was made with Hardwave suspension technology for a comfortable fit and easy carrying.

Best Use: Great for multiple day trips.

Description: This Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 58 Outdry Backpack is great for multiple day trips and is even waterproof. The Mountain Hardwear Ozonic is lightweight with fitted straps and Hardwave technology suspension.

This type of suspension enables the backpack to naturally conform to your back, resulting in better distributed load weight. This backpack was even rain room tested to ensure it is waterproof.

The torso area can be adjusted up to 3 inches, making for a more customized fit. The backpack’s top pocket is removable and has an inner pocket with a key clip as well.

This backpack also features a reversible top pocket, side pockets for gear that needs to be easily reached, a front pocket for drainage or damp items, and a sternum that is adjustable for more stability while you’re moving around.

The North Face Women’s Terra 55 Exploration Pack

The North Face Women's Terra 55 Exploration Pack

Weight: 4 lbs (shipping weight)

Dimensions: Available in sizes x-small to large

Features: The Proprietary Optifit technology ensures a comfortable fit. The ventilation is improved due to the vertical channel. The anatomical shoulder harness is padded and sleek. The hip belt features load spreading technology and is lined with air mesh. The main compartment is accessible from the side.

Best Use: This backpack works well for multiple day trips.

Description:  The North Face Women’s Terra 55 is perfect for multiple day hikes and excursions. Its user friendly design is light and slim for long lasting carrying comfort. You’ll have great load control due to the Optifit technology.

The thoughtful pocket placement makes getting to your gear quick and easy. This backpack also features a compartment for your sleeping bag, vertical channels for ventilation and more than seven pockets. This backpack’s design is very weight conscious and women love it for its comfortable fit, capacity and the way the waist belt seems to reduce the weight of the backpack overall.

A backpack this size is best for multi day trips, however it does well for overnight or weekend getaways as well.

Granite Gear Torso Blaze Ac 60 Ki Women’S Specific Pack

Granite Gear Torso Blaze Ac 60 Ki Women'S Specific Pack

Weight: 2.9 lbs

Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 6 in.

Features: This Granite Gear Torso Blaze Ac 60 pack is made from nylon that is Cordurar 100D and 210D. The suspension is AirCurrent technology. The compression is Line Loc, which enables you to cinch your load tight. The backpack’s sides feature stretch mesh pockets. The hip belt is swappable, making for a comfortable and customizable fit.

Best Use: This backpack is great for multiple day trips.

Description: The Granite Gear Torso Blaze is the successor to a high quality series of backpacks known for simplicity and highly engineered features.

The suspension is AirCurrent technology with a multi-dimensional molded frame. It also features a simple and quick torso adjusting, interchangeable hip belt and shoulder straps that are padded for a comfortable fit.

You won’t have to worry about heat or moisture on your back due to the molded air channels on the frame working with the molded foam pad. This makes for natural cooling. The backpack is top loading, with a versatile closure.

It can be rolled down securely or extended when you need a little more room. It even has a front pocket to store your damp items or tent. This backpack is a favorite for weekend and multiple day trips.

Black Diamond Elixir 60 Outdoor Backpack

Black Diamond Elixir 60 Outdoor Backpack

Weight: 4.8 lbs

Dimensions:  25 x 15 7 in.

Features: This backpack features ReActiv suspension technology with swing arm shoulder straps. The back panel is Open Air tech. Features zippered sleeping bag compartment, front pocket with zip closure, inner pockets for organization, side pockets that quickly cinch shut and pockets on the hip belt.

Best Use: This backpack is great for multiple day trips and hikes.

Description: The Black Diamond Elixir 60 is perfect for the multiple day hiker that requires lighter weight. Featuring reACTIV suspension technology exclusive to black Diamond, this backpack provides lasting comfort for all day treks.

You can access your gear in multiple ways through the top loading opening or the bottom of the backpack. The bottom also features a sleeping bag compartment. It also includes Also features loops for trekking pole and ice axe and is hydration compatible.

The back panel is made with Open Air technology which makes for great ventilation. The top lid can also be used as a lumbar pack. This backpack even has a men’s specific version called The element.

Kelty Women’s Coyote 75 Internal Frame Backpack

Kelty Women's Coyote 75 Internal Frame Backpack

Weight: 5 lbs

Dimensions: 32″ x 13″ x 12″

Features: This backpack fits torsos that are 14.5” – 18.5”. The suspension is adjustable Cloudlock technology.

Best Use: Perfect for partial week or week long hikes.

Description: The Kelty Women’s Coyote 75 is a top loader with a convertible lid. It can turn into a lumbar pack. This backpack features side pockets that zip, a large front pocket, pocket on the waist belt and compression straps on the side.

The adjustable suspension makes for a customizable and comfortable fit. The back panel allows for ventilation and support. It also features aluminum stays which are dual light beam, HDPE frame sheet and sternum straps.

Women love the convertible features of this backpack and how durable it has. Some have commented on it lasting them well over 3 years, in a number of different climates and terrain.

Deuter ACT Lite 60+10 SL Backpack

Deuter ACT Lite 60+10 SL Backpack

Weight: 6 lbs

Dimensions: 15 x 24 x 10 in.

Features: This backpack features a Deuter Aircontact System. It includes a top lid pocket, inner pocket for valuable items, and a hip belt pocket that zips. It’s also hydration system compatible.

Best Use: This backpack is great for multiple day trips.

Description: The Deuter ACT Lite 60 backpack is spacious, sleek in design and athletic. You’ll have a comfortable fit, perfect for all day carrying. Designed with minimal weight and high functionality, this backpack is great for extended trips and mountaineering.

The bilaminate constructions makes for easy fastening of the hip belt. The backpack has a bottom compartment which can be used for storing your sleeping bag or anything else you prefer. It even has hiking pole and ice axe loops.

With a compartment for damp items, height adjustable lid and shoulder straps that are anatomically shaped, it’s obvious a lot of careful thought went into the design of this backpack. Other special features include a Vari Quick system that can adjust to any back length and a Vari Flex System.

Additional Women Specific Backpack Tips and Info

Before you settle on a backpack, keep a couple more items in mind. You need to know your sizes, in order to choose the best backpack for your needs. You need to know your torso and hip belt size.

To measure your torso length, you have to use a measuring tape and go from your C7 vertebrae (the bone that sticks out on the back of your neck when you lean your head forward) to your iliac crest. The iliac crest is the area right above your hips where the bottom of your backpack would rest.

Choose your hiking backpack

Your torso length determines the size of backpack you need. Next, you would need to measure your hips, to determine hip belt size. Right below your iliac crest and just above the hip bones is where you want the hip belt to rest.

This matters most when you are looking into backpacks with interchangeable hip belts or backpacks with separate hip belt offerings.

In addition to torso and hip belt size, you should also consider features in greater detail. Here’s a few that will help you chose a long lasting, durable backpack:

  • Waterproof or resistant: The weather can turn at any moment, so make sure you choose a backpack that is at least semi water resistant. Some backpacks come with some sort of covering or tarp, which works too.
    If your back does happen to get wet, make sure you dry it as soon as possible to keep it from getting an odor, which can ruin it. Ideally, you want a material that’s thick enough, but still lightweight.
  • Multiple Pockets and Compartments: Make sure you choose a backpack with several compartments for better organization. You want something with a space for your sleeping bag, tent, hydration, valuables, poles, damp laundry and of course a spacious main compartment.
    A good way to organize everything is to place your clothes in the main compartment, sleeping bag and tent in a compartment towards the bottom of the bag, extra shoes in a separate outer pocket, and water bottles in a hydration area.
    Organizing your things better will also enable to distribute the weight of your load better.
  • Build of the Backpack or Frame: Most backpacks today have an internal frame, meaning the frame is enclosed in the fabric of the backpack. That is the type you should always go with. There are still some external framed backpacks around, but that style is dated and not as efficient as inner frame backpacks.
    Internal framed backpacks tend to be lighter than external framed ones, making them easier and more comfortable to carry.
    External frames, on the other hand, are more rugged and offer more protection against the elements and hard surfaces, so your bag won’t rip apart when it’s snagged on a tree or rock. However, this means that the space inside your big is much more confined and rigid, so you have to be careful with what you pack.

There are even more specific factors to consider before you settle on a backpack. Every woman is built differently and while there may not be a standard perfect fit backpack, reading through reviews, knowing your measurements and looking at features in accordance to your upcoming trip will help you find the backpack that is perfect for your needs specifically.

Women with a backpack

Please leave a comment down below if you’ve enjoyed any of these products, or have a backpack you’d like to share with us. We’d love to hear from you, and we may include your suggestions in a future article.

Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Ursula Mari

    The North Face “Terra 55” It’s really a good fit. Plenty of adjustment straps. The hip belt fits wonderfully. Great for travelling and outdoor activities. The color is also beautiful. But, one thing would make it perfect – the rain coat!
    Couldn’t go back to a regular backpack after this. 🙂

  • Jerry Mueller

    Can’t blame you Ursula! The North Face is a well-known and trusted brand with a huge following. They make such great products that sells.

  • Rachel Mohan

    Very happy with my purchase of the Granite Gear Blaze. Whilst the suspension is strong enough to hold heavy loads, it is still light enough for more lightweight hiking too. Like the review alluded to, the Air Current design ensures that you don’t end up with a sweat soaked back. Never a good look! Admittedly, I was a tad wary of the mesh pockets and how they would stand up to heavy and prolonged use but I’m happy to say they have far surpassed my expectations. Not had a single issue with them.

  • Jerry Mueller

    Thanks for you valuable input Rachel and I’m glad you feel that way with your Granite Gear Blaze. This backpack has seamless combined function and style, so you have the best of both worlds!