Whether you’re planning a short weekend getaway or a month-long hiking trip, the last thing you want is to carry an uncomfortable and unergonomic bag for your next trekking adventure. Hiking bags come in many different shapes, sizes, and cushion styles, and picking one can get especially difficult – particularly for women who are often neglected in this category.
Fortunately, there are specially designed travel backpacks for women to ensure maximum comfort and style to provide a seamless and enjoyable trip. With the variety of bags that we have handpicked for women, you’re sure to find something that will not only feel comfortable on your next journey, but will be oh-so stylish as well.
Women’s versus men’s backpacks
The biggest (and most important) difference between hiking bags designed for men and women is how they fit into different statures and body types. Women-oriented hiking bags are designed to better fit a smaller body frame and characteristics that are typical of women. This ensures a tailor-made design specific to women’s bodies, providing that added support that women need from a hiking bag. From the way the bag straps are designed to even the height of the bag, they take into account the different needs that women have when it comes to using their hiking bags that may not be present when designing a unisex or male-oriented bag.
Buying a backpack
Moving on, let’s break down some of the key factors of consideration when choosing a women’s backpack.
Ladies, comfort is king, and the last thing you want is a bag that is too bulky and has padding in all the wrong places. The best way to figure out if the bag is the right fit for you is to try it on for yourself and feel how it rests on your back, and how the shoulder straps feel. A bag that can hold all the things you need and more and still remains comfortable on your lower back and shoulders is the right choice every time.
Weight and functionality
The heavier the bag, the less you will be able pack in it before you start to find it too heavy to carry, so find one that is lightweight and also sports all the features you need it to have is important. Identify a few key things you want the bag to have above all else, and try to find one that has those and is light, this way, you can achieve that perfect ratio of functionality and weight.
Choosing a good design for your bag can greatly determine its functionality, comfort, and fit. Some other things you may want to consider include storage space, pockets, gear loops, back frame, waist straps, hydration pocket, and compatibility. And of course, pick a bag that you like aesthetically too!
The better the quality of the bag, the better design and higher functionality, the more you should expect to pay. If you need your bag to be waterproof, have all the right pockets in all the right places and be made from a sturdy material, then expect to pay for what you are getting.
Our top picks
Here are some of our top picks for women’s backpacks.
Best overall: Osprey Aura AG65
There is a reason why this bag gets such rave reviews. It’s all adjustable – including the straps, the back mesh panel, and even the top compartment. It has plenty of pockets, and comes with padded shoulder and waist straps. This bag provides every opportunity for you to customise it to not just your body, but also your hiking needs which change from trip to trip. The brand’s Anti-Gravity frame not only helps you have a sweat-free back but also distributes the weight of your pack to ensure the greatest comfort you can achieve. There is also a hydration pouch which means that you needn’t worry about having to fit space for a bulky water bottle.
Alternative: Deuter Aircontact Lite
This is another great option if you’re looking for that lightweight, yet feature-filled hiking bag. It comes in various sizes to fit different capacity needs and to best fit the wearer’s body type to provide comfort. This is further aided by Deuter’s Aircontact Lite Backsystem, which distributes the heft of your pack while also providing ventilation, which reduces fatigue as well as adding comfort. It can be expanded to provide on-demand additional capacity as well as several external and internal compartments to make packing and finding things a breeze.
Unlike the Osprey Aura, it does not come with an integrated rain cover, but it can be easily bought and fitted with little effort. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective alternative to the Osprey, the many rave reviews vouch that you are not missing much despite the lower price tag.
For that long trek: Osprey Ariel 65
The Osprey Aura’s big sister, the Ariel, has all the great features of the Aura and adds on even more. Its larger capacity and greater rigidity make it ideal for longer treks that require you to carry all the things you need for an extended period and provide the additional comfort you need with its custom-moulded back panel. It even has a separate space for your sleeping bag so that you can pack even more things into it! It is heralded as one of the comfiest hiking bags on the market and would be a great companion to go for that long-distance hike with.
The best value: Granite Gear Crown2 60
All the features we consider can be found on this real gem of a bag. Its huge 60L storage capacity as well as numerous compartments and pockets will allow you to make full use of its storage capacity. And to help you carry all that gear you packed into this amazing bag? A framed suspension system that spreads the weight of the bag to reduce fatigue and support you the entire way.
You won’t even need a rain cover with this bag, unlike many of the previous (and more expensive!) options above, as it is designed to be waterproof so you can rest easy knowing all your items are safe. With its cheaper price tag, you will be losing that added padding you will find in pricier options, which may be of concern when hiking for extended periods with more items, so do take note before deciding if this bag is the one for you.
These are some of the many options that can be made when choosing your new hiking bag, just remember to prioritise packing capacity specific to the duration of your hike and opt for quality and comfort over anything else.