For hiking you need a few essentials, and a good backpack is one of them. Though there are many unisex backpacks on the market, there are also many excellent hiking backpacks for women, that are built for a woman's frame. Buying a gender specific backpack will give you a better chance of finding the right fit, which will allow you to stay comfortable over a long period of hiking. One of the more important differences between men's and women's backpacks, however, is the size. You should only carry a certain percentage of your own weight, and women being smaller, should be carrying a load proportional to their size.
Hiking Backpacks for WomenFeatures to look for when shopping for women's backpacks.
- Size - Women being smaller than men, should be carrying a lighter, smaller load than men. A woman's sleeping bag, for instance, will tend to be smaller than a man's sleeping bag, which will help to make the load smaller. It's recommended that you carry a certain percentage of your weight too, so 30% percent of a 180 pound man will be a lot more than 30% of a 120 pound woman.
- Lightweight - To help lighten the load, you should be looking for lightweight sleeping bags. There's no reason to carry a heavy backpack, after all, when you could be carrying a lightweight backpack instead.
Best Hiking Backpacks for WomenA few of the better backpacks designed with women in mind.
- Granite Gear Blaze A.C. 60 Ki - The Blaze A.C. 60 won the Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Award in 2011, and is a great backpack to take hiking, camping or anywhere else. It's lightweight, at 2.8 pounds, or 1.3 kilograms, and will hold 60 liters of gear. It's lidless, to help cut down on weight, and also does not have a sleeping bag compartment. It does, however, have a hydration sleeve for easy access to a water bladder, as well as a few exterior pockets for storing a few essentials.
- GoLite Peak Pack - This is one is a unisex pack that will work equally well for both men and women. You have three different size options, so you can get the size of backpack that is appropriate for you. It also weighs quite a bit less, at 1.6 pounds, or 737 grams, but only has room for 36 liters of gear. It also lacks a frame, so you wont want to carry anything beyond 25 or 30 pounds, but you likely wont need anymore than that if you plan right.
- Osprey Xenon 85 Backpack - At the other end of the scale there is the Xenon, which offers a full 85 liters, which is enough room to pack just about anything. You get plenty of features with a backpack like this, including a detachable day pack, multiple access points to the main pocket and plenty of external pockets as well. The price for all that, however, is weight. The Xenon weighs 6.3 pounds, or 2.8 kilograms, so definitely not a lightweight option.
- ULA Equipment Circuit - Another unisex option, this time from ULA Equipment. You have four length options to choose from, however, as well as four hip belt options, so you even though it's unisex, you will likely get a better fit, provided you are willing to do a little work and measure yourself. And with 68 liters of capacity for gear at just 36 ounces, or 1 kilogram of weight, it's a great option for those looking to save on weight.