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Packs For Women
Not Just a Matter of Gender, But Size

Any woman who has tried on gear designed for men knows that finding a good fit is a huge challenge. It is especially important to find a comfortable fitting backpack for women since the comfort (or lack of comfort) of your pack will make a trip either painful or incredibly fulfilling. Fortunately, many backpacking manufacturers have caught onto this and designed women-specific backpacks. What, you might wonder, does that mean?

Differences in Fit and Comfort:

Aside from the occasional purple, pink, or turquoise color scheme, the biggest differences between men’s and women-specific backpacks are fit and comfort. Across the board, manufacturers make women’s backpacks with a shorter torso length. The shoulder straps are typically set closer together in a V shape to account for women’s narrower shoulders. The chest straps are adjustable and they can either go above or below the bust (the standard fit is above). Hip belts on women’s packs are narrower, and set apart with more of a flared shape, but they are also adjustable, so that does not have to be the greatest concern. Often, the padding on a women’s pack is soft and has a plush feel.

Who Should Buy a Women’s Specific Backpack?

Most, but not all women should consider a women’s specific backpack. Women who have short-torsos and curvaceous hips should definitely consider a women’s backpack. Women who are tall, or have a longer torso, broad shoulders, and/ or narrow hips, might be more comfortable in a men’s backpack. Additionally, while the colors are sometimes more feminine, women’s packs are not necessarily only best for women. Young men with shorter torsos or men with wider hips might be better off in a women’s backpack as well.

Sizing for Women-Specific Backpacks:

Fitting a women’s backpack should follow all the same rules as a man’s pack. The main thing to remember is that the fit is about the torso length and not the overall height of a person. Sometimes a tall woman has a short torso and vice versa. Make sure to try carrying the backpack when it is filled with heavy items to ensure comfort in the hips and shoulders.

Volume of Women’s Backpacks:

Make sure to check the volume of the women’s backpack and double check that it is enough volume. Sometimes the women’s version of a men’s backpack has less volume, even though women need just as much space if not more than men.


Several companies were at the cutting edge of creating backpacks designed specifically for women. Dana Designs and Osprey were two of the women’s –specific backpack pioneers. Since then, most companies have followed including The North Face, Arc’teryx, Kelty, and REI. Make sure when purchasing a women’s specific pack that it really is different than the men’s version – not just a prettier color.


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