The 6 Best Backpacking Backpacks for Women (2024)

Best Overall Backpacking Backpack for Women

Osprey Renn 65



  • Comfort9.5

  • Ease of Use8.0

  • Weight8.5

  • Adjustability6.0

Weight: 3.6 pounds | Available Sizes: 50 L, 65 L


Exceptionally comfortable

Low profile allows for easy head movement

Lightweight, yet durable

Breathable mesh suspension

Great value


Fewer storage pockets

Set adjustment points can't be fine-tuned

These days, it's challenging to find a full-sized backpack that performs without costing an arm and a leg. Enter the Osprey Renn 65, a super comfortable backpack with a large capacity that sneaks in enough organizational features but maintains beautiful simplicity. The Renn took a unique approach to design, spreading the 65-liter load laterally. This design allows heavy loads to ride comfortably on your hips, with the comfortable mesh suspension doing much of the heavy lifting. The simple and user-friendly design of the Renn, complete with only the important features, makes it a great pack for those who want to take an uncomplicated approach to backpacking. This pack has roomy hip and brain pockets and includes a rain cover. Even though the Renn is one of the lowest-priced options we tested, it still boasts the comfortable award-winning Osprey suspension many outdoor enthusiasts love. The Renn 65 is a good choice for its unique, comfortable design and advantageous extra features. We wholeheartedly recommend this pack for most backpackers because of its simplicity and comfort.

You can fit almost anything in the roomy main compartment of the Renn 65, including bear canisters, full climbing ropes, and that box of backpacking pinot noir — you name it. The Renn, unfortunately, lacks the large, stretchy back pocket that is convenient for stashing layers, snacks, water filters, and the like. The excess straps and webbing are functional but not abundant, making it difficult to attach gear to the outside of your pack. The torso adjusters lock into one of four preset points, which prevents the fit from being fine-tuned. However, this is a small sacrifice for a lightweight, cozy, roomy, durable, comfortable and budget-friendly pack that accommodates most body shapes and sizes. If you're a backpacker who needs a lot of pockets and you're willing to pay a bit more, the Deuter Aircontact Core 60+10 SL - Women's will keep your gear highly organized and may be the pack for you.

Read more: Osprey Renn 65 review

Most Versatile Backpacking Pack

REI Co-op Flash 55 - Women's



  • Comfort6.5

  • Ease of Use8.0

  • Weight8.5

  • Adjustability7.0

Weight: 2.7 lbs pounds | Available Sizes: 55 L


Lightweight, smaller build

Customizable organizational systems

Massive large compartment

Beginner-friendly design

Versatile enough for single-day use


Compressive and weather-resistant roll-top closure


Rigid hip belts

Not designed for super-hauling

The REI Flash 55 has a smaller capacity than some of the other leading packs on the market, but it makes up for it in numerous ways. With a huge main compartment and movable external pockets and pouches, this is one of our first recommendations for beginner backpackers. Of course, we also recommend the Flash to veteran backpackers, but its user-friendly, customizable design is perfect for adventurers honing in their backpacking routines. The Flash is available in multiple sizes, all of which boast straightforward adjustments to accommodate a variety of body shapes and sizes. The dry bag style closure and removable upper compartment allow the Flash to transition from a 55L backpacking backpack to a large daypack that can hold everything you need for an afternoon at your local park.

The Flash is not built to hold as much gear as other packs; in some cases, this is very evident. The Flash can feel lumpy and unbalanced when loaded to the max, though easily rectified by using external compression features. Because this pack lacks some details like the swiveling hip and shoulder mounts of more tech-forward expensive packs, how this bag is packed determines how it feels on your body. When the Flash is packed and adjusted properly, its frame is supportive. However, the suspension is noticeably less burly when compared to other packs. The hip belts have rigid padding that some might find too stiff. For adventure seekers who want a lightweight, customizable, and functional do-it-all pack on a budget, we do not hesitate to recommend the updated Flash 55. However, if you're an adventure seeker who wants to pack all the luxuries comfortably, the Gregory Deva 60 may suit your needs better.

Read more: REI Flash 55 review

Best Pack for Super-Hauling in Comfort

Gregory Deva 60



  • Comfort9.0

  • Ease of Use7.5

  • Weight4.0

  • Adjustability7.0

Weight: 4.7 pounds | Available Sizes: 60 L, 70 L



Extremely comfortable

Plush padding




Overbuilt for lighter missions

Large frame might be uncomfortable for some

We don't often recommend taking more than you need into the backcountry, but with this comfortable load-hauler, you can bring (almost) as many luxuries as you'd like. The Gregory Deva 60 can haul everything you need to camp in deluxe style and luxurious comfort. Touting one of the thickest hip belts and suspension systems we've ever tested, your back and shoulders will feel fresh, even after many miles on the trail. We love the rugged and easy-access design of the Deva, especially the large U-zip opening that allows you to grab forgotten layers from the bottom of the pack. This pack has room for all your essentials and some well-placed pockets and storage solutions that make maintaining organization a breeze.

The Deva 60 is one of the heavier packs we tested. While its hefty suspension system makes heavy loads feel lighter, it does feel overbuilt for lighter adventures. The pack's weight never rubbed us the wrong way, but if you are an ultra-light backpacker looking for your new trail BFF, this nearly 5-pound pack might be more than you are interested in. However, the epic suspension, strong stability, and plush padding make the Deva our go-to choice for long days with heavy loads. If the Deva is too heavy, check out the Gregory Maven 65L for a pack that weighs a little less.

Read more: Gregory Deva 60 review

Best Ventilation and Adjustability

Osprey Aura AG 65



  • Comfort8.0

  • Ease of Use6.5

  • Weight5.0

  • Adjustability9.0

Weight: 4.5 pounds | Sizes Available: 50 L, 65 L


Highly adjustable


Useful number of pockets

Easy-to-remove top lid


The spring-loaded waistband is hard to get into


Suspension can feel bulky

The Osprey Aura AG 65 excites us to put it on and hit the trail because it has an incredible range of adjustability that easily accommodates many shapes and sizes. Our testers found this pack one of the easiest to adjust, even on the go. The suspension of the Aura is noticeably overbuilt, which can be overkill in certain situations. Even the hottest days are no match for the Aura's uniquely integrated hip belt that seamlessly connects to the back panel and maintains airflow through the whole thing.

The Aura lacks stability, which can be uncomfortable when a heavy pack is loaded with gear. Weighing in at 4.5 pounds, this is one of the heavier packs we tested, with a poor weight-to-volume ratio. However, if you despise a sweaty back and aren't doing too much scrambling or log-hopping, we recommend this breezy, highly adjustable pack.

Read more: Osprey Aura AG 65 review

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Best Organizational Systems

Deuter Aircontact Core 60+10 SL - Women's



Weight: 4.9 pounds | Available Sizes: 45+10L, 60+10L


Fantastic organizational systems

Breathable and plush back panel


Easy to adjust


Too tall for shorter people


The Deuter Aircontact Core 60+10 SL is a tall and slender backpack that will make adventurers who like organization super happy. With three access points into the main pocket and the ability to haul heavy loads in relative comfort, you can bring whatever you want into the backcountry — and remember where you packed it. Its split mesh back panel encourages airflow, and its torso adjusters are easy to use and fine-tune; it is helpful that the torso adjustments are anchored along a sliding system, which allows you to set it exactly where you want it. The Aircontact Core prioritizes pockets and pouches to help you stay organized on multi-day excursions.

While the Aircontact Core can haul super heavy loads of gear, the shape of the back isn't suitable for all body types. This backpack is only available in one size, and while it is very adjustable, it is also very tall. Shorter people might find their head movement hindered or feel like the bulk of the weight is riding high. All the extra features come at the cost of higher weight, which is worth noting but not a dealbreaker for a backpack that can lug mountains of gear. If you want to stay organized and bring whatever your heart desires into the backcountry, the Aircontact Core is a great choice for a great price. If you're seeking a more robust range of adjustable features, take a look at the Osprey Aura AG 65.

Read more: Deuter Aircontact Core 60+10 SL review

Best Ultralight Thru-Hike Inspired Backpack

Ultralight Adventure Equipment Circuit

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The 6 Best Backpacking Backpacks for Women (18)

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Read the Review



  • Comfort7.0

  • Ease of Use5.0

  • Weight9.5

  • Adjustability4.0

Weight: 2.7 pounds | Sizes Available: 68 L


Remarkably comfortable

Large pockets

Durable materials


Clean and simple design


Non-ventilated back panel

Lacks sleeping bag compartment and lid

Take a bag designed for ultralight users, upgrade the suspension, incorporate durable fabrics, and load it up with spacious pockets, and you have the ULA Circuit. Advertised as "the favorite child" by ULA, we tend to agree. The comfort of this model is impressive for a pack that rides against your back with just a thin layer of foam. The hip belt flexes to accommodate hips of varying angles and the choice of two differently shaped shoulder straps allows both men and women of different builds to get a great fit.

The Circuit may not have the most pockets of any bag we tested, but it has all the right ones in all the right places — making gear easy to grab or stow away. The cavernous main compartment is easy to load but lacks a sleeping bag compartment with bottom access. The non-ventilated back panel is likely to induce sweating for hot weather pursuits. Yet with uncommon comfort and thoughtful organization systems, we recommend the Circuit to anyone looking to cut weight without sacrificing organization and durability.

Read more: Ultralight Adventure Equipment Circuit review

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Why You Should Trust Us

As always, we conduct thorough market research for every update, scouring manufacturers' websites and backpacking forums. We checked out hundreds of models before purchasing the top options to put through the rigors of our hands-on testing. We identified four key performance areas to focus on: comfort, ease of use, weight, and adjustability. While giving these packs a beating in the snowy Colorado mountains, the harsh desert landscape of the southwestern United States, the muddy, rugged peaks of Vermont, and the sand and scree-laden crags and valleys of coastal California, we paid attention to the tiniest of details, like ease of adjustability for different users, comfort when fully loaded, and the functionality of the pockets and features. The resulting review is a great starting point if you're looking for a women's backpacking pack. We found packs to suit women of all shapes and sizes while taking special care to assess what type of adventurer would prefer each pack.

Our testing of women's backpacking backpacks is divided into four different metrics:

  • Comfort (40% of total score weighting)
  • Ease of Use (25% weighting)
  • Weight (20% weighting)
  • Adjustability (15% weighting)

This review is brought to you by a trio of detail-oriented, adventure-savvy GearLab contributors — and the family and friends they round up to backpack with them. This group of adventure-forward ladies includes full-time traveler Elizabeth Paashaus, adventure lover Madison Botzet, and trail connoisseur Ally Arcuri.

Elizabeth travels the country, seeking outdoor adventure with her family, from canyon exploration in the deserts of Utah to thru-hiking Vermont's Long Trail. She has been backpacking for over two decades, including all 2193 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a honeymoon thru-hike of the John Muir Trail, and multi-week excursions in the canyons of Southern Utah.

Madison grew up backpacking and camping in the rugged mountains in Montana every summer. Being raised to love the outdoors, she takes advantage of every weekend she can get to squeeze in a backcountry adventure, either on foot or skis. For the past two summers, she worked with at-risk youth, leading them in whitewater rafting, hiking, and backpacking.

Ally grew up in the Lake Tahoe basin, surrounded by towering mountain peaks. A trail runner through and through, Ally's ideal vacation includes a multi-day excursion with plenty of peaks to bag. Ally has backpacked sections of the Pacific Crest and the John Muir Trails in California, throughout the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and through the damp rainforests of Costa Rica.

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We tested packs in mountain ranges, forests, coastal dunes, and grasslands across the US and more.

Analysis and Test Results

Each pack has been rated and ranked on its comfort when carrying loads, how much it weighs, the functionality of its organizational systems, and its adjustability for varying body sizes and types. Our goal is to help you find the right pack for your specific needs. Keep reading to learn about the super-haulers, comfort queens, and top performers.

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Why Buy a Women's Pack

We tested packs designed specifically for a woman's body shape or offer interchangeable components to get the right fit for women. Many brands, like Osprey, Granite Gear, and Gregory, offer a men's version of the same pack. The most significant differences between men's backpacking packs and women's packs are the shape of hip belts and shoulder straps.

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Women's backpacks are designed to fit the "average" female torso better. The shoulder straps and back panels are narrower, which leads to better biomechanics when hauling loads of gear up a mountainside. The hip belts of female-specific packs are typically curved or molded for curvier bodies, and the adjustment options are often within a smaller size range for women. When combined with the expertly designed suspension, this hip belt style allows the pack's weight to rest predominately on the hips as it should. A woman's center of gravity is typically lower than a man's, and women's specific designs will sometimes optimize load carrying with a lower, wider bag. By holding the bulk of the weight closer to our centers of gravity, we can feel more steady and stable on the trail. These fit and sizing changes often make a women's specific model more comfortable and better fitting than a men's or unisex model.

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Most women will find a women's specific pack to offer a better fit, but just because you are a woman and the pack says "women" doesn't mean it will be the right fit for you. Women with larger frames and broader shoulders may find men's models to fit them better, and men with narrower shoulders or curvier builds may find a more comfortable fit from a woman's pack. With any pack, it is worth spending the time to get the correct size and shape for your body. When it comes to backpacking, one size does not fit all. It helps to dial in what you are looking for before taking to your local gear shop.


While we evaluate performance, features, and function during product scoring and ranking, we know that price matters too. The best-performing products win our top awards, and our best-value awards are granted to products that offer up the best balance of performance at a reasonable price. Value is relative, based on your wants and needs, so we endeavor to keep that front and center as we help you suss out which pack will be your new trail companion.

This category has high-performing packs on both ends of the price spectrum. The Osprey Renn 65 offers the best performance-to-value ratio, even outcompeting the most expensive packs. The air mesh suspension backing is supremely comfortable, allowing you to haul up to 65L of gear without breaking your back or the bank. Impressively, the Renn earned the highest total score across all our testing while costing the least. A truly excellent value.

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The Gregory Deva has outstanding comfort and support but is also pretty costly. Its relative value is high, but the cost might be too much for some backpackers to swallow. Conversely, the REI Flash 55 is a killer pack for a significantly lower price tag. The Flash has removable organizational systems, a durably built body, and a smaller-than-average frame, all of which come together to make this pack one of our go-to recs for beginner backpackers on a budget.

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How comfortable is this pack when fully loaded? What about when you've eaten most of your food, drank all your water, and aren't carrying as much weight? Does the load sit comfortably on your hips? Does the suspension system allow for air flow behind your back? Are there contact points that lead to discomfort, chafing, or bruising? These are some of the questions we asked while testing each pack's comfort and suspension.

The intended purposes of the models in this review are to carry your food, shelter, and more on your back day in and day out, so comfort is essential. Much of a pack's comfort comes from its suspension system and the textiles and padding used to construct its contact points. Fast and light backpackers often have to sacrifice comfort and spaciousness to cover ground more quickly. Meanwhile, the glampers will happily carry more weight to cook a gourmet meal, listen to music and partake in their favorite beverage while sitting in a comfortable chair. As we mentioned, it is super helpful to sort out what kind of backpacking you will be doing to determine what style of pack will suit you the best.

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Standouts in this metric are the Gregory Deva, the Osprey Aura AG, the Deuter Aircontact Core, and the Osprey Renn. All four are plush, comfy packs our testers were excited to wear. Both Osprey packs provide superior ventilation from their trampoline back panels. Each boasts great suspension and comfort while emphasizing other details, creating a unique experience. The ULA Circuit is more comfortable than anticipated for an ultralight pack due to its excellent suspension and padding, which deliver exceptional comfort for loads of all sizes.

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Regarding comfort, we also consider the width and thickness of the shoulder straps. Women with smaller shoulders may find a narrower strap gives them more freedom of movement, while broader-chested women will appreciate the balance distribution of a wider strap. The Big Agnes Garnet 60L features shoulder straps that taper in significantly. Our narrow-shouldered tester loved how secure this pack felt across the upper body, while our broader-shouldered tester found the taper of the straps to be a bit restrictive. The Flash 55 has a smaller frame than some, making it another great option for backpackers with more petite upper bodies. On the flip side, the Arc'teryx Bora 60 has a large, stiff back panel that suited our larger testers well but felt imposing on our smaller testers.

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Some packs have a suspension system with a straight, rigid frame with one or two aluminum stays tied into the hip belt, allowing the weight to transfer down to the hips where you want it. With a hip belt attached to the frame, weight is easily transferred to the hips. Be aware, in this style, if the hip belt doesn't tie closely enough to the frame, the loads can sag onto your shoulders, which can grow uncomfortable quickly. The ULA Circuit and Osprey Ariel 65 are two of our favorite packs with hip belts attached to the frame. Some models, like the Gregory Maven 65L and Deva 60, have an extra curve of padding in the lower back, just above the waist belt. The Bora 60 has an exceptionally prominent lumber pad, which can polarize its comfort. To some, this feature is a welcome help in carrying heavy loads, while to others, it's a jutting lump in the lower back that creates discomfort immediately.

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Other packs accomplish this weight distribution using a curved frame design that rests against your shoulder blades and hips while opposing the natural curve of your back in between. Stand-off, mesh back panels, like on the Osprey Aura and Renn, allow airflow and let your back breathe.

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The packs that offer the most breathability are preferred for warmer climates and for folks who run hot. The space between the body and the main compartment doesn't compromise stability in well-built packs. The Renn is a standout pack when it comes to back panel breathability. Its mesh back panel sits away from the pack, allowing the breeze to flow through. Even in cooler climates, the comfort of this back panel is hard to ignore. The bounce and pleasant fit of the Renn's well-designed back panel is one of the reasons why it earned a near-perfect score in our comfort and suspension metric.

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While we do not have any stability concerns regarding packs that secure the weight slightly away from the body, some backpackers prefer the load to be closer to the body. Because of how far the technology behind backpacking backpacks has come, this is all a matter of personal preference. If you like a thick lumbar pad for support, the Arc'teryx Bora and Gregory Deva are great choices. The Bora offers swiveling in the lumbar area and across the shoulder pads, allowing the pack to move as you do. Swivels like this allow your body to move freely but can feel like they will throw you off balance when the load is exceptionally heavy. The Deva is our go-to recommendation when it comes to heavy loads. Rather than featuring swivel technology, it relies on users finding a perfect fit for comfort and stability. With a super-built suspension system, chunky padding, and external compression features, the Deva is a stellar pack for ultimate comfortable load hauling. The Deva is a fantastic option if you want a pack that rides close to your body without turning your back into a sauna.

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Beyond a pack's suspension, shape, and padding, the hip belt and shoulder strap adjustability also significantly contribute to its comfort. Models like the Deva, the Circuit, the Aura, and the Ariel provide thickly padded hip belts that help soften the squeeze. Ultralight contenders like the REI Flash cut down the padding to save weight, and because its users will be carrying lighter loads, the extra padding isn't always a necessity. The Flash, specifically, strikes a great balance of strong lumbar support and rigid padding while maintaining a lightweight. For women with larger hips, models with extendable padding go a long way to add comfort. The Gregory Maven, the Aura, and the Ariel are all packs we tested where you can extend the padding out so it wraps farther around wider hips. The Deva has a well-contoured hip belt with Velcro-secured, extendable padding.

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Ease of Use

Each pack is rated on its ease of use, which includes evaluating the organizational systems it comes equipped with and how easy it is to find your way around the nuances of each pack's nooks and crannies. Some packs come loaded with specified pockets to delineate where each piece of gear should go. Others eliminate pockets for you to develop your own packing system in their pared-down design.

But how helpful is a phone-specific pocket that you can't easily access when you need to peek at the map you downloaded? Some packs have large back pockets with no organizational features, leaving it up to you to decide which items should be stored on the bottom versus the top of the load. Other packs have sleeping bag-specific pockets that many backpackers find crucial because it allows the rest of the load to stay organized within the main body of the pack.

First, we'll look at how a pack's organizational systems relate to ease of use. Organization strategies range from minimal with the Osprey Renn and ULA Circuit to very complex like the Osprey Ariel 65, Deuter Aircontact Core, and Mountain Hardwear PCT 65. The latter three packs have more than five enclosed compartments and additional open pockets for easily accessing items like your smartphone, rain jacket, or favorite binoculars.

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The REI Traverse includes not one but two water bottle holsters that are easy to use. It also has a removable bain that transforms into a handy daypack with only a few clips. The REI Flash comes equipped with movable pockets, including one specifically made to fit a phone, and adheres to the sternum strap. The Deva has a special little loop for stashing your sunglasses within reach. Most of the packs we tested have specified loops and bungees for stashing trekking poles. Many of those, like the Arc'teryx Bora 60 and Big Agnes Garnet 60L, feature these loops on the back of the pack. While they are easy to grab when needed, stowing requires removing the pack or asking a friend to help get them back into their loops.

Much like our favorite running-centric hydration packs, external bungees and loops can drastically change each pack's ease of use. Attaching items to a pack's exterior is easy and helps keep things you need access to within arm's reach. One of the things we love most about the Deva is that it has adjustable straps at the base of the pack for you to carry your tent or sleeping bag. Many of our testers prefer this to an enclosed pocket, but other backpackers prefer the compartment. Inside or outside, this organizational component is hugely helpful because it frees up prime real estate inside the pack while allowing you to securely transport some of the most necessary backpacking items. Knowing where your gear is stashed can make or break your experience when you arrive at your camp.

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Beyond just being able to attach gear to the outside of the pack, external bungees can act as an additional compression system, securing the load closer to the supportive frame of the back and your body. A great example of this is the Garnet. This pack uses adjustable Z-straps bilaterally to tamp down the load securely. We have found that the ability to compress our packs externally is helpful, especially when the packs have more advanced organizational systems. When often notice that utilizing specific compartments can create a lopsided load, especially if you are toting a bear can. You can stay organized and explore more comfortably by having externally adhered straps and bungees to secure your gear. Another way to secure your load is with a roll-top, dry bag-like closure, just like the Flash 55 employs.

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The level of organization you desire ultimately comes down to your personal preference and developing systems that work with the pack you have. Packs that offer U-zip or lateral zippers for access to the main compartment can be key when you forget to leave your rain jacket at the top of your pack to grab easily when the skies open up. The U-zip feature of the Deuter Aircontact Core is impressively easy to use. On the other hand, those extra zippers and fabric hems add weight to your pack. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Osprey Renn and the ULA Circuit are great examples of how more minimalistic packs with fewer pockets can be easy to use.

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Another system that we paid critical attention to is the hydration system of each pack. Most packs have side pockets for water bottles and are hydration bladder compatible. We typically use both systems when we head out into the backcountry.

Drinking water is incredibly important when you are out scaling peaks and working up a sweat, especially when backpacking at altitude. Therefore, it is paramount to have easy access to your water, either via a hose that is snaked through the top of the pack and down the chest rail or via a bottle stashed in a side pocket.

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Functional side pockets are crucial for hydrating on the go. The side pockets made of stretchy mesh are easier to get Nalgene water bottles in and out of trailside. We favor packs with these easy-access pockets on both sides instead of only one side. Some side pockets are made of inflexible ripstop material, which tends to be more durable but less secure and can dump your belongings when you lean forward. Packs with forward-tilted side pockets make grabbing your water bottle easier, but can also place tall water bottles in the way of your elbows as you walk. When choosing your backpack, it's important to consider what types of hydration vessels you already have or are planning to get for your backpacking adventures.

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We started the analysis of this metric with its most obvious test — weighing each pack. However, that's far from where it ended. We also measured the volume of each backpack and calculated weight-to-volume ratios to start understanding what the number on the scale gets you. We added to our analysis the functionality of each model to dive into what trade-offs are made for lighter and heavier packs. We considered if a heavier pack may be worth it for exceptional features and functionality or greater durability. And we considered if a lighter pack will still provide the comfort, adjustability, and longevity you need for many years of enjoying the backcountry.

First, we weighed each pack and took notes. All the backpacks in our lineup weigh between 2.5 and 5.0 pounds and range from 55 to 70 liters of carrying capacity. We wanted to see which packs best handled light, moderate, and heavy loads. The lightest packs do not always provide the best comfort when hauling gear up a mountain. We painstakingly tested each pack with a 10-pound, 19-pound, and 33-pound load, taking notes on our phones as we huffed and puffed along sprawling trail systems. Some packs felt wobbly and unstable when loaded with a scant amount of gear, including some of our award-winning products. Certain suspension systems gave the illusion of buckling beneath 30+ pounds when we added our luxury backpacking items. And others took on even more weight with relative ease — like the Osprey Aura AG.

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While we love some of the impressively light models, some sacrifice comfortable extras and trim favorite features to make this possible. The Granite Gear Blaze 60 is one such pack. It weighs just 3 pounds with a 60-liter capacity, giving it an excellent weight-to-volume ratio. And while our male testers love this pack, our female testers found that it struggled to comfortably accommodate taller ladies, and its lack of ventilation left many a sweaty back.

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The REI Flash is a great example of a back with a back-to-basics style. It offers comfort but without an overbuilt frame. The result is a smaller-feeling backpack that is great for shorter trips or adventurers looking to explore without bringing the kitchen sink. The Flash weighs just 2.7 pounds when all its optional features are attached to the pack. Removing these extras (like the pocket specifically for a phone and the hip belt pockets) makes it possible to drop that pack weight to just 2 pounds.

The more massive packs often provide more support and comfort, so we refuse to recommend lightweight packs for all outright. If you like bringing heavy or copious amounts of gear, the additional support of a well-built pack is worth its added weight. The Gregory Deva and Osprey Ariel weigh 4.7 and 4.8 pounds, respectively. Both have strong support systems and burly frames. Their additional architecture and deliberate suspension systems allow heavy loads to be carried comfortably.

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Many heavier packs come with more compartments and special features for organization. If you know you struggle to keep your gear straight while on the trail, adding extra weight for specified compartments is a great idea. On the flip side, if you are motivated by an ultralight trail life and are happy to tote your goods in more of a haul bag style pack, these extra pockets and straps may be just extra pounds and ounces for you.

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The ULA Circuit borders on being an ultralight pack, weighing 2.7 pounds. With a 68-liter capacity, it is a gear-hauling beast. It has a sturdy and close-fitting frame that remains reasonably supportive, even beneath heavy loads. The Circuit offers fewer organizational and customizable features but can haul massive amounts of gear, giving it one of the best volume-to-weight ratios in our lineup.

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Getting a pack fit to your unique build and packing style is critical when wearing your house on your back, especially for days on end. Most backpacking packs for women come in multiple sizes, just like clothing. However, many offer additional adjustment options that allow you to tailor the fit more specifically to your precise size and shape. We pulled in as many friends as possible to help test the full range of sizes for each pack in our lineup. Every pack's sizing adjustments were tested on women of diverse heights, builds, shapes, and sizes. We found that some packs are easy to adjust on the go if they don't feel quite right, while others take more time and effort. Packs that scored well in this category allowed for a full range of adjustments.

The Garnet requires more effort to adjust, but its multiple height options ensure a near-perfect fit on a spread of body sizes. The Flash is easy to adjust on the go and suits smaller-bodied people well because of its unimposing frame. The Aircontact Core adjusts via sliding mechanisms that allow for fine-tuning the size, while the Renn only offers a few set points.

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The Osprey Aura AG and Ariel also scored highly in this metric since they offered different compression adjustments and were easy to adjust on the fly. The Deva is a size-inclusive pack but requires plenty of muscle and extra time to adjust fully — some of that Velcro is tough! The Bora offers a large spread of sizes along the back panel and shoulder straps, but its overall width is less suitable for small backpackers. We found packs with wide back panels to be less comfortable on smaller testers, while packs with smaller back panels could accommodate a wider variety of shapes.

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Those with curvier hips will appreciate models with extra waist belt adjustability in extendable padding, such as the Gregory Maven, Osprey Aura AG, and Osprey Ariel. Another bump in adjustability went to the Aura and Ariel because they both have extendable shoulder straps that are great for bigger-chested ladies to ensure that the straps fit properly without rubbing.

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It is standard for packs to have adjustable shoulder straps and sternum straps that slide vertically up and down sternum rails. On female-specific packs, the shoulder straps are typically tapered toward the centerline. While we cannot speak for all women, this tapering, combined with multiple adjustment points, is very accommodating. As always, we recommend trying packs on before making the purchase, but we remain satisfied with the inclusivity of many of the backpacking backpacks we tested.

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The right pack will determine whether you enjoy your outdoor experience or suffer annoyance and discomfort. However, choosing the right pack can be difficult. Consider your priorities for packing and your intended environments and seasons. Have an expert measure your torso length to recommend the right-sized pack, then try on your options before purchasing — or make sure the website you're buying from has a good return policy if the pack doesn't fit how you'd hoped. We hope this review has provided helpful insight into your search through the expansive world of women's backpacking packs.

The 6 Best Backpacking Backpacks for Women (2024)


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