12 Best Hiking Backpacks for Women for any Adventure (2022)
By Kay Rodriguez
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Updated July 17, 2023
Whether you’re planning a weekend hike or a month-long backpacking trip, you’ll need a place to store and carry your clothes, food, and gear on the trails. There are so many hiking backpacks for women available, it can be overwhelming to choose one that best suits your needs and preferences on the trails. After lots of testing and research, we created this guide to the best hiking backpacks for women (both backpacking and daypack styles) so you can choose the perfect pack for your adventures!
With the best hiking backpacks for women, there’s no “one size fits all” option that works for every body type and individual. That’s why we’ve created this guide, to provide a few of our favorite recommendations. We only included the very best women’s hiking backpacks in our list, ones we’ve carefully researched and checked out using all of the resources available to us.
Hiking Backpacks for Women vs. Men – What’s the Difference?
While unisex and men’s backpacks are typically designed for males, there are obviously plenty of women who need packs too! Many gear manufacturers have become more intentional and inclusive with their products, and women-specific daypacks are a direct result of this change. Daypacks for women are, simply put, specifically created to accommodate the dimensions of a woman’s body.
With women’s packs, you’ll usually find options for shorter statures that accommodate wider hips/chest areas and take a female center of gravity into account. Women’s backpack straps are typically a bit more curved (to fit a narrow frame) and offer a higher chest strap configuration. If the pack contains one, the frame often has a slightly shorter height in women’s packs than men’s. Often (but not always), women’s packs run a bit smaller in volume than men’s. Lastly, women-specific products often come in brighter colors and have more style options to choose from.
What to Consider When Buying Women’s Daypacks
Comfort & Fit
The #1 most important attribute when choosing between hiking backpacks for women is comfort and fit. If a backpack has all of the best qualities but it hurts to wear, it won’t be very helpful for you! A lot of the other criteria we’ve included in here can help you get a general sense for how a backpack will fit, but until you try it on, you won’t know for sure. We recommend buying with companies like REI who offer free returns/exchanges so you can choose the perfect pack for you.
The design of a backpack can greatly contribute to its comfort, fit, and functionality. Many elements play into the design of any backpack, including weight distribution and storage areas. Some things you may want to consider in different women’s daypacks include:
Hydration pocket & compatibility
Designs are also quite subjective, but you can typically tell pretty quickly which features best suit your needs and preferences.
Even the most comfortable packs can be cumbersome if they’re too heavy, and a pack’s weight is an important feature we always consider before purchasing. The lightest packs aren’t always the best because they often lack extra features, but packs with too many bells and whistles can also be prohibitively heavy.
Our recommendation is to determine the 2 or 3 features that are most important to you and find the lightest pack that has those features without too much extra bulk.
While we try to keep price largely out of the equation when we test gear, it’s definitely something you will consider! With gear, you often get what you pay for, but that doesn’t mean that the most expensive products are always the best daypacks for hiking. Most hiking backpacks for women cost between $100 and $400, with daypacks costing $100-250 and backpacking backpacks costing $200+. Set your budget ahead of time so you’ll know what you have to work with when evaluating your options.
One of Osprey’s best hiking backpacks for women is the Osprey Aura AG 65. As one of the lightest in their multi-day hiking lineup, the Aura is the most versatile backpack for weekends in the backcountry or long thru-hikes. Osprey’s proprietary Anti-Gravity (AG) frame provides maximum ventilation and weight distribution for the most comfortable fit of all of the backpacks on our list.
This pack has it all – lots of pockets for easy organization, padded shoulder and waist straps, a separate sleeping bag compartment, and an integrated rain fly. Everything is adjustable, including the top compartment, all of the straps, and the back mesh panel, to provide a customized fit no matter your size or dimensions. Members of our team have hiked all over the world in this backpack, from Shenandoah National Park to Patagonia, and we would wholeheartedly recommend it for any backpacking trip.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one option, look no further than the Deva 70, one of Gregory’s most robust women’s hiking backpacks. What makes these some of the best backpacks for hiking? It literally has everything you need, including 70L of space, comfy, padded straps, a sturdy suspension system, and lots of external pockets.
The most unique thing about this pack (as opposed to others on our list) is that it comes with a detachable daypack on the front, making this an ideal choice for multi-day backpacking trips where taking short hikes from camp is an option. We also love that the Deva comes in different sizes, which you can choose from depending on how much you need to carry on your adventures.
Deuter’s take on the classic backpacking pack – the Deuter Aircontact Lite – is an excellent, lightweight option for hikers looking for one of the most versatile hiking backpacks for women at a great price. The Aircontact Lite offers all of the best features of a robust backpacking pack without adding extra bulk or weight. With packs ranging in size from 35L to 65L, there’s an option for everyone in Deuter’s lineup, from overnight hikers to thru-hikers on the trails for weeks or months at a time.
With Deuter’s Aircontact Lite Backsystem, you’ll get a comfortable, ventilated fit that distributes weight and minimizes shoulder or back strain. All of the straps are padded to maximize comfort for hours on the trail at a time. The pack’s collar in the top loader extends for an added 10L of space when necessary, and several external pockets enable you to organize and store your essentials effectively. While it doesn’t come with a rain cover, you can buy one separately. People absolutely love this pack, and we’d recommend it as a budget-friendly alternative to Osprey any day.
A similar design to the Osprey Aura, the Osprey Ariel 65 offer all of the amazing features of Osprey’s hiking backpacks with a slightly more robust build. This pack is a little heavier than the Aura pack, and are designed for heavier loads and longer treks requiring a bit more stability and strength. With several compartments for storage, an integrated hydration sleeve, a separate sleeping bag compartment, and a custom molded back panel, the Ariel is one of the best and most comfortable hiking backpacks available.
Another helpful feature of the Ariel pack is the side zipper, providing quicker access to your gear than the singularly top-loading design of some other packs on our list. Our founder has used the Ariel 65 for 7+ years for travel and backpacking on 5 different continents – including backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies, Peru, and Patagonia – and her pack is still as comfortable and sturdy as it was when she bought it.
As the lightest and most affordable option on our list, the Granite Gear Crown3 60 is one of the best backpacks for hiking on our list. This pack has all the features we want in a solid hiking backpack, with a large, 60L compartment, several zippered external pockets on the top and straps for gear storage, and a framed suspension system for weight distribution.
Unlike some of the other packs on our list, the Crown3 also water repellent, so you won’t need a rain cover for most conditions. It also has a roll top closure to secure your gear.
One of the main drawbacks of this pack is that the straps are a little less padded than other options we’ve included, and this can cause a bit more discomfort on long hikes or with a heavier load. Keep this in mind if you prefer the more premium feel of the Osprey or Deuter packs above!
The REI Traverse 60 is one of REI’s most popular backpacks for multi-day hikes and travel, and it’s beloved by many avid hikers. This pack has everything you need, with a traditional top-loading design, a spacious top pocket for the essentials, a separated sleeping compartment, and padded straps for extra comfort.
On the outside, you’ll find a stuff sack/pocket and gear loops for your extra rain gear or trekking poles. There’s also an included rain fly to ensure your gear stays dry during wet weather. The main complaint about this bag is the straps, which are slightly less padded than others on our list. However, at its price, this is an excellent hiking backpack and one that will last your for many miles to come.
Granite Gear’s other popular pack – the Blaze 60 – offers a slightly more robust setup for carrying heavier loads with more structure than the Crown3 60 (above). This high quality backpacking pack has lots of pockets and space in a slim, streamlined design. There’s lots of padding in the straps, a spacious interior pocket, and a cushioned back frame for extra comfort on the trails.
Tall users (6 ft+) have reported that this pack does not extend long enough for maximum comfort, so keep that in mind if you’re on the taller side. Additionally, users have complained that too much weight in this pack can cause discomfort. As always, try it in at REI or at home to ensure the fit works before you take it out into the backcountry!
A lighter, slimmed-down version of the REI Traverse is its smaller sibling, the REI Flash 55. “Flash” is REI’s ultralight hiking line and this pack is one of the many excellent items they offer. At just over 2.5 pounds, this pack offers 55L of space without any extra bulk. We especially love this pack for ultralight hiking fanatics, as it’s got a super lightweight build with strong and comfortable suspension.
Some users have cited durability issues with this pack, especially in the backcountry. However, for the price and weight, the Flash 55 is a deal that can’t be beat.
When we go hiking, we want a daypack that’s comfortable, lightweight, and easy to use. Sporting the ultimate in comfort and practicality, the Osprey Tempest 20 (for women) and Talon 22 (for men) are some of the best hiking backpacks on the market today. Osprey makes top-of-the-line backpacks for hiking and travel, and the Tempest and Talon are no exception. Read out Full Review for the Osprey Tempest!
First of all, these hiking backpacks have a flexible frame, which helps provide structure and ventilation to the back while you’re out on the trails. The hydration system holds up to 3L of water and is located between the frame and the main backpack compartment, separating it from the rest of the pack and minimizing risk of water leakage onto your gear. We also love the waist strap pockets and the front stuff pocket, providing easy storage and access to your most important items.
We had to look hard to find anything we didn’t like about the Osprey Tempest/Talon packs. The only thing we wish could have been included is a rain fly for inclement weather (although you can buy one here). For the price, these are the best backpacks for day hikes out there, and we’d recommend them to anyone wanting a sturdy and comfortable companion on the trails.
A slightly more economical option, the Deuter Speed Lite 22 SL (for women) and Speed Lite 24 (unisex) are a close second for on our list of the best hiking backpacks for day hikes. What we love the most about these packs is that they’re built to minimize weight without compromising on comfort. You’ll find padded shoulder and waist straps and Deuter’s Lite Air back frame construction paired with ultralight materials and designs on these packs.
We love this pack because of its lightweight, straightforward design. The outer stuff sack and waist pockets provide easy storage for your essentials, and the daisy chains along the outside make it easy to clip on jackets and other gear for quick access. The inner pocket offers a hydration compartment and lots of space for snacks, jackets, and more.
Like the Osprey Tempest and Talon, these daypacks do not come with a rain fly, but you can buy one here. If you prefer a larger size, the Deuter Speed Lite also comes in 30L & 32L options as well.
One of our absolute favorite ultralight daypacks for hiking is the Cotopaxi Batac 24. Made from excess fabrics from other gear manufacturers, Cotopaxi’s Del Dia line of backpacks is fully sustainable and characterized by its super bright color-block style.
Each Batac 24 backpack is unique because the colors and designs depend on the fabrics they’re able to source at a given time. That means when you buy a Cotopaxi backpack, no one else will have the exact same one! While the Batac 24 does not have much in the way of padding, and there’s no frame, it’s easy to pack and is made of high-quality materials. The added laptop pocket makes this a natural fit for toting your gear on and off the trail.
For those looking for the best hiking backpacks on a budget, theREI Trail 25 (women’s and men’s versions) is our top pick. REI makes great gear, and their backpacks were designed for rugged trails and tough terrain. With its spacious storage compartments, padded straps, and streamlined design, the REI Trail 25 optimized for practicality without compromising on aesthetics.
With a 25L storage capacity and an internal hydration reservoir compartment, you’ll be able to store all the essentials – gear, water, snacks, clothes, and more. With its external daisy chains, you can hook on all your favorite gear using carabiners. This daypack also includes a rain fly, which is super handy for sudden downpours on the trails (and is a feature that’s left out in many of the other products on this list!).
What we don’t love is the lack of easy-to-access exterior pockets. While there are two water bottle pockets on the sides, there aren’t a lot of storage spots you can get to easily on the go. The upper pocket for keys and small essentials is a little more annoying to get to than on other packs, where it’s readily available. Otherwise, the Trail 25 is an excellent pack that comes at a fraction of the price of other options on our list.
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