Finding the right hiking backpack can be tricky, and finding one that fits your frame can be even more of a challenge. Unisex backpacks tend to skew larger, and what works for a tall, broad-chested man might not be as comfortable on women’s bodies. Thankfully, there are plenty of well-made women’s hiking backpacks that don’t just follow the shrink-it-and-pink-it method: They are actually designed to better fit our torsos and chests, and to sit comfortably but snugly around our hips, so we’re not constantly adjusting or aching out on the trail.
To find some of the best hiking backpacks for women available today, we asked adventurous photographers, bloggers, writers, and activists to share the bags they love to hike with. While not every recommendation is a women’s-specific pack, they have features that worked for each woman’s needs and cover a variety of experience levels, whether your kind of hike involves a stroll around your nearest state park or taking on the Appalachian Trail.
Brand new to the hiking game? Know that you can rent a pack from an outfitter like REI or Arrive Outdoors if you don’t want to invest in your own gear just yet. If you are ready to commit, consider the features you might want your bag to have before purchasing: mid-chest straps that connect your shoulder straps can boost your stability, for example, while the frame-versus-no-frame debate hinges on what kind of trip you anticipate taking. For times when you have minimal gear, frameless is probably the way to go; for longer outings, an internal frame can help keep weight evenly distributed. Below, 11 well-vetted hiking backpacks for women to consider.
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