The Best Hiking Backpacks for Women

29 jul. 2019

It sounds counterintuitive, but smaller hikers may not actually need to carry lighter packs, say researchers at Kansas State University. When Michael O’Shea, Ph.D. led trips, the physics professor noticed that some of the largest students struggled to carry their bags hiking, while smaller students could manage a heavier load.

His explanation: As a person’s size increases, their strength doesn’t increase proportionally. “When you’re choosing how much to carry, your fitness and training is a much more important variable,” says OShea. “You have to experiment. Start with a lightweight pack (20 to 25 pounds) and hike for an hour, see how you feel. You’ll either discover you can take on more, or find your limit.”

For day trips, the fit of the hiking backpack is less important, since you’ll be carrying less. But as your pack weight increases, it becomes more and more important to get professionally fitted. These six new hiking backpacks for women, from everyday bags to multi-day backpacker packs, are designed for women’s bodies, so you can carry your load comfortably.

Best Everyday Backpack/Light Hiking Bag

The North Face Route Rocket lightweight pack may have been designed with rock climbing in mind, but it makes for the perfect travel- and hike-friendly backpack as well. The carbon-coated Shredstop™ fabric is weather- and scratch-resistant, meaning you can drag it on all your urban and outdoor adventures without messing with its chic exterior. Use the hydration sleeve and hip belt when you're hiking or biking, or opt-out when you're just running around town.

Best Hiking Backpack for a Snow Adventures

The Dakine Heli Pro hiking backpack has a secure waist belt, fleece-lined pocket to protest your goggles or sunglasses, and even straps to carry your skis or snowboard, so you can comfortably climb for some backcountry skiing. Choose this “blue flowers” print—the fabric is made completely from recycled plastic bottles.

Best Backpack for a Half-Day Hike

The Camelbak Women's Daystar 16—with enough room for books, lunch, and a layer—has a shorter torso length to better fit women and an S-curve harness for a better fit that won’t chafe your chest. It has a built-in water reservoir for all-day hydration and external attachment points where you can stash your trekking poles. And, of course, it comes with a built-in hydration pack that holds enough water for 2+ hours on the trail. (Pssst. Did you know all that time hiking comes with all these health benefits?)

Best Hiking Backpack for Long Day Hikes

The REI Co-op Trail Hydro 30L Hydration Pack has everything you'll need in a daypack when hitting the trail for a long day of hiking. Stay hydrated with a 3-liter water bladder and two side pockets for extra water bottles, and use the large top pocket to stash snacks, sunscreen, and other essentials. Two hip pockets come in clutch for items you'll need throughout your trek, like lip balm, your phone (to take pics, of course), and energy chews to keep you going strong.