Backpacking isn’t for everyone, but for many it’s the perfect way to detach from the world for a few days, leaving behind all the comforts and norms of day-to-day life to get some time to yourself, or with a few buddies, in the beauty, silence and solitude of the Great Outdoors.
If that sounds like something that appeals to you, at some point you will need to invest in a suitable backpack, one that can comfortably carry all you need for your adventure into the wilderness.
It’s worth noting from the get-go, that backpacking pack differs from a hiking day pack, primarily in size and capacity, but also in some capabilities, as you need that bit more when you are carrying your shelter and sleeping kit with you.
In this article we lay out some of the best backpacking packs for women in 2020. These are all available on the market today. They all, more or less, have all the functionality and features that you, as a backpacker or camper, should be looking for when getting a suitable backpack for extended trips into the wilderness, so anything from a few days up to a week plus.
All the backpacks listed here also score well across multiple review sites and multiple user reviews, so if you’re in the market for a new backpacking backpack, they’ll give you plenty of ideas and options to consider.
#1 Osprey Women’s Aura AG 65 Backpack
The Osprey Aura AG 65 Features Summary:
Best Uses: Backpacking for 2+ days, mountaineering, general use e.g. travel
The Osprey Aura AG 65 women's backpack is ideal for extended hiking trips, with a large number of features, plenty of storage and great durability. It is covered by the Osprey All Mighty lifetime guarantee, for free repair or replacement in case of defects or damage.
The Aura AG 65 has Osprey’s renown Anti-Gravity (AG) suspension system, for excellent weight distribution and stabilization with enhanced ventilation and comfort. The seamless, mesh-covered back panel allows ease of movement and the transfer of weight to the hip area and center of gravity.
Available in small or medium sizes, the Aura AG 65 also has an adjustable hip belt and harness for a customized fit, enhancing movement and comfort. Side and internal compression straps allow you to stabilize your load, while the removable top lid is also extendable for transporting bulky items.
Other noteworthy features include an internal hydration bladder sleeve, located within the main body for easy refills and Osprey’s renowned stow-on-the-go trekking pole storage system.
Dual front panel pockets with zipper access are handy for storing frequent-use items, while the smaller hip belt pockets are good for your phone and small items. Straps at the bottom of the pack can be used to attach a tent or sleeping pad. There is also a lower sleeping bag compartment with external access.
Price-wise, the Osprey Aura AG 65 is pretty expensive, it has, however, got a bit of a cult following, despite it being at the higher end of the price range for backpacks of this type. When you consider the durability and longevity of this backpack, alongside its many features, not least of all the lifetime guarantee, it’s easy to see why it is such a popular purchase and a good investment for the avid lady backpacker.
#2 Thule Versant Backpacking Pack For Women
Thule Versant Backpack Features Summary:
Best Uses: Backpacking for 3 to 5 days, Hiking, Camping
Outdoor brand Thule have developed the Versant Women’s Backpacking Backpack in a range of sizes with all the features that you need when hiking out into the wilderness. The 60L is an ideal size for a 3 to 5-days hiking, with all the space you’ll need for the essentials plus any extras.
The Versant is lightweight without compromising on durability, weighing only 3.88 pounds for the 60-liter version. Not bad for a robust, internal-framed backpack that is made from a combination of durable rip-resistant 420 denier Cordura nylon and 100 denier nylon.
In terms of fit, the Thule Versant backpack can be adjusted by 4.75 inches of torso length, with a possible hip belt adjustment of up to 4 inches, for a customized, comfortable fit. With your pack correctly adjusted to your body, heavy loads will be easy to carry, transferring the weight to your center of gravity at the hips.
The Thule Versant is specifically designed to fit women’s anatomy, unlike unisex backpacks. This extra comfort through design is further enhanced by the slight arch built into the frame that creates a channel promoting airflow for increased ventilation, keeping your back dry.
As far as features go, the Versant has a reasonable amount, however each of its features have been carefully designed to increase the backpack’s practicality without going overboard.
Firstly, there’s a large, roomy main compartment that can be accessed either by the large horseshoe shaped zipper or the side zipper, making access extremely easy. With the large top opening you can see all your gear at a glance, which is great for quickly locating a certain item.
To protect your gear from potential water damage through the zippers, Thule have developed the StormGuard system. The whole bottom of the pack is waterproofed, meaning you can set it down without worries, and when the rain starts, the included raincover can be accessed from this waterproof area.
The raincover itself is attached to the waterproof panel, so your pack is not only 100% covered from the rain, but also securely covered. Further proof of Thule’s excellent design work, the side pockets that are forward-slanted for easy water bottle access on-the-go, remain accessible with the cover over your pack, so you won’t have to stop and potentially wet everything if you’re hiking in damp weather and need to rehydrate.
Another weather-related feature on the Versant is its VersaClick waterproof rolltop pocket on the hipbelt. This pocket is great for keeping your valuables safe and to hand, whatever the weather.
The VersaClick system is customizable, so you can choose to add other VersaClick items to your hipbelt, such as a camera holster, accessory pocket or bottle sleeve, whatever suits your needs. Equally useful is the practical shove-it front pocket, its large size allows you to fit maps, snacks, sweaters, whatever you’re most likely to need on the go.
The Versant’s spacious top lid pocket can be removed for use as a handy sling pack. Complete with its own clip-on, secure strap system, it’s ideal for summit hikes or if you need to check your pack in anywhere. Further features include a sternum strap, two tool attachment points for axes or trekking poles and an included flash drive with a full explanation of all of the pack’s features.
In short, the Thule Versant is an incredibly well-designed backpack that fits well and is comfortable with a range of excellent features. For a backpack that’s high-middle in terms of price range for similar women’s backpacks, it represents excellent value for money.
#3 Gregory Octal 55 Ultralight Backpack
Gregory Octal 55 Features Summary:
Best Uses: Backpacking, fastpacking, through hiking, camping, travel
The feature-packed Gregory Octal 55 Liter backpack is ultra-lightweight to help you to keep your base pack weight down during multi-day hiking trips. Weighing in at just 2.52 pounds, with an aluminum internal frame and 100% nylon outer, the Octal is one of the lightest women’s backpacks for 3 to 5-day trips.
Available in three sizes, extra-small, small and medium, the Octal fits a wide range of torso lengths. Aside from the choice of size, Gregory have also built in several different comfort features including Aerospan Suspension, which delivers moisture-wicking ventilation through the back panel, while the dual-density foam harness and hipbelt, complete with targeted comfort zones, eliminate hotspots without adding weight through needless extra padding.
Compression straps also ensure that this backpack will remain comfortable and balanced throughout the length of your expedition.
The Gregory Octal has an impressive number of features, even more so considering its pared-back weight. There’s an included raincover, with easy access through the top pocket in case of sudden downpours.
Dual-side water bottle storage can be accessed without removing the backpack for easy rehydration. Alternatively, if you use a hydration system, you can take advantage of the internal hydration sleeve.
Storage-wise, the Octal has a removable top lid pocket, so if you don’t need that extra space you can leave it off and save a few extra ounces by using the built in ultra-light weather flap. There are also two zippered hipbelt pockets for frequent use items and valuables, and a large, stretchable mesh front pocket.
Further features include a sunglasses QuickStow system, for scratch-free storage on-the-go, trekking pole or ice axe attachment loops with upper shock locks and gear attachment points.
The Gregory Octal is competitively priced at around the mid-market price for this type of backpack. Its ultra-light weight, yet large capacity and range of features make it a great choice for trips stretching over several days, especially over extreme terrain, where you’ll benefit even more from its streamlined design, comfort foam system and low weight.
#4 Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 Backpack For Women
Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 Features Summary:
Best Uses: Backpacking, camping, travel
The Bora AR 61 by Canadian company Arc’teryx is a versatile, multi-day trip backpack with innovative features and style. With its weatherproof protection and wide range of features, the Bora AR 61 makes a great pack for heading off into the wilderness on trips of 4-7 days.
With a capacity of 61 liters, the Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 backpack has all the space you’ll need for an extended hiking trip. The durable outer body is made from a combination of 420 and 630 denier nylon with high exposure areas capped with weatherproof AC2 fabric for extra protection. Bearing this in mind, alongside the many features, an empty pack weight of just over 4.5 Ib (2.4 kg) is more than acceptable.
The Bora AR 61 is available in two different sizes, regular or tall, to accommodate a greater range of torso lengths. Using the patented GridLockTM system, the shoulder straps can be altered to accommodate different widths and heights, thus ensuring a custom fit for optimum comfort.
Other comfort enhancing features include a ventilated back panel to help keep your back dry, a thermo-molded frame, and the RotoGlideTM hipbelt. This technologically advanced hipbelt mimics your body’s movements and adjusts accordingly, rotating side to side or moving up and down. This reduces chafing and avoids hot spots, while effectively transferring weight to the hip area for a more comfortable journey.
Other notable features include side access zippers to the top-loading main compartments, for ease of access, with a detachable and extendible top lid, including a zippered compartment. This is great for carrying bulky items, such as a sleeping pad, between the main compartment and the top lid with the straps fully extended.
The Bora AR 61 also features a handy kangaroo pocket, mesh hipbelt pockets and 2 mesh side pockets which can hold 1-liter water bottles or trekking poles. There is also a hydration bladder sleeve, two ice ax loops and a sternum strap.
This versatile backpack is a great choice for an extended hiking trip in any season, however, it is rather expensive compared to similar models, although it does offer some unique features such as its RotoGlideTM hipbelt.
#5 The Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 60 OutDry Backpack
The Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 60 Outdry Backpack Features Summary:
Best Uses: Backpacking, camping, travel
The Ozonic 60 OutDry backpack by Mountain Hardwear is a versatile, waterproof pack that’s designed to keep your gear safe and dry on multi-day treks. Canadian company Mountain Hardwear are renowned for their outdoor performance products.
Depending on its size, this backpack has either a 62 (sml-med) or 66 liter (med-large) capacity, plenty of space for a 4-7 days on the trail. The main compartment has been rainroom tested after treatment with OutDry waterproofing technology, for enhanced weather protection.
The backpack’s main body is made from 210 denier Robic Nylon, with its heavy-duty bottom in 840 denier HT Ballistic Nylon. With an empty pack weight of 3.14 pounds, this backpack is reasonably light for its category.
The Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 60 backpack can be purchased in two sizes, to help accommodate a wider range of torso lengths. It also offers a customizable suspension that provides up to three inches torso adjustment, meaning a better fit for greater comfort and weight transfer to your center of gravity.
This is also assisted by the HardWave back panel, which conforms to your spine’s curvature, to better distribute weight.
With all the features you need on an extended trip, such as attachment points, multi-access compartments and zippered pockets, the Ozonic 60 is a practical, all-purpose backpack. Water bottles can be easily accessed via the dual side pockets, without having to remove the backpack.
The top compartment is removable and features an internal security pocket, complete with key clip. For extra security you can also detach the compartment from the top of the pack and clip it on to the front shoulder straps to carry it across your chest.
The Ozonic 60 is a mid-priced backpack for this range, and although it is waterproofed, it has had some quality and durability issues reported. In short, unless you specifically require a waterproofed backpack of this variety, there are plenty of others out there that are similar or lower priced with overall better quality.
#6 The Osprey Ariel AG 65 Backpack
Ariel AG 65 Features Summary:
Best Uses: Backpacking, trekking, camping, travel.
The Ariel AG 65 backpack for women, by market leaders Osprey, is one of the best backpacks designed for multi-day excursions. Not only is the lightweight Ariel AG 65 packed with all of the features you could ever need, it also comes covered by Osprey’s famous All Mighty Lifetime Guarantee. If there’s a problem, defect or damage to your Osprey backpack, Osprey will either repair or replace it free of charge.
Its 65-liter capacity makes the Ariel AG ideal for extended excursions, with plenty of space for up to 7 days on the trail. The main body is made from 210 denier nylon, with the bottom of the pack using a robust 500 denier nylon packcloth. Durable, yet lightweight, the Ariel AG only weighs 2.5 pounds, making it one of the lighter models in this category of backpack.
The Women’s Ariel AG 65 is available in four sizes, ranging from extra-small through large, making it one of the most adaptable in terms of fit, before even taking any customizable features into account. The adjustable, interchangeable IsoForm5 harness and custom molded hipbelt offer outstanding fit and comfort thanks to their adjustability and Air Mesh cushioned surface.
AG stands for AntiGravity, Osprey’s renowned suspension system, which combined with the LightWire tensioned frame, allows for an effective weight transfer providing both stability and comfort. Side compression straps also offer extra pack load balance.
In terms of features, the Ariel AG 65 is most definitely the one to beat. It has a large front J-zipper access to the main compartment for ease of use, complete with an internal compression strap to make sure that you’re making the most of the available space.
There is also a sleeping bag compartment with separate access and a removable divider. Removable sleeping pad straps are also an essential feature, allowing you to easily carry bulky items without taking up space in the main compartment.
Further features include a hydration bladder sleeve, ice ax holders, Osprey’s renowned stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachments and a sternum strap with an emergency whistle.
The Ariel AG 65 also features a removable top lid that converts into the DayLid daypack, complete with its own Air Mesh harness, ice tool loop and external hydration sleeve, making it ideal for summit hikes or short explorations away from camp.
While the Ariel AG 65 is at the top end of the price scale for this type of backpack, it is easy to see why, given the sheer number of features, and excellent quality and comfort, alongside the Osprey lifetime guarantee. Available in three colors and four sizes, there’s an Ariel AG 65 to suit every woman.
#7 Kelty Women's Coyote 60 Backpack
The Kelty Coyote 60 Backpack For Women Features Summary:
Best Uses: Hiking, backpacking, camping
The Women’s Coyote 60 Backpack by Kelty is a mid-range, popular backpack that is suitable for a range of backpacking trips. With a 60-liter capacity, the Coyote 60 has an optimum weight range of 40-60 pounds making it ideal for extended backcountry hikes.
The Coyote 60 has a 420-denier poly Small Back Stafford material construction, featuring poly 75 x 150 dernier on reinforced areas and a single LightBeamTM aluminum stay for great support, even with a heavy load.
Weighing in at 4.10 pounds, the Coyote 60 is around the average weight for a multi-day hiking trip backpack, although there are several others that are lower in weight.
In terms of comfort and fit, the Coyote performs well, featuring a woman specific PerfectFIT suspension and on-body adjustment systems. Side compression straps help to keep the load central and balanced, while the Hex Mesh coated back panel, shoulder straps and hipbelt provide comfort and lumbar support.
The Coyote 60 is not short on features, with plenty of compartments and pocket space. It is a top-loading backpack, complete with separate sleeping bag compartment. The side holster water bottle holders are slightly forward angled, enabling you to access your supply without having to take your pack off. This backpack is also hydration system compatible.
There are dual zippered hipbelt pockets, a large front zippered pocket with internal compartments and key clip, a pass-through behind the zippered pockets and a stretch-front shove-it pocket for easy on-the-go access.
Further features include dual pick-up handles, a sternum strap, two hide-away ice axe loops and trekking pole storage. For summit hikes and exploring around camp the top lid detaches and converts into a sling pack.
The Kelty Women’s Coyote 60 is competitively priced around the mid-range for this style of backpack. With its wealth of features and excellent organizational lay out, the Coyote 60 is a popular choice for extended hiking trips.
#8 Arc'teryx Bora AR 49 Backpack For Women
Arc'teryx AR 49 Backpack Features Summary:
Best Uses: Hiking, short backpacking trips of 2 to 3 days, camping, travel
Canadian company Arc’teryx have created the high-end Bora AR 49 backpack with advanced hipbelt technology and zonal weather protection making it ideal for two to three-night trips in the great outdoors.
Weighing 4.69 pounds, the sturdy Bora AR 49-liter backpack is a little heavier than your average backpack of this capacity and is available in two sizes, regular or tall. The durable pack body is made from 420 and 630 denier nylon fabrics with high exposure areas capped with weatherproof AC2 for added protection from the elements.
Like most Arc’teryx backpacks, this pack features a thermo-molded Tegris® frame and aluminum stays for strength and support, enabling an effective weight transfer to your center of gravity. The GridLock shoulder straps can be adjusted to fit your individual width and height for a custom fit, making the Bora 49 extremely comfortable to carry.
This comfort is further enhanced by the RotoGlide™ hipbelt. This patented technology allows the hipbelt to move with your body, adjusting to your changing back length by rotating from side to side and moving up and down to prevent chafing and hot spots.
The Bora 49 has plenty of practical features and storage possibilities, featuring side pockets that can hold either one-liter water bottles or trekking poles. The cushioned hipbelt has dual mesh pockets, while the front of the pack features a kangaroo pocket for easy-reach access.
The main compartment is top loading with a removable and extendable top lid, meaning you can transport bulky items, such as a sleeping pad, without taking up valuable space in the main compartment. The Bora 49 is also hydration pack compatible and comes complete with a sternum strap and two ice axe loops.
While the Bora 49 is smaller than other multi-day hiking backpacks, its price remains at the very top end of the scale, although it does feature some innovative technology. If you’re looking for a backpack for several nights on the trail, you might be best looking at a larger backpack.
#9 REI Co-op Traverse 65 Backpack For Women
REI Co-op Traverse Backpack Features Summary:
Best Uses: Hiking, backpacking, camping, travelling, general use
Outdoor specialists REI have created the Traverse 65 Women’s Backpack for weekend trips in the wilderness and longer multi-day expeditions. Using their extensive know-how REI have incorporated the most popular and practical features into a competitively priced great all-rounder.
The Traverse 65-liter backpack weighs 4.11 pounds in a size small and is made from durable, recycled double-ripstop 200 denier nylon with a heavy-duty bottom made from 420 denier recycled nylon Oxford fabric.
Available in three sizes, extra-small, small and medium this backpack also adjusts for a custom fit with torso adjustments and adjustable, swappable shoulder straps and hipbelt. REI’s UpLift™ Compression technology, which uplifts the load, helping to bring it in over your center of gravity, further adds to comfort levels.
Featuring a hybrid trampoline back panel for comfort and ventilation, this backpack also comes with a padded foam hipbelt complete with REI’s ActivMotion technology. This enables the hipbelt to move independently of the rest of the pack, allowing greater balance and a more comfortable, stable carrying experience.
The Traverse 65 comes with a whole host of tried-and-tested, popular and essential features. Its top-loading design makes for easy access, while the front J-zipper makes it easy to access your gear while you’re out without having to unpack.
For organized storage there are plenty of pockets, including two long, zipped front pockets, a pouch, two hipbelt pockets for your phone and other valuable or frequent use items, as well as two forward slanting water-bottle pockets so you don’t have to remove your pack to access your bottle.
Other features include a sternum strap, an integrated rain cover, bottom straps for attaching bulky items, twin tool loops and trekking pole tip grips. The Traverse is also hydration system compatible. The top lid is removable and can be easily transformed into a day pack for day trips around camp, with its own straps.
The Traverse 65 is a mid-priced backpack for this category of hiking backpack. It is the direct result of REI’s specialist outdoor knowledge and has all of the features you need on an extended trip out to the wilderness.
Where to Start When Choosing a Backpack
If you are totally new to this, it can get confusing when you start to look into it. There are so many options to choose from when trying to find the right backpack for you, and the prices vary so widely, it can be difficult to know where to start.
There are numerous things you need to think about, but first and foremost, you need to think about capacity. A backpacking backpack, will typically run from 50 to 75 liters (but that can be a little less or more). The reason you need more capacity, is that you need to carry your shelter, typically a tent, and your sleeping kit with you.
If you are just heading out for a day out on the trail, then this is much too big, and a day pack is what you need. Now, even between day packs and a backpacking pack, there can be a lot of daylight. A typical day pack could be 25 liters and a backpack, as we have already indicated is up at 65 liter (and beyond) mark.
What about the in between? There are indeed packs in the 30 and 40 liter marks, as well as above 80 liters. What are they for? Well really, it depends what you need them for. For example, if you're a hike leader, a 25 liter day pack may not be enough to carry all the extras you as a leader should be carrying e.g. a bothy bag, safety equipment, etc.
I don't want to stray too far into that, but hopefully it helps to illustrate a point, namely that you need to know what you need your pack for. Typically, for a few days plus backpacking, you need in and around a 65 liter backpack. If that still sounds right, you're in the right place 🙂
We go into the specifics of what you should look for in our backpack buying guide, but as a quick guide, we have listed out the key things in the bullets below:
- Internal Frame or External Frame - We recommend you always go with an internal frame
- Capacity - as above, how much do you need to carry
- Weight - You'll be carrying this on your back so light is good
- Fit - It of course needs to fit well, and be easily adjustable for comfort, etc.
- Features - Attachment points for tools, easy access pockets, detachable day pack, etc. What do you need?
- Ventilation / Air Flow - Does the pack allow your back and torso to breathe when wearing it
- Price - What is your budget? As with anything you can spend a lot of money on a good backpack so know your limit
And that's just some of the things to think about. As you can see, there are a lot of factors involved, so it is a good idea to get very clear about what you need and what you would like to have, keeping functionality and comfort at the forefront of your buying decision
So as you can see, there are a wide variety of backpacking packs for women in 2020 available today, and as you can also see, a broad range in terms of price and budget. The quality available is really top notch and keeps getting better.
It's worth mentioning, that in our opinion, broadly speaking, you get what you pay for, so if you're a serious backpacker, it's advisable to get one of the pricier options, simply because they are of a better quality.
It's all about what you need though, and one of the less expensive options might do the job just fine. It is fundamentally important to know your requirements for what you need your pack for, before you purchase.
We really hope you found this article useful, if you did, please like and share it around your networks 🙂 We will be updating it as newer and better packs come online. With technology ever advancing, new and improved packs are coming out onto the market regularly.