Finding the right backpack for your outdoors activity can be a pain. Women's backs are physically built differently and a body structure that demands a unique fit, different preferences (that ghastly pink debate!), and there simply is no ‘one size fits all’.
‘Women’s-specific fit’ can be somewhat ambiguous, but the key things to keep an eye out for are chest straps that sit above the breasts, hip belt that takes into account the wide variety of different sizes and shapes, and shoulder straps that are built for narrower shoulders.
Osprey Tempest 20L
The Osprey Tempest backpack is a day pack, built a little smaller and made for daily activities like walking, cycling, day-hiking and the likes.
Lightweight, this backpack features an AirSpace™ back panel that is designed to increase airflow around your back, keeping you cool in whatever climate you’re tackling. The lumbar-to-hip belt keeps your pack close to your torso, optimising comfort while sporting a few useful pockets and straps so you can access your smaller items (phone, GPS, snacks,) while on the go.
The Osprey Tempest backpack seems to have no shortage of useful ‘why-didn’t-I-think-of-that’ features. From a LidLock™ for neatly clipping your cycling helmet away, through to a Stow-on-the-Go™ attachments for tucking away your walking poles without even taking the pack off, water reservoir compatible, this backpack seems to be the gift that simply keeps giving. The pack comes in four different colours, only ONE being pink (a rather sophisticated shade of magenta), making it a suitable city bag as well.
Lowe Alpine AirZone Z ND 18L
Described as being “compact and lightweight, but big on design features", this women’s specific fit backpack gives a lot of bang for your buck. Sitting at a rather neat £65, it’s definitely at the lower end of the budget scale for women’s outdoors backpacks, yet the possibilities are endless.
The AirZone cutout space in the back, built with breathable tension mesh, allows air to circulate, avoiding that uncomfortable humidity build up that is atypical for action backpacks that need to hug the body. It’s easy to use on the move, with several pockets sitting on the waist belt and the main pack itself is accessible through numerous zips. Additional features include a rain cover, bike light strap and specially designed walking pole holders at the sides. All combined, this makes for an exceptional budget-friendly walking daypack.
Montane Habu 22L
When it comes to Montane you know that you are dealing with a trustworthy and reliable brand with expertise in the outdoors equipment and clothing industry. This pack, designed with movement in mind, is a 22L capacity backpack and has a whole host of features designed and built for the mountain-loving woman.
Looking beyond the slightly uncreative colour scheme (don’t worry, it also comes in minty green), you can expect lightweight durability, built from high quality waterproof materials, with toughness being its selling point. It is also extremely light and versatile, taking into account numerous different activities that can done while sporting this pack (not just walking and hiking!). Comfortable and hardwearing straps and the Montane ® Comford Back Pad make up a cool, sweat-wicking back that is moulded to the female form.
Features-wise, this pack really favours the adventurous mountain sports lover; with ice axe tool attachments (which can be reversed into an ‘Alpine safe’ position), and gear harnesses/ loops. Also compatible with a water reservoir with shoulder straps to accommodate the drinking tube.
Fjällräven Skule 20L
The brand Fjällräven became a common name beyond the mountain and outdoors sphere when their classic-design signature backpacks went from being a staple of any outdoors lover’s inventory, to being seen on the street and in the hands of trendy Instagram fashionistas.
While Fjällräven has branched out to accommodate the needs of the city commuter with their range of laptop and casual duffel bags, they still maintain their strong foundations in outdoors equipment. The Skule is by definition a daypack, and is unisex, therefore not built specifically for women.
But this backpack is extremely versatile, adhering closely to the tried and tested methods that have seen Fjällräven into the 21st Century. A back-to-basics backpack too, if you’re looking for added bonus features like pole carrying systems, hidden pockets for treasure and a water filtration system then you might want to keep scrolling. The Skule backpack consists of one, large main compartment for your belongings, including a laptop sleeve if you were so inclined, and several smaller outer pockets, chest strap, and a detachable hip belt. As simple as simple comes, and that’s why we like it!
Arc'teryx Velaro 24L
Venturing back to the more serious hiking inventory items, the Velaro pack from Arc’teryx is built to soften the impact of a full day on the mountain trails on your back and shoulders, as well as providing you with a trustworthy system of carrying everything you need in comfort.
As a result, this is a larger backpack sitting at 24L but it incorporates enough space for a water reservoir (and left handed people rejoice- the straps accommodate the drinking tube on BOTH sides!), small zipped internal pockets are highly waterproof, making them perfect for keys and mobile phones. The large front pocket is ideal for quick access to items that you store in there, whether it’s snacks or anything else! And one of the biggest selling points of this pack is that when it boasts of being weatherproof, it is exactly that. Come whatever the seasons throw at you, your favourite gear will stay dry and safe.
Additional features include sternum straps and hip belt (with small pockets on the hips) that are designed for women, two bungee swift straps for carrying trekking poles and ice tools, and four integrated side lash points.
The North Face Borealis 25L
If the classic Swiss army knife did backpacks, it would probably be the Borealis backpack.
There is quite literally not a single design feature that has been overlooked in this multipurpose, multiuse backpack that doubles as both a city bag and a mountain bag. Taking into account electronics and technology- there is allocated space for a tablet and laptop in fleece-lined pockets, and further fleece-lined pocket for other delicate electronic items and sunglasses sleeve.
Beyond the city, this backpack is built for comfort while keeping you agile on the go. FlexVent™ suspension system keeps your back cool with padded shoulder straps, mesh back panel and spine channel, and is specifically designed for the female torso. Two side water bottle pockets made of side mesh make carrying containers easy, a safety whistle on the sternum strap, and the waist belt is removable for when you are carrying lighter loads.
VauDe Tecolog II 14L
Going back to the smaller, lighter, more compact and agile backpacks that are designed with simple day hiking in mind, this Tecolog II backpack is exactly all of these things, boiling the bag down to its essentials and focusing on sport and lifestyle.
While this backpack might not stand out from the rest, and doesn’t particularly have any design features that might raise an eyebrow or two, its saving grace comes down to the Green Shape guarantee for environmentally friendly products. VauDe have sourced and produced this backpack from sustainable materials, resource conserving and fair production.
For the more eco-conscious day hiker, this might be an all important selling point, but for those still looking for other features there is a large main compartment for a hydration system, front zipped pocket, ventilated shoulder straps and a padded back for comfort.
Deuter Futura 20L
Don’t be put off by the ‘detachable flower bobble’, this 20L backpack by Deuter is compact hiking redefined. Despite the fact that it is small, it is certainly mighty and goes above and beyond when it comes to travelling light for the day (and night).
But one of the best things about the Futura backpack isn’t the actual bag itself, but the patented Aircomfort Flexlite System that suspends it over your shoulders and back. The lightweight structure keeps your back cool and you can carry heavier weights in comfort thanks to the anatomically formed shoulder straps using the latest fabric technology. The waist belt is structured for women’s hips, padded for extra comfort against your lower back.
The bag itself can easily hold a day or two’s worth of hiking supplies which makes it ideal for those who want to go further than day rambling, and is hydration system compatible, has an inner waterproof pocket for wet items, stow-aways for valuables and a rain cover. There is a separate bottom compartment, side pockets for grabbing items on the go.