The Best Hiking Backpacks for Women

The Osprey Aura AG 65 is our favorite comfortable, roomy, and durable backpack for taking on the trails.

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Best Hiking Backpacks
Courtesy of Amazon and Backcountry

Whether you're taking a day trip to the desert or a month-long excursion through alpine forests, having the right backpack can make or break your hike. You don't want lugging a huge, heavy pack around to tire you out prematurely on a short trek, but you also don't want to find yourself with a pack that's too small to carry everything you need for an extended venture into the woods.

To add another layer of complexity, the market is saturated with hiking backpacks, and unfortunately, most of them are explicitly designed for men, and many of the unisex-marketed products are best suited for male bodies. Using a hiking backpack created for women can make all the difference when it comes to comfort and stamina. (Trust us, nothing is worse than armpit chafing or back pain while out on the trail.) Think curved straps made to fit narrower bodies, shorter frames that fit better against your back, and chest straps and hip belts optimized for female chests, hips, and torsos.

After doing extensive research and collecting expert insight, we've rounded up the best hiking backpacks for women. Our favorite overall is the Osprey Aura AG 65, a lightweight, multi-day pack that keeps things comfortable during long hiking trips using suspension, padded straps, and ventilation. However, if you need something just for short-trip essentials or are looking for a particularly budget-friendly option, we have plenty of other recommendations to help you find your perfect hiking backpack.

T+L's Top Picks

Best Overall: Osprey Aura AG 65

Best Hiking Backpacks
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Osprey and REI

Why We Love It: The suspension system helps distribute weight evenly and gives the pack a lightweight feel.

What to Consider: There aren't many colors to choose from, and the colors available are basic.

The Osprey Aura 65 feels comfortably lightweight on the trail, even during demanding, multi-day hikes. Made of lightweight mesh from the top of the back panel to the hip belt, the anti-gravity suspension wraps around you to make it seem like you're carrying less weight and contours to your body for unrestricted movement. An adjustable harness, a hip belt, upper and lower side compression straps, and a sternum strap all contribute to the comfortable fit through efficient weight distribution.

You won't have any trouble fitting the essentials — and more — in the Osprey Aura 65. The water reservoir holds up to 3 liters of water, ensuring you can stay hydrated on long jaunts with plenty of room to spare for other items. The lower zippered sleeping bag compartment with a removable divider simplifies packing for overnights, and pockets on the hip belt help you keep snacks close by for continuous hiking without stops. There's also a trekking pole attachment for stowing your poles when you want to go hands-free, and dual access stretch mesh pockets to store other gear.

Osprey is so confident their roomy, supportive hiking backpack won't let you down, they provide a guarantee they'll repair any damage or defect for any reason, free of charge.

Weight: 4.42 pounds | Capacity: 65 liters

Best Budget: N Nevo Rhino 65 L

Best Hiking Backpacks
Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: Numerous adjustable features make this hiking backpack suitable for a variety of adventures.

What to Consider: The stitching quality doesn't compare to some more expensive hiking backpacks, so this pack might not last as long.

New to hiking and don't want to make a serious investment on a backpack yet? The N Nevo Rhino pack is an affordable option that's great for newbies and hikers who don't make it to the trails very often. It's not geared towards women specifically, but the unisex build is female-friendly, with a wishbone waist pad with hip adjustments, shoulder straps, a hip strap, and a semi-circle hollow design for head comfort. There are also lots of pockets, and the internal frame is removable in case you want to lighten up for a day hike. This hiking backpack also includes a waterproof rain cover, which comes in handy for unexpected storms or hiking in wet climates such as the Pacific Northwest. The pack also comes in 40, 50, 60, and 80-liter options to suit all of your needs.

Weight: 2.65 pounds | Capacity: 65 liters

Best Lightweight: Cotopaxi Del Dia Batac 18L

Best Hiking Backpacks
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Cotopaxi

Why We Love It: The Del Dia collection gives you a sustainable way to pack everything you need for a day hike.

What to Consider: No frame means that this backpack definitely has its weight limits, so it shouldn't be taken on long-haul travel.

Part of Cotopaxi's (Re)Purpose Collection, the Del Dia day packs are made from fabric that's leftover from other companies' production runs, meaning they put material that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill to use. Each vibrant pack is made with a super lightweight, ripstop nylon shell and ultralight mesh shoulder straps. There's a large main compartment, a front zippered pocket with an internal hydration sleeve, and a top drawstring closure. However, there is no frame and not much padding going on, which means this backpack is best used for short hikes. Nevertheless, you can stuff a lot into the backpack, so go ahead and pack your snacks, roll up a jacket or blanket for colder weather, and hit the trails.

You can also add a fun mystery element to your purchase from the Del Dia collection: Rather than choosing your own colors, you can opt to have Cotopaxi surprise you with a design. Another bonus of leaving things up to fate? Letting them pick the design saves you a few extra bucks.

Weight: 0.66 pounds | Capacity: 18 liters

Related: The Best Hiking Gear, According to Lifelong Hikers

Best for Big Loads: Osprey Ariel 65

Best Hiking Backpacks
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Osprey and REI

Why We Love It: The Ariel 65 is highly adjustable, so you can find your own personal perfect fit. .

What to Consider: It's not especially light.

If you're headed out into the wild with a whole lot of gear, the Ariel 65 from Osprey is the go-to pack for lugging all of your things. Numerous pockets throughout allow you to store your water bottles, snacks, phone, battery packs, devices, and additional gear in an organized manner, and there's a reservoir sleeve for water as well. When things get wet, the raincover made from PFC-free materials keeps everything nice and dry.

The Osprey pack has a customizable fit, so it's suited for numerous body shapes and sizes. The torso on the pack is adjustable, and "Fit-on-the-Fly" shoulder straps and hip belt help you craft a custom fit that hugs your body while hiking. The breathable back panel helps keep you cool, while dual upper and lower side compression straps secure contents along the edges of the pack to balance weight, and dual front panel compression straps secure your supplies and center your balance.

Weight: 4 pounds | Capacity: 65 liters

Best Water-Resistant: Arc'Teryx Bora AR 49

Best Hiking Backpacks
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Backcountry Gear

Why We Love It: The gliding hip belt keeps your strides smooth and painless.

What to Consider: It's on the heavy side.

Another bag made for trips that are two to three days long, the Bora AR from Arc'Teryx is built with nylon fabrics and capped with special fabric in areas that would otherwise be exposed to rain and snow. You can rest easy as you trek through the mountains amid varied conditions, as this super durable pack is optimized for load stability. The hip belt rotates side to side and glides up and down for a natural stride that reduces chafing and improves balance, and the shoulder straps adjust to your width and height.

In addition to being designed for stability, the Arc'Teryx Bora AR 49 includes thoughtful features that make packing easier. Cold-weather hikers will appreciate the two ice ax loops. The pack is also compatible with water bladders, has a ventilated back panel, and is made with side pockets that can carry 1-liter water bottles or trekking poles. Have some extra things, or maybe not enough items to fill up the pack? The top lid is removable and extendable with a zippered compartment. Side-access zippers allow you to easily access important items, and hip belt pockets are great for storing snacks.

Weight: 4.9 pounds | Capacity: 52 liters

Best for Week-long Trips: Osprey Lumina 60

Best Hiking Backpacks
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at REI

Why We Love It: It's roomy enough for large loads without being too heavy.

What to Consider: There are no pockets on the hip belt, making it a touch more difficult to access snacks.

Headed out for a week-long hike and want to keep things as light and comfortable as possible? The Lumina 60 from Osprey is a great choice, as the ripstop and nylon materials used for the fabric create a light build that minimizes pack weight. The breathable mesh back panel has side ventilation to keep your back cool, and the frame helps transfer load pressure from the harness to the hip belt. The harness also contains mesh for comfort and cushioning. The main compartment contains compression straps and removable compression cords in the side pockets to help strap down your load, and the zippered top-lid pocket gives you easy access to your snacks, phone, GPS, and other important items. There are also dual access side pockets, a front fabric pocket for rain gear, and cord-loop attachment points on the top lid for latching on extra gear.

Weight: 1.8 pounds | Capacity: 60 liters

Related: The Best Sunglasses for Every Trip

Best for Weekend Trips: Deuter Aircontact Lite

Best Hiking Backpacks
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Deuter and Backcountry

Why We Love It: Ventilated materials and padded straps add comfort to a pack that's easy to carry for long periods of time.

What to Consider: You have to purchase a rain cover separately.

For a hiking backpack that has all of the bells and whistles of a bulky pack without the extra weight, the Deuter Aircontact Lite is a superb option, especially for weekend treks when you're trying to keep things light. The X-frame design helps distribute your load evenly, while compression straps, pull-forward hip fins, an adjustable sternum belt, and a height-adjustable lid all help create a light and comfortable hike. Stabilizer straps allow you to position the backpack perfectly across your frame, and breathable padding keeps things ventilated and comfortable. The pull-forward hip fins are made from multiple layers, with the inner side constructed from a soft foam for added comfort, and the outside foam modeled to transfer the load to your hips. Side compression straps on the fins also help distribute the load and increase your stability with trekking. Three colors are available.

Weight: 4.4 pounds Capacity: 45 liters

Best for 7-plus Days: Gregory Deva 70L

Best Hiking Backpacks
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Gregory Packs and REI

Why We Love It: A moisture-wicking back panel provides added comfort.

What to Consider: There are only two color options.

Seventy liters of space, nine external pockets, trekking pole attachments, a sleeping bag compartment, hip belt pockets, and an internal hydration sleeve combine to give you a hiking backpack that lets you go off the grid for days on end. Gregory's FreeFloat A3 system allows the hip belt, shoulder harnesses, and lower back panel to conform to your body shape, while the auto-rotating shoulder harnesses move with your body. The padded hip belt is adjustable so you'll remain comfortable all day, while the back panel wicks away moisture. There's even a lumbar pad that prevents the pack from slipping and keeps it positioned high on the hips without the need to tighten the hip belt constantly. Stow your sunglasses on the shoulder harness for easy access when the sun pops through, and easily stash trail essentials or your phone in the hip belt pockets.

Weight: 4.7 pounds | Capacity: 70 liters

Most Versatile: Deuter Speed Lite SL 22L

Best Hiking Backpacks
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Backcountry

Why We Love It: The lightweight design allows you to pack this backpack full while keeping the total carrying volume at a minimum.

What to Consider: The hip pocket is small.

If you want a hiking backpack that can double as a daily commuting pack, a ski backpack, or a general travel backpack, the Speed Lite SL from Deuter is a winner. "SL" stands for Slim Line, meaning that this pack is designed for a woman's body with optimum range of movement. The sternum belt is adjustable, and pull-forward hip fins with a padded hip belt create a comfortable fit.

You can fit a 3-liter water bladder inside the pack, or use the inner compartment to store wet or sweaty clothing. There are three outer pockets as well, plus a compartment for your valuables, a goggle holder on the shoulder strap, and even an ice ax attachment (hello, winter trekking). Adjust your fit for added comfort with the load adjustment strap.

Weight: 1.5 pounds | Capacity: 22 liters

Related: The Best Hiking Shoes and Boots for Women

Best for Overnight Hikes: Osprey Tempest 34L

Best Hiking Backpacks
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Osprey and REI

Why We Love It: This pack is super adjustable to keep you as comfortable as possible while on the move.

What to Consider: There's no rain fly included.

For all-day comfort while you're out on the trails, the Tempest 34 from Osprey delivers. The flexible frame helps give structure and back ventilation, while the external water reservoir sleeve holds up to 3 liters of water and is located between the frame and the main compartment, which helps minimize water leaks inside the backpack. There are also dual-zippered hip belt pockets for easy access to snacks and essentials, plus an expandable mesh harness pocket and side pockets. Tackling some tough terrain? Take your trekking poles with you and place them in the trekking pole attachment. We also love the injection-molded AirScape back panel and continuous-wrap harness and hip belt, which provide comfort and help the pack move with your body on difficult terrain.

Weight: 2.5 pounds | Capacity: 34 liters

Tips for Buying a Hiking Backpack

Consider which features are the most crucial for your trips

Choose something that fits the type of activity you'll be doing and the duration you're planning to do it. Alison Watta, a hiking and backpacking guide based in North Carolina who teaches an Intro to Backpacking course, advises not to go too big with a day pack. "For most day hikers, you don't need something larger than a 12-liter pack," she says, but she does recommend finding a day pack with a waist strap and a chest strap. "As you're moving, your pack is going to slide left and right if it's not strapped down, and it'll go over your head when bending over, so you want to be able to strap the pack down."

When it comes to design, look for things like storage capacity, pockets, waist straps, a chest strap, a hip belt, water reservoir pockets or external side pockets for water bottles, gear loops, and a back frame. For both day packs and backpacking packs, where you stash your water is crucial. If you're using a water bladder, you'll need a pack that has a pocket or place for the bladder, and if you're using water bottles, you'll want your pack to have at least one side pocket to easily place the bottle in and out of. "Taking your pack on and off to get water gets very old, very fast," says Watta.

Get a separate bag for day hikes and overnight backpacking

As mentioned above, you'll need to know how long you're going to be hiking in order to determine what type of pack you need. A day pack will work great for a hike that's a day or shorter, but once you get into planning a multi-day hike, you'll need to consider purchasing a backpacking pack. As Watta suggested, you won't typically need something larger than 12 liters for a day hike, but it's better to have something larger than 12 liters for multi-day trips. For a two- to three-day trip, a 30 to 50-liter pack is fine, but try to find something larger for longer trips. "Unfortunately, there isn't one backpack that will work for day hiking and backpacking (overnight hiking)," says Suzie Dundas, an adventure travel writer and editor, outdoor gear reviewer, and author of Hiking Lake Tahoe: A History and Trail Guide. "If you don't have either, start with a day pack since you'll probably use it more, and you can always rent or borrow a backpacking pack when needed."

Be as practical as possible when it comes to weight

It doesn't matter what type of pack you buy, if it's too heavy, it's going to become uncomfortable after a long time on the trail. Your pack's weight is crucial to comfort while hiking, so try to only pack essentials in addition to buying a light backpack. On the flipside, make sure you're bringing everything you need with you, and pick a pack that has all the features that are important to you or necessary, such as a rain cover, side pockets, or a back frame.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a backpack designed for women specifically?

Women's hiking backpacks are designed to offer us the most efficient use of strength for the most comfortable load-bearing possible. In general, women's hiking backpacks have a shorter back frame, since women are on average shorter than men and have shorter torsos. (Some packs come with adjustable back frames, allowing you to lengthen or shorten the frame to fit your height.) Women's packs might also be made narrower than a men's pack, since women tend to have narrower frames than men. The hip belts on many women's hiking backpacks are also designed to complement wider hips. Belts with extra padding that curve around the hips also take some weight off the shoulders to accommodate women's lower center of gravity.

How should a hiking backpack fit?

"Get it right, get it tight," says Dundas. Both day packs and backpacks should be snug to your back, as a pack that's swinging around is going to throw off weight distribution with every step. Once your bag is packed and closed, Dundas advises loosening all the straps and putting it on. Then, adjust the hip belt so it's on the top (not the outside) of your hip bones, and buckle and tighten it (your backpack should shift side to side if you swing your hips). Then, tighten the shoulder straps so they're flat against your body, but not too snug or digging in. Next — and this is probably the most important part everyone forgets — tighten the straps on top of the shoulder straps that connect to the back of your pack. When you're done, your pack should feel like an extension of your body — it shouldn't swing or move independently. The extra weight of your bag should be carried mostly on your hips, and the rest on your chest and the front of shoulders. "If you feel like any weight is on the tops of your shoulders, your bag isn't fitted correctly," says Dundas.

Watta recommends making sure that any straps aren't rubbing your arms, as that will cause chafing while on the trail and result in discomfort. She also notes that the hip belt should fit towards the top of your iliac crest, and that your chest strap "has one job: to pull the arm straps out of your armpits and prevent additional chafing."

Why Trust Travel +Leisure

Travel + Leisure writers are adventure and travel experts who use personal experience and expert recommendations to choose the best items for shoppers. For this article, Amanda Ogle researched dozens of hiking backpacks, interviewed hiking experts, and used her expertise as a travel writer to craft the perfect list of backpacks for you.

Up Next: The Best Hiking Shoes and Boots for Women

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