View Full Version : A good pack for small women?

John B
08-29-2006, 15:24
I'd like some advice from female hikers, please.

I want to buy a pack for my wife and daughter. My wife is a small Japanese lady -- about 4'9 and weighs about 90 lbs. My daughter, age 20, is 5'2 and weighs about 110 lbs. My wife runs marathons and my daughter is a fitness nut, so both are in good shape.

I haven't measured yet, but I'm assuming that both would use a size S pack.

I have an Osprey Aether 60 and have been happy with it, and as such I've been looking at Osprey packs for women. The Ariel 55 seems nice but a bit heavy at well over 3 lbs. The new (?) Aura 50 is a good bit lighter, but it doesn't carry nearly as much.

Neither have done distance hiking, I don't know if they'll like or hate it, so I don't want to spend a fortune. On the other hand, I don't want to get something crappy and uncomfortable and thus ruin their first experiences.

Because of obligations at home, my daughter will go with me on a 1-week hike while my wife stays home. Later, my wife will go with me. In other words, I'll only need to buy one pack at first (assuming that both will use the same size pack).

Any advice from experienced female hikers?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts on this matter.

Creek Dancer
08-29-2006, 15:33
Are you near an outfitter? If so, I would suggest that they try on the pack before you make the purchase. Buying a pack for a woman is like buying her a pair of shoes. Even though the size is right, it may not fit. (I suppose the same goes for men.) Also, some outfitters will rent gear to you which would save you from buying something that they may never use again if they don't like backpacking.

08-29-2006, 15:59
I agree completely with Creek Dancer, you've got to get the gals to an outfitter, and go to one with hikers on the floor as salespeople, and make sure they 'load' the pack for you with some dummy weight, that can make all the difference in how the pack sits on hips, especially for the ladies.

I hope you find a couple of great packs!:-)

08-29-2006, 17:45
Look at the Gregory Womens line. My wife is Asian as well an my daughters are petite. We own a Deva and a Electra. The bag, harness, and waist belt can all be sized down to women's extra small.

the are NOT light weight packs but fit great and are comfortable. For a thru-hike you might want something lighter.

08-29-2006, 20:02
We have been through this search with both my wife and my daughter. It is very difficult to find really light or ultralight packs that are sized for smaller or female hikers. And yes, we've tried them all <g>.

My wife ended up with the Ariel 55, and she's so far very happy with it. While it seems heavier than some other lightweight packs, it has an excellent hip belt and suspension system, and it's fully adjustable. Given that our full loads, with food and water, are in the 25-pound range, my wife wants something with more suspension and support than a 4-oz rucksack (or even a 1-pound rucksack). Even so, a 3.5 pound pack with a full suspension is still fairly light, compared to most of what's out there. (And comfort is the most important thing for her.)

Good luck.

08-29-2006, 20:07
I agree that you should have them try them on first--I can't tell you (well, i can, but its embarassing...so I won't) how many packs I went through before I found a good fit for myself.

I am petite, although not quite as small as your wife. I agree, the Osprey suspensions help very much with the weight of the pack itself. Great packs--but I discovered the GG Vapor Ki this year and have hiked several hundred miles in it this summer. I really, really like it. The suspension system is very similar to Ospreys, and its lighter. I wouldn't carry more than 30 lbs in it, but who wants to do that anyway ;) ?

Those just worked for me after mucho trial and error--it really is important to get a fit that works for them.


08-30-2006, 01:13
I can't say enough good things about my Gregory Tega. I've been out with it a lot over the past month or so. It's very comfortable loaded anywhere up to 30 pounds, adjustable in a multitude of ways, and fits my extremely small torso and narrow shoulders like it was tailor-made for me. I definitely think it's worth checking out.

Almost There
08-30-2006, 09:03
My wife and another gal I hike with both carry Osprey Ariel packs, BTW my wife is 5'2". Won't suggest a which Ariel pack as it depends on how much they need to carry. Wife has last year's Ariel 60.

08-30-2006, 12:41
My partner is a petite Asian woman as well. She went through several packs and decided on the Osprey Ariel 55 and she just loves it. At just over three pounds, I think it's actually quite light (for a traditional pack - UL packs are another category altogether). She also loved the GG Vapor Ki but decided to go for a more traditional pack to allow her to carry more weight when necessary (we just came back from Alaska yesterday, and there were more things we needed to carry). She also had the Gregory Electra and hated it, but it's a monster anyway.

Do be sure to measure them, though. My partner and I are close in height (5'2" and 5'3") but she has a much longer torso and shorter legs while I'm the opposite. Although we're very close in height, we carry different pack sizes, even with the same brand.

Farr Away
08-31-2006, 23:22
I second the Gregory Tega. It distributes the weight very well. I mostly notice the weight when I take the pack off -- suddenly I feel very light on my feet. One possible drawback is capacity. I had to work to get my sleeping bag, hammock, etc, etc in it.

09-04-2006, 20:31
I'm barely 5'2" and have a very short torso length of 13 1/2 inches. My first pack was a Gregory Deva 60 which I loved but it was a bit heavy at 5 pounds so I sold it. GREAT technical pack despite the weight and it held 3500 cu ins. I have switched and bought a Kelty Shadow which is much lighter at something like 3.5 pounds and holds 4500 cu ins. You might want to check out the Kelty Illusion also.

As most of the members have already mentioned.....go to a reputable outfitter and have your ladies properly measured and fitted. Walk around the store for 20-30 mins with 25 pounds and see how they feel.

These are just my recommendations since I'm a munchkin.

09-04-2006, 22:08
This is the pack I use for my tall 8 year old granddaughter: Salomon Raid Race 200 (http://www.backcountry.com/store/SAL0828/c3/s8/Salomon-Raid-Race-200-Backpack-1220-cu-in.html), and this is the pack I use: Salomon Raid Race 300 (http://www.argear.com/gear/grsalomonraid300.html). I am 5'5, 145 pounds.

Here's a picture of us both wearing them. We were fully packed for 4 day hike:
StarLyte & Star (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/showimage.php?i=11357&catid=searchresults&searchid=4814)

You can utilize the outside compartments. I was able to pack everything. As you can see, Star was able to carry a lot.

The RR 300 was worn by The Wandering Bull (http://www.trailjournals.com/gear.cfm?trailname=1680)who hiked in S. America, followed by a Florida Trail thru hike, followed by an AT thru hike.

Salomon accommodates speed and snow enthusiasts. They are definitely high quality and I always see their products worn by athletes.

09-05-2006, 17:34
I am small and love my Granite Gear Ozone, but would definitely look at the Vapor Ki. The outfitter should be able to change out the straps and the waist belt for the correct size...if the pack is the right length. You can carry all the weight you should ever need in this 3800 cu. in. pack. Why would you carry any more!!!? (I have hiked for a maximum of 17 days in a row with this pack and not needed any more space or weight capacity). The recommendations you have gotten are great; now you must go try them on your wife and daughter. It is definitely like the shoe analogy...you have to try them on! Good luck.

09-06-2006, 06:47
I am a 5'1" female. Before you buy a pack make sure you evaluate their gear. How much does their gear weigh?? Granite Gear makes great small sized packs but some carry more weight than others..Do your girls use synthetic bags that take up lots of space..will the pad fit inside or outside?? What do they use now for hydration...water bottles or bladders...There is not as much room in a small sized womens pack..you have to be very careful how you load them..I always use a hydration hose to sip on when doing outdoor activities. A bladder will not fit inside my pack and I cannot carry it up on top like most men I know..it knocks me off balance. I use platy bottles in the side pockets with a hose. This balances me out nicely. If you can get to an outfitter take your gear with you and see what fits best in which pack.

10-22-2006, 22:36

10-22-2006, 23:34
i'm 5'4 w/ a short torso and i have a small gregory deva 60 on that is set on its shorter shoulder strap setting (there are two) I could almost use a xs.
take them to an outfitters, don't guess on size, try on several packs. consider the weight they will be carring when trying them on.

10-23-2006, 01:00
I bought my 5' 3" 110# daughter a Granite Gear Vapor Ki size S and she loves it, no sore spots at all.

11-10-2006, 14:06
I'm Asian and 4'11". I've used my Lowe Alpine Sirocco for 4yrs and love all the features. In the beginning, I started with a small man's pack and was miserable. But when I finally purchased a woman's pack, it was like night and day.

However like others have said, it's best to get the pack fitted by someone knowledgeble.

Hammock Hanger
11-10-2006, 18:40
This is one of those questions where you will get numerous answers. I like the Sherpani Alpine Pack. http://www.outdoordivas.com/outdoordiv/product.asp?s%5Fid=0&dept%5Fid=5066&pf%5Fid=PAAAIAEDJAKOPPBL&

11-13-2006, 07:26
jumping in late here, but I've got a Doite Andes 50 pack. I'm fairly petite (heh- SHORT is better) and I'm really happy with the fit- but of course everyone is different. (not sure about weight)


11-13-2006, 07:50
Yo John B.

have your tried the Granite Gear Vapor Ki?????

ck it out:


good luck on yer hike!:D

The Will
11-13-2006, 18:40
Has anyone been able to get a close up look of the Gregory Jade 50 yet? It is a women's specific pack new to Gregory's 2007 line. Based on what I can tell from their web page, it looks like a stellar pack.

11-22-2006, 07:30
I like my Mountainsmith Oracle. It weighs 3 lbs. I purchased it from STP on sale last month when I was travelling through Cheyenne, Wyoming. It was $200 marked down to $65. I also had a $10 store coupon which further reduced the price.

At 5'1" I like a light pack - 20-25 pounds.