Valerie Root

Best Backpacks For Women

Backpacks for women are great for making everything in life easier. Seriously, when has a backpack full of stuff not been more convenient than carrying everything? Okay, the only time a backpack is not helpful is when it is the wrong size, wrong style, or plain old broken.

Backpacks often take the brunt of our adventures and need to be made to stand up to whatever you have on your agenda. Every trip, hike, and adventure can be made better with the right backpack. It's one of those things that you may not notice until you get a good one. 

My first backpacking trip I used a bag that I had kept in my garage for 10 years without using it. It was so mucked up the strings didn't slide and the zippers got stuck. I had a backpack that was super heavy and was not the right size for me. I had to adjust the straps over and over without relief. 

After that trip I got a backpack that fit and I haven't had bruises on my collar bone since! Your backpack is one of the most important part of any adventure.

Types Of Backpacks

Best Day Hiking Backpacks For Women

The usual size for a day hiking backpack is anywhere from 10 to 35 liters and most come with a chest strap and waist belt. The amount of storage space depends on the overall size and how much water you plan to carry.

You need a place for your jacket, first aid kit, snacks, and whatever else you have on your hiking checklist. We hope to provide you the backpack hiking solution you are looking for.

The fit of the best hiking backpack is important since you typically carry water and other gear that is heavy for long distances. Like hiking shoes, some brands may fit better than others for no obvious reason, so make sure to give them a practice run with weight before you go on a long hike.

Since hikes take a while the comfort of the fit is important to have a good time and not get bruised from your straps. The same weight in different backpacks will feel different. Some packs have a mesh back panel, padded waist belt, and other add-ons. Another important consideration is hydration storage. Water is important to keep you safe, and it weighs a lot! 

I usually bring 2-3 liters for a day hike and prefer my day hiking backpack to have a suspension strap or velcro for my water bladder as well as a port for the hose. 

It may not seem important at first, but a place to store snacks on the outside, as well as expandable external pockets, come in handy more often than not. It depends on your hiking plans and style. But, if you are headed out for a quick run or short stroll on the trail you may be more in the market for a small pack that holds a hydration pack and little else.

Related Article: Best Day Hiking Backpacks

Best Backpacking Backpacks For Women

The most important part of a backpacking backpack is the fit. If it is your first time, I recommend buying a pack that has the features you like and heading into a local retailer that can fit you, like REI.

Backpacking backpacks for women are designed to carry what you have on your hiking checklist for at least one overnight trip. That means you need it to be large enough and supportive enough to carry what you plan to bring. Looking for the best backpacks for backpacking Europe?

The lightest 2-night backpacking backpack I have carried, not including water or food, was 14 pounds and the heaviest was 38 pounds. The light carry was a spring trip with water access and the heavy trip was a winter trip up Mt Whitney in the snow. With the right pack, your 35 pounds will feel like 20.

When you are packing your backpacking backpack you want the lightest stuff, like your sleeping bag, on the bottom. Against your back put the heaviest items, like water, clothes, and food. On the outside and top go the lightest stuff, like your TP, snacks, down jacket, cookware.

Added elements to look for in a backpacking backpack is the ‘summit pack’ or little day pack that comes with the backpack. These are sometimes big enough for a liter or two of water and others are more like a backpack.

How you can get into the pack is important. If the only access is the top hole it can be frustrating to store or retrieve things during the hiking portion of the trip. Some come with a front or side access zipper which can make a lot of difference in enjoyment.

Best Laptop Backpacks for Women

Need to get your laptop and take it with you? Depending on what you’re headed out to conquer there may be certain things you want to make sure your laptop backpack has in order to make the most of your gear.

Check the size of your laptop so you can be sure it fits inside the sleeve. To get an accurate number, measure the diagonal distance from one corner to the other. Usually, the sleeves are suitable for either 15 inch or 17 inch.

If you are using the backpack for a daily commute or studies check for pockets to keep your cables and accessories organized. Comfortable straps with nice padding make all the difference.

Mini Backpack

The mini backpack was iconic for me in the 1990s. I remember my mom saying that it was a very impractical bag to carry. Two months later she traded her mom purse in for a leather one.

Needless to say, they are cute, practical, and timeless. Mini backpack purses are great for a sporty look and easy carrying of all your goodies.

So many come in different colors, fabrics, finishes, and looks. The pearly version is a middle school classic that I love to use for weekend BBQs.

These are great for kids and adults since they often have long and adjustable straps.

Waterproof Backpack for Women 

A lot of backpacks are water-resistant, which means that a light sprinkle or few drops will bead up and roll off. Water-resistant backpacks will eventually get soaked and leak water inside.

Waterproof backpacks are often designed as a dry-sack for water sports like kayaking or fishing. The zipper location and construction make a big difference in how well water stays out. For example, zippers on top will get wetter than a side or front zipper.

Dry sacks often have a magnetic strip at the opening that you roll down and close on itself. A waterproof backpack is more like a backpack that is made with a waterproof material and waterproof zippers.

An option to make just about any backpack waterproof is getting a rain cover to put over the outside of your backpack if you need rain protection. 

Best Travel Backpack For Women

Travel backpacks make your time in the airport, rental cars, and trains easier to navigate and less stressful. For business travel backpacks, look for something that has sturdy and durable zippers. Some of the travel-specific backpacks for travel are made with thicker more rugged material as well as wheels.

If you are walking through airports or across campus it can be easier with a travel backpack with wheels. This takes the weight off your shoulders and back and puts it on the wheels. The handle pulls out from the frame of the backpack and extends to a comfortable length. The handle telescopes like an umbrella.

A small travel backpack for women might be a great solution for the light traveler. A small travel backpack should have quite a few large compartments with inner pockets and places for organizing your stuff.

If you are looking to go backpacking abroad you may be more interested in compartments and ease of checking it at the airport. Some have straps that can zip into the backpack so nothing gets stuck on belts or when being handled.

Tactical Backpack

Backpacks made in the military-style have gained a lot of popularity in the last few years. The tactical backpack comes in quite a few styles and colors. These backpacks are made with durable canvas and stitched straps as well as velcro elements.

These are designed to organize your gear as well as stand up to tough elements. These are designed for servicewomen and are built to stand up to the demands of military work. They come in water-resistant materials and come with rugged zippers.

The straps, or loops, are actually called MOLLE webbing. The MOLLE stands for modular load-carrying equipment. These loops allow for adding extra compartments or accessories like a water bottle pouch or other organizers.

Another element that tactical backpacks come with is the Malice clips. These clips are made to attach to the modular elements of the backpack. As you can see, these packs are made to get and stay organized.

The most common color is a beige color like sand. The other popular one is a black tactical backpack that looks a little Bond and a little Bourne. Take this on your next trip and be taken seriously no matter where you are.

Some of these backpacks also have a laptop sleeve which makes it a great commuter or school backpack. The small tactical backpack is durable and useful without being too bulky. These are awesome for day trips or commuting on public transportation.
The tactical backpack is also used as a bug-out or survival backpack. Marines call their backpacks a ruck sack or a pack.

They come with countless features like concealed holster compartments, internal organization pockets, and compartments, padded laptop sleeves, adjustable shoulder straps as well as load straps and removable hip belt. 

See Through Backpack

Okay, so these at first glance seem like an odd fashion statement, but it goes back to the good ol’ days of the 1990s and the weird styles of that era. Oddly, they are coming back now, which makes a gal feel super old.

My first thought is always, why do you want everyone to see what you have inside? But, then I remembered that in the 1990s and early 2000s cell phones and other electronics were making their way to people's pockets and purses. It goes without saying that in the early days of any new status symbol there is always a desire to show it off. Enter the clear backpack.

Lots of these see thru backpacks ended up with stickers inside and outside and can be spotted at raves, festivals, concerts, and other events. As much as it could be a fashion statement it is also a security measure for some locations.

Certain venues, concerts, festivals, sporting events, and schools require a clear backpack for safety or other security reasons. The clear backpacks are usually sturdy and made with canvas straps which make them useful for more than one event. Some of the materials used are plastic and mesh and sometimes they have both materials

The clear mini backpack is great for following the rules, having somewhere to keep your stuff, and not being saddled with carrying things for everyone one else, like when you have a giant bag.

There may be some controversy about the implementation of forcing the use of clear backpacks, but the truth is there are a bunch of options for when you do need one.

Best Sling Backpack

This is the one strap cross-body solution to carrying what you got where you are headed. They come in various sizes and shapes to suit your needs. They are kind of like various sized fanny packs that you can wear on your shoulder. The sling backpack can be worn on the back or the front and is also called a messenger bag.

The sling backpack typically is a triangle shape bag with one shoulder strap. It is worn over one shoulder and across the body with the pack in the back. They are designed for easy access on the go. Wear it like a quiver of arrows, ready for action.

The sling backpack is similar to something worn by horse riders who needed free hands. Today these bags are ideal for cycling, bike messengers, motorcyclists, and scooter riders. Along the way the material has evolved as well as style options.

The materials used are cotton, hemp, nylon, polyester, plastic, leather, and wool. The features like padded straps, multiple zippers or compartments, or water-resistance are available by various sling backpack brands.

There is also the style of carrying the sling backpack purse style. This is a casual and minimal look that goes with everything outside. Another variation is the tactical sling backpack. This is the mixture of street and timeless rugged.

How To Fit A Women’s Backpack

The fit of a backpack is one the most critical elements to having a backpack that makes your pack feel lighter than the scale says. The fit consists of the length of the back panel, shoulder straps, and waist belt.

Start your measurement of your torso length by starting at the bony bump between your shoulders at your neck and measure down your spine to the lumbar. This number is your starting point for a torso measurement and finding the right pack. Be sure to check the manufacturer size chart to be sure you get the right size.

Before you put the pack on making sure all the straps are loosened. When you put on a backpack, lean forward, and place the hip belt on top of your hip bones so that your bones are doing most of the work. Then, stand up and tighten the shoulder straps and then the chest strap and finish off with any load straps.

If your backpack doesn't have all those parts make sure the backpack is supportive enough for the weight you plan to carry. Just because you can fit bricks in it doesn't mean that it will be comfortable to wear.

How to Choose The Right Backpack

Need a backpack but not sure which one to get? Here we lay out some considerations to help you decide how to choose a backpack. Some backpacks are good at having dual functions, but like fusion food the more you fuse the less likely it is to work.

The two most important considerations for selecting a backpack are distance or duration of wearing it and how much weight you plan to carry. After those two considerations, it is time to look at the type of activity and functionality of the backpack.

The longer you plan to wear it the more load support and padding you will want. Padding on the straps, the back panel, and the hip belt are must-haves for longer distance or overnight use.

If you plan on having a heavy load you will want a backpack with a frame, they used to be external and are now internal. Some packs might be able to hold a lot, but not offer a lot of support. Check the details to be sure it's a good fit. The more you spend the better the quality and ease of use you will have.

Compartmentalization is for more than therapy. Where will you put all your stuff? Make sure you have enough pockets, zippers, and places for your stuff.

Comfort Features Of Backpacks To Look For

Comfort makes all the difference for any adventure. Depending on your need and activity certain features will make more or less sense. Here we lay out our favorite backpack features.

Hydration port
Internal pockets
Outer organizing pockets
Removable straps
Customizable straps
Hip Belt Pockets

Ease of Use:
Front or side access zippers
Roll-down top closure
Expandable external pockets
Cinchable mesh pockets on the side

Chest strap
Load straps
Formed hip belt
Hydration bladder suspension

Separate rain cover
Removable smaller pack
Stow-able straps

How To Clean A Backpack

Everyone wants a clean backpack. The first step to cleaning any backpack is to empty everything out of every pocket and compartment. If you can turn it inside out it makes it easier to clean the inside. If it is leather follow leather specific instructions.

General Cleaning Instructions:

  1. Use a damp soft cloth to wipe out any debris and dirt from the surfaces. Make sure you get the inside of pockets too. Removing the dirt and debris before cleaning makes it more effective.
  2. Spray a new wet part of the towel with your cleaner of choice (I use Mrs. Meyers) and wipe down the whole backpack.
  3. Wet stubborn stains with water and rub out. Check care instructions for machine washing directions.
  4. Hang dry or tumble dry low if indicated on the tag.

    Cleaning the backpack as soon as feasible will make it easier to make it last longer and easier to keep clean. I have to unpack after every hike otherwise I leave an apple or something in there for a week and then have a total mess to clean up. Don’t be like me, keep it clean. 

Parts of a Backpack

Maybe you want to be sure you know all the vocabulary associated with backpacks before you start shopping. If that is the case then look no further, for we have a few illustrations of all the parts of a backpack.

Top Pocket
Inner Pocket
Side Pocket
Load Adjuster Straps
Stabilizer Strap
Shoulder Straps
Compression Strap
Sternum Strap
Ventilation System
Lumbar Pad
Hib Belt
Hip Pouch
Hydration Port
Ice Axe Loops
Rain Cover
Hydration Pouch
Laptop Sleeve

How To Pack A Backpack

Where To Buy A Backpack

No matter what womens backpack you end up choosing, finding the right price for the right backpack is key. One of the main things I look for before buying a backpack is the return policy. Make sure you can exchange or return if the backpack doesn’t end up working for you.

Buying from the manufacturer can be a good choice for getting the best price and latest selection. If you want to get something from a previous season or year you may want to check outlets, retailers, or online vendors like the ‘Zon.

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