Best Backpacking Backpack for Women

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Osprey Aura 65

When getting ready for my first backpacking trip in Alaska, I had to find a comfortable backpack that would hold all of my gear. As a first-timer and someone concerned with comfort, the Aura 65-liter backpack stood out as a great option. When looking at reasons why people tend to choose this bag, most said this is a great pack for a first-time backpacker if they want to buy one bag and have it last for years to come. After hearing me rave about it, one of my friends got the Aura as well, and she is completely in love with hers too.


OSPREY AURA 65

Features
  • Stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment – quick and easy to do without taking the entire pack off
  • Removable sleeping pad straps  (If I put anything here, it’s my chair!)
  • Bottom compartment for a sleeping bag
  • Removable divider (above sleeping bag compartment)
  • Adjustable hip belts
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Internal pocket for water bladder with various holes and loops to accommodate the tube
  • Whistle on sternum strap to be able to alert in an emergency
  • Ice tool loops
  • Stretchy mesh side pockets
  • Removable top lid
  • Zippered hip belt

Pros

This pack is gender-specific, so you can find the best fit for your body. Osprey designed the pack to be adjustable so that it could form to different women’s bodies. (Get the men’s fit here) Women who consider themselves very small or very curvy have also found this pack comfortable.

The antigravity technology makes the pack feel lighter than it is. The pack also has many pockets and zippers so that you are easily able to organize and access your gear while backpacking. There is so much space in the pack, it even has a little shelf to separate the main compartment from the bottom of the bag. This allows you to be able to stuff your sleeping bag in the bottommost section. The hip pockets are both a pro and a con. I’ll get to the latter in the next section. What I like about them is that they’re big enough to hold a bag of gummy worms along with any other quickly needed items such as bug spray, a pocket knife, more snacks, tissues, and lip balm.

Cons

The hip pockets are not big enough for a phone. Putting your phone in the pouch on the side for quick access is an option, but it isn’t secure. In addition, the backpack was very squeaky when hiking. Tightening some of the straps helped for a time, but when things settled inside of the pack, it went back to being squeaky. A rain cover is not included. I think the removable top compartment should be able to convert into a day pack so that you don’t have to pack an extra one on trips.

Tips

When I packed with heavier items in the bottom compartment meant for the sleeping bag, I felt like I was going to fall over! But having the light sleeping bag in this section and then packing my heavier items first from the top-loading section (right above the divider) made the pack feel so much better on my back.

inside your tent (remember never to keep food or even toiletries in your tent in bear country; be bear aware!) or with you, while hanging out at your camp, the top portion of the backpack is completely removable. There is a built-in flap to close the bag if the top compartment has been removed.


FAQ

What size should you get?

One thing I thought when starting was that the sizes of the backpack XS/S/M referred to how much the pack can hold. That is not correct. The size refers to how long your torso is. There’s a process for measuring your torso to determine its length and choose the right pack for you. One awesome thing about the Aura bag is that it is adjustable to give you a more customized fit.

Although the best option is to go into an Osprey store to get fitted, I wasn’t able to do so because I was shopping for my backpack in Alaska (we don’t have an Osprey store) and it was while everyone was social distancing (so I couldn’t go into REI either).

*Sizes are not by volume but by your torso length. See this post to help you measure your torso, so you can get the right size for you.

What about men?

The men’s version of this bag is the Osprey Atmos. I got the Aura based on the recommendation of a friend who had the Atmos and absolutely loved it. The Atmos has mostly the same features as the Aura, it’s just sized for a man’s body.

What should you put in your backpack?
  • Bear spray – Don’t forget to pack your bear spray and keep it in a close and convenient location (so don’t pack it away too well, or you won’t be able to use it!). Here’s a photo of how I like to wear mine.
  • Dry bags – When backpacking with my friends, we like to store our sleeping bags along with a change of clothes, underwear, and socks in a dry bag. This way, if we happen to fall into some water, we will have clothes to change into so we’re not hiking cold and wet. I also like to travel with a separate dry bag I can attach to the outside of my pack that will carry my electronics. GoPro batteries don’t last long, and I usually use two of them on the way out and on the way back, so I bring a charger so things can charge up overnight.

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