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Backpack for woman with a dodgy back!

Hi all :-)

Hoping I can get some advice. I'm going to Australia in a while and will be needing a backpack. Nothing huge, as we have various places to stay, but will be hosteling it a little. I'm thinking 60 - 80litres (?), but I need to take into account:

Oz is going to be warmer than I'm used to
My lower back/hips sometimes play up (funny bones, aggravated muscles)
I'm female (so wondering if a woman-specific pack might be best)
I'm little! 5' 4" in my socks

Are there any particular features that you think I should look out for, taking these points into consideration?


Here are a few quick thoughts on your search for a backpack.

As a fellow 5'4" woman I strongly urge you to get a women-specific or short torso pack. Women’s packs have features like hip belts with more padding and the proper angle for women’s hips and shorter and narrower torsos, among other things. A women’s pack should fit you way better than a unisex model. Since you mentioned a bad back and hips this is of utmost importance.

I also recommend you go to a reputable outdoor store where you can be sized and fitted properly with various packs (women’s and unisex models of different sizes, sometimes different interchangeable hip belts) so you’ll know what actually fits you and is comfortable for you. While reviews can be very helpful in finding a quality product, the pack still needs to fit you. Don’t be afraid to walk around with the loaded down pack for 15-20 minutes. If you already know of a brand that fits you well and you've been pleased with I'd start looking there.

If you won’t be backpacking or hiking long distances in Australia, you may want to consider a travel pack from somewhere like Eagle Creek (others make them too). Some travel packs have removable day or hydration packs on them. So you’re not tied down to only one pack for the entire trip. I’ve never used one though, so can’t say much about them.

I don’t know what you’ll be doing in Australia, but I consider a 60-80 liter pack on the large size. That large can handle extended backpacking trips. Will you be carrying a tent, stove and fuel, sleeping bag and pad, and other large and heavier camping gear? Or will you be staying in hostels and only need a sleeping bag liner or summer bag for night? If you’ll be traveling and doing day trips, not backcountry overnights, and are a light packer you might be able to get by with a smaller pack (and your back will thank you for that too). So take a good look at what you need to bring and what you might pick up along the way.

So, let us know what type of activities you’ll be doing in Australia and for how long and you can probably get some better feedback.

Good luck.

I like the NCO answer to anything sore. (back ache, ass ache, feet ache, head ache) the NCO says " get your rifle and fall in" Aches and pains go along with being alive. They remind you that you are alive. We all got 'em and as you go along you get more of them (male or female, big or small, the good - the bad - and the ugly) so .. pick up your rifle and put one foot in front of the other one .. and sing this little song starting on the left foot .. a colonel rides in a jeep (your right).. a sergeant rides in a truck (your right) . a general rides in a limosine, but you're just out of luck (your right) .. about the 1,000th versus you won't feel your pack or your back

I agree with Alicia, an 80L pack is huge for a man, let alone someone only 5'4, unless you're a Sherpa. I've traveled in Oz for weeks and took only a medium sized pack. You can buy almost anything you need there, so I wouldn't take a lot of stuff-I'd take clothes that can do double duty for the occasional evening out to a restaurant as well as for day hiking (yes it can be done). This time of year, it will be hot, so you won't need much more than a light jacket or sweater. If you go up North, you may need rain gear, but I'm not positive about that. If you haven't done it already, get the Lonely Planet and Insight Guides books and do some reading and planning.

If you buy more stuff than will fit in your pack, you can always pick up a small duffle bag down there for next to nothing.

Granite Gear makes some lightweight women specific packs big enough for this type of trip. Look on their website.

Other companies make women specific packs, but the GG's seem to be very well designed. They are very popular with lightweight gear users.

Where abouts are you heading? If south (Victoria/Tasmania/southern New South Wales) we've just had snow in the alps (Christmas day!) so it can be cool - cold. Last week we had the high 30s (100ºF). Be prepared for anything. Most people walk with a 60L pack (Osprey Ariel 65 (woman design) is said by several to be the most comfortable pack around), but several in our club ( have gone much smaller.

I have the Osprey Ariel 75, the larger volume version, and it is a nice women's-specific pack. I haven’t used it enough to give it a thorough review, but it is well made and I’m happy with it so far. I got the 75 liter version because I wanted to be able to use it in winter and I carry more gear when we take our toddler backpacking. Otherwise, I think the 65 would be a good size for most people and if you can go even smaller, more power to you.

December 1, 2020
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