Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
What Pack should i get?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Patrick Schenkel
(schenkel) - F
What Pack should i get? on 03/03/2011 02:50:39 MST Print View

I have an old hand-me down pack that i inherited and absolutely love, however, as a result, i know very little about backpack shopping. Unfortunately, my fiance' doesn't like her pack because it is not appropriately fitted to her body size. She is about 5'1" and 115 lbs. Any recommendations? We typically only do shorter backpacking trips, 1-3 nights. i want to find her one for a gift.


Mark Ryan

Locale: Somewhere. Probably lost.
How Much? on 03/03/2011 05:08:34 MST Print View

Really depends on how much you want spend, and how much weight she will be carrying?

I recommend Golite Jam or Pinnacle. She is small so I don't she will be carrying more than 20lbs. Both are well designed and can carry more than 20lbs if needed. You are looking to spend $150-$175 for these packs new; you could also search or post on the Gear Swap forum to find one for sale. I picked up my Pinnacle for $100 and it was basically brand new. Also search eBay.

These packs are durable, comfy, and well made.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: How Much? on 03/03/2011 05:33:01 MST Print View

I agree with Mark. Your best price/performance will be a GoLite caught on sale. The kicker will be how she can handle weight on her shoulders. If she's anything like my girlfriend, and probably most women, she can't/won't. In that case, you'll want something with some type of lightweight frame, in which case I recommend the ULA Ohm. You can watch gear swap for one, but if you need it in a hurry you'll pay full price. Honestly though, her comfort is worth it.

Edit - I just noticed your trip length. What kind of kit are you carrying for the two of you? If you're using a tarp, etc., the Ohm might be too big for shorter trips, especially of the 3-season variety. It has pretty good compression, but I prefer something where I can use up the volume. When we were using a TarpTent the volume was much more suited to our 3-season trips; now it's mostly suited to Winter.

Edited by simplespirit on 03/03/2011 05:36:42 MST.

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: What Pack should i get? on 03/03/2011 05:36:21 MST Print View

I tried several packs, frameless, internal and external before I settled on the Aarn Marathon Magic 33. No more than 3 nights out with small bear can, large camera with tripod (54 ounce kit). It is not the lightest but fit me the best and is very comfortable at 25lbs total carry weight. You may consider taking all she will carry to a store and try some packs on to see what works best. For me it was volume then comfort then weight then price. I did like the Osprey Exos 34 a lot also. I tried other packs from Gossamer Gear, SMD and REI (flash 30).

Lapsley Hope
ULA OHM on 03/03/2011 06:22:33 MST Print View

I agree the ULA OHM is an ideal match, just keep the total weight less than 20 lbs which shouldn't be a problem for 3 days.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: What Pack should i get? on 03/03/2011 10:54:27 MST Print View


Edited by annapurna on 03/23/2011 16:04:32 MDT.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
Re: What Pack should i get? on 03/03/2011 11:06:50 MST Print View

i'll disagree on two points: first, I purchased a women's GoLite Jam II and found that it was not durable, or well made. On the first trip out, the mesh bottle pockets started to seperate from the stitching. My original ('04) Jam however, is still going strong. plenty of folk on here are disgusted by GoLite's trend to GoHeavier and i am in that camp.

second, I have a Small OHM and at 5'6" and 145 I cannot imagine it being a great match for a petite woman. My wife at 5' 3" and 130 didnt like it.
MLD (exodus)and Gossamer Gear (murmur, or gorilla) are worth the extra $30-50 over the vietnamese GoLite, imho.

but, i truly cannot give more than two cents without knowing what gear requirements she has.
Dont overlook the Vapor Ki either, if you are set on seeking a Jam II.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: What Pack should i get? on 03/03/2011 11:14:05 MST Print View

What about the Absaroka? They have smalls in stock. And if you're lucky, and they still have smalls in stock tomorrow or Saturday, you can get it for a great price.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Ohm on 03/03/2011 11:29:02 MST Print View

Agree on the Ohm being too big for her. Their sizing is larger than you would think. I recommend one of the Granite Gear packs. Lightweight, can hold 1-3 days worth, very comfortable waist belt/pack straps. Usually comfort is requirement #1 with the wives, girlfriends, etc.


Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Ohm on 03/03/2011 11:33:13 MST Print View

I think most be people like to be comfortable.

T kawa
(kitsune) - F
Absaroka on 03/03/2011 11:33:16 MST Print View

I was thinking about getting a small for my GF also, but if I read correctly, since it's on sale, you can't return if it doesn't fit. Doesn't seem like a good idea since fit is so important with a pack.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Absaroka on 03/03/2011 11:59:07 MST Print View


Edited by annapurna on 03/23/2011 16:03:54 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
What Pack should i get? on 03/03/2011 12:37:22 MST Print View

The most important part of a pack is fit, fit, fit. Pack fit is almost as individual as shoe fit. The pack needs to fit your GF, it needs to fit the gear she carries and it needs to be comfortable for her with said gear packed inside. I would hesitate to get someone else a pack for this reason, unless rather than the physical pack it's a promise to go with her to get one (and pay for it, of course, lol).

Since you are evidently unfamiliar with fitting a pack, I suggest you read this article: It will give you lots of tips on pack fitting. Note that the most important component of pack size is the torso measurement (often unrelated to height or weight), and this article tells you how to do it. REI has some videos on its website which are good, too.

It's a good idea to start with an outdoor store that specializes in backpacking gear and request a clerk experienced in pack fitting. Consider calling ahead and making an appointment. Even supposedly good outdoor stores don't always have experienced clerks (my experience at REI was downright laughable, but that's another story). Reading up ahead of time will help you judge if the clerk you get knows his/her job or if you need to ask for another clerk. Also, remember that we don't normally backpack with sandbags or weights, which feel quite different in the pack than does gear. Box up all the gear your GF will be carrying to take with you to the store. Don't necessarily buy the first pack that feels good. She should hike around the store (especially up and down stairs) with the loaded pack for at least an hour or two. The clerk should help her learn how to adjust the pack and how to load it properly.

When you find THE pack (from the store or by mail order), as soon as you get it home, load up the pack and hike around the house or (if the weather is dry and you can keep it clean) with the fully loaded pack for 2-3 hours. A very boring "hike," but far better than finding out several miles down the trail that the pack won't work for her and then not being able to return it.

If you order through the internet, be prepared to pay return postage. It may take multiple orders to get the best pack for your GF. (We small women are harder to fit, and she's smaller than I am.) When I went through the process (almost 7 years ago), I lucked out in that the first pack I got fit as though it were custom made just for me. I doubt that my experience will apply to very many people. (The pack has been discontinued, so no point in referring it to you.)

I agree that the pack should have some sort of frame to transfer nearly all the weight to the hip belt. I personally have sensitive shoulders (runs in my family, evidently) and cannot use a pack without load lifters (which also transfer more weight to the hip belt). We women are, after all, built to carry the most weight (think unborn baby) with our hips, not our shoulders! Our center of gravity is lower than that of most men, so the center of gravity of our packs needs to be lower, too.

Best wishes in finding your GF the pack that suits her!

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: What Pack should i get? on 03/03/2011 12:41:42 MST Print View

Very Good Mary D!

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
if the glove dun fit u must acquit !!! on 03/03/2011 12:56:39 MST Print View

whadda mary said

fit is everything ... you wouldnt buy her shoes without her trying it on would ya ... same with a pack ...

its what she feels comfortable carrying that matters

go into yr local store and try it all on, up and down stairs, with a 20 lb load ... and make sure you can return it

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: What Pack should i get? on 03/03/2011 13:11:13 MST Print View

Fit fit fit.

For smaller women, check the Osprey brand, my lovely wife tried on about 20 packs before buying an Ariel 55. Sure,. it's heavier than an "ultralight" pack but she is much happier with it than any other pack she has owned or tried.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
UL Pack for small framed female on 03/10/2011 08:27:40 MST Print View

I've been searching for the perfect one for my wife for a few years now.

She's 5'-3, ~16" torso, ~110 lbs. The pack she uses now is an older Gregory Jade 50 and she loves the fit but the pack is a little over 3 lbs. without many possibilities for making it lighter. I have a similar Gregory pack and admit that it carries heavy loads very well and is comfortable, so I can understand why she likes it, but it's been frustrating not being able to find something lighter for her.

Off the top of my head we have tried...

- Granite Gear Vapor Ki, medium and small
- Lowe Alpine Zepton
- Golite Jam unisex, medium
- ULA Ohm, small
- GG Gorilla, medium
- MLD Burn, small
- Several Osprey packs

The main problem has been how the shoulder straps fit her. On her Jade it's really obvious that the fit is about perfect for her shape. One thing I've noticed is that pack has a comparatively wider spacing at the neck.

We're going to revisit the Vapor Ki and see if we can get it adjusted better. This was the only one that was "ok" out of the bunch. The frameless packs have pretty much been a no-go. I was really hoping the Ohm would work, we might give the Gorilla small a shot. I also picked up a couple of the older Jam packs in small at the recent clearance... keeping my fingers crossed...

Edited by JacobD on 03/10/2011 08:30:27 MST.

Jeffrey McConnell
Gorilla small on 03/10/2011 16:23:49 MST Print View

I would definitely try a gorilla small. I think its pretty similar in fit to the marpiosa plus which I have in a small. I have a 16.5" torso and found the small to fit perfectly. It also comes with the smaller should straps which is nice.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Vapor Ki on 03/13/2011 16:54:44 MDT Print View

We revisited the Vapor Ki yesterday. She did 14 miles with about 16 lbs in it and decided it was actually a pretty good fit for her (size medium).

I'm still keeping an eye out for a small Gorilla... if anybody has one for sale and comes across this feel free to shoot me a PM.