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fact or fiction or marketing hype regarding backpacks for women
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mik matra
(mikmik) - M

Locale: Allways on the move
fact or fiction or marketing hype regarding backpacks for women on 09/19/2012 17:52:29 MDT Print View

My sis went to one of the reputable camping stores to look for a backpack and was told women need women specific packs. I am VERY sceptical regarding this advice and would much rather the tried and tested torso measurement method.

The question; Did she get fed a marketing/sales hype or is there some weight to the advice given to her?

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: fact or fiction or marketing hype regarding backpacks for women on 09/19/2012 17:59:28 MDT Print View

Not necessarily.. shoulder strap shape is one definite difference for umm anatomical reasons. my gf didn't like my pack when she was trying them out for that reason.

she still needs to do torso measuring because there will still be sizes

we have a enough ladies on here that can chime in though.

Edited by JakeDatc on 09/19/2012 18:00:14 MDT.

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
myth on 09/19/2012 18:16:58 MDT Print View

Myth, but the number one problem I see with women is getting fit too short.

Edited by wildlife on 09/20/2012 11:31:30 MDT.

Leslie Thurston
(lesler) - F

Locale: right here, right now
fiction! i say on 09/19/2012 18:26:01 MDT Print View

i've worn men's packs all my life and haven't ever had issues!
personally, i'm inclined to think the "women's specific" gear in general is a fib,
(provided you're willing to tweak as necessary, which happens so infrequently, mostly with footwear for me). i'm 5'3" and small framed, and most men's xs or sm fits me to a t.

Nancy Twilley

Locale: STL
fact! on 09/19/2012 18:38:24 MDT Print View

Torso measurement is key, of course, but lots of men's packs don't come in sizes short enough for small women. Shoulder straps are also a big difference - You want to avoid boob squeeze. Plenty of women are happy with men's packs and men's clothes -- but if you have certain body types, they just don't work that well for you.

packs on 09/19/2012 19:08:09 MDT Print View

People come in all shapes and sizes.
Many women are larger and beefier than some men.
Many men use womens packs as well.
Pretty hard to distinguish a female skeleton from a male except for the pelvis, or so I hear

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: fact! on 09/19/2012 19:31:41 MDT Print View

I agree with Nancy here. There are " a couple" of differences in our bodies, at least. I still have to find a pack that has a comfortable sternum strap.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
Don't forget the hips on 09/19/2012 19:51:13 MDT Print View

I have a short waist and large hips. When I was trying conventional packs, I had to have the women's hipbelt to shape to my hips, otherwise it rubbed, and a short torso. Using ultralight packs, the belts have less rigidity and comform better to my hips, so "gender" isn't really an issue.

I don't have a large chest, so the shoulder straps were never an issue for me, but some companies put more of an S-shape to them than the men's.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Don't forget the hips on 09/19/2012 19:58:54 MDT Print View

Given the huge range of variation in bodies, it would make more sense to categorize packs by body type rather than gender, but that's not how marketing is done.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
fact or fiction or marketing hype regarding backpacks for women on 09/19/2012 20:03:03 MDT Print View

Women, like men, come in all different shapes and sizes. IMHO, backpack fit is almost as individual as shoe fit, so a lot of trying on is necessary to find out what works for the individual. It's a really good idea to take along the stuff that will be carried in the pack, plus the weight/bulk equivalent of several days' food and water, to any try-on session--the pack has to fit the gear as well as the individual! The "woman specific" thing may be hype or may be true, depending on the particular woman. I have a woman specific day pack (with the "S" shaped straps) and a unisex backpacking pack (with relatively straight straps), and both are very comfortable for me.

My backpacking backpack is unisex but fits me just fine. The day it arrived, I loaded it up with my gear and "hiked" around the house for a couple of hours. Boring, yes, but I wanted to be sure it would work for me while I could still return it. From the very first try-on, it felt as though it had been custom-made just for me! It's a long-discontinued model (2005 Comet) from Six Moon Designs. If I were looking to replace it (I'm not), the first pack I'd look at is the Elemental Horizons Kalais.

I haven't been so lucky with day packs. I decided to ditch the one I had (TNF) because it weighs almost 3 lbs. and is too long in the torso for me. It appears that nearly all the manufacturers are going to "one size fits all" day packs which are far too big for my 15" torso and far too small for big and tall people. The few that are made for shorter torsos weigh 2.5 to 3.5 pounds, and I refuse to carry a daypack that weighs more than my backpacking pack (1 3/4 lb.)! I did find a nice lightweight summer daypack (on closeout--not made any more) that weighs just over a pound, but it's 19 liters which is too small for my winter gear. I'm still looking for a day pack for late fall/winter/early spring dayhikes that doesn't weigh more than 1.5 lbs., will fit a 15" torso, does have some structure to it, especially a good hip belt and fairly good weight transfer to the hip belt, and about 25-28 liters capacity. I'll consider one that is a little heavier if it has enough gewgaws I can whack off to get it down close to 1.5 lbs.

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/19/2012 20:06:39 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: fact or fiction or marketing hype regarding backpacks for women on 09/19/2012 21:47:02 MDT Print View

Listen to Mr. McHale, he knows what he is talking about. If you have an average build, height, etc. then off-the-shelf packs are much easier to fit. If not... yer on yer own :)

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: fact or fiction or marketing hype regarding backpacks for women on 09/20/2012 00:48:26 MDT Print View

This discussion has happened before.

The "few differences" people are talking about - torso length, shoulder strap width, position and curve (or not), hip belt width, postion and angle, sternaum strap location, etc are all the things that tend to be different for most women who have trouble fitting a man's pack.

Not hype, just anatomy. Female skeletons in general have a wider pelvis, narrower shoulders and chest and shorter torsos. There are always exceptions, like less curvey woemn with broader shoulders doing better with a guy's pack, or slighter-framed men doing better with a women's pack, but given the generall population, there is a need for a "women's specific pack."

I for one need those fit differences constructed in a pack. When issues like this come up, I can;t help but wonder how the men who think women don't rate or shouldn't have gear constructed to fit them would feel if the "standard" packs were constructed to based on female anaotmy and these men were told, "just live with it," or "make it work," and "stop whining" because manufacuteres shouldn't "pander" to male consumers. "it's just hype, after all."

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: fact or fiction or marketing hype regarding backpacks for women on 09/20/2012 07:40:11 MDT Print View

Yeah, how else is she going to find that baby-blue pack that matches her trail runners?

Joking, obviously.

"Women-specific" is such a generic term. I'm guessing there are different interpretations and expectations of what it really means in practice.

Being a woman who has shopped for gear that involves fit and size, I do think it's a matter of "fit" and not function. To me, it's a lot like athletic/hiking shoes. Men and women's styles have the same features and perform the same function but have different proportions and size-ranges.

Specifically on a pack, I think women *typically* have different torso length to hips to shoulder width proportions from men. For instance, I'm 5'2" and my torso length usually falls into the S or S/M range in men's packs. I found that men's small packs with fixed hipbelts usually came with one sized for 30-34". My hips haven't been in that range for quite a while...

Obviously not an issue for custom packs or ones that are "configurable" either with selectable or interchangable hipbelts and/or shoulder straps.

I feel the same about sleeping bags, too. I have a "women's" Feathered Friends bag that is proportioned differently from the men's in the shoulders and hips. It's also made for my height. I love the fit and find that it's much more comfortable for me.

So the bottom line is that women certainly don't have to have a "women-specific" pack but they're just another option from a fit point of view.

Edited by DetroitTigerFan on 09/20/2012 07:49:50 MDT.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
older thread on 09/20/2012 08:40:52 MDT Print View

Some thoughts on the topic from an older thread.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
It's all about you... on 09/20/2012 09:02:47 MDT Print View

The best advice is just to try out a bunch of packs and see what works for you. I'm pretty curvy overall, but I have terribly bony collarbones and shoulders. I've tried so many "women's" packs to try and make them work (I'm a woman!! I'm curvy!!), but the placement of those shoulder straps just kills me. So...ive had great results with unisex and men's packs for that reason. So just keep an open mind and try stuff on. I like tht the option is there to accommodate our anatomy, but there is more to us than a chest and hips ;)

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: It's all about you... on 09/20/2012 11:33:37 MDT Print View

Some packs have a smaller main bag, and I have no idea why, either. My older Jam is much smaller than the older men's Jam, even though the small men's Jam would fit me, yet the main bag itself was several cu in larger.