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Looking for a lightweight pack for my girlfriend
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Jonathan J
(Jonathan_Jessop) - M
Looking for a lightweight pack for my girlfriend on 09/22/2012 22:12:13 MDT Print View

My girlfriend is currently using a really heavy REI pack, she's looking to start carrying much less weight so part of that she needs a much lighter pack. I was wondering if anyone has any recommendations? She's quite small, 4'9" and I measured her back at about 18.5 inches. I've been looking for something more affordable, like $150 or less. I was interested in the Golite jam but they no longer make women sizes. I've been checking out Granite Gear packs, like the Virga, and ULA packs as well.

Wes Kline
(weskline) - F

Locale: Adirondacks
Gregory on 09/22/2012 22:22:16 MDT Print View

There are alot of cottage packs that might work, and I know many women like ULA packs. My girlfriend really like the Gregory Freia 30 for shorter trips. She is very slightly built and takes the small; the women specific straps suit her.

I use a GG Gorilla, but couldn't find a size that fit her well.

Emily B
Looking for a lightweight pack for my girlfriend on 09/22/2012 22:35:50 MDT Print View

I love my Granite Gear Vapor Ki. I find it super comfortable, versatile, and easy to use. I got it for under $100 on sale and have seen them on sale regularly. From what I recall, my torso is 19" and I use the Regular size. Mine weighs a bit under 38 oz. There are lighter packs out there (mostly non-women-specific from what I can tell) and I'd like to have one someday, so I'll be interested to see if any women reply to this post with comments on how they've liked their packs from cottage manufacturers.

As a bonus, the back panel on the Vapor Ki is cushy enough that I sometimes use it as a pillow, and likewise, it is good (especially since the belt can be easily removed) as the foot extension for a 3/4-length sleeping mat.

Edit: it looks like the Vapor Ki (and Vapor Trail) are not on Granite Gear's current website and are perhaps being phased out in favor of other variations? But I'm guessing it's still available at some other retail sites, and I've seen them at stores recently.

Edited by emilyb on 09/22/2012 22:55:08 MDT.

James Reilly
(zippymorocco) - M

Locale: Montana
Womens MLD Prophet on 09/22/2012 22:36:05 MDT Print View

We just had Ron make a women's version of the Prophet. It's not listed on the site yet but is available. We haven't received it yet but if it's anything like the mens version it will be great.

Edited by zippymorocco on 09/22/2012 22:37:13 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Looking for a lightweight pack for my girlfriend on 09/22/2012 23:07:48 MDT Print View

One big difference between a small man's pack and a small woman's pack is in the shoulder straps, since women's shoulders tend to be narrower. If you find a small man's pack, the straps might be adjusted inward to fit shoulders right. I say that because there are many more packs available for men than for women.

Some friends of mine are that way. Regular size man and a very petite size woman. Since her pack is small to fit her, she carries mostly the dense gear items. He carries everything else. That seems to work.


Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Looking for a lightweight pack for my girlfriend on 09/22/2012 23:09:19 MDT Print View

I personally cannot use a frameless pack for more than about 10 lbs. My shoulders are very pressure sensitive so I need load lifters and enough structure to put basically 100% of the weight on the hip belt. For me, the shoulder straps are just to keep the pack from falling off!

I know quite a few other women who need more structure to their pack than most frameless packs provide. How much will your GF's total pack weight be? I'd suggest subtracting at least 5 lbs. from the manufacturer's recommended total pack weight--maybe more.

Very few "cottage" manufacturers (where the lightweight packs are) list woman-specific packs on their websites. Many will, however, do so on special order. I'm lucky in that I can wear some unisex packs if the torso is short enough for my 15" torso length. It's more a case of how the female appendages are located than of their size, I've found.

ULA makes what are essentially women's packs by providing the S-shaped shoulder strap option for all their packs. They're also one of the few makers that go as low as a 15" torso length and I understand they will make an extra-small size on request. I wish they made a model small enough in capacity for a winter day pack!

If I needed to replace my current backpacking pack, I'd start my search with the Elemental Horizons Kalais. With the added stay, it's just the size, weight and structure I need. They will make some alterations for specific measurements. It has modified S straps and a highly adjustable hip belt (the other area where most men and most women generally differ). Review by Will Rietveld here:

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/23/2012 00:35:41 MDT.

Al Baran
(FishBone) - F

Locale: Mid-South
Granite Gear Virga (small) Available on 09/23/2012 07:09:17 MDT Print View

I've got a GG Virga, size small available. Original design; excellent condition; I bought it used, but it's too small for me. PM if you're interested.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
fit on 09/23/2012 08:32:01 MDT Print View

since yr GF is an unusual sizing ...

1. go to a store and try on as many packs as possible


2. go meet other people and try on as many of their packs as possible


3. order online and try on as many packs as possible, make absolutely sure you can return them and youll likely lose out on shipping

you should do this for any pack, fit is what matters, dont worry about an oz here or there if it doesnt fit ... your gf will be screaming and cursing you if you get her an ill fitting pack ;)

what you shouldnt do IMO is buy something on BPL just because someone says is good, is light, has a cottage name, etc... without regard for fit

Nancy Twilley

Locale: STL
torso sizing on 09/23/2012 12:56:31 MDT Print View

Just to check: did you say you measured her whole back at 18.5" or her torso at 18.5"? If your girlfriend is 4'9", her torso is probably around 14", according to manufacturer's torso measurements, and technically too short for almost all mass-produced packs.

I'm 5'0" -- right now I've got a GG Nimbus Ozone, which adjusts down to a 14" torso minimum. It's an awesome pack and very supportive, but my cut down version weighs only a few ounces shy of 3 pounds. I'm currently looking for a lighter replacement.

Good luck!

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
COMFORT 1st on 09/23/2012 13:24:15 MDT Print View

I'd recommend the Osprey EXOS 46 at about 2,600+ cu. in. for a size small. It weighs 2 lbs. 4 oz. which is quite light for a framed pack.

The EXOS' mesh back of the harness is quite comfortable and the perimiter wire frame is as minimalist as you can get and still have that good mesh back support.

As with any new pack purchase, if it is large enough that she can fit all her gear inside then have her wear it in the store for 30 minutes or more to see if it fits properly.

Kimberly Wersal
(kwersal) - MLife

Locale: Western Colorado
re: Torso Sizing on 09/23/2012 22:21:37 MDT Print View

I'll second Nancy's comments-- I think you've measured her torso incorrectly, unless she has incredibly short legs. I am 5'9+ and my torso length is only 18 inches, so she would have to have a very unusual build to have an 18.5 inch torso length. I would look into having ULA make her an XS CDT with the woman specific shoulder straps.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Looking for a lightweight pack for my girlfriend on 09/23/2012 23:37:37 MDT Print View

There's a video on the ULA website showing how to measure torso length. It even stars a topless woman (from the back, though)! While torso length and height aren't necessarily related, that does seem like an awfully long torso for a woman under 5' tall. It never hurts to measure twice! I don't recommend measuring yourself, though; when I tried that I came out as much as 2 inches different each time! Make sure the top of the jeans (as shown in the video) is where the pack hip belt would be, level with the top of the iliac crest (pelvic bone). Click "sizing" for the video

For a ULA pack, I suggest the Circuit which is much more supportive than the frameless CDT. It also comes in child size with an adjustable torso. Get the S-straps. But please measure your GF a couple of times more! Then call the company you're ordering from and give more details!

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/23/2012 23:43:03 MDT.

Nick G
(HermesUL) - F
At the risk of sounding like a broken record... on 09/24/2012 18:09:19 MDT Print View

I seem to be the only one around who's talking about the Osprey Hornet pack, which is far lighter than the Exos for the same quality--perhaps a little comfort is suffered, but almost all the weight reduction is in lighter fabric and much smaller snaps+buckles. It's still shipping for free from REI at $111 each.

The only risk here is not being able to try it on. At 6'2", I've found that the pack fits me fine but sat a little funny when I first tried it out--I would have preferred a med/large, but it wasn't worth the extra cash. By the way, MY torso is 18.5", so others are right to recommend that you remeasure hers. Any outdoor store will gladly do it for you, and they're pretty accurate (REI and EMS measured me the same).

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
frame or frameless? on 09/24/2012 19:05:50 MDT Print View

As Mary D points out, you need to decide frame or frameless. If you go with a frame like the popular Granite Gear Packs, be sure to take note of the hip belt. If it is too long, you will not be able to cinch it in far enough to have it lift the weight off your shoulders as it is supposed to. Even if you have an S size pack, you may need an XS belt. The lightest packs have no frames, but if I am out for two weeks, I start to miss a frame to shift the weight. Look at Z-Pack for a frameless. My daughter uses a Dana Design, but they have been bought out by Marmot, but search there or on ebay for older models specifically for women.

PS In fact, I think she has a Deuter women's model.

Edited by rambler on 09/24/2012 19:35:54 MDT.

Anne-Sophie Rodet
(ptiteAS) - F
Looking for a lightweight pack for my girlfriend on 09/24/2012 21:53:10 MDT Print View

I've spent hours looking into backpacks.
I was convinced that a Exos was what I needed until I tried it!! I'm almost 5' and the Exos it too big for me. Even the small size doesn't work. The shoulder straps location on the hips go too wide, it really feels like it's not close enough to my torso. (Sorry if the explanation is not really good, I have a hard time describing)

I really think I found the perfect backpack for me: The Mammut crea light.
I've just tried it earlier today in a shop and it's exactly what I've been looking for. Less than a kilo but still with a frame and ventilation and all the features I was hoping for. I just have to decide if I'm gonna go with 28l (I still looks quite big with only 28l) or with a 40l
I know it might be a little bit over your budget. But for me it was finally a backpack that is light enough (not many woman backpack that have a frame and are around 1kg) and felt great.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Zpacks Custom Zero on 09/24/2012 23:32:26 MDT Print View

I just took delivery of a Zero. It's amazing. I ordered a small with 3" higher collar and five webbing loops on each side with a top line lock like the ULA compression. I also got top and bottom loops and shock chord to put a GG sit light pad in as a back pad. Got a rear mesh pocket and side WB pockets as well for under $140. Anyway, the pack weighs about 6 oz. w/o the sit pad and carries very well. I got a webbing hip belt and it's all very comfortable with a 6 lb. load. I bet your GF with her gear only could do days out with this thing. Fully custom and cheaper than off the rack stuff from most vendors.

For me, I got a torso 1" shorter than normal (19"). I bet your GF would need 2-3" shorter, not a problem at all for Zpacks.

Edited by bcutlerj on 09/24/2012 23:35:38 MDT.

Jonathan J
(Jonathan_Jessop) - M
Thanks! on 09/25/2012 10:42:57 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the informative replies, she's going to try to find some of them in a store to try on, and may order online as well.