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Backpack for short girlfriend (5'2) 30-40L
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Mike Schasch
(MSchasch) - F
Backpack for short girlfriend (5'2) 30-40L on 06/10/2013 20:20:16 MDT Print View

Hey there,

I've seached through the forums, and figured this kind of thread could use an update.

My GF is 5'2, about 15-16" torso. I would love to get her a pack under a pound as she has no need for all the space of her REI flash 50. Another issue is that she has narrow shoulders and a pack like my MLD Newt has too wide of shoulder straps for her.

Seems many companies don't make torsos that small on their packs? I've checked out the SMD Feather, would like something more simple possibly. The Borah Stealth looks good too, just not sure if its quite small enough for her.

Other ideas?

(Joomy) - M
Re: Backpack for short girlfriend (5'2) 30-40L on 06/10/2013 23:38:36 MDT Print View

Make one, or get one made. If you're just after an MLD Newt with shorter torso and custom straps someone like Chris Zimmer could probably bang one together in a few hours.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Backpack for short girlfriend (5'2) 30-40L on 06/10/2013 23:52:29 MDT Print View

Maybe Golite Jam 35L, size small (15.5" torso min):

Cheap, comfortable, looks nice, light enough for price, award winning, bulletproof, classic, off-the-shelf.

If you really care about the 1 lb get her this while you wait for a custom one to be built to her speck. Only I'm not sure if ordering a custom cuben pack for your GF is equivalent to a wedding ring in ultralightland.

Personal preference here, but if you are buying this to get her into backpacking, or she is otherwise not a already gram wienie like you, then I'd go for the comfort over a few oz first, and make up for it by carrying the extra grams yourself. Probably more likely to get her to go with you more often.

Edit: also like the zimmerbuilt idea!

Edited by millonas on 06/10/2013 23:55:51 MDT.

Tanner M
Re: Backpack for short girlfriend (5'2) 30-40L on 06/11/2013 05:39:25 MDT Print View

> "if you are buying this to get her into backpacking, or she is otherwise not a already gram wienie like you, then I'd go for the comfort over a few oz first"

I think this is a good consideration and good luck with your search.

Describing size in liters might be a thing that will catch on. As with weight, it doesn't let out the secret where the weight went. As with dress sizes and different manufacturers, it might give girls a smaller number to use.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Backpack for short girlfriend (5'2) 30-40L on 06/11/2013 06:42:28 MDT Print View

ULA makes short. Not light enough for you. Though with female straps and all, could be comfy. Can try on and return. Something that can't be done w/custom.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Backpack for short girlfriend (5'2) 30-40L on 06/11/2013 09:17:58 MDT Print View

I'm a couple inches taller than your GF but have exactly the same torso length. I also happen to be the only woman who has responded here so far, and you'll notice that my advice is different!

One thing about being a woman is that our bodies and our pack requirements are generally different from those of most men. I personally have extremely pressure-sensitive shoulders, so I require some sort of frame and load lifters in order to keep the straps completely off the tops of my shoulders and transfer all the pack weight to the hipbelt. This rules out a frameless pack unless I'm carrying 5 pounds or less. Even that small amount is uncomfortable for me without a stiff foam back and a well-padded hipbelt.

More important, a woman's center of gravity is normally several inches lower than a man's. This means that if there is not adequate weight transfer to the hipbelt, which requires some kind of frame, the pack will be top-heavy and pull her off balance. This is another reason to avoid a frameless and hip-beltless pack like the ones you're looking at. That means your one pound weight limit is probably unrealistic if you want her to be comfortable. There are lots of packs with some kind of frame that weigh less than two pounds. .

My current pack (Six Moon Designs Comet, with the "optional"--mandatory, IMHO--stays) has been discontinued and SMD's nearest substitute, the Starlight, is far too big for me (it's 60L; I've never gone over 40L even when sherpa-ing for grandkids). I have found the Comet wonderfully comfortable and have carried upto 37 pounds in it. My shoulders, back and hips were just fine even though my knees and feet were screaming---I won't try that again! Normally my maximum total pack weight is 24 lbs. for a 9-day trip. It's 15 lbs. for a solo 3-day trip if I don't take fishing gear. My pack alone is 27 ounces.

If I were replacing my current pack, the first packs that I'd look at would be the Elemental Horizons Kalais (with the so-called "optional" stays) and the ULA Ohm 2.0. Both are under 2 pounds, are available in my (and your GF's) short torso length and can be gotten with the "S" shaped straps which for most women are far more comfortable. I can get along with a unisex pack (which mine is), but having tried the "S" shaped straps, I definitely prefer those. Both these packs come with 15" torso length. Elemental Horizons will also customize the Kalais for your GF; just ask them! The ULA Circuit (heavier, but more supportive) comes in a youth size which has an adjustable torso length; with the "S" straps this pack might also be better for your GF. It's too bad they don't have this option in the Ohm 2.0 (it wouldn't hurt to ask, though).

Be sure your GF has all her gear (including water, fuel and the equivalent in weight and bulk of food) ready when the pack arrives, so she can load up the pack, adjust it and "hike" around the house for a couple of hours. This needs to be done (keeping the tags on and the pack clean) while the pack is still returnable, usually within 30 days. It's important to do this with her actual gear; weights are not an adequate substitute.

Edited by hikinggranny on 06/11/2013 09:57:37 MDT.

Eli Zabielski
(ezabielski) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
MLD on 06/11/2013 09:45:57 MDT Print View

Have you thought about asking Ron at MLD to just make the shoulders narrower on one of his packs? It's a small modification so it might not incur any custom build charges.

I have the Newt, and while it's beautifully simple, it's probably the most featureless pack you can buy -- 1 compartment with a roll down top. So it's not the most versatile pack, and it's pretty small too. Perhaps the MLD Burn instead?

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Backpack for short girlfriend (5'2) 30-40L on 06/11/2013 09:56:47 MDT Print View

I agree with Mary,I own the Elemental Horizon Kalais and it is a great pack.You can remove the stays if you want it lighter or frameless.The size small fits a 14" to 16" torso and Mathew is great to work with on exactly what you want and need. Here is Will Rietvelds's review.I am 5' tall and my torso is 16".

Edited by annapurna on 06/11/2013 09:59:08 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
pack for narrow and short on 06/11/2013 10:06:25 MDT Print View

I think pretty much every company makes a pack for a 16" torso. The medium Golite Jams are actually pretty good for that size, even though they claim they're for substantially longer folks.

The Golite straps are on the narrower side. HMG and Osprey as well. The Hornet 32 could suit her needs well.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Backpack for short girlfriend (5'2) 30-40L on 06/11/2013 10:09:40 MDT Print View

MLD offers the Prophet in size XS and Ron custom made a size XS Burn for my daughter. MLD has a relatively long lead time but offers top quality, proven design performance and a durable yet light pack.

Michelle A
(mauhler31) - F
Zpacks on 06/11/2013 11:37:43 MDT Print View

You can also check out the Zpacks Zero and add on options as you see fit. I have the Arc Blast, which is bigger than what you're looking for, but I'm enjoying it. If I had to be nitpicky, the shoulder straps are a little wide for me and I wish they were a S shaped, but they are not bothersome if I adjust everything correctly. You can probably ask Joe to make an S shaped shoulder strap. I loosen the sternum strap so that the straps are at the ends of my shoulders, and pretty much almost all the weight is on my hips, and I feel no pressure on my shoulders at all. Just for reference, I am 5'0" with 16" torso.

Mike Schasch
(MSchasch) - F
Thanks on 06/11/2013 16:10:10 MDT Print View

Hey thanks for all the responses!

To clear something up, this is something she has requested, I am not trying to make her adopt my style or something like that. She is super badass and hikes 20-30 miles per day with me and we spend A LOT of time outdoors persuing various disciplines.

Thanks so much for your insights Mary. Some of these things haven't been considered. Sounds like for you, a frame is absolutely neccessary? Meaning MLD, Zpacks, and many others will not work? Is the 35 liter Golite considered framless?

I love MLD but they seem pretty backed up. I sent an email about a custom burn for her a while back and they didn't seem super interested in making one.

Really wish ULA would make a 35 liter ohm...


Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
Jam fan on 06/11/2013 19:11:18 MDT Print View

My wife is about the same size/ht as what you are talking about. I bought an older Jam 2 in SM, and its a perfect fit. I keep her weight down, and she is able to hike much more and much farther now. Best news is you can find these packs around with some looking, and they can be really cheap. Good Luck

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Thanks on 06/11/2013 19:56:17 MDT Print View

"Is the 35 liter Golite considered framless?"

It has a foam "frame", so a judgement call. If the weight is low you could say "yes". You could also mod it with a stiffer frame I assume. If you use a rolled up ridgerest it feels like a pillow on your back.

Karen Kennedy
(karenk) - MLife

Locale: NE NSW - Australian subtropics
W's pack on 06/12/2013 01:37:00 MDT Print View

At 5'1" with a slight build, I find S-shaped shoulder straps the most comfortable - GoLite particularly make packs with straps that are comfortable and well spaced for those with narrow shoulders. Unlike Mary, I'm happy carrying frameless certainly up to around 13kg, the heaviest I've carried on recent trips (the was in a GoLite Pinnacle).

Good luck with your quest!

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: Backpack for short girlfriend (5'2) 30-40L on 06/12/2013 02:59:23 MDT Print View

I agree with the other ladies that have posted. Women have different fit issues, like needing the S-shaped shoulder straps, narrower shoulder straps, lower center of gravity, etc. So you may need her to try on the pack because torso length is only one measurement to be aware of when fitting the pack.

I am the same height and torso length as your GF. I have several packs including two 2011 Golite Packs, the last year they made Women-specific packs. I have the 36L Jam and the 50L Pinnacle. I like both, they fit and carry well. However, they weigh more than you wanted at 1.5 and 2.0 lbs respectively. I have done thru hikes with these very comfortably.

I also have the Gossamer Gear Murmur (10.5oz.)and Kumo (13.5 oz.)for really light trips. They are both 36L, frameless and size Medium, as they don't make a small in these packs, but since I use them for SUL, short trips, I like them very much. The only real difference between the two is the hip belt. If you are planning only short trips, either of these meet your weight standard of less than 1 lb.

GG now has the Gorilla available in the small size. You may look at this if you want a larger pack at 46L. Their website says it is 24 oz. GG does not do custom work.

If you want a larger pack, 35-50L, that is less than 1 lb., I would also recommend you look at the ZPacks Arc Blast. I recently ordered one and am waiting for it to arrive. The good thing about ZPacks is that they still do custom work so they can easily accommodate special fit needs. I ordered mine with the S-shaped shoulder straps and narrower straps as well. Work with Joe or Matt to get the pack done the way you want it, especially regarding the correct torso measurement, which depends also on where your GF wears the hip belt.

Have fun!

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Backpack for short girlfriend (5'2) 30-40L on 06/12/2013 14:11:19 MDT Print View

While I don't require a full-on frame, there needs to be something besides foam! The removable stays in my current pack work just fine, and they are necessary for the load lifters (which I absolutely need) to function properly. Of course that's for me; pack fit is as individual as shoe fit!

I've been looking for a winter daypack, about 28-30L, and have consistently found that those with torso size of 16" or the unisex "small" size of 17" are both too big for me. And I refuse to carry a day pack that weighs more than my 27 oz. 10-day backpack! Again, YMMV. I've found that I'm better off to take my 40L backpacking pack and compress it down.

I'm also running into the issue that more and more "mainstream" pack makers, including GoLite and REI, have switched from woman-specific to unisex packs, particularly for the smaller capacity packs.

Whatever you do, make sure your GF tests each pack with her gear loaded up for several hours while the pack is still returnable. Keep the tags on and keep the pack clean (meaning she'll have to test it in the house or walking around the neighborhood on a clear day). You may have to pay shipping charges both ways for several packs before she finds the ideal pack!

Edited by hikinggranny on 06/12/2013 14:29:07 MDT.