Guide to Travel Backpacks for Women

Last Updated on 07/03/2022

Travel Backpacks for Women

A Guide to Travel Backpacks for Women

When you’re heading off backpacking, camping, on a weekend away, or long-term travel, the last thing you want is to lug around a heavy, unwieldy suitcase. Without a doubt, travel backpacks for women are the perfect carrying device for most forms of adventure travel, as it’s easy to carry, easy to stow, and doesn’t restrict you from using both arms.

Finding the Perfect Travel Backpack for You

If you are a woman and have just started looking for a travel backpack then you will be well aware of the fact that there is an overwhelming amount of different options. Women’s backpacks are designed to fit the curves and features of your body type and differ from men’s backpacks in very subtle but noticeable ways. Given that there are so many backpacks to choose from, it is important to find one that fits you well and is reliable.

While I am sure there are men’s backpacks that will fit a woman very well, the shapes and sizes of traditional rucksacks are often not suitable for a woman’s frame and can end up making squeaky noises. Luckily, all the big brands and manufacturers recognize this fact and provide women’s versions to popular designs as well as alternatives to others.

  • Check out these top 10 backpacks for more tips on what to look for in a backpacking backpack

Your local outdoor shop should let you try on a range of rucksacks and adjust them to see how they fit. They’ll also measure your torso size and show you the range of rucksacks suitable for your size. Don’t worry, you don’t need to actually buy from these shops—on the contrary, it’s often cheaper to search online for the best deal when you find the perfect rucksack for you.

Alternatively, if you buy from places like Amazon then you can order multiple sizes and return the ones that don’t fit. The important thing is to be happy with your purchase before you take it on an adventure. 

woman hiker with backpack


We all want to think we’re capable of carrying a horse if need be. But when choosing a rucksack, it’s important to be honest with yourself about how much you can comfortably carry, especially on long-term trips. There’s literally no point buying a rucksack with space for a huge amount of belongings and as a result taking more than you need, then having backache on your entire trip because your rucksack is too heavy. The only person who will suffer is you, and in the long-term, your back.

Buy Small, Pack Light

Buying a smaller backpack encourages you to pack lighter. You can supplement your rucksack by carrying smaller or important items in a handbag or daypack, which is also handy excursions where you don’t want to bring your travel bag. If you’re worried about not taking enough, you can utilize the concept of the “capsule wardrobe”, taking 20-25 items that can create multiple outfits, even on long-term trips. Even if you’re visiting cold climes, the capsule wardrobe means you can layer up for warmth.

Utilize the Outside of Your Rucksack

Rather than buying a large capacity women’s travel backpack, utilize the fact that rucksacks have many a clip, pocket, and fastenings on the outside. So you can always tie or clip items onto the outside of your rucksack if you need more room later on (the classic trainers tied on by their shoelaces look!). This works well for rain coats, spare shoes, tents, and sleeping mats, which can all be attached to the outside of your rucksack.

Travel Backpacks for Women Guide

A Rough Size Guide

  • Under 29 liters: This is more of a daypack or overnight bag, but if you can pack extremely light, you can get away with this size on a slightly longer trip too.
  • 30-45 liters: This is the ideal size as you can keep your rucksack nice and light and concentrate on the adventure instead, even on longer trips. This is an especially good size for smaller women. Check out our Osprey Tempest Review
  • 45-55 liters: If you’re slightly bigger or need to carry more, this size still enables you to fit your rucksack on the plane as hand luggage, which is usually much cheaper. Many women opt for around 45 liters.
  • 55-75 liters: This is more along the lines of a male rucksack, and you can fit a hell of a lot in it. However, it’s unlikely to fit in hand luggage and will encourage you to pack more. Some women opt for this size to cater for the items they’ll buy on their adventure, but it’s better for your back (and offset in planes’ luggage fees) to regularly send these souvenirs and items home.

Height / Torso Size

Most travel backpacks for women are designed for different torso sizes, so it’s important to get measured and buy a rucksack suitable for your height and torso size. Some companies make an XS torso rucksack for smaller women, but if you can’t find one small enough, try the junior section. Similarly, if you can’t find one big enough, try a unisex or even a male rucksack and test its comfort.

Travel Bags for Women

Bust and Hips

As women, one of the major differences compared to men’s rucksacks is that they’re designed to fit comfortably around your hips and bust.

Make sure you get a rucksack that fits comfortably around your bust, not squashing you in. The shoulder straps are adjustable, so you should be able to find a comfortable setting for you. You can usually clip the shoulder straps together across your bust to take the strain off your back, and this clip should also be adjustable.

A good quality travel backpack for women should have an adjustable hip belt. Ideally, when you’ve got your hip belt clipped comfortably, it will take a lot of the weight off your back.

Travel Backpacks for Woman

Final Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to try a range of brands before making a decision.
  • Take it on a “trial” weekend away to test how much you can carry and how comfortable it is.
  • Buy a rain cover in case you get caught in a shower.
  • Buy “dry” bags to separate your belongings inside your rucksack easily.

Thanks for reading this basic guide on Travel Backpacks for Women and stay tuned for our list of the best rucksacks for women – subscribe here.

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

Gear Assistant