Best Hiking Backpack for Women – Which is the Best in 2021?

Gear

If you’re looking for the best hiking backpack for women, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed with choice. With so many backpacks out there, how can you find the best backpack for you? 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different types? And how can you find a backpack that will fit you comfortably for long hikes? That’s what we’ll be answering in this guide.

The bottom line up front: we like the N NEVO RHINO Internal Frame Hiking Backpack. It’s a useful, comfortable, and adjustable framed backpack ideal for day hikes.

We also like:

We’ll be looking at:

  • The key things in a hiking backpack for women
  • Our top 5, including their key features, pros, and cons
  • Frequently asked questions 
  • Our top picks and why we like them so much

Let’s start by comparing our top 5!

Best Hiking Backpacks for Women Compared

Feature
Best Internal Frame Backpack
Best Smaller Backpack
Best for Water Resistance
Good All-Rounder
Most Comfortable
Model
N NEVO RHINO Internal Frame Backpack
The North Face Women's Recon
Duraton Hiking Backpack 50 Liter
WASING 55 Liter Internal Frame
TETON Sports Oasis
N NEVO RHINO 50L Green Hiking Backpack, Internal Frame Hiking Backpack, Alpine Climbing Backpack, Waterproof Camping Backpacking Daypack Suitable for Women, Men, Child (45+5 L)
The North Face Women's Recon, TNF Black, OS
DURATON Hiking Backpack 50L, Water Resistant Light-Weight Day Pack for Backpacking Camping and Travel (Orange)
WASING 55L Internal Frame Backpack Hiking Backpacking Packs for Outdoor Travel Climbing Camping Mountaineering with Rain Cover - Red
TETON Sports Oasis Hydration Packs; 2-Liter Hydration Backpack with Water Bladder; For Backpacking, Hiking, Running, Cycling, and Climbing
Type
Internal Frame
Frameless
Frameless
Internal Frame
Frameless
Materials
Nylon
Nylon
Nylon
Nylon
Ripstop nylon
Capacity
40 Liters
30 Liters
50 Liters
55 Liters
18 Liters
1,113 Reviews
2,660 Reviews
204 Reviews
1,197 Reviews
11,977 Reviews
Feature
Best Internal Frame Backpack
Model
N NEVO RHINO Internal Frame Backpack
N NEVO RHINO 50L Green Hiking Backpack, Internal Frame Hiking Backpack, Alpine Climbing Backpack, Waterproof Camping Backpacking Daypack Suitable for Women, Men, Child (45+5 L)
Type
Internal Frame
Materials
Nylon
Capacity
40 Liters
1,113 Reviews
Feature
Best Smaller Backpack
Model
The North Face Women's Recon
The North Face Women's Recon, TNF Black, OS
Type
Frameless
Materials
Nylon
Capacity
30 Liters
2,660 Reviews
Feature
Best for Water Resistance
Model
Duraton Hiking Backpack 50 Liter
DURATON Hiking Backpack 50L, Water Resistant Light-Weight Day Pack for Backpacking Camping and Travel (Orange)
Type
Frameless
Materials
Nylon
Capacity
50 Liters
204 Reviews
Feature
Good All-Rounder
Model
WASING 55 Liter Internal Frame
WASING 55L Internal Frame Backpack Hiking Backpacking Packs for Outdoor Travel Climbing Camping Mountaineering with Rain Cover - Red
Type
Internal Frame
Materials
Nylon
Capacity
55 Liters
1,197 Reviews
Feature
Most Comfortable
Model
TETON Sports Oasis
TETON Sports Oasis Hydration Packs; 2-Liter Hydration Backpack with Water Bladder; For Backpacking, Hiking, Running, Cycling, and Climbing
Type
Frameless
Materials
Ripstop nylon
Capacity
18 Liters
11,977 Reviews

What is a Hiking Backpack?

backpack-hiking-boots-forest

A hiking backpack is designed to be comfortable to wear over long distances and periods of time. They are large enough to contain essentials, including clothing, food, and water.

There are 3 types of hiking backpack: frameless, internal-frame, and external-frame. 

What to Look for in a Hiking Backpack

There are a few main features to look for in a hiking backpack:

Type

backpack before departure in the high mountains

There are 3 types to choose from:

  • Frameless – these are lightweight, flexible backpacks with no heavy frame. While they have the advantage of being light to carry, they’re not as structured, meaning they don’t distribute weight evenly and won’t feel comfortable carrying heavy loads for long distances. They’re ideal for day hikes if you don’t have too much gear you want to bring.
  • Internal-frame – these use flat rods (typically made from aluminum) or plastic sheets to create an internal structure. This stops the backpack from collapsing and transfers some of the load to the hip area via a belt. This is better for you, as the hips have bigger muscle groups than the shoulders, and can prevent long-term injury by carrying heavy loads. Internal-frame backpacks are heavier to carry, but you can sometimes remove the internal frame if you want to use it to carry lighter loads.
  • External-frame – rarer to find, external-frame backpacks have a frame on the outside of the fabric of the backpack itself, usually made from aluminum. It also has a harness to keep it in place. They usually have adjustable harnesses and are customizable, as you can use the frame with other backpacks. The downside is that they are, as you might expect, heavier to carry.

Capacity

Large camping backpack isolated on white background

The capacity you will require depends on your circumstances. If you’re going on day hikes, you could get away with a frameless backpack, as you will require less water and food. However, if you’re going on a multi-day hike, you may need to carry a small instant tent (like the Moon Lence Instant Pop-Up Tent), sleeping equipment, and more supplies, so look for a backpack with a larger capacity.

You may also need a bigger capacity if you’re going on a hike in changeable weather conditions or if you have bulky equipment to carry (like a climbing harness, ropes, etc – this Hiking Checklist is great if you’re new to hiking and you’re not sure what to bring).

Hiking backpack capacity ranges from around 35 liters up to 75 liters. 35-40 liters is ideal for day hiking, while 50-60 liters upward will work for an overnight stay, too.

Materials

Travel bag. Zip lock on the backpack yellow.

Hiking backpacks tend to be made from robust, waterproof materials – usually nylon. The durability and water-resistance of nylon is measured in deniers. The higher the number, the more robust you can expect it to be. You can expect to find hiking backpacks with anything from 450-650 denier nylon. This measurement may not always be advertised, however.

You may also find ripstop nylon. As the name suggests, this is reinforced nylon that is resistant to tearing.

Organization

Inside of backpack camera bag

Organizing your backpack properly is important. Backpacks can be panel-loading or top-loading. Panel-loading backpacks use a zipper in the front, allowing you to find items quite quickly. Top-loading backpacks have a drawstring and a lid at the top, and sometimes have an extendable top lid if you need extra space. You may also find a zipper at the bottom, which makes it easier to quickly access the contents without having to rummage through it.

Fit

Young adult in shirt with gray backpack holding a binocular

Having a backpack that correctly fits you is very important, especially if you’re carrying heavy loads. If the weight is not distributed properly, it could cause you an injury. So it’s worth making sure your backpack fits you right. Check for fully adjustable shoulder straps and an adjustable hip belt. You can make sure your backpack fits you properly by measuring your torso length – this guide to Fit and Torso Size may help.

Comfort

travel-traveler-backpack

Comfort is a key factor. Hiking backpacks should have padded shoulder straps to prevent them from digging in, as well as a padded back panel. You may find back panels with ergonomic foam, including air channels for ventilation so you won’t feel too hot.

You may find these Top 10 Hiking Tips by National Geographic Magazine useful if you’re new to hiking – it outlines how to stay safe and comfortable.

Compression Straps

closeup of a pockets in the black backpack

Compression straps help to pull the contents of your backpack close to your body. This helps you to stay balanced as you walk. It also stops the contents from rattling around in there if the backpack is not full.

Attachment Points and Pockets

lose up of woman with water bottle in backpack pocket

Pockets help to keep the contents of your backpack organized. It’s also helpful for separating items you may need to grab quickly, like your phone, camera, sunglasses, or snacks. Typically, backpacks have pockets on the top and sides.

Your backpack may also have attachment points, allowing you to attach larger items like ice axes and trekking poles – saving you from carrying them.

Finally, you could go for a backpack with a pocket for a hydration bladder, as an alternative to a water bottle. Some backpacks come with a hydration bladder included, others require you to buy them separately.

Hydration bladders allow you to sip water on the go without having to fish around for your water bottle constantly, making them a good choice if you want to stay hydrated. We like the WACOOL 3-Liter Water Bladder, as it’s a tough, leak-proof model.

Top 5 Hiking Backpacks for Women

Now, let’s take a look at our top 5 hiking backpacks for women. We’ve tried to include a variety of different styles and weight capacities, so you should be able to find a backpack that suits you.

N NEVO RHINO Internal Frame Hiking Backpack – Best Internal Frame Backpack

N NEVO RHINO 50L Green Hiking Backpack, Internal Frame Hiking Backpack, Alpine Climbing Backpack, Waterproof Camping Backpacking Daypack Suitable for Women, Men, Child (45+5 L)

Key Features

  • Color: Blue
  • Type: Internal Frame
  • Dimensions: 12.59 x 10.24 x 20.47 Inches (31.97 x 26 x 51.99 Centimeters)
  • Materials: Nylon
  • Capacity: 40 Liters
  • Weight: 3.1 Pounds (1.40 Kilograms)

The N NEVO RHINO Internal Frame Hiking Backpack is a great internal-frame backpack. It has a good capacity at 40 liters – enough for a day hike. The internal frame is removable, so you can use it for lighter loads too.

In terms of fit, it has fully adjustable shoulder straps and an adjustable waist buckle system. It’s designed to disperse weight, putting more of the load on your hip area. It has independent top and bottom hip adjustments, so you can get the fit just right. However, very tall hikers may find it a bit trickier to get the weight distribution right, so it may not suit you if you are particularly tall (over 6 foot or 183 centimeters).

The shoulder straps and hip pads are fully padded, to keep you comfortable. It has a padded, breathable back panel.

This backpack has small pockets for essential items, and a pocket at the bottom containing a waterproof cover – if the rain starts to pour, you can quickly unzip it and fully cover your backpack for extra protection. It has a pocket for a water bladder, too. We like the KUREIDA Hydration Bladder.

Pros

  • Removable frame
  • Padded for comfort
  • Contains small pockets

Cons

  • Not the best for taller people
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The North Face Women’s Recon – Best Smaller Backpack

The North Face Women's Recon, TNF Black, OS

Key Features

  • Color: Black
  • Type: Frameless
  • Dimensions: 19.25 x 12.99 x 7.01 Inches (48.89 x 32.99 x 17.80 Centimeters)
  • Materials: Nylon
  • Capacity: 30 Liters
  • Weight: 2 Pounds (0.90 Kilograms)

The The North Face Women's Recon is a great, super-lightweight frameless hiking backpack. It has a fairly small capacity at 30 liters – enough for a light day hike if you don’t require too much equipment. It’s a handy backpack that you could use in your day-to-day life as well as for hiking.

It has adjustable shoulder straps, an adjustable (and removable) waist belt, and an adjustable sternum strap, so you should be able to adjust it to fit you perfectly.

The straps are all padded, and it also has flexible, soft shoulder straps and a padded mesh panel at the back. The lumbar panel is breathable, so you shouldn’t get too overheated.

The backpack opens at the front for easy access, and it has 2 mesh water bottle pockets and a padded front compartment including a padded tablet sleeve. It also has an external fleece-lined pocket for small items. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a dedicated pocket for a water bottle (we like the Nalgene BPA-Free Wide-Mouth Water Bottle).

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear
  • Adjustable straps
  • Good storage pockets, especially for electronics

Cons

  • No space for a water bladder
  • Not big enough for longer hikes
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There DURATON Hiking Backpack 50 Liter – Best for Water Resistance

DURATON Hiking Backpack 50L, Water Resistant Light-Weight Day Pack for Backpacking Camping and Travel (Orange)

Key Features

  • Color: Orange
  • Type: Frameless
  • Dimensions: 19.25 x 12.99 x 7.01 Inches (48.89 x 32.99 x 17.80 Centimeters)
  • Materials: Nylon
  • Capacity: 50 Liters
  • Weight: 3.1 Pounds (1.40 Kilograms)

The DURATON Hiking Backpack 50 Liter is excellent in terms of water resistance, so you can take it hiking in all weathers. It’s a frameless backpack, which means it may give you some issues if you fill it to the max capacity, as it’s not as efficient at distributing weight around the hip area, but it does mean the backpack is light to carry. It’s ideal if you have larger, but lighter items to carry (for example, waterproof clothing, which may be bulky but not particularly heavy).

It has adjustable shoulder straps and hip belt straps to help you fit it properly.

The straps are padded with high-density foam, making it a super-comfortable backpack to wear. The back panel is padded too.

It opens at the front, but it also has a zipper at the back so you can easily reach items inside. Additionally, It has a sleeping bag compartment, 2 large mesh pockets, and a pocket for a waterproof cover. It has small pockets in the hip panel too, meaning you can stash your phone or keys there for easy access, and you can use a water bladder, too (like the ).

It’s made from 500 denier nylon, meaning it’s super tough, durable, and waterproof.

Pros

  • Adjustable straps
  • Padded with high-density foam
  • Lots of storage pockets

Cons

  • No frame, so may have issues with weight distribution
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WASING 55 Liter Internal Frame Backpack – Good All-Rounder

WASING 55L Internal Frame Backpack Hiking Backpacking Packs for Outdoor Travel Climbing Camping Mountaineering with Rain Cover - Red

Key Features

  • Color: Fuschia, Dark blue, Green, Light Blue, Yellow
  • Type: Internal Frame
  • Dimensions: 27.1 x 12.5 x 9.8 Inches (68.83 x 31.75 x 24.89 Centimeters)
  • Materials: Nylon
  • Capacity: 55 Liters
  • Weight: 2.98 Pounds (1.3 Kilograms)

The WASING 55 Liter Internal Frame Backpack is a good all-rounder. It has an internal frame, making it ideal for weight distribution, but this frame cannot be removed.

It has adjustable shoulder steps and an adjustable hip belt strap, so you can ensure it fits you snugly.

The straps are padded, and it has a molded foam back panel with air channels – this means it will keep you comfortable without overheating your back.

It opens at the top but has a zipper at the front for easy access to the contents. It has mesh pockets at the sides, small pockets for valuables, and a pocket at the bottom including a waterproof cover to protect your backpack in a downpour.

Pros

  • Fully adjustable
  • Padded and comfortable to wear
  • Includes rain cover

Cons

  • Internal frame can’t be removed
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TETON Sports Oasis – Most Comfortable

TETON Sports Oasis Hydration Packs; 2-Liter Hydration Backpack with Water Bladder; For Backpacking, Hiking, Running, Cycling, and Climbing

Key Features

  • Color: Orange, Black, Bright Blue, Bright Green, Olive Green
  • Type: Frameless
  • Dimensions: 19.5 x 12 x 2 Inches (49.53 x 30.48 x 5.08 Centimeters)
  • Materials: Ripstop nylon
  • Capacity: 18 Liters
  • Weight: 2 Pounds (0.98 Kilograms)

The TETON Sports Oasis is a super-comfortable lightweight backpack. It’s frameless, so it’s not ideal for carrying heavy loads, but would make a great backpack for a day hike. 

It has adjustable shoulder, chest, and waist straps, meaning you can get a snug, comfortable fit.

It’s a super-comfortable backpack. The straps are padded with high-density foam, and the mesh covering means you won’t get too hot.

It opens at the front, unzipping for easy access to the contents. It has several pockets, both covered and mesh, and it also has a free water bladder designed to fit the backpack, with a kink-free sip tube, so you can stay hydrated all the time.

Pros

  • Fully adjustable shoulder, chest, and waist straps
  • Padded, comfortable, and lightweight
  • Includes free water bladder

Cons

  • No internal frame, so won’t be suitable for carrying heavy loads
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Frequently Asked Questions

Before we decide on our favorite, let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about hiking backpacks for women:

How can I safely pack my hiking backpack?

Woman packing different camping equipment into backpack at home, closeup

The first thing to do is to ensure your backpack fits properly. It should be secure and snug without feeling too tight. It’s better to put bulky, lesser-used items on the bottom, heavy items near the middle (to distribute the weight evenly), and bulkier items you may need to use during your hike on the top. REI Co-Op has a detailed guide on How to Pack a Backpack the Right Way if you want to know more.

Can I use my hiking backpack for other occasions?

Young woman with backpack in a woods.

It depends on the type of backpack you have. A heavy framed backpack may be a bit too bulky and cumbersome to use as a weekend bag for short trips, for example. But a smaller lighter backpack can be used for all kinds of situations.

What safety tips do I need to know before I go hiking?

young woman with backpack on the mountain peak and looking on beautiful mountains and glacier at sunset

There are a few things you can do to stay safe while hiking:

  • Learn some basic first aid – do a short course or watch some video tutorials on common injuries, like sprained ankles, cuts, and grazes. You can bring a small first aid kit with you, like the Kitgo Small First Aid Kit as it’s so compact.
  • Travel with someone else – if you can, go with a friend. This will help you to feel more secure on quieter trails.
  • Wear appropriate clothing – make sure you’re wearing good hiking boots or hiking sandals, and bring a waterproof jacket or poncho if necessary just in case. In terms of hiking boots, it’s worth looking at the Foxelli Women's Hiking Boots, and for sandals, we like the Teva Women's Tirra Sandal. Finally, we’d recommend the Anyoo Waterproof Rain Poncho for Women.
  • Fit your backpack properly – protect your back by adjusting your backpack to fit you securely.

There are more outdoor safety tips from the US Forest Service – we’d recommend reading it, especially if you’re new to hiking.

Our Final Thoughts: Which is the Best Hiking Backpack for Women?

woman backpacker enjoy the view at mountain peak cliff

If we had to pick a favorite, we’d go for the N NEVO RHINO Internal Frame Hiking Backpack. The straps are fully adjustable, it feels comfortable to wear, and it has plenty of pockets to keep your bag organized.

If you’re after a frameless backpack, we’d recommend the The North Face Women's Recon. It’s durable and lightweight.

However, if you want something that feels super comfortable, check out the TETON Sports Oasis. The high-density foam padding will keep you comfortable, but you won’t feel overheated, as the back panel has plenty of ventilation.

We hope this has helped you to find the best hiking backpack for women. Feel free to share this online with your friends and family! We’d also recommend your thoughts: what backpack would you recommend? Do you have any tips on how best to use them? Let us know in the comments.