Gear Guy

Aura 50 Women’s Backpack     Photo: courtesy, Osprey

Q:

What’s the optimal backpack size for weekend outings?

I'm looking for a woman's overnight/weekend backpack for a friend. I’ll likely carry most of the gear, so I’m not sure of the optimal pack size. An Osprey Aura 50 was recommended, but it seems slightly small. What do you think? Andrew Seattle, Washington

A:Actually, you’re on the right track, Andrew. I’m assuming a few things, such as you’re hiking in Washington state, you read weather forecasts so have a rough idea of what to expect, and you’re staying below 5,000 feet (generally). So your friend will be carrying a basic clothing setup, some of the food, some water, a light sleeping bag, and a sleeping pad. Terrific guy that you are, you’ll be lugging the tent, stove, cookwear, most of food, and so on.

A 3,000-cubic-inch pack can easily handle what she needs to haul. And the Osprey Aura 50 ($199) is just that size. It’s fitted for a woman and has lots of pockets and compartments to keep gear organized. And Osprey suspensions are first-rate, comfortable, and easily adjustable. Gregory’s Jade ($199) is exactly the same size and also designed for a woman, so if you have a chance to look at the two side by side, do so, and have her try them on for fit.

For something just a little larger, Marmot’s Diva ($199) has 3,400 cubic inches and lots of external tie-down points for extra gear. Or if the budget is an issue, REI’s Quick UL ($99) has adequate cargo capacity for your needs (2,800 cubic inches) and a surprisingly good suspension for the money.

Hope the snow on the trails around here melts eventually. June-uary in the Pacific Northwest, indeed.

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