A:All of those packs you mention are perfectly OK, but I think you need to get out of the one-size-fits-all arena and find a pack that comes in at least two different sizes. Three would be best, but thats a longshot.
For instance, Marmots Eiger 30 ($99; www.marmot.com) comes in right at 1,800 cubic inches in the medium size (its also available in large). Though its not woman specific, its an excellent all-around daypack, with a suspension that can take some weight, two water-bottle pockets, and the ability to hold a hydration pouch. Deuters Futura 22 ($95; www.deuterusa.com) would be another good choice. Its designed and sized specifically for women under five feet, seven inches. It also holds 1,350 cubic inches worth of stuff and can take a hydration pouch. The same can be said for Mountainsmiths Lola 30 ($130), which is designed for women and is available in a short-torso model. Its slightly smaller (1,200 cu) than the Futura.
If youre looking for something a bit more affordable, you should also check out L.L. Beans woman-specific Celia Daypack ($59; www.llbean.com), which comes in three sizes, has two large water-bottle pockets, and can hold a hydration bladder. The small size fits a 15- to 17-inch torso and has 1,700 cubic inches of capacity.
As always, shell need to try on several packs to see what fits best, loading them with 15 to 20 pounds to replicate trail conditions. For water bottle access, all of these, except maybe the Celia, will require her to take the pack off and fish the bottle out. But that shouldnt be too much of a hardship. Or, you can retrofit a water bottle holder that fits the waist belt, such as Lowe Alpines descriptively named Waistbelt Bottle Pocket ($15; www.lowealpine.com).
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