Close banner

Support Outside Online

Love Outside?

Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today.

Contribute to Outside
Gear Guy

What's a pack that will fit my petite fre?

I looking for an internal fre pack that will handle solo weekends, and group week-long outings, but most importantly, comfortably fit my petite (105-pound), feminine fre without breaking the bank. What do you suggest? y Walsh Tallahassee, Florida

A: A moderately tall order, but one that I think can be filled. The first decision, of course, is to settle on an approximate size for the pack. Realistically, you probably shouldn't be carrying more than a third of your body weight, otherwise you'll be miserable. That means a load of about 35 pounds, and the pack itself may make up five or six pounds of that. In turn, that translates into a pack with between 3,500 and 4,000 cubic inches of capacity.

You might just be able to go into a backpacking store and grab a pack off the shelf that fits. But women have narrower shoulders and broader hips than men, so most men's packs won't fit well. Fortunately a lot of pack makers now design packs specifically for women. One very good one: The Arc'Teryx Bora 62 ($325). A nicely designed pack, with a great suspension, a sleeping bag compartment, a slot for a hydration bottle and a molded back that helps keep you cool. It comes in three sizes and my guess is the small will be the one for you-it fits torso lengths of 14 to 17 inches and has 3,500 cubic inches of room.

Admittedly, that's a little steep price-wise, although it's also a long-term investment that should last many years. Mountainsmith's Chimera 4000 in a women's model is more affordable at $260, but also not sized quite as small; it's for torso lengths of 16inches and longer, which I think will be too big. On the other hand, the Lowe Alpine Alpamayo ($260) can accommodate torsos down to 13 inches. And it's pretty big-more than 4,000 cubic inches-so if you have to carry a lot of bulky stuff, you can. L.L. Bean's Mount Washington ($149) comes in a women's model, but with a 15-inch minimum torso length it might be a touch too tall.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside