Gregorys Palisade ($329) is a good pack built for big loads, at 5,100 cubic inches. But its not made for women. And there are packs out there that fill that bill, including one from Gregory. The Deva 85 is about the same size as the Palisade but is designed for a woman with a better fit in the hips and shoulders and a little shorter torso. It also has lots of ways to fish gear out and lots of places to stuff specific items. So its easy to organize things for a longer trip. And at $329, its a pretty good buy.
There are other good packs out there, too. I like the Osprey Xenon 85. Its the same size as the Deva, like the Deva its designed for women, and it has lots of good features for packing and organizing. Plus, Osprey is known for having way-above-average suspension. I like Gregory packs, but I like Osprey ones a little bit more. About $70 morewhich is how much more you will pay.
Another option is the Arc'teryx Briza 75. Its smaller than the Osprey and the Gregory, but these days gear takes up less space, too. I use about 20 percent less volume in a pack (food excluded) than I did a decade ago. And the Briza is a beautiful pack, with an excellent suspension and top-rate organization. At $375, the price is about par for a high-end pack.
The 2009 Winter Outside Buyers Guide is now online so you can get prepped for gift-giving seasoneven if everything you pick is for yourself!