Osprey Kestrel 28
Kestrel 28

What’s your pick for a lightweight but functional women’s daypack?

I’m hiking Kilimanjaro next August, and I need a lightweight and highly functional daypack (for a woman). Porters will carry everything else. What’s your pick? J.C. Palo Alto, California

Osprey Kestrel 28

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Many good daypacks out there can handle 20–25 pounds comfortably and carry all the stuff you need for that final push up Kilimanjaro. Guides typically recommend packs in the 20–35 liter range (about 1,200–2,200 cubic inches), which gives you enough room for water, camera, warm clothing and rainwear, lunch, snacks, and other stuff you might want to lug along.

Osprey Kestrel 28

Osprey Kestrel 28 Kestrel 28

A pack that’s smack in the middle of that range is Osprey’s brand-new Kestrel 28 ($119; ospreypacks.com). It’s a cleanly designed top-loading pack with 1,700 cubic inches of space, which should be just about perfect. It has a stow space for trekking poles, side and top pockets, and can take most any hydration bladder. And its suspension is more than adequate for even a stuffed-full load. Gregory’s Iris ($149; gregorypacks.com) offers the same capacity in a women’s specific pack, meaning its shoulder straps are a little closer together and its waist belt is shaped to accommodate wider hips. It’s also a top-loader and has outside attachment points for gear as well as internal provision for hydration. Nice pack.

For something a little larger but still well priced, I like REI’s women’s-specific Pinnacle Pack ($99; rei.com). It will let you squeeze in almost 2,200 cubic inches of stuff, yet will pack down nicely when you’re traveling with the rest of your gear. The simple but effective suspension has aluminum stays to help support the load and a padded, shaped hip belt.

Have a great trip!

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