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The Best Travel Backpack for Women – tips and buying guide

Are you looking for the best travel backpack for women? Well, you’re in the right place. This best backpacks for women guide will provide all you need to know to help you purchase the perfect backpack for you, your size and your travel needs.

I prefer to use a backpack opposed to checked-in luggage. It needs to be durable, sturdy enough to protect my camera equipment and laptop and roomy enough to hold clothing and gear for a week or more. It’s a big ask and choosing the best travel backpack can be a bit overwhelming.

I’ve been through a few backpacks in my time, tested some of the top names and now I’ve brought my experience and expertise together to offer you some great advice and expert tips for choosing your new backpack.

Best travel backpack for women - Osprey backpack

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If you’re travelling to Europe, wheeling luggage around busy cobbled streets is not very practical. I know, I’ve made that mistake. No matter which country you travel to, if you are relying on public transport it’s not easy carrying suitcases up and down stairs and on and off trains and buses.

The best women’s backpack will allow you to navigate your way around with ease giving you one less thing to worry about on your next trip. Your hands will also be free to deal with purchasing tickets, taking photos and making calls.

In this post I check out some of the best women’s backpack options currently available, not only from the best backpack brands, but more specifically the best women’s backpack brands. In this review I check out some Kelty packs, womens’ Osprey backpacks and other key favourite brands.

I’ve also included the top choices for those searching for the best small backpacks for women, the best hiking backpack for women, and the best carry on bag for women. Whatever type of ladies backpacks you’re after, you’ll find what you are looking for.

Best travel backpack for women overall:

Don’t have time to read my entire review? My choice for the best ladies backpack is the Osprey Farpoint 40 s/m.

I love this pack for many reasons but the top one is because it’s the most comfortable backpack I’ve ever owned. Even when full to capacity the hip straps mean that weight is evenly distributed so it doesn’t feel heavy and doesn’t strain my back.

I can walk for hours wearing this rucksack even when it’s full. It’s compliant for carry on luggage on many budget European airlines which means that it paid for itself within a few trips as I saved on the cost of hold luggage. It’s also the perfect size for my small 5″2′ frame with plenty of space to pack for at least a week’s worth of travel.

Why specifically choose travel backpacks for women?

Why do I recommend travel backpacks for women over a suitcase? A backpack isn’t just for young travellers staying in dorm rooms. A backpack is for all types of travellers who want the freedom of having their hands free and not having to wheel a bulky suitcase around. Backpacks are also perfect for trips like sailing holidays or glamping.

I’m in my fifties now and a backpack is the best option most of the time. Also, some of the budget airlines in Europe will now only allow accept rucksacks as carry on luggage. Ryan Air will take your wheelie case from you at the aircraft steps so any thoughts of a quick getaway when you arrive at your destination are a no go. You’ll have to wait for your bag at the carousel along with everyone’s hold luggage. I’m sure it won’t be long before other low-cost airlines follow suit.

As I mentioned above, no matter what country you’re visiting, a backpack is so much more convenient and practical. Travelling with a backpack gives you flexibility when you turn a corner and see a set of stairs or arrive at a hotel with no elevator and it’s hands-free.

This is even more true for women travellers who may find it difficult to carry heavy bulky suitcases up and down stairwells or in and out of transport.

Compare Best Backpacks for Women 2021

Don’t have time to read the entire review on the best backpacking backpacks for women? See the table below for a quick comparison of the main features of the various options for the most popular women’s backpacks of 2021.

Best Travel Backpack for Women

DimensionsWeight of
Bag (lbs)
Kelty Women's Redwing4023” H x 14” W x 12” D2.14.3
Osprey Farpoint 40 s/m4021” H x 14” W x 9” D3.114.8
Kelty Redwing 444425” H x 15” W x 12” D2.14.5
Osprey Porter 464623” H x 15” W x 13” D34.6

Osprey Ozone 46

4620” H x 13” W x 12” D2.44.5
Kelty Redwing 505026” H x 16” W x 12” D3.114.4
Osprey Farpoint 555525” H x 13” W x 13” D3.94.6
Gregory Mountain Women’s Amber 606028.4” H x 18.5” W x 7.5” D3.64.7
Osprey Women’s Aura AG 656530” H x 18” W x 7” D4.64.8
Gregory Mountain Women’s Deva 707028.5” H x 17” W x 13.5” D54.5
My top ten travel backpacks for women

Top Backpacks for Women – What to consider when purchasing?

The top backpacks for women come in many shapes and sizes and when buying the best rucksack for you, there are a few things you should consider.

  • Are you travelling with carry-on only?
  • Does the airline have luggage size restriction?
  • Do you need to carry a laptop or tent on your travels?
  • What size rucksack is the right size for you?

Travel backpack brands offer packs for all people and occasions and there is never going to be a “one size fits all” backpack. Whether you are looking for the best hiking packs for women, the best womens carry on bags or the best lightweight backpack for women, it is important to consider exactly what it is you need from a backpack, and the time to find it. I’ve rushed in before and ended up with a backpack that was uncomfortable and way too big. Money wasted, back pain and a lesson learned.

How to Choose the Best Womens Backpacking Pack

1. Fit

Fit is a crucial factor in choosing the best womens backpack. When it comes to a ladies rucksack, the most important aspects to look at are torso height and hip belt adjustability. You can have a friend measure your torso height or you can be sized at a local outdoors store.

Some backpacks have fixed sizes, while others are adjustable. When the backpack is reasonably loaded and the hip belt fastened and adjusted, the shoulder straps should wrap around your shoulders to the back without leaving a big gap – the straps should attach to the backpack near the tops of your shoulder blades.

Your backpack’s hip belt plays an important role as it helps to put the weight on your hip bones to avoid straining your shoulders and back. Hip belts have a wide range of adjustability, and top rated women’s backpacks will fit most wearers. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for women to purchase women specific backpacks, or at least ones proven to be well suited for women, as some unisex backpacks are simply too wide for smaller women like me.

2. Size

Ladies backpack bags come in a range of sizes. There are several small ladies backpack options as well as several womens large backpack options. What size backpack you purchase will determine how much gear you need to carry with you or whether you are visiting a cold or warm climate.

If you are looking for the best carry on bag for women, you will want to look at something no bigger than around 46 litres.  If you are checking-in your ladies back pack, I wouldn’t recommend anything over 65 – 70 litres. Remember you’ll need to carry this on your back!

Whatever size backpack you buy, I recommend you look for a womens lightweight backpack that meets all your needs in all other areas as well as weight.

3. Type

When purchasing a pack, consider whether you want a front loading or top loading bag. Basically, this means do you want to access your things via the top of the bag or the front.

For those looking for a womens hiking backpack, it is likely you will be carrying your pack for much longer periods of time as opposed to the female travellers just looking for a way to transport their belongings as they travel. The best women’s hiking pack is generally a top loading backpack as these packs are designed to be worn on your back and carried for long distances. However the disadvantage is it is much harder to retrieve your things from your top loading pack.

I find front loading packs are far easier, they are similar to a suitcase and usually have various compartments making it easy to locate your items. In most cases I’d recommend you look for one of the best front loading backpack for travel options.

4. Compartments

Some ladies backpack bags are simple in design and just have one large area for your belongings, whilst others have several compartments specifically designed to store certain items. Before purchasing your female rucksack, consider what items you will carry and what things you may need to access quickly, and how often. Personally, I prefer a backpack with compartments.

A sleeping bag or change of clothes doesn’t have to be as easy to get to as a rain cover, phone, camera, passport, tickets or laptop. If you intend to carry a laptop, you may want to consider one of the female backpacks that has a padded laptop compartment.

In my experience, don’t go overboard with compartments – a few separate ones is all you need. If your backpack has too many you won’t remember where things are. Packing cubes are good alternative.

5. Straps

We talked a little about straps above and how it’s important for a ladies travel rucksack to have a good fit. A good strap system will spread the load of the backpack across your back, with most of the weight resting on your hips via the hip belt, some womens packs come with handy pockets in the hip belt for money, snacks or small phones.

The best ladies rucksack options will come with straps that are padded, made from breathable fabric, are removable, adjustable, and may even stow away for plane travel.

Backpack straps are adjustable around the hips, the shoulders, and even across the chest to keep the shoulder straps in place regardless of body shape.

6. Other Features

Depending upon your travel style there are a few other things you may like to consider when looking for the best travel backpack for women.

Laptop/Other Gadget Compartments

If you travel with a laptop, you may wish to consider a women’s rucksack with a built in laptop compartment. These compartments have padded sleeves which are designed to keep your laptop safe and secure whilst travelling.

Some of the top women’s backpacking packs have compartments for mobile phones, keys, passports, tickets and cameras.

Carry Handles

Good backpacks for women will also have carry handles. Having carry handles gives you that added flexibility, so you don’t always have to wear your backpack on your back. This can be handy at the airport. On some women’s backpacking packs you may even be able to stow your straps and carry as a traditional suitcase. Carry handles also aid in putting your pack in overhead plane lockers as well as on buses. Look for a backpack with carry handles both on the side and the top.

Water Resistant

You may be travelling outdoors or visiting a country where it is likely to rain (hello England!) A water resistant fabric is great for a backpack, it is one less thing to worry about if you’re caught in a shower. Having a womens waterproof backpack just gives you that bit of extra time to find cover, or grab your rain cover to keep your backpack and its contents dry and protected.


It’s worth noting that all Osprey packs are covered by Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee. I’ve never had to use this guarantee yet but its good to know your backpack is covered in case of accidents.

Best Women’s Backpack Reviews

1. Kelty Women’s Redwing 40 Backpack

Kelty is widely known as being one of the good backpack brands particularly for making the best travel backpack for women. Given they are one of the best rucksack brands for women, this guide features a few different Kelty backpack options.

The first Kelty women’s backpack is the Kelty Redwing 40 Backpack, the lightest and smallest womens backpacking backpack in these reviews.

This Kelty travel backpack has been designed for women to take on short length trips or for those women that travel light. Both the shoulder straps and the hip belt are custom designed to fit a woman’s body. The suspension system is ridged and light, and the straps and back panel are padded and meshed for cooling.

This Ketly Redwing pack is a hybrid backpack as it is both top loading and a panel loader so you can easily access the main compartment. Other compartments include a small organisation zipped pocket on the front, trekking pole loops, side compression straps, front stash pocket and a laptop pocket which also doubles as a hydration sleeve.

This small ladies rucksack is a great choice for those looking for the best small carry on backpack or even a womens small hiking backpack.

2. Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack

Weighing the same 2.1 lbs as the previous Kelty backpack, the Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack provides an additional 4 litres making it still a perfect option for the best carry on backpack for women.

Like the Kelty Redwing 40, the main compartment can be accessed from the top via a small zipped panel, or similar to a suitcase opening, when the backpack is laid on its back, almost the entire front panel can be zipped open.

This Kelty Redwing backpack includes upper side pockets and a front pocket with organisation panel for small items you want to access regularly. The stretchy lower side pockets are great for water bottles, and a stash pocket at the front of the backpack is secured with a hook only for storing and grabbing a jacket or jumper quickly. It also includes a laptop sleeve which doubles as a hydration sleeve.

A simple design to spread the load across the back and onto the padded hip belt, this backpack is as comfortable outdoors as it is in the airport and is the best Kelty backpack for those looking for the best women’s carry on backpack.

3. Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack Bag

Osprey packs have a great reputation for making not only some of the most popular women’s backpack options but some of the top backpacks in general. So it is no surprise that top backpack brands like Osprey feature heavily in backpack reviews.

The first of the Osprey bags in this guide is the Osprey Porter 46, a great womens backpacking backpack, for those who want the largest carry on backpack. At 46l this is one of the largest backpacks to meet the carry on requirements for most airplanes – just be careful not to overfill it or you will find yourself over the weight restrictions.

This Osprey carry on backpack is a compact, carry on, panel loading backpack. The main compartment is large and lockable with external compression straps. On the back there is a dedicated zippered laptop sleeve, so you can quickly and easily grab it when you want to. At the top of the pack there is a zippered pocket which gives you quick access to toiletries, whilst the small front vertical pocket is great for books or travel documents.

Other great features include the stowaway harness and hip belt, reinforced cord loops to attach a daypack and padded top and side carry handles.

The Porter is an ideal choice for women looking for the best Osprey backpack for travel carry on only.

4. Osprey Ozone 46L Ultralight Carry On Travel Backpack

This Osprey Ozone womens backpack is yet another great choice for those looking for the best womens carry on bag.

This Osprey ladies backpack is made up of three main compartments, the front organisation compartment, main compartment and lower compartment. The front organiser pocket has a zippered pocket hidden inside, whilst the main compartment includes a padded laptop sleeve and the lower compartment has been designed for shoes or camera gear.

Upper and lower compression straps help to keep items secure inside this Osprey travel backpack, while ventilated harness and hip belt aide in keeping you cool and can be stowed away. The stretch mesh pockets on either side are for bottles or sunscreen.

For those who like the option of wheeling their pack, you can even purchase Osprey’s trademarked Handle-It system to create a roll on luggage system, making this a great choice for the best ladies travel backpack.

5. Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack

The third and final Kelty backpack in these reviews is the Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack. This is a simple backpack with less focus on features and more on comfort and despite having a capacity of 50 liters, this backpack is lightweight at 3.11 lbs.

You can access the main compartment of this backpack either from the top zippered panel, or via a larger zippered panel below the compression straps. The padded and ventilated back panel helps to keep you cool whilst wearing the pack, whilst the padded hydration sleeve doubles as a laptop pocket (no dedicated laptop sleeve). You can even carry tent poles or a fishing rod in the deep side panel/pockets, making it perfect if you are after the best womens hiking pack.

The suspension system for this pack allows for on body adjustments, by loosening all the straps before you put the pack on and tightening them while you are wearing the pack to ensure a customised fit.

Reading various Kelty backpack reviews, you will find many women reporting that this is one of the most comfortable backpacks for women with many saying it’s a great womens 50l backpack and a certainly a good choice for those looking for the best women’s backpack.

6. Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack

The Osprey Fairpoint 55, is a great womens backpacking backpack, for those who want plenty of room for their gear but still easy to carry around. Size S/M is women’s and L is for men.

The main compartment of this Osprey women’s backpack is accessed via a large zippered panel, which can be secured with locks. Inside the Osprey travel bag there is a mesh pocket for smaller items, lockable laptop and tablet sleeve. On the outside there is a front slash pocket and points to attach extra gear as well as external compression straps.

This is one of the most comfortable womens backpack, with the Osprey trademark LightWire frame suspension system transferring the weight of the backpack to the hip belt, keeping the strain off your shoulders. This womens travel rucksack gives you the option of stowing the shoulder straps and hip belt in a zippered compartment, streamlining your baggage for transport.

Made from Nylon Ripstop water resistant fabric, this backpack also includes a handy detachable 16 liter daypack as well as padded top and side carry handles.

Designed to carry loads of up to 50 lbs, this is a great ladies travel rucksack, perfect for any style of travel.

7. Gregory Mountain Products Women’s Amber 60 Backpack

The Gregory Mountain Amber 60 backpack is a women specific designed backpack with plenty of space, perfect for a range of travel styles.

This best women’s multi day backpack is top loading, but has a front panel making it easy to access your items. The Amber includes a range of pockets and features including side water side water bottle pockets, trekking pole attachment and sleeping pad straps. It also includes a rain cover and an ultra-light daypack which doubles as a hydration sleeve.

The pack includes adjustable hip, shoulder and chest straps so you can get the perfect fit for your body. The hip belt also includes pockets perfect for snacks, phone or other accessories.

This Gregory Mountain Amber backpack is one of the best rated backpacks for women within these reviews and weighing in at only 3.6 lbs and having a capacity of 60 litres, is a great choice for women needing a full size pack.

8. Osprey Women’s Aura 65 AG Backpacks

The Osprey Women’s Aura 65 AG backpack is one of the best travel packs for women wanting the maximum space for their belongings without being weighed down by a heavy pack.

Whilst being a large backpack, at 4.6 lbs this pack is a reasonably lightweight womens backpack. A trademarked AntiGravity suspension system and curved design, the Aura 65 transfers the weight easily to the comfortable hip belt. This is so important for a pack this size, it is no good wearing this on day 1 of a 10 day trip and realising your neck and shoulders are paying for it.

This Osprey ladies backpack has contoured hip and shoulder straps, which can be adjusted while you are wearing the backpack. This is a top loading pack which includes with plenty of pockets, upper and lower side compression straps, lockable zippers, hydration sleeve and bottom sleeping bag storage. The hip belt also has pockets for snacks, phone or sunscreen.

The Osprey Aura is the best travel pack for those looking for one of the large, yet lightweight backpacks for women.

9. Osprey Packs Farpoint 70 Travel Backpack

Our fifth and final of the Osprey back packs is the Osprey Farpoint 70. The Osprey Fairpoint 70 is perfect for women who like the Fairpoint 55 but want even more space for their belongings when travelling.

This ladies large backpack, includes all the same great features of the Fairpoint 55. It is made from durable Nylon Ripstop water resistant fabric, has stow away straps for travelling, external compression straps, padded handles and plenty of internal and external pockets including a designated laptop sleeve.

The Osprey Farpoint 70 travel backpack comes with a detachable 15 liter daypack. The inclusion of the daypack, which is easily zippered off the main pack is fantastic. Use this for your belongings on the plane or as a daypack whilst sightseeing.

This women’s large rucksack is the best Osprey backpack for a longer trip, when visiting a colder climate where you are required to pack bulky gear or for women who just pack a lot of stuff!

10. Gregory Mountain Products Women’s Deva 70L

The second Gregory Mountain women’s backpack in these reviews is the Deva, a large backpack with a capacity of 70 litres.

The Deva is a top loading backpack with a front opening panel to make access to the main compartment somewhat easier. There is plenty of room for all your belongings in the large compartment as well as a

range of zipped pockets, a side pocket for your water bottle and external sleeping bag compartment. There are even pockets in the hip belt which are water resistant so perfect for storing your digital devices.

For extra comfort this pack has a pre curved vented back panel and silicone lumbar insert which are designed to fit a woman’s body and the chest, hip and shoulder straps are all adjustable for the perfect fit. Other great features include the ultralight detachable day back which doubles as a hydration sleeve, rain cover, loops for ice tools and trekking pole attachment.

At 5 lbs, this is the heaviest backpack in these reviews, but also the largest and a perfect choice for women wanting a full size pack.

A final tip for choosing your new travel backpack

Before you make your final decision I recommend you give your choices a test run at home. We’re all different shapes and sizes so there’s no ‘one size fits all’. Once you’ve shortlisted your favourites order 2-3 of them so long as you are able to return the unwanted pack(s) and give the rucksacks a trial run.

Be sure to keep all the tags on and be careful not to damage the packs. Load them up as you would for a trip and wear the backpack around home or even take it for a short walk! You’ll get an idea of how the bag fits you, if it’s comfortable for you, how easily accessible your gear is via the openings and any other features you might want to try out. You’re then in the best position to choose your new travel backpack.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful for choosing your next womens’ travel backpack. Hopefully your new travel companion will accompany you on many adventures in the years to come.

If you’re looking for a carry-on backpack you might like my review of the Kovered Eden Backpack – my go to backpack for my carry-on kit.

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