Do You Really Need a Women’s-Specific Backpack? | Jill Sanford


I stood on the porch of a backcountry cabin high in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains with 15 other women, all of us there for a lesson in pack fitting from Becky Marcelliano, the marketing manager of Deuter, an outdoor-bags company. The women gathered around Marcelliano were all part of the outdoor industry and there as part of a leadership summit organized by Project16x. We were adventure photographers and writers, business founders, and professional athletes. The collective miles we’d logged over the years was indisputably considerable.

Marcelliano explained design elements and how exactly a pack made to carry 10, 30, or even 50 to 60 pounds of weight should be distributed on a woman’s body.

This level of attention to women’s design wasn’t always the case. One of the first people to design women’s-specific packs was Wayne Gregory of Gregory Mountain Products. He started making prototypes with the input of his wife, Suzie, in the 1970s. Decades later, many brands are still working to improve their women’s designs, focusing on everything from the shape of a woman’s body to how she moves with a pack on. The goal? Maximum efficiency on the trail, allowing the wearer to hike longer and carry more weight comfortably. But while a women’s pack will fit many female body shapes, some women might be better off ignoring which gender is indicated on the label…