- Oct 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm #1280460
I am shopping for a pack for my wife. The challenge is that she is 5'0 with a torso size around 15.5 inches. I took her to REI–the REI Flash 65 Small was too big for her torso, but Gregory Jade 60 Extra Small fit her pretty well. I am assuming the Jade 50 will fit just as well.
Then she tried the Deuter one-size packs. The fit of the Deuter ACT Lite 60 + 10 SL (women's) pack was even more comfortable than the Gregory. However, after climbing the stairs with 25 lbs of REI pillows stuffed in, she noticed it was way too top heavy. This was clearly because the torso fit system had to be set at the shortest setting, pushing a ton of the pack above her head. She then tried on the Deuter ACT Lite 40 + 10 (men's / unisex) and while it didn't seem as top-heavy, it was difficult to tell because the shoulder straps were so comically wide for her. Unfortunately they didn't carry the Deuter ACT Lite 45 + 10 SL (women's), which I am now looking into.
My question is: with these one-size packs, with the torso system cranked to the smallest or second-smallest setting, are the smaller packs built so that more of the weight can be comfortably carried below the shoulders? As far as I can tell, packs that come specifically in small or extra-small seem to do a better job keeping the pack from towering above a short woman's head. It'd difficult to tell from mere pictures whether this downfall of one-size packs is lessened in the smaller models.
Any wisdom anyone has to share is much appreciated!Oct 12, 2011 at 8:49 am #1789530Sumi WadaMember
@detroittigerfanLocale: Ann Arbor
While I'm sure that the shape and harness design of the pack has a lot to do with how it carries, I also think you can counter (or exasperate) issues like top-heaviness and balance by the way you pack. To be honest, packs almost never seem comfortable to me with those weight bags used in stores for trying on packs and they don't, imo, simulate how the packs actually feel with real gear packed the way I like.
So, I try on the packs in the store with the bags to make sure I like the fit, hipbelt, shoulder straps, etc. but, for me, the real test drive to see how it carries only happens when I pack it with real gear. Sometimes I have to repack it a few different ways to see what works. In the end, the pack not only has to fit, it has to also be able to fit all of your gear in a way that's comfortable to carry.
Btw, I'm a 5'2" woman and I think women in general like their weight lower on their backs then men. I pack my heaviest items (water being number one) between my hips and the bottom of my shoulder blades.Oct 12, 2011 at 8:49 am #1789531Sarah KuhnMember
@sckuhnLocale: Mountainous Ohio
The 'top heaviness' of an adjusted pack will depend on where the adjustment takes place.
Most packs allow for adjustment by raising or lowering the connection point of the top of the shoulder harness. (These lead to the top heavy short packs – raises the entire pack up on the back.) Packs that allow for size adjustment at the lower shoulder harness connection would tend to keep the center of gravity lower, but potentiall place the pack down on the wearers behind. Ideally a pack would adjust the actual frame distance between the anchor points of the shoulder harness, but there aren't too many out there that do this.
So given the fact that your wife probably won't grow into a pack, you are better off to shop for a shorter framed pack and not a unisize adjustable pack.
Sort of went through this with my daughter, but we had to figure in the growing aspect. While using the adjustable packs we had to be very aware of her weight distribution to prevent the top heaviness.
Good Luch!Oct 12, 2011 at 9:22 am #1789538Jeffs ElevenMember
+1 shorter sized pack.
My wife is 5' and NO 'one size' would fit her when loaded. Especially after she has been hiking and it loosens up.
She uses and older REI (Flash UL I think. I can never remember) She likes a lot. She also has a Gregory Cirque 30 XS that she is starting to like more, but she really likes the REI. Volume is too big though.Oct 12, 2011 at 9:32 am #1789543Konrad .Member
O boy, there's a coupe of us guys here on the forum that have struggled tremendously with fitting our petite sized counterparts.
Definitely go with the shorter framed pack. My gf is 5', ~100lbs, so finding a small and narrow enough pack to fit her was quite a challenge.
Countless packs later, we found out that Golite Womens packs (with frames) were a perfect fit for her. Torso length was good, but more importantly, the shoulder straps were both trim and set closer together.
Now we always buy Golite for her. It's nice that we always know what to look for in the future, and we have brand loyalty now…yet it sucks because we are kinda limited in our choices. Plus side, Golite Packs can always be found onsale somewhere.
I would stay away from a pack that lets you adjust the torso height over a wide range of measurements. One size simply does not fit all.
Also, remember to keep the pack weight low…it's simply more difficult on women's shoulders to carry greater weight when compared with men's. IMO 25lbs should be the max for a woman around 5'. Use the 30% of body weight rule as a rough guide as to what your max load should be. I personally prefer 20-25% of body weight for all day comfort. On the JMT, my girlfriend's max loadout was 20lbs with food/water, and mine was 30lbs– which is just around 20-25% of our body weights. We were never sore from our packs.Oct 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm #1789629Sarah KirkconnellMember
@sarbarLocale: Homesteading On An Island In The PNW
I am short with a short torso and I can say that no, one size packs, especially unisex ones, don't work. Nothing in the pack is every fine tuned enough.
I learned long ago to buy women's packs for short women. Not only that….the women's packs are usually cut different to fit our curves/boobage/hips.
As for being top heavy…well you may have to learn to pack differently. I pack my pack much different than a man would for best results.Oct 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm #1789643
Thanks for the advice. I am almost convinced to stop looking at the Deuter ACT Lite 45 SL–the more I look at it the more I think it would take some seriously creative physics to pack it comfortably for my wife.
The employee at REI who helped us was really big on adjustable packs. I made the "rides really high on short people" point to him and he kind of brushed it off. I can't really blame him–he was a 6'0 guy, so I'm sure that has just never been an issue for him. An employee at Backwoods in Kansas City was equally fond of adjustable packs–I really think these guys just didn't have experience fitting shorter women to packs.
Thanks for the advice about GoLite. I had dismissed them before, because their smallest women's size–a "medium"–lists the torso length as 15.5 – 17.5, which is larger than the listed size of the REI Flash 65 Small that was too tall for my wife. I only wish I knew somewhere local that carried them. So far the torso size has been the toughest part to get right–no women's pack so far has had shoulder straps that are too wide or not contoured enough.Oct 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm #1789696Sarah KirkconnellMember
@sarbarLocale: Homesteading On An Island In The PNW
Btw Troy – the pack in my avatar is a Deuter womens pack. I wear the same pack for dayhiking as I do mult-nights.Oct 13, 2011 at 6:39 am #1789940Donna CMember
@leadfootLocale: Middle Virginia
I used to have a Deuter arc lite 40+10 and really liked it. Then I moved into the Golite series and I haven't looked back. I have the Jam2 and a Pinnacle. I didn't think I would like frameless, but what I discovered is that I can make the back of the pack as soft or stiff as I want by adding my pad and other items, so the thing fits like a glove. My torso is 15" and was surprised how well the Golite's felt. I've added an Ion to the herd, but haven't used it yet. I use an REI Flash 18 for day use.Oct 13, 2011 at 9:14 am #1790004Sumi WadaMember
@detroittigerfanLocale: Ann Arbor
FWIW, my son tried on a few packs recently. He's 5' tall, very thin (80lb), short torso. He found quite a few women's packs to fit torso-wise (his problem is hipbelts being too long.) My older Golite Jam2 fits him (but a new Pursuit did not), as do the Osprey Talon series. We were looking at 40 liter packs.Oct 13, 2011 at 2:00 pm #1790156Konrad .Member
Troy, glad I could help. Here's the thing….Golite did some fiddling with their women sizes around 2010. Their older women's packs use to be sized in 3 independent sizes: S, M, and L. These days, their packs for women only come in two sizes M and L. Kind of annoying that they did this.
My girlfriend's golite packs are all older. We have a 2009 litespeed and a 2010 Quest. I actually had to search all over ebay to find the 2010 quest, because we needed the true "S" size, and the newer Quests only came in M & L sizing. While we haven't tried on the new M size, we figured that it was probably larger now based on the sizing chart, and the fact that they've effectively eliminated the size small.
It might be worth the gamble to snag an older Small off ebay or gearswap, and just sell it again if it doesn't work out. Actually, you can still get a great deal on a 2008 women's lite-speed in size small. It is only a 40liter pack though…plenty of room for weekend adventures if you share gear.
Backcountry.com has an amazing return policy.
Just for reference, we had no luck with gregory or REI packs…my girlfriend was swimming in them. Mainly the shoulder straps were too wide, and falling off the sides of her chest. The golite packs were a great fit for really petite women. If you get a framed older golite pack, remember to bend the aluminum stays so that they match the curvature of her back. I can post a pic of how the pack fits on her for reference if that would be helpful.
Note: I edited this post. I mistakenly thought Golite's current sizing was S/M and M/L, but it's actually just M & LOct 18, 2011 at 6:59 am #1791927
Thanks Konrad for the GoLite info. That Lite-Speed deal is amazingly tempting.
Other than the lite-speed, which I might take a flyer on, we pretty much settled on the Gregory Jade 50.
I have a question about the redesign, however, if anyone has any info to share. The "old" Gregory Jade 50 has specs that list the XS as 2750 cubic inches and 2lb 15 oz while the redesigned Jade 50 lists at 2807 cubic inches and 3lb 12oz. Is… is that right? Can anyone with experience with these tell me where the extra 13 ounces came from? Or what the thing actually weighed in at once they purchased it? I don't think my wife really needs the extra volume of the Jade 60, but its specs list it as 3lb, 11oz–lighter than the 50!Oct 18, 2011 at 10:16 am #1792008Tim HaynesMember
@timalanLocale: Mid Atlantic
One pack I've been looking at for my sister is the Mammut Crea Light 40 Backpack… From what I've read about it, it seems like an ideal solution, but I'm waiting to find a good sale before trying it. The other high-possibility is one of the GoLite packs, which are far more readily found on sale.
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