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How to pick the perfect backpack when you are a Petite female traveler

One big advantage of being short when you are traveling is that you can fit pretty much everywhere. There are no leg room issues in planes, trains or cars. Beds are always large enough, even if you are sleeping at a hostel or a bed and breakfast. 

And your luggage is probably not as heavy as other people. Since your clothes and shoes are generally smaller, they tend to weigh less. (Of course, that’s not necessarily true for everyone. Some petite women do overpack their luggage.)

If this year, you want to travel on a budget or simply be more luggage free when you are travelling, you want to opt for a backpack style travel. There’s also something exotic about being a Petite female backpacker. It totally tastes like freedom.

But one thing that we know is that it’s not easy to find a backpack that isn’t too big for you. That’s why we created this article to help Petite Female travelers find the one backpack that they need.

Why most backpacks are not good for you if you are Petite

Most backpacks are designed for people who have a standard or a tall stature. Therefore, the backpack can quickly overwhelm your figure and make you feel even smaller. And that’s even more true when it’s an Unisex or a male backpack.

Worse, using a wrong backpack can hurt your back and your health because the straps will not rest correctly on your shoulders. The weight of your backpack will then not be correctly distributed and will create tensions on your shoulders and back. And this can have long term effects, especially if you carry the backpack over a long period of time. 

As a matter of fact, burgeoning back issues can include headaches and strained muscles in the shoulder, neck and lower back. You may also develop bad postures while walking with the backpack. The pressure of the straps when the backpack is too heavy can also provoke numbness, tingling or blood circulation issues.

On top of that, when the backpack is too big, it’s easy to overpack with things you won’t actually use during your trip. It means that finding the stuff you really need will take more time (And when you need to rush to take a flight or attend a tour, it becomes an issue). Moreover, it leaves you less room for important things and purchase.

standard backpacks are not a good fit for short women

How to choose the right backpack when you are a short female traveler

Pick a backpack that is adapted to your torso length

When you need to choose a backpack for yourself, the first thing you need to do is to measure your torso length. 

To get it correctly, it’s better to ask a friend to do it for you because the back is a place that is hard to measure by yourself. You can also ask a vendor working at a specialised outdoor equipment shop to take it for you.Your torso length is the distance between your C7 vertebra, which is the bump at the base of your neck and your iliac crest, which is the top of your pelvis and that’s where the hipbelt would sit on your hips. 

As a side note, you can be petite and still have a long torso. And if that’s the case, you will face less difficulties finding a good backpack because the small sizes of unisex backpacks might just be okay for you.

Here’s a size chart that can give you an overall idea of what you need.

Backpack SizeTorso length (in inches)Torso length (in cm)
XS13” to 15″33 to 38.1 cm
S15″ to 17″38.1 cm to 43.2 cm
S or M17″ to 20″43.2 to 50.8 cm
L>20″>50.8 cm

Prefer a women’s specific fit backpack 

Let’s be honest. Unisex backpacks are usually more adapted to men body types. 

As a woman, you can still use a unisex backpack. However, these won’t be the most comfortable nor the most adapted to feminine figures. 

On the other hand, women specific backpacks will have features that are more than appreciated when you are a short woman. 

They have narrower shoulder straps that curve inward so that they don’t easily slide off your shoulders.

The chest strap is usually adjustable, so that you can adapt it the size of your bust. If you are a busty woman, that helps.

The hipbelt takes into account the feminine curves you may have and can help take some weight off your shoulders.

They have a lower top so that the back of the head is free to move. You may leave your hair loose or wear hoods without any worries.

Last but not least, they have shorter and more adjustable ranges of backpack, which is the most important feature when you are a Petite female traveler.

A lot of female backpacks are also padded, which makes the backpack a lot more comfortable.

All these make a real difference when you are carrying a backpack over a long period of time. Well-designed straps, for instance, can make a load feel lighter just by better distributing the weight. A rule of thumb is that you should not carry a load heavier than 25 % of your own body weight. And when you are a short woman, every pound counts.

Choose a reasonable capacity

Again, the bigger the luggage, the more you will pack. It doesn’t matter when it’s a suitcase. It’s a whole different story if it’s a backpack because you will have to carry that additional weight on your shoulders for the rest of your trip.

Conversely, if you purchase a backpack that has just the right capacity to bring what you need, you will end up with a more reasonable load.

To be able to find what’s the capacity you need, we suggest that you list all the essential things you need for the trip. It will help you have a rough idea of how much space you need.

In general, Petite women should aim for a backpack between 28L to 40L. The best choice would be around 40L if you are planning a long trip. Some short women can carry bigger backpacks that have over 50L or 60L capacity. However, it’s best not to overestimate your strength because it would be really a pity to ruin an enjoyable journey just because the backpack is way too heavy.

Besides, you can always buy and carry an additional bag or a totebag if there are some items that don’t fit into your backpack.

Best Petite-friendly backpacks

The number of suitable backpacks for Petite women isn’t very high. On top of that, they can be hard to find, so you’d better prepare in advance. This is not an exhaustive list but the backpacks we are mentioning below are petite-friendly and worth the investigation.

Osprey backpacks

Osprey is a well-known brand among backpackers. They offer quality backpacks with interesting features. They are more expensive than the average but it’s worth the investment. And like we always say, always pick quality over quantity, especially if it’s something you are going to keep for a long time.

Osprey Fairview 40

The Osprey Fairview 40 is a woman travel backpack with zip-away harness and an ergonomically shaped hip belt. It’s carry-on compliant and is one of the lightest backpack they have. One great feature about this backpack is that you can completely open it and pack as if it was a suitcase. It has dual mesh pockets, a padded laptop and tablet sleeve and lockable zips for more security.

The Osprey Fairview 40, size XS or S, would fit 14” to 16” torsos.

Osprey Kyte 36 

Osprey Kyte 36 is a multi-trekking backpack with a top-load and side-access. It’s sturdy and comes with many features like front pockets or a sleeping bag compartment with internal dividers. And the most important thing is that the back panel is adjustable and has foam ridges for comfort and fit.

Kyte 36 would fit 13” to 17” torsos.

Osprey Archeon 45 Women

Archeon 45 Women is a 45L fully recycled and sustainable top-load backpack for women. It comes with a raincover and has an adjustable back panel. 

It should fit smaller torsos as the back panel is adjustable but it still needs to be verified.

Gregory’s packs

Gregory is another famous backpack brand. Their backpacks are high quality and have a lot of features. What is great with Gregory is that they have a very thorough size chart in which they detail everything. You can know which bags will be best for you depending on your torso length.

As a side note, while they have backpacks with adjustable lengths like  the Amber, you might prefer to pick one that simply comes in multiple sizes because the first category might not be the most comfortable around the neck section.

Gregory Deva 60 in XS ou S

Deva is a feature-rich 60L backpack that many petite female backpackers love.It has a good suspension technology, a full body U-zip opening, many pockets and comes with a custom-fit raincoat.

The Deva 60 in size XS to S can fit torsos between 14” and 18”.

Gregory Amber 34L or 44L

Gregory Amber is a 34 or 44L backpack with adjustable suspension fit. It’s not one the best choice for petite female travelers but it’s still an option.

The Amber can fit torsos between 14” and 20”.

Gregory Maven 45 in XS or S

Gregory Maven is a top-load woman backpack with adjustable torso length. It has a freefloat breathable suspension, many pockets and comes with its own rain cover.

The Maven series in size XS and S can fit torsos between 13” to 17”

Gregory Octal 45 in XS or S

Gregory Octal is a 45L minimalist backpack with a raincover that should fit Petite torsos. 

Gregory Jade 28 to 38L in XS or S

Gregory Jade is also a great pick for Short female travelers. It’s light and sturdy at the same time.It has many pockets and ergonomic straps.

Tortuga’s backpacks

Tortuga is a backpack brand whose main strength is to create classy and feature-rich carry-on luggages for urban travelers. They offer several convenient backpacks that are suitable for Petite torsos and they even give you packing list ideas.

Outbreaker Backpack 35L or 45L

According to the brand, Outbreaker 35L is the best travel backpack for petite women. It’s a mid-size carry-on that is accepted by even the strictest airlines. You can fully open the bag and pack it like a suitcase, which is very convenient when you are traveling.It has a lot of pockets and the back panels are padded for more comfort. And more importantly, the straps are completely adjustable. If you need more capacity, you can opt for the 45L model.

The 35L fits well torsos that range from 16” to 19”. The 45L fits well torsos from 16” to 20”. 

Setout Divide women’s fit

The Setout backpack could be a good fit if you’re looking for a compact yet practical city backpack. Like all Tortuga’s backpacks, it possesses a lot of pockets and has a clean, neat minimalist look. If you care about how you look while traveling, if you’re travelling from city to city, the setout backpack could answer your needs.On top of that, the bag is made from recycled plastic bottles which makes it a sustainable backpack.

The suspension system is said to be adapted for narrower shoulders and short torsos. As a matter of fact, the Tortuga Setout divide (women’s fit) is adapted to torsos that range from 15.5” to 18”.

Deuter’s backpacks

Deuter is a German company specializing in outdoor equipment like sleeping bags but also travel backpacks. Their promise is to offer a lifelong companion for your outing. They offer a worldwide lifelong repair service, which is very appreciated. 

Their SL series is supposed to be adapted for women and could apparently fit petite women. However, not much is mentioned on their website so we can’t really recommend any. If you are Petite and have tried their backpack before, leave your impressions below. 

woman travelling the world

Again, this list is not exhaustive. So if you have any suggestions, feel free to give them in the comment section. We hope that this article was useful to you and can help you better pick a backpack if you are Petite and you need one. Enjoy your dream trips !

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