Oh the Woes of Buying a Pack as a Small Statured Woman...

Nov 15, 2013

Though She be But Little She is Fierce

I am small. Not the smallest, but still quite small. I measure up at 5’1” and I have a ridiculously small torso at 15.5” which is just inside the smallest range possible before hitting youth sizes. For this reason, I really need a women's specific pack because otherwise the fit is all sort of off.

Unfortunately I live in an area of NY where there are very few stores that actually stock packs so that you can go try them on. I have four options: one EMS, one North Face, one Dicks Sporting Goods and one Gander Mountain. I’ve learned the hard way the following things: that my local EMS only stocks a very limited selection of brands; the Dicks Sporting Goods seemed to never have the pack I was looking for and if they did it wasn’t the right size, etc.; and Gander Mountain doesn’t stock women’s specific packs.

My solution to this rather significant problem, is to just go ahead and buy the bags I want to check out from websites like ebags.com or backcountry.com, and then return them if they don’t work out. Both sites provide full refunds if you return within a certain period (30-60 days depending on the site), and the process is rather painless. You just look up your order on the site and print out the return label. Ebags even has free returns, while backcountry charges $6.99 which is taken out of your refund.


I originally went with an Osprey Farpoint 55 in the small size. I love the fully frontal access feature, the detachable daypack and the stowaway straps. But I found it uncomfortable after a while because the pads designed to fit at the base of your back, were ever so slightly off on me. I also found that the space between the shoulder straps was nowhere near as narrow as I needed it to be, making my arms go a little tingly after a while. Alas, my miniature stature was just too small for the Osprey small, and I ended up returning it.



Gregory Jade 38

I tried on a Gregory Jade 38 in small, which felt like a magical little cloud resting gently on my back. The back suspension system keeps the pack away from your back and allows air to flow, keeping your sweating to a minimum. It's got front access, a separate zippered compartment, an integrated rain coat, I mean you name it. It would be perfect, except for the fact that I simply cannot fit all my shit in a 38L pack. I just can’t, for a few reasons. I am well aware that I am doing what everyone preaches not to do, which is to bring too much stuff, and that I will probably wind up ditching some of it along the way. But I don’t care. It was also still a little bit too big for my back.




I then tried the Women’s Kelty Rally 45 in small. It has all the same features as the Gregory Jade 38. But I’m just going to come out and say it: the fit was awful. The aluminum stay in the back make the shape of the bag super rigid and awkward. That coupled with the fact that it was blatantly not fitting properly meant that the top of the bag was so far forward, it was literally pushing my head forward if I stood up straight. It just felt awkward. I honestly didn’t even try packing it fully and have returned that too.


On to the next! I just ordered the Women’s Gregory Jade 50 in Xsmall. This amount of liter space sounds enormous to me, but the specs on the Gregory site say that in the XS size, the pack is only 46L. I’m hoping that if I’m not packing this full, it won’t be obtrusive and will even provide me with some wiggle room.

Fingers crossed…For real, I’m fucking sick of looking at bags. I will update again once the new bag gets here and I give it the ole college try!

Category: Products

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