i've been advised against getting a large rucksack (70l) as i am only small and apparently will not be able to carry it when full, and there's no need to take that much stuff anyway...
So i'm looking at 55l sacks now and have noticed there are a number which are lightweight (golite) and made specifically for women.
Is it worth looking at these, are they a lot comfier for women and does the extra weight make a lot of difference. How much more lightweight are the lightweight sacks?
The women's shape are definitely worth shelling out for.
You'll see online advice on "how to pack your backpack". Some will advise you to put heavy things at the bottom, some will tell you to put heavy things at the top. The difference is due to whether a man or a women wrote the text.
Women can carry much more weight on their lower backs and hips than on their shoulders. It makes thus sense for them to get a "pear-shaped" backpack with narrow shoulder straps and wide hip straps and place the heaviest loads at the bottom of the pack.
Men however have strong shoulders, it is more comfortable for them to carry heavy loads on their shoulders at the top of their pack. They need shoulder straps that are wider than the ones on the lady backpacks.
May I suggest you look at the Deuter ACT lite 45 +10 SL ? I have the 35+10 version and am very happy with it. And if you intend to travel a lot in hot countries, check out the Deuter Futura 40+10 Vario (sorry, no womens fit).
BTW, if you don't take a tent you won't need a 55 l. A 40 l will do just as nicely, especially when you have a small second bag as daypack.
I've taken a look at the golite products (especially the jam2 pack) and I think that while the weight is very nice, I would rather get something a bit more durable and more comfortable to carry. The ultra-light packs are only that light bc they compromise on comfort. The difference in weight: 620 g for the golite jampack compared to 1420 g for the Deuter ACT lite 45+10 SL. The difference in comfort: being able to carry the jam2 pack for 2 hours with less comfort than you carry the Deuter ACT lite for a whole day.
The High Peak Luna mentioned in the post above and the Deuter both have a steel or aluminium internal backframe while the jam2 pack has only foam padding. Go into a good shop and try backpacks on (with weights!), you'll soon notice the difference between the two systems.
[ Edit: Edited on Mar 11, 2008, at 5:03 PM by t_maia ]
I would DEFINITELY buy a backpack specifically for women, if you're concerned about comfort!!!
You should check out packs made by Osprey. I recently bought an ULTRA lightweight 65L pack and it is made for women...
The straps curve in more at the top to accomodate your bust... and when you buy an osprey bag, they use a heater to mold the hip belt specifically to your body so its custom fit. They have a neat ventilation system built on the back that will help on hot summer days. As well, they test the bag by filling it with climbing gear and throwing it off a cliff... so I'm sure it'll last a lifetime.... worth the investment!!!
I'm very petite... 5 foot 6 and 120 pounds... and when I tested out this bag, they stuffed it full of phone books and I had no problem with the weight. My gear that I'm bringing traveling isn't even close to the weight of the phone books and the bag feels so light on my back, its great!
I tried a couple different bags including North Face ones, and nothing compared to Osprey. Definitely purchase a womens backpack, but your best bet is to try a few out at the store... you'll know the right pack for you as soon as you put it on.