Multiday packs are 50-80 liter backpacks made for extended treks or winter travel. They will have the same features of the overnight pack (gear loops, internal frame, numerous storage pockets of varying sizes) but with a bigger main compartment and larger hydration reservoir, and even more luxurious padding. The hipbelt on my Osprey 75L was heat-molded to my hips at my local REI and has made carrying a third of my body weight feel perfectly manageable, and the shoulder straps rest comfortably on my collarbones rather than dig in or cause friction bruising. With a lanky frame and small bones, I am not a pack-animal type of hiker, but with the right gear and a steady increase in pack weight over time, I have become one of those folks that can carry a large amount of gear for long distances with minimal muttering. Multiday packs almost always have a detachable top lid section, which you can use as a fanny pack on side trips from base camp or as a summit pack.
The features of a multiday pack are similar to an overnight pack; the main difference is the capacity. But to recap:
Top: The majority of multiday packs are a top-loading design, allowing you to stuff the bottom of your pack with your sleeping bag, stove, tent, and other items not needed until later. Some top-loaders offer a “floating” (extendable) top lid that allows you to overstuff the pack a bit.
Front or bottom: Packs with front panel access offer access to the main storage compartment via a U-shaped zipper which enables you to get to those bottom of the pack items without having to pull everything on top out. Some packs offer a bottom zipper to accomplish the same thing. This is ideal for being able to set up camp without strewing your stuff all over to get to your overnight items.
Side: A side zip to the main storage compartment is an option on some multiday packs. This is typically in addition to top or front access and is just one more way to access deep-pack items without unpacking.
Most multiday packs have an inside pocket that you can slip a hydration reservoir into. Depending on the make and model you decide on, the reservoirs (also called a bladder) will either come with the pack or you’ll need to buy one separately, Average reservoirs on this size pack are usually 3 liters, which you can refill with water that you have either boiled with something like a JetBoil or filtered with something like a Katadyn BeFree or Sawyer Squeeze.
Suspended mesh back panel: Most larger packs these days have a ventilated back panel made of mesh that’s constructed so the pack sits a few inches away from your body, cutting down on back sweat and giving your spine a break.
Raincover: If there is even a chance of rain on your trip, consider a raincover, or its cheap alternative, the Hefty bag. A lot of folks line their packs with one but you could also pull one over your pack, cutting holes for the straps. It may not be the most elegant look but it will be rainproof.
Sleeping bag compartment: Packs of this size usually have zippered access to a sleeping bag compartment at the bottom of the pack.
Fitting your pack
It’s recommended to try on a bunch of packs in person to ensure the right fit. You’ll want to look for the following:
- Women-specific backpacks: Torso dimensions are shorter on women’s packs than on men’s or unisex packs, hipbelts and shoulder straps are contoured with our body shape in mind, and sternum straps are usually a smidge higher.
- Torso length: The length of your torso, not your height, is important here. Most packs are available in multiple sizes, from extra small to large, and can be fine-tuned with strap adjustments. Position the hipbelt so the top edge is about one finger width above the top of your hips, then look at how the shoulder straps land on your back and shoulders. If there is a gap at the top of your shoulders, the pack is likely too long for your torso. If the straps are a ways down your back before they connect to the pack, the pack might be too short.
- Hip size: Hipbelts usually accommodate a wide range of hip sizes, from the mid-20 inches to the mid-40 inches so often it’s not the size that’s the issue here but the feel of the belt itself, the angle of the pockets and padding and how they feel on you hipbones. Osprey and REI have this great oven set-up where you can have your hip belt heat-molded to your body. As someone with prominent hipbones, this was a nice touch and swayed me to buy Osprey.
- Load Lifter Straps: Some overnight and multiday packs have additional straps stitched into the top of the shoulder straps which connect to the top of the pack frame, creating a 45° angle between your shoulder straps and the pack, preventing the upper portion of the pack from pulling away from your body, which would cause the pack to rest needlessly on your lower back.
- Sternum Strap: This mid-chest strap packs allows you to narrow or widen where your shoulder straps sit, which improves comfort, and lock them in place, which improves stability. You’ll enjoy the addition of a sternum strap when traveling on uneven terrain where a pack that’s shifting back and forth can abrade the skin or throw you off balance.
Popular Multiday Packs For Women
(note, the numbers refer to capacity in liters)
- Osprey Xena 85
- Osprey Ariel AG 75
- Osprey Aura AG 65
- Gregory Deva 70
- REI Ruckpack 65
- Mystery Ranch Glacier Pack 70
- Deuter Aircontact Lite 60+10 SL
- Granite Gear Blaze 60
- Kelty Coyote 80
- Arcteryx Bora AR 61
Wendy Harrington is a California native who has lived in a small town at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington state since 2001. Her love of trail running and peakbagging has led her to summit all five Washington volcanoes, climb to the high points of three states, and put nearly a thousand miles a year on her boots. Her loves include ridgelines, saddles, granite, one-day pushes on big mountains, anything volcanic, long solo days, and objectives that push limits and test endurance.