"Is there women-specific hiking gear, and do I need to invest in them?"
This is one of the most common questions we get when engaging with some of the Northbound Gear female clients.
If you've previously asked yourself this question, you're in the right place. In today's article, we discuss seven women-specific hiking gear and answer the question of whether it's a must for you to invest in women-specific hiking gear or just buy unisex?
Let's get right into it.
Why Invest in Women Specific Hiking Gear?
It's common knowledge that women's and men's bodies are built differently. Women have different body shapes, move differently, sleep a bit colder, and have unique hygienic conditions.
Buying smaller male-specific hiking gear won't cut it. As a woman, you need equipment intended to help make your hiking experience more comfortable, which is why it's essential to invest in gear specifically made for women.
But what are some examples of gear to invest in? Keep reading to learn more.
Examples of Women Specific Hiking Gear
#1. Women's Backpacks
Unlike men's or unisex backpacks that come in longer and broader torso lengths, women-specific hiking bags are designed for an average woman's smaller and curvier body.
They have shorter torso lengths. If you're a shorter woman, this is one of the reasons why you should invest in a woman's backpack.
They also come with narrower shoulder straps that are set closer together to fit women's narrower torsos. This is especially important if you're petite since the shoulder straps in a male or unisex bag might be too wide for your slim torso.
If you're a curvy woman, you'll also find that the shoulder straps on male backpacks sit strangely on your breasts, making it uncomfortable to move.
The hip belts of women packs are also ergonomically shaped to accommodate women's wider hips while evenly transferring weight to the hips. This is especially important for curvy women as the hip belts may not sit in the right place on your hips.
If you are going for a one-night hike, a great fit isn't necessary as you won't be carrying much weight. However, if you are going for a few days, I encourage you to go for the best fit possible to enjoy the journey.
An example of a bag built specifically for women is the Northbound "Voyager" Expandable Backpack 26L / 38L with Built-in Rain Coat
#2. Women's Sleeping Bags
Just like backpacks, women have unique considerations when it comes to their sleeping needs.
For starters, women's body shape is different from that of men. Because of this, women-specific sleeping bags tend to be narrower around the shoulders and thicker around the hip area.
Women also get colder than men at night. Thanks to this, women's sleeping bags come with more insulation in the foot box and torso.
Women-specific sleeping bags also tend to be shorter than those built for men. If you're between 5'4″ and 5'6″, you should get the smaller sleeping bag. If you're between 5'8″ and 5'10", go for the larger option.
By considering these features, you'll ensure you're comfortable and warm, which guarantees you a good night's sleep.
#3. Women's Sleeping Pads
Since women sleep colder than men, one of the most defining factors of women-specific sleeping pads is the heavier insulation around the feet and torso.
Women-specific sleeping pads also tend to have extra padding around the hips area to ensure comfort when sleeping on the side.
However, despite the benefits, women-specific sleeping pads are harder to find. If you can't find one, you can opt for unisex pads with a higher R-value rating.
Unisex sleeping pads are shorter than male-specific pads. Unisex pads also come in different R-rating levels, making it possible for you to choose a pad that'll provide the best insulation for you.
#4. Women's Trekking Poles
Most women have shorter and smaller hands than men. This is why women's trekking poles are shorter and have smaller-sized grips and straps.
However, rather than getting woman-specific trekking poles, it's advisable to get unisex trekking poles.
Whether you're a short or tall hiker, unisex trekking poles are easily adjustable to any height— unlike women-specific trekking poles, which are designed for short users.
If you're looking to hike ultralight, you can use unisex trekking poles like tent poles. Due to their adjustable nature, unisex trekking poles serve as great aids during the day and useful tent poles at night.
Talk about a multifunctional product.
#5. Women's Footwear
Women's feet are not only smaller than men's feet. They are also more flexible, wider at the toe area and forefoot, and narrower at the heel area.
Women also have a more upright stance and are more comfortable in hiking shoes with lower degrees of ankle stance.
Getting a smaller male shoe wouldn't offer much comfort to most women.
And don't just get any shoes. You don't want to make the same mistakes I made on my first backpacking trip.
Get a comfortable shoe with a firm heel that bends when your foot bends and is a size bigger than your regular shoe size.
You probably know that cotton garments are forbidden when hiking. They absorb sweat and moisture and take longer to dry.
To prevent bacterial infection, invest in performance underwear when hiking.
Performance underwear is built to wick away sweat, is antimicrobial, and is breathable. Thanks to its quick-drying nature, you also don't need to buy multiple pairs of performance underwear. Two pairs will do.
You can wash one when at camp and wear it the next day in the morning.
#7. Menstrual Cups
What do you do when your periods align with your backpacking plans? Do you cancel?
Of course not!
Like most backpackers, you're going to look for options. When hiking, you have two options; tampons or menstrual cups.
If you opt for tampons, make sure to bring two opaque plastic bags—one to store clean tampons and another to store used ones.
With used tampons, you also need to have suitable odour control measures. Make sure to seal your waste bag with duct tape. You can also add crumbled aspirin or dry tea leaves to help deal with the odour.
But if the thought of carrying used tampons grosses you out, you can always go for menstrual cups. Menstrual cups are eco-friendly and convenient to use when camping.
And with menstrual cups, you can wear one for up to 12 hours without emptying it.
When it comes to emptying your menstrual cup, dig a hole as you would for any other human waste, and pour out the contents of the cup.
Should You Buy Unisex, Or Should You Get Women Specific Gear?
The answer to this depends on you. Some women prefer male hiking gear, while some prefer buying unisex gear or women-specific gear.
It all depends on your preference and body size.
However, for some gear in this list, there are no male-specific versions.
Whichever way you decide to go, Northbound Gear has got you covered. Whether you're looking for unisex gear or women-specific gear, we've got you. You can check out our online store here.