Grey Mist, Point Perpendicular

Nina Scott-Bohanna on Grey Mist (17), Point Perpendicular. Photo: Chelsea Brunckhorst


Women's outdoor gear has progressed beyond "shrink-it-and-pink-it" design. Although some women's outdoor gear does come in pink (e.g. the La Sportiva Katana Women's), outdoor brands are learning that women do enjoy other colours too, like green (La Sportiva Women's Mythos) and blue (Exped Thunder 50 Women's Hiking Pack).

Of course, it's not all about colour. Women's outdoor gear has real differences from men's gear in terms of the proportions the gear is made to.

Obviously, not all women are the same shape. Neither are all men the same shape. If you're a guy with narrow feet, or a woman with proportionately small hips, it's worth checking out gear designed for the opposite gender.

Here, we explain the main differences in several types of women's outdoor gear, so that you can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing an item that's appropriate for you.

Edelrid Solaris Women's Climbing Harness

Women's Climbing Harnesses

The obvious way that women's climbing harnesses differ from men's is the waist-to-thigh ratio. Women's climbing harnesses, in general, are designed for narrower waists and larger thighs.

The other major way in which they differ is in the length between the waist belt and leg loops. In women's climbing harnesses, this distance is bigger, because women tend to have longer hips.

Nearly all women's climbing harnesses are also contoured to suit a more curvy torso. Some women's climbing harnesses, like the Edelrid Solaris Women's Climbing Harness, even offer an adjustment system that allows you to fine-tune the waistband's exact angle on your hips.

La Sportiva Miura VS Women's Climbing Shoes

Women's Climbing Shoes

In general, women's climbing shoes are a version of the men's model that is lower volume. This means that women's climbing shoes are designed for narrower and more slender feet.

It's important for climbing shoes to be fitted snugly. Too much volume translates to too much movement within the shoe, which makes it more difficult for you to be precise with your footwork and get the most out of the shoe. Any air pockets can contribute to a bad fit.

Women's climbing shoes made by brands like La Sportiva also tend to have a smaller, shallower heel-cup to accommodate slighter ankles. This can make a huge difference in comfort, particularly around your Achilles.

Mont Fusion Women's Down Jacket

Women's Outdoor Jackets

The main feature in a women's outdoor jacket (whether it's a rain jacket, fleece or other type of insulation) are proportionately shorter sleeves. Having sleeves that fit is not just a cosmetic thing. It helps the jacket perform in the way that it's intended.

Particularly in women's insulated jackets, it's important to get the fit right, so that the jacket's insulation properties work in the way that it's designed to. Too much space in the arms or torso might allow too much ventilation. Likewise, jackets that are too tight in the wrong places make it more difficult for down or synthetic fill to loft, which could affect the jacket's warmth.

Women's outdoor jackets tend to be cut to accommodate wider hips, narrower waistlines and larger busts (see Mont Fusion Women's Down Jacket).

Deuter ACT Lite 45+10 SL Women's Trekking Pack

Women's Bushwalking Packs

Most women's bushwalking packs are designed for people with shorter back lengths. Although many backpacks offer adjustable back lengths, you'll find that the length range in women's packs tends to be lower.

For instance, the women's version of the Mont Backcountry Bushwalking Pack is designed for back lengths of 40–50cm, whereas the men's sizes are for those with a back length of 45–55cm (size medium) and 50–60cm (size large).

Some brands – such as Deuter – also alter the shape of the pack's shoulder straps. Women's packs tend to be designed for smaller shoulders, with contours that accommodate a larger bust. The sternum strap can also be positioned high – again, to accommodate larger chests.

Hip belts in women's hiking packs are also commonly designed for curvier hips. For example, the hip pads on the Deuter Aircontact 60+10 SL Women's Hiking Pack are shaped specifically for broader hips.

See our range of women's outdoor clothing here.

Questions? Visit us, email us or call us (03 9600 0599).

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