When it comes to buying a new backpack, you may only consider the obvious factors like size and shape, but do you consider gender?
We're beginning to see much more gender-specific backpacks coming to the market and it's not about "pinking and shrinking" a male design, research has gone into the development of women's specific bags and one such brand to tackle this is Patagonia.
If you're not already familiar with the brand, Patagonia was born from the passion of climber, Yvon Chouinard, in the 1970's. The company prides themselves on producing high-quality apparel and equipment for outdoor enthusiasts whilst adhering to their strong ethical and sustainable values.
We've gotten our hands on the new Patagonia Women's Refugio Pack and put it to our pedalling test.
The Patagonia Women's Refugio Pack is perhaps one of the most feature-packed bags that's come my way. It's bursting with useful properties which don't clutter, confuse or get ignored.
The Refugio pack has two main zipped compartments, one zipped stash pocket for quick access and two elastic side pouches which are perfect for water bottles. Within the two main areas of the bag is useful organisers so you don't have to rummage to the bottom of the pack for your long-lost lip balm!
In the larger compartment of the pack, there's a padded laptop and tablet section which fits up to 15" devices. There's an adjustable clip-strap across the top for added security too. Patagonia has also incorporated an opening at the top of the bag for a hydration bladder which can sit comfortably in the laptop area and feed up and out through the hole.
The outer of the pack is constructed from a strong nylon material which is coated with polyurethane and DWR for a water-repellent finish.
The back panel and straps of the Patagonia women's Refugio pack are padded and lined with a breathable mesh fabric to help improve airflow and reduce the build-up of sweat, perfect for us cyclists.
There's a removable and adjustable chest clip which provides additional security to help keep the pack in place. The strap can be unhooked and moved along both sides of the straps to make it more comfortable, however, I would like to have seen a greater degree of movement as the chest clip could only sit on top of my boobs which pushes down when the pack is under a heavy load.
What makes it women's specific?
So what makes this women's specific exactly? Well, there are a number of things actually...
The volume size of the women's pack is 26L while the men's equivalent is 28L, so it's smaller in size for starters. The shape and size of the pack have been made narrower and shorter to better fit a women's body without creating a bulky turtle-shell-like backpack.
Moving onto the straps, these have also been made shorter, straighter and more tapered to sit more comfortably on the shoulders and take into considerations the breast-needs of a woman - hurray!
Does this make a difference? - yes.
I found this pack to be extremely comfortable to wear both on and off the bike. It didn't feel too big or bulky like some other's I've had, and yet, I could easily fit in everything I needed for the day and my gym kit.
There are only a couple of areas which I feel could need some attention and that would improve the range of the adjustable chest clip, improve reflective detailing for low-light conditions and consider a fully waterproof feature in either material or a rain cover for when showers strike.
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