Osprey Packs Women's Specific Fit Month.....and the female fresher

8th Mar 2019

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The Female Fresher…

I started climbing as a university fresher and remember signing up for a few trips with the university club and nervously going along for the first time to one of their weekly climbing wall sessions.  It was certainly intimidating,  but I received a very warm welcome and was soon loving both my indoor and outdoor climbing adventures.

The Female Fresher In Men’s Clothing…

It was all new and part of the fun was building up the skills and equipment to try different branches of the sport and travel to new areas.  It was very noticeable at that time that women climber’s were hardly catered for by manufacturers.  If I went into my local climbing shop I usually had to choose from Men’s clothing and maybe they’d be a few token female options.

The Manufacturing Limitations…

This probably wasn’t surprising as, at that time, there were far fewer women taking part on outdoor activities.  My uni club, as a random representative example, had only a small number of females in relation to the overall total.  This meant that it would never have been commercially viable for manufacturers to invest in producing lots of women’s specific products.

The Female Climbing Evolution…

In the intervening years I was aware the number of participating women was growing and some high profile female climbing and mountaineering ‘stars’ started making the headlines.  Catherine Destivelle excelled in everything from steep rock to major Alpine faces and Alison Hargreaves and Julie Tullis were making waves in the world of high altitude mountaineering.  In 1999 Beth Rodden became the first woman to climb the US test piece To Bolt Or Not To Be and Lynn Hill was breaking records with the first free ascent of The Nose on El Capitan. The list goes on.    

Manufacturing Enlightenment…

All these developments prompted retail changes.  There was a gradual increase in the amount or female specific equipment available. However, it was often focussed on being produced in women’s colours (whatever they are!) rather than there being any significant attempt to match clothing and equipment design to women’s physiology.  I remember comparing my nice women’s pastel pink waterproof jacket with a male friend’s blue men’s version of the same style and finding they were both exactly the same cut!

The Current State Of Play…

Fast forward to where we are now and what a contrast.  Statistics show that record numbers of women are now participating in outdoor activities and the female specific equipment options have grown exponentially.  Shops have male and female collections available and the choices for active women, while probably not yet equal, are massively improved - and it isn’t just about how the items look.  From boots to climbing harnesses and helmets to clothing - designers are aware of the different physiological requirements of women and are producing products accordingly.

The Industry Leaders…

In the world of rucksack design we have been working for several years with one manufacturer that really stands out.  Osprey are industry leaders in the production of packs for all outdoor requirements and they are also leaders in the manufacture of women’s packs. 

25 Years Of Female Fit…

What I didn’t know until recently is that Osprey have actually been making female specific fit packs for 25 years.  In an industry that has gradually adapted to the specifics of female physiology, this is a truly amazing record and also means that, while some pack manufacturers are learning what female fit is all about, Osprey have 25 years of experience to draw on.  As they say ‘we didn’t do this 25 years ago, we’ve been doing it for 25 years.’

Packs To Suit The Female Form…

There are a lot of reasons why men’s and women’s packs should be built differently and I certainly don’t claim to understand them all.  I do know our shoulders are narrower and that are hips are shaped differently.  This means that, as I found out with the Lumina I tested recently (review here), a good women’s specific pack will have shoulder straps that are closer together and a waist belt shaped to take the load in the right place. Fortunately, companies like Osprey understand all these elements and invest in getting the packs to fit well and I have been learning there is a lot more to it than I realised.  Please do have a read of their Women's Specific Fit advice here.      

Osprey Women’s Specific Fit Month…

So, to celebrate this quarter century milestone, March is Osprey’s Women’s Fit Specific month.  They are focussing on women’s specific models and I have been delighted to contribute to this with a recent review of the superb Lumina 45 ultralight pack (you can read my review here).  Peak Mountaineering is proud to have worked with Osprey for several years and we are delighted to recommend their products. And, from a personal perspective at least, definitely their female specific products.  Go Osprey!

Your Turn To Try Osprey…

Osprey have invited us all to help celebrate this month and we are delighted to be sharing this news on International Women’s Day.  We are also delighted, more than ever, to be able to offer a limited edition women’s Tempest 20 pack to give away.  Please check out the easy to enter competition details on our Latest News page here.

Posted by Cal