(update 2012/08/17: more on this topic, with pictures, is now available here)
This is reader feedback to my Aarn Mountain Magic 44 review that is , I think, very useful to all potential female buyers of these backpacks. I’ve also added some comments.
Cary wrote: I am a female and I own the Aarn Mountain Magic 44. I do like my pack very much. I did hate that chest buckle, not necessarily for the inherent issues with being a female, I just found it pointless. I cut mine off and rethreaded the strap through the buckle, and sewed the ends together to keep them in place. Quite frankly, my husband never straps his when using his aarn pack either. I never have any problem with the straps slipping off my shoulders, so I’m not sure what the point of the buckle is. Besides, I like to lose every gram I can anyway. I found the pack to be very comfortable with loads less than 25 pounds. I had a bit of discomfort at my hips with a load of 35 pounds. I weigh 130, so I don’t know if this was just too large of a load for me, or if it has something to do with female curvier hips. Thanks for the review! Just thought I’d add a female perspective.
When I got this comment, I asked Cary:
Can you confirm that there is no loss of functionality/ comfort/ flexibility of usage when removing pieces? I do the same thing with other packs, but with these ones, that are so “complicated” even though I really love them, I hesitate!
Another thing that may be very interesting for my readers, if not for me personally, is more from a female user about bodypacks + balance pockets. From how I move and feel with my balance pockets on, and from what I read on the Aarn website, I would assume that there is no problem with Aarn balance pockets for female backpackers, unless their bust is big enough that any backpack would create some problem. However, I think the more it is known about this the better it is. I have female relatives who could really use a pack like this to relieve problems to their back, but when they look at the front balance pockets they just say “I’d surely feel trapped in there” and don’t even try. Your opinion is welcome!
Cary answered that: Yes, I’ve been very happy with my Aarn pack without the center chest strap for my summer loads less than 25 lbs. I guess it’s good to know that it isn’t just a girl thing. I just used it today and was noting how I’ve never experienced any back pain or soreness with this pack.
As a final note, I can confirm that one issue Cary has, “a bit of discomfort at my hips with a load of 35 pounds” doesn’t depend on being female or having curvier hips. My own experience is the same. I have a Peak Aspiration too and, as you can read in my reviews, that bodypack gives no such problems even with very heavy loads. So I think this is an objective limit of the Mountain Magic itself, or more exactly of its belt and the balance pocket pads. They are very robust, but not padded/big enough to prevent this problem. Then again that whole model is designed to be light and carry lighter loads, so it isn’t a defect, is it now?