Newsflash, women are not made like men. We do not age like men. Even the strongest woman in the world is not made like a man to sustain the effects of a mans world on a womans body. We are all only getting older, so carrying a heavy pack may be fine for now, but this is as young as we will ever be so it not realistic for indefinite use. For example, women should not plan to take on the weight and size of a pack like a man would. I’m definitely not saying that we are powder puffs, but there are differences in strengths.

Differences can be subtle and then not so subtle. For instance, a pack can be adapted to be more comfortable or even designed for a woman – this doesn’t mean the color. The sleep system should be slightly different, the hygiene supplies are definitely different, the clothing may be slightly different, the weight of the items should be different and so on.

Packs For Women

A mans pack can be adapted to be used more easily by a woman. My Molle II rucksack is adapted to fit and taper to my body to make it easier to carry. I bent the frame a bit and movd the straps up higher to carry the load higher on my shoulders putting the load more on my shoulders and hips then on my lower back (which would not be sustainable). I have recently switched over to a large ALICE pack and adapted the Molle II frame, shoulder straps and waist strap to fit. I like it better. Go to a backpacking store and get a good all around pack that fits your body. spend time with the experts and make sure to get a good fit. Don’t skimp on this one ladies.

I try to take note of what I put in my back to put the best and lightest options I can to make all the contents count. Each item should have multiple uses. I originally planned to carry a Schrade SCH45 but traded it for a much lighter but equally tough Tops 170 machete.

Sleep System For Women

I continue to carry the same sleeping bag as my husband, the military sleep system with the 4 pieces which works well for me at any time, women can be either extremely cold or extremely hot when they sleep, sometimes both in the same night. With the 4 piece system, I can cover or uncover as needed. I have added a sleeping bag liner to my system. It can work as a stand alone blanket for hot weather and can keep my sleeping bag clean inside in cold weather. Easily washed and replaced and can keep the frigid wow factor away when you are getting into a cold sleeping bag. I have chosen merino wool because it retains warmth even when wet, dries quickly, is lightweight and is antibacterial, antimicrobial and very soft. It was a bit expensive but for bugging out, you are living in the sleeping bag. I also have a merino wool stocking cap that I love to sleep in and camp in. It is so soft and comfortable.
I opted for a 3 season women’s sleeping pad. The shape of the pad is a bit different than a mans and can be ordered in a regular length, cutting down on weight in length of the pad. I have a cot for as long as we have a vehicle, the cot will be too heavy to pack on foot. I can put my heavyweight emergency blanket or a 100% wool blanket between my bag and the pad if I need to for extra warmth. When we no longer have a vehicle option, a lightweight hammock will work just fine with a mosquito net and underquilt.
An inflatable pillow makes life a bit easier and does not add any additional weight. I put in a pillowcase from home to put over it for morale purposes and to keep the pillow clean.

Hygiene For Women

This is where the rubber really meets the road. Hygiene is very important to keep away sickness and disease. There is more to life out there for women than just a pink “go girl”.
I was introduced to wet bags and washable pads. These are the best things ever! You carry your clean and dry pads in one wet bag to keep them dry and your used pads in another wet bag for washing (just add a bit of soap and water into the bag and scrub them around). Then, you can snap the washed pads onto your pack or a line to dry. This changed the game for me. The pads can be as long or as absorbent as you like, some even have activated charcoal.. The Diva cups sound great but they are not practical for keeping clean at all.
Another huge deal are cut rags. Cut rags are to be used as toilet paper (who is going to be able to carry all the toilet paper you need and keep it dry -seriously). Same deal, you can use one wet bag to carry your clean dry cut rags (made of flannel, bamboo, sheepskin or whatever) and another wet bag for the used cut rags to be washed in. Cut rags can then be hung out on the line or tucked in  the molle of a pack to dry.

I also discovered Norwex wash cloths that do not need soap to be cleaned. They are antimicrobial and anti fungal. These are great!

Of course the standard baby wipes, field wipes and etc will keep you clean but they are not sustainable and they leave a messy trail.

Clothing Considerations

Clothing considerations for women should include merino wool undergarments and long underwear. Merino wool holds heat in even when wet, is soft, is breathable, is antifungal, anti bacterial and antimicrobial.

This stuff can be expensive, but worth every penny. I have found Darn Tough socks are the best so far. Ice breaker merino wool long underwear have held up very well for me. I also have a merino wool stocking cap for sleeping in.

Around The Camp or Every Day Carry

Even as men and women differ, all women differ as to what gear they like and don’t like. Many women are not going to wear a tactical type belt to keep water containers and tools with them. We made this lanyard out of 550 paracord braided round, a brass ring, Nite Ize “S” biners that lock. You can put at least these three items on the lanyard for every day carry: a Morakniv Eldris knife (comes in five colors: black, red, blue, green and yellow), a Resqme emergency seat belt cutter and window breaker (comes in all the colors of the rainbow – I also have these on every single set of car keys) and a Exotac polystriker XL.

Every Day Carry Lanyard

This keeps your gear together and can be hung around your neck, but also you can unclip what you want to use and clip it right back on the lanyard.
Not only would this help you out in a SHTF situation or camping, it would also be invaluable for a disaster situation if you are away from your home or car. Ideally, paired with a flashlight, would help you get out of a building during a power outage, earthquake, storm aftermath and so on. You can have survival material with you all the time – even in the office.