@Former community member - I have the same sentiment! They have been game changers for when I spend long days out climbing or paddling. I was thrilled when REI started carrying them. The more time I get to spend focusing on the exciting activities I'm getting into, the better!
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It's a really smart move to get this part of your trip dialed in before you head out; proper backpack fit can make or break a trip! @REI-JenK is spot on with the recommendation of a virtual outfitting appointment for talking through the specifics of fitting a pack to you. That's the best way to get the specific advice you need without having to make the trip in to a store. To get you started here though, check out this Expert Advice article on How to Size and Fit a Backpack, paying close attention to the video and section about torso length.
The next step is to adjust the pack to what your torso measurement is, which sounds like should be close to 17". The shoulder harness on your pack is secured to the pack by a hook and loop (velcro-like) attachment just under the end of the shoulder straps by the body of the backpack. All you have to do is separate the two and you'll be able to move the shoulder harness up and down (pro-tip: a small, thin cutting board or plastic sheet can be helpful for separating these two pieces and save your cuticles from scraping against the hook and loop fabric).
The Gregory Maven has marks on the harness indicating the size. It appears as though the marks start with 'S', then there is another mark, and then an 'M', and likely another mark. You can check with a tape measure to see how far the marks are from one another, but they are probably about an inch. That would mean the 'S' is about 16", the next mark is about 17", etc. After setting the harness at your approximate torso length, try the pack on and look in the mirror. Pay close attention to the fit of the harness, hipbelt, and the angle of the load stabilizer straps as talked about in that Expert Advice article.
If the fit looks and feels good, put some weight (5-10 pounds) and some fill (pillows or towels) into the pack and put it on again. Repeat the process in front of a mirror (this is where the virtual outfitting appointment would be useful as the outfitter can look for fit issues) and check the fit again.
If everything looks and feels good at that point, we recommend loading your pack (with a similar load that you expect to carry on the trail) and spend some time walking with it on. Pay attention to how it feels and moves with you and don't hesitate to make some minor adjustments to really dial it in.
Hopefully this helps, be sure to come back to the community and share some pictures from your adventure!
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@jinxypop I'm so excited for you that you love hiking enough to keep doing it, expand your skills, and enjoy the exquisite pleasure of a solo trip. I've read through all the comments and there is definitely some good advice and specific tips in there. One concept that I don't see addressed which might make you feel a little more confident is that there is a difference between an overnight backpacking trip and true wilderness exploration. I live in Alaska, where most overnights can and should be considered true wilderness. But I've also backpacked extensively in other areas of the country that are much tamer and definitely appropriate for a first overnight trip. I do concur with some of the other posters that your very-first-ever-overnight should probably be with at least one other person who has done it before, but you're not as far away from your goal as if you were tackling a true wilderness environment. I'd recommend a loop route, as opposed to a one-way. They tend to be more well-traveled, and harder to get lost in. As for the human-fear factor, which I think started out as your biggest concern, the comments from some of the male posters may help alleviate some of your concern about "their" intentions and give you a better-rounded perspective. And I second the thoughts of all the posters who mentioned martial arts as a boost for confidence. I enrolled my daughter in a 6-week Krav Maga program. Just 6 weeks, and the before-and-after difference in her confidence was astounding! Could she, with that much training have taken down an aggressive 250-pound human? I seriously doubt it, but she was no longer held back by her fears. It may have the same result for you, and I do very much wish you peace of mind!!! We go out into the wilderness partly to experience peace, and let's not rob our own selves of that benefit with excessive fear. If you are a reader, I highly recommend a book on the subject by Gavin deBecker, called "The Gift of Fear." It helps you both to tune in to your own internal radar for real danger AND to keep that radar from becoming overactive and determining everything is a threat, even when it's not. (I had trouble putting it down.) Happy Trails to you. Have a wonderful time.
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@pageeightstudio As someone else mentioned, the REI staff actually do the activities that their gear is made for. They also have worthwhile short classes at some of their stores. I did a thru-hike of the Colorado Trail in 2018, and went to a few thru hiking classes at the REI in downtown Austin. What I learned in their classes helped me plan for my trip.
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@HoughtonLikeTheLake chiming in on this one as well. While women can certainly wear packs that are designated as "mens", and vice versa, there are some key attributes to a woman's pack that are worth considering:
Torso dimensions of women's packs are often shorter and narrower than men's, so you'd want to ensure that the men's pack you're considering has a small enough size to fit your torso length.
The straps and hipbelts on women's packs are often contoured with the women's form in mind (so the shoulder straps may sit more comfortably along your chest and the hipbelt may hug your hips more accurately).
Hopefully this helps! And yes, you might consider a free virtual outfitting appointment (while our stores are closed) with one of our employees to help narrow in on a good fit!
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