In an industry dominated by the male perspective, it’s always refreshing when a company takes time to craft a product designed specifically for the mountainista. As part of their new line of adventure packs, Columbia has released the women’s specific Vixen. Like its male specific counter parts, the Treadlite and Endura, the Vixen is designed specifically to provide freedom to roam fast and light without compromising on comfort or features.
So when the company offered our Gumption Gals the opportunity to test the Vixen backpack we jumped at the chance.
First things first, it’s important to note that women-specific backpacks are much more than unisex packs with pretty colors and designs. Women-specific packs are designed to conform to the unique shape of a woman so they can push themselves further and deeper into the great outdoors in comfort. There are a few points that truly differentiate a quality female-specific pack from a male-specific or unisex backpack. Consider the following:
• Women generally have shorter torsos than men, so backpacks for women have shorter frame lengths
• Women are (obviously) curvier, so backpacks for women have conforming hipbelts and shoulder straps
• Women are have narrower shoulders than men, so backpacks for women are more slender through the shoulders than generic packs
On Fit and Performance…
In designing the new Vixen backpack the design team at Columbia took all these factors into consideration and the end result is a comfortable, stylish pack that allows the female outdoor enthusiast to take on the most aggressive adventures in sleek comfort with out the bulk.
Much like it’s namesake, the Vixen can adapt to its habitat and thrive in any environment. Columbia’s Omni-Shield™ advanced repellant technology, protects against ocean mist, rain, sleet and exploding juice boxes. A 3L hydration compatible sleeve will carry enough fluid to keep your thirst at bay while traversing desert trails.
The shoulder straps are comprised of Columbia’s Techlite material engineered to provide outstanding comfort, breathability and lightweight strength, they distribute weight efficiently and effectively. The sternum strap is fully adjustable providing more comfort and a personalized fit. More importantly, the shoulder straps stay in place so the pack doesn’t slip when you’ve got to reach down and scoop up your little pup.
Columbia’s design team didn’t just nail this feature, they crushed it. In fact, as noted in the Gumption Gear review of the Columbia Endura and Treadlite packs, we’re willing to bet the Techlite shoulder straps prove to be the most comfortable, durable and technologically advanced straps you have ever slipped onto your shoulders.
The Vixen features a fox-like slender yet athletic profile design providing significant freedom of motion so you can revel in your adventure whether out hiking, biking, or slashing through fresh fallen powder. And because you don’t want to slow down while out breaking trail, Columbia included easy grab zipper pulls on these packs ensuring quick and easy access to all the necessities.
Columbia’s backdraft aerating suspension not only feels great on the trail, but keeps you cool when chasing the kidlets around Disneyland on a warm Southern California day. And whether you’re pounding out the miles or simply taking the kids to the zoo, you can do it all in comfort thanks to the Techlite Velocity L.O.A.D. shoulder straps.
For the mountainista momma, Columbia has included well crafted stretch woven side pockets that provide plenty of room for water bottles or snacks for your little trail buddy. Add in the trekking pole attachments and the sternum strap with rescue whistle and you’ve got a pack built to satisfy your utilitarianistic hunger for function.
Room for Improvement…
Unlike our male counter parts, for us outdoor loving moms we’re usually the ones carrying lots of extra gear for our little mountain goats which tends to get lost amongst the large and deep pack spaces. Our Gumption Gals feel that a few more mesh or zippered compartments for separating gear, snacks, first aid pack, cell phone etc inside the various larger pockets would help keep the pack organized, especially when the hydration pack is full and space is minimized.
Gumption guys and gals alike can agree that cotton mouth is one of the arch enemies of a quality outdoor adventure. As such we appreciate the fact that each of these packs is 3L hydration compatible. That being said, the combination of a topped off hydration reservoir and Columbia’s AirMesh suspension system does result in a leaving less gear capacity in the main body of the pack which may prove to be frustrating to those out for longer adventures.
There are definite advantages to choosing a women-specific pack for your adventures. Whether taking a weekend trip to the Sierra Nevada’s or hangin’ with Mickey and Friends, the Vixen is a sleek multi-functional pack that can keep up no matter the geography and will inspire you to greater outdoor adventures.
Manufacturer: Columbia Sportswear
Availability: Columbia.com and Retailers Nationwide