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Posts Tagged daypacks

Kelty Redstart and Redtail Daypacks

Kelty Redstart 28We frequently tout Kelty backpacks as the best bang for the buck options out there and these two daypacks are no exceptions. The 28-liter Redstart and 27-liter Redtail are both great daypacks for hitting the hiking trails or just taking along for a day of sightseeing and sidewalk pounding.

Kelty Redstart 28

As the name would suggest, the Redstart is a starter daypack for people who only go on hikes every once in a while and aren’t looking for anything very heavy-duty.

This is your basic small pack for hikes or travel that gives you pretty much what you would need and expect. It’s hydration ready with a separate flap area and a tube opening at the top, there are lots of pockets and enclosures on the inside for gadgets and small items, and plenty of places to hood things on outside of it. The back of it has AirFlow padded mesh panels with room for air to flow through so your entire shirt back won’t get soaked with sweat. The shoulder straps have light padding of the same mesh and there are (non-padded) sternum and waist straps if needed.

At a pound and a half (0.7 kg) it’s not the lightest one you’ll find, but it’s made of strong materials and is lined to keep the water out. The warranty doesn’t cover wear and tear, but it’s a lifetime one for defects.

The design of this daypack is kind of strange in that there’s a stuff pocket in the front that’s really only good for a towel, hat, or bandana that you can stuff in and then get to quickly by reaching behind you. The clips can’t be undone though, because then you’ve got a big piece of fabric flapping behind you. Since they go across the zipper paths for the pack though, you have to unclip them every time you need to get inside for anything.

Otherwise though, this is a great daypack for the price. The mesh water bottle pockets looked too short at first glance, but I’ve taken this Redstart on three walks or hikes with three different water bottles and it’s been fine. I also got caught in a light drizzle once and everything inside stayed toasty dry.

Get the Redstart 28 in four colors at the Kelty website for $70 or check for sale prices at Amazon, Moosejaw, or eBags. There’s a women’s version too, but it only holds 23 liters. (Since when do women pack less…?)

Kelty Redtail 27

Kelty Redtail 27This is another “panel-loading” daypack, meaning you can unzip it almost all the way to the bottom to get at what you need without digging around. The two compression straps are in the way, but you can unclip them when packing then clip them back when it’s time to tighten up and move.

In the main compartment there’s one flap area for something flat like a tablet, map, or solar panel. You could also use it for a hydration bladder: there’s a hole for the drinking tube at the top. The rest is open except for two clips at the top to hook things on. The outside pocket is ready for all your little stuff, with pen pockets, ones sized for a phone, a larger flap one, and a pocket held closed by a Velcro tab. But wait, there’s more! Another small pocket is in the very front, with a zipper that is hidden behind a flap.

You also get a mesh pocket on each size big enough for a water bottle and several handles, loops and fabric tabs around that can be used to hook other things on with a carabiner. There’s also a loop at the top for hanging the pack off the ground. As with the Redstart, there are three cushioned mesh panels on the back that keep the daypack suspended enough for air to flow through. The same padded mesh (though not as thick) is on the shoulder straps. The sternum strap and waist strap are not padded, but with a pack this small you shouldn’t be carrying all that much weight anyway.

The zippers on both these Kelty daypacks have nylon pull tabs like shoelaces that have metal tabs at the end. This makes the pack a lot easier to open and close, but you sacrifice the ability to lock it up with a cable lock with much security: it would be very simple to just cut the string. You might not want to take these on your train and bus journeys through India. Otherwise though, these are rugged, well-made daypacks that are competitively priced.

Get the Kelty Redtail 27 for men (the women’s is 22 liters instead) in three colors for a list price of $80 at the company website, Backcountry, Moosejaw, or Amazon.

See more reviews of Kelty travel gear.

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Kelty Shrike Large Daypack or Light Packer Backpack

Shrike 30Need a good all-around daypack or hiking pack that won’t break the bank? This new Shrike backpack from Kelty includes a lot of features in its sub-$100 list price.

If you go on any message board frequented by people getting ready to take off on an extended bout of travel, you’ll find plenty of arguments about what size backpack is the right one to take. If you’re the type who can stuff everything you need into one that holds just 30 liters, go order this Shrike pack from Kelty right now. If  you’re just looking for a great hiking pack or daypack to keep in the closet for when you need it, however, this is also the pack for you.

For those in the former category, this top-loading pack doesn’t have a lot of wasted space and you can still manage to fit in a laptop or tablet. You won’t get a lot of padding–it’s a two-pound backpack after all—but the way it’s stitched there is some space between the bottom of the laptop pocket and the bottom of the pack. Not enough to be fine if you drop it from shoulder height without a sleeve, but enough protection if you always set it down gently.

Even with the electronics stuffed in the various gadget pockets, you’d have plenty of room for days of clothing. It’s tough to manage getting everything into just 30 liters of space, but there are lots of loops on the side to hook on some extras.

For your average person using this as a daypack, however, it’ll be more than ample. It’s got all the things that are standard these days: water bottle pockets, a key clasp, lots of gadget pockets inside, adjustable shoulder straps, and compression straps to pull everything in tight.

Kelty daypackThere are a few nice touches with this Kelty Shrike pack though, including a zippered pocket section on the top for getting to things you’re going to need to find without digging. Like your camera, or a flashlight. There’s another handy zipper pocket on the front. I especially appreciated the “Dynamic AirFlow back panel” when I took this out for a hike. It’s not quite as cool as the netting-style systems that keep the pack completely off your back, but there’s plenty of separation and the extra cushioning makes this Kelty pack quite comfortable.

This Shrike 30 can be a serious backpack, complete with a strap to go around your waist, or it can be a casual daypack you can take on hikes in the nearby mountains. It’s hydration bladder compatible if you want. It’s rugged, well-made, and punches above its weight class when it comes to the reasonable $90 list price.

Get it direct from Kelty or shop online at Amazon, eBags, or Altrec.

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Eagle Creek 2-in-1 Backpack Duffel

I love packable travel backpacks. The new Eagle Creek 2-in-1 duffel may be the best I’ve seen to-date. It meets my non-negotiable criteria for an overnight carry-on: it’s lightweight, packable (stuffs into its own pocket), and offers many of the bells and whistles of a full-scale (non-stuffable) backpack.

eagle-creek-2-in-1-duffelI’m usually less of a fan of convertible bags. Maybe it’s just me, but on a given trip, I either need a duffle or a backpack, but rarely both. However, with the Eagle Creek 2-in-1, you don’t lose as much valuable space when switching between styles as you do with many convertibles, making this a non-issue for me.

The 2-in-1 is made of ripstop nylon and carry-on sized at 11 x 22.5 x 7.5. It has a 33 L capacity (28 as a backpack).

What I love about the 2-in-1: when used in backpack mode, the pack can be accessed by top-load panel or side panel zippers, and offers two roomy water bottle pockets, a deep top zippered pocket, and a deep interior zippered pocket.  The zippers are lockable, and you also get side and bottom compression straps with external lash points for stowing more gear.  The bag is reflective and very lightweight. Converting the pack to a duffel is pleasantly simple (see photos below) and when you do convert, the duffel version gives you 15% more space (though a little bit is lost to shoulder strap storage).

What I don’t love so much: I really wish the shoulder straps slightly more significant (I’m willing to add some weight for this feature) and more adjustable. They do adjust at a basic level, but I was unable to fit the straps to my nine-year-old. I know, the 2-in-1 has never been touted as a child’s pack, but because of the size and weight, it’s the ideal carry-on bag for a kid. We love using the top zippered pocket for my son’s iPod, ear buds, and Kindle (all the possessions he could possibly want on a trip) and the main compartment for the rest of his gear.

How it converts: Converting from a backpack to a duffel is easy, as illustrated below. Eagle Creek is nice enough to color-code the straps and clips for us (all are gray), making it even simpler. Step 1: unhook the shoulder straps from the bottom of the pack. Step 2: stuff them into the zippered back panel. Step 3: Unzip the bottom circular compartment. Step 4: Pull out the duffel straps. Step 5: Attach the duffel straps to the coordinating clips.


Pick up a 2-in-1 duffel from Eagle Creek for $80, or find it at Amazon, Sunny Sports, or Moosejaw for the same price. Colors include black, flame orange, or mantis green. While you’re shopping, take a look at additional Eagle Creek gear we’ve reviewed.

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Osprey Cyber Port Daypack for Travel

It’s hard to go wrong with an Osprey pack. If I had to pick–absolutely had to–I think I’d rate Osprey as my overall favorite backcountry adventure and ski pack choice. That said, until introduced the the Portal Series, I’d never considered using an Osprey pack as a carry-on backpack or laptop bag.  The Osprey Cyber Port backpack is tough yet streamlined, and stylish while still classic.

Osprey-Cyber-PortWith its sleek panel-loading design, I understood right away that the Cyber Port’s function is ease-of-access to electronic devices, not maximum load capacity or even multiple attachment options like other Ospreys. There are three compartments: one main compartment, one small top compartment for keys or a phone (like many Osprey bags offer) and one outside ‘port window’ panel. This last compartment is really two, but since the inner and outer both work in tandem to create a space for a tablet, I’m counting it as one.

After wrapping my mind around the fact that this Osprey performs an entirely different function than its outdoorsy cousins, my next question was: as a travel carry-on and laptop pack, does it deliver? Why use it instead of my trusty messenger bag? The answer I came up with: because it’s an Osprey. The bag is exceptionally well-made, and I know it’s not going to fall apart on me. The brushed poly fabric is gorgeous, and like all Ospreys, the design is super smart. While other Osprey bags focus on usability in the backcountry, the Cyber Port focuses on usability while commuting, and does it well. Inside the main compartment, you get a fully lined and padded laptop sleeve, plus a great organizer panel with an interior zippered pocket, mesh pockets, a key fob, and plenty of small envelopes for zip drives, memory cards, and small cameras.

The small top pocket is the perfect size for my small wallet, or could fit a cell phone, keys, or a point-and-shoot camera. The outer panel zips all the way down to reveal a tablet pocket with an transparent sleeve, allowing travelers to use the iPad or other tablet without needing to remove it from the sleeve (by use of a port). This is the only design element that’s kind of a stretch for me: after using the backpack on several plane trips, I never felt the need to use this. It was all too easy to store my iPad in the sleeve, and simply retrieve it when I wanted it. Perhaps travelers would use this feature if they needed to access their tablet in a hurry in train stations or airports while checking directions or websites, and yes, I might play a movie for my kids while leaving the tablet in the sleeve, but for what it’s worth, this feature has not been crucial for me yet.

It helps to see the Cyber Port in action: check out this video by Osprey for a closer look. Perhaps the people in this video are simply more hip than me, and you’ll find more use for the tablet port than I do.

The backpack straps are padded, and while the pack isn’t ventilated with a mesh panel, I haven’t found I miss this feature. There’s a sternum strap, and all the zippers include handy pull tabs. I do wish a water bottle pocket had been designed on one side of the pack. The Cyber Port is 18 x 12 x 8, and the laptop sleeve measures 13.5 x 6 x 1. If you’re looking for a daily commuter bag or a travel carry-on daypack, you’ve found it. Pick one up at Amazon for $99. You can also find it at Backcountry or REI. It comes in black pepper, chestnut brown, pinot red, and grey herringbone.

See reviews of other travel daypacks here. Keep up on the latest practical travel gear by following this blog on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS. 

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Salomon Synapse 20 backpack

My new favorite bike/hike/outdoor travel backpack! The Salomon Synapse is lightweight, refreshingly simple without compromising on features, and versatile. The 20 L size is perfect for day hikes, bike rides, and even ski days, and flattens down small enough to stash in a suitcase to be utilized mid-trip.

salomon synapseThe best feature of the Synapse is something I’ve come to expect from Salomon: stability while you move. The hip belt, shoulder straps, and sternum straps shift with your movement, allowing a full range of motion with out the usual sliding of the pack (and sliding of contents inside). The 20 L pack is bigger than I need for trail runs, but my guess is that it would perform well even with that significant amount of body movement. For a day hike or travel day, it’s ideal.

The pack is panel-loading, and includes four pockets in addition to the main compartment: a top small-item pocket for keys, room card, or sunglasses, a hip belt zippered pocket that can stash a cell phone or small camera, an outside sleeve with a bungee strap system, a zippered outer compartment, and two water bottle pockets. You also get an internal hydration sleeve that holds a 2 L reservoir, with drink tube straps.

The back panel is lightweight and soft, with plenty of padding and ventilation. Poles can be carried on the outside via the bungee straps using rip-and-stick attachment points. The main compartment expands more than you’d think: I easily carried two rain jackets, a DSLR camera, and snacks for two people. The Synapse is going to be my go-to small-sized backpack for a long time. My only complaint: the pack is unisex, but even pulled to the smallest size, the waist belt is too big on me. This is somewhat of a non-issue, since I’d never carry a lot of weight in the Synapse, but with a full water reservoir, I found myself wishing I could cinch it tight.

The Synapse comes in gray/black, lime, or bright red in sizes 15L or 20L. Pick one up at Salomon for $130 with reservoir included, at REI, or find it for under $100 on Amazon.

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