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If you are embarking on an outdoor adventure or camping trip, then you know you need to carry a lot of gear. Having a comfortable and durable backpack to carry all your gear is a must-have item for your outdoor adventures. If you are looking for a backpack that is not only comfortable and durable, but is also easy to pack and grab items from easily accessible compartments, then check out the line of backpacks from Kelty.
Kelty offers an extensive line of backpacks all ranging in size, material, purpose and style. From top loaders to laptop bags, Kelty has it all. Read on to check out some of their most popular products.
Redwing 50 Backpack
- Take flight with the best-selling pack the Redwing.
- Hybrid-loading U-zipper design works as both a top loader and panel loader, allowing easy access to all your gear.
- LightBeam single aluminum stay and Dynamic AirFlow back panel keep your load stable and comfortable.
- Hydration compatible ; Dynamic AirFlow back panel.
- Dimensions S/M: L x W x H x : 24 x 15 x 12 / Volume: 49 Liters / Weight: 3 lbs 3 oz.
If Kelty were a car company it would probably be Hyundai. Not as fancy or expensive as other brands in its class, but a good value for what you’re spending.
Take this Redwing Backpack that holds 3100 cubic inches or 51 liters, is loaded with features, and has a list price of $109. That’s half the price of many other packs it’s competing with on the market. (Update – this pack has been renamed the Kelty Redwing 50, as in 50 liters.)
Sure there are a few trade-offs here and there, but not many. I just used this Kelty Redwing for a week, actually having it on my back for six hours a day as I rode my bike on the Katy Trail in Missouri.
It was comfortable and had plenty of pockets for keeping my gear organized. At a shade less than 3.5 pounds, it doesn’t add much weight to your load either.
It’s got all the things I look for in a travel pack: padded adjustable waist strap, adjustable sternum strap, side pockets for a water bottle or other items I may need to get to without removing it, and compartments for all the little things that get lost easily.
The back is padded too and there’s an aluminum stay running the length of the back to keep it stable and this can be adjusted to the shape of your back.
This pack didn’t feel quite as rugged and well-made as some I’ve used from other manufacturers at a higher price point and the zippers are not top-end ones, but this Kelty pack should last quite a while: the main fabric is 600D polyester ripstop and the company offers a lifetime warranty against Chinese factory defects in materials or workmanship.
That won’t help you in cases of “exhausted zippers” or “natural hazard damage,” but I think they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. The only feature of consequence I missed on this that you get in some other packs are the little straps connecting the top of the shoulder pads to the pack—that helps a little with heavy loads.
In short, it would be hard to find a better backpack for under a hundred bucks at retail. I’d give pretty good odds that this would make it through a year-long backpacking trip okay and am quite confident it would be fine for years’ worth of weekend hiking and camping trips.
Station Laptop Backpack Does It All
- TSA Laptop Compartment gets you through security faster.
- Handles fit over Ascender Chassis handle.
- Padded bottom, top and sides protect your gear.
- Volume: 1345 cubic Inch (22L).
- Weight: 2.562 pounds (1.2kg).
Collectively the three of us have tried out a lot of laptop bags and Kara’s getting to another one next week. I’ve been giving this Kelty Station one an unusually tough workout though.
I’ve been using it since the spring and so far this thing has been on six flight legs, eight long-distance bus rides, at least twenty taxi rides, and a dozen walks around town in various locations.
My conclusion? This is one tough, multi-functional bag that does everything I want it to. It’s a real workhorse that I expect to keep using for years on end.
Coming from Kelty, a company known more for its value proposition than its long-term durability, this Station bag continually surprised me with its ruggedness and it’s thoughtful design.
Be advised that this is a laptop backpack on the large side: it will easily hold a 15-inch laptop with room to spare and it has a total capacity of 29 liters (1,800 cubic inches). That practically puts it in the overnight bag or ultra-light backpacker category, so it’s got support straps for your waist and another one that goes across the chest.
There are four padded mesh sections on the back and the shoulder straps are both contoured and padded. This is not some cute little pack that makes a fashion statement. It’s for people who need to cart a lot of things along.
In my case, this held virtually everything I needed for a day of work or a nine-hour plane ride: camera, papers, notebooks, magazines, Kindle, my gadget/cords case, pens, music player, keys, cell phone, press kits people keep handing me, and on it goes.
I have yet to actually fill the thing up, even when bringing along a change of clothes and a toiletry kit. (Hey, you never know when you’ll get stranded at an airport.) I’ll get into specific features, but in general I like the way this bag is organized.
There’s a padded laptop pocket you can open from either the top or the side—handy. Then there are three separate compartments of different sizes, with the front two having sub-pockets inside those. So it’s very easy to keep things organized.
There are a whole lot of nice touches that make this laptop backpack a pleasure to use. There are handles on the top, the side, and the front, which is great when you want to get the bag off your shoulders or pull it out of an overhead compartment.
There are water bottle pockets on both sides, with zippers for expansion and Velcro flaps for when you want to use them for something else. (I use one to hold my Steripen Opti.)
There’s a rubberized bottom that is easy to wipe off. Reflective tape helps you be seen on dark sidewalks. Lots of little pockets inside are sized for business cards, pens, cell phones, and gadgets. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything—there’s even a hook where I can fasten my keys so they don’t get buried.
All that considered, I also like this Station bag because it meets my main criteria when walking around foreign cities: it doesn’t scream, “Hey everybody, I’ve got an expensive laptop in here!” It just looks like a backpack.
Women’s Redwing 40
- Volume 2500 in³ (41 Liter).
- Panel loading.
- Zippered side pockets.
- Large front pocket with organization.
- Single LightBeam aluminum stay.
I’ve found a great all-arounder in the Kelty Women’s Redwing 40.
The pack isn’t new. It’s a tried-and-true classic Kelty design, but has recently gotten a facelift. One of the things I like the most about is that it balances the need for a variety of organization pockets with a super-roomy main compartment.
I feel like I have plenty of ways to stash items I need to keep separately, in a place I’ll (mostly) remember where I put them. And then, I still have tons of room in the big compartment.
The 41-liter pack’s suspension system is tailored for a women’s frame, and includes a LightBeam aluminum stay, plus well-padded shoulder straps and waist belt. The back panel wicks moisture away from you, and is ventilated as well, so you don’t have to bathe in perspiration on those warm hiking days.
Aside from all the awesome pockets, the pack is hydration compatible (you need to provide the water container, however) and includes side compression straps and ice-ax loops. I was initially skeptical of the big carry handle on the front of the pack, until using it and realized it’s much more handy than carrying the pack around by the top loop.
I’ve been wearing the Redwing 40 around the floor of the gigantic, and sometimes overwhelming, Outdoor Retailer Summer Market show in Salt Lake City this week. I’m on my feet here all day, and having the pack along has been a great help.
Considering that I’ve lamented girly colors in travel gear in Practical Travel Gear reviews in the part, I think it’s worth noting that my Redwing 40 is the bright turquoise (called “jewel”) color. See? I can do color.
Ascender 22 Trunk Luggage System
- Expandable external chassis gives you a choice in size bag you carry.
- External chassis adds durability and allows for more packing space in luggage.
- Inline skate wheels are durable and roll smoothly.
- Volume: 2440-4150 cubic inches (40L-70L).
- Weight: 8.25 pounds (3.7kg).
It takes all kinds of luggage to please a variety of travelers. For me, business travel necessitates functionality and flexibility in what and how I pack. The Kelty Ascender Trunk Luggage System seemed like a good idea worth trying especially when I have long two or three week trips to varying climates.
Now, I will be the first to tell you that I do not carry backpacks on business trips so the option to wear this on my back was never one that I considered. But, it was nice to know that if I ever revert to the days of university student backpacker that I have the correct gear to get around. The shoulder straps can be tucked away easily converting the bag from professional to backpack in an instant.
What I found most useful about this bag is that it fits with a chassis that allows the bag to roll like a traditional suitcase. It is a modular system allowing you to add to the trunk if needed with additional pieces, but also giving you the capability to travel only with the Ascender Trunk for shorter trips.
In the bag, there are dividers to keep things separated and a hidden bag for wet or dirty items. I hate the musty smell that can come from carrying dirty laundry or wet clothing around for days so this feature is especially helpful.
The top and sides of the bag have durable padding keeping the contents safe, which is something that I was initially concerned about since I tend to prefer a hard-shell bag when traveling. Another benefit of a soft-shell bag is that it can expand easily if I over pack. Having that extra “give” is a plus on long trips.
With internal pockets, it is easy to keep things organized, and the outer zip pocket was convenient for storing items that I may need in a hurry such as a boarding pass or keys.
Initially, I was worried that the bag would attract attention of nosy gate agents thinking it is too big to fit in an overhead, but when carrying the trunk alone, I rarely had a problem. Expanding it in size, however, shifts it from being a carry-on bag to a larger bag, which is a nice option if checking a bag.
The Ascender Trunk sells for $199.95 at Kelty Hula House 4, but does not come with the chassis. For the complete system including the chassis and waterproof duffel bag, which can be easily zipped on to the trunk, the retail price jumps to $349.95, but provides excellent versatility.
I added the chassis to my bag since I prefer not to wear my luggage, and I was surprised at how easy it rolled due to the rather large wheels. Bags with small wheels can be tough to drag on carpeting or bumpy streets. This bag is designed for adventure travelers, but I found it to be quite useful for my business trips as well.
Shrike Large or Light Packer Backpack
- Hydration compatible.
- Front-panel access.
- Large front pocket with organization.
- Reservoir sleeve.
- Mesh water bottle pockets.
Need 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.
There 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.
Kelty Redstart 28
- Six interior slip pockets, one interior zipper pocket.
- Three exterior slip pockets.
- Dynamic Airflow back panel and Air Mesh.
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.
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.
There’s a women’s version too, but it only holds 23 liters. (Since when do women pack less…?)
Kelty Redtail 27
- Five interior slip pockets. Four exterior pockets.
- Light and compact with a simplified design.
- Body Fabric: 420D Polyester Ball Shadow.
This 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.