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on September 5, 2012
I've used this bag twice now, once for camping and the second time for "urban camping" which is like camping and hiking but around civilization. This bag has a good deal of space for clothes, equipment and food. I also carried around a full sized SLR camera and two lenses in this bag comfortably. I'm a six foot tall woman with large hips and I find this bag to be comfortable after the spine support has been bent to fit. I hiked through eight towns with this bag with a sleeping bag attached to the outside of it and did just fine. The Kelty 50 is large enough to fit everything I could need while being small enough to take comfortably onto public transportation. I had no problems taking this onto a metro bus, a gray hound as well as an amtrak train. My only complaint comes from the side mesh bags, the stitching around the elastic of the mesh came undone and I've had to stitch it back together. The Kelty 40 was also used by my partner on this trip and we've found that the 50 is much better suited.

I've gone back and taken pictures of both the bags side by side in case someone is looking to buy one or the other. When I was shopping bags I had a hard time finding pictures comparing these bags which made it hard to figure out what would be better. My sister is the owner of the Kelty 40 which was borrowed for "Urban camping" and intends to use it to back pack through Europe. I am the owner of the Kelty 50 and intend to use it for random travel. The main complaint with the Kelty 40 aside from it being too small for my taste, is the length of the bag. The Kelty 40 has a max length of 18.5 which is fine for most people but not the over six foot tall person it was used on. The Kelty 50 has two size options and works better for a longer torso-ed person. The Kelty 40 seems to be a better "light" packing bag, it doesn't have room for food or many other things when it's packed up. The Kelty 50 has room for everything you'd need for a few days. I carried enough food for two people in that bag for three days.
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on October 28, 2011
The best feature of this pack is the 3/4 of the way around, flat zipper, meaning it zips back the front into a large flap, providing almost complete access to the entire main compartment, Vice stuffing it in from the top, down a cylinder. When you pack you can properly lay items into the bag. This is why I stuck with this product line.

I previously had a 1997 Redwing. I used it every time I traveled, no matter where I went. My 1997 Redwing still looks new. I just felt that after 14 years, it was time for something different.

The new bag gets a little thick around the top/middle, when you stuff it full, but it still fits in the airplane overheads of a Southwest 737. Unfortunately, it does not work well in an American Airlines 737. Their compartments are shorter. It fits pretty well in every other 100+ person commercial aircraft.

The lower cinches can make it a pain to open the main flap all the way, but they easily unclip.
The various little pockets, and sliding slots work really well for me. It has been a nice upgrade.

Why do you need it? I rarely check bags. This is my one "Overhead" item, and my computer bag is the other. I have two small children, and when the family travels, I cannot carry my own bag as well. The backpack is the easy solution, that lets me drag their stuff too.

I initially bought the sm/med version, at ~2500cc. It is only about 10% bigger than a typical school backpack. I sent it back because it was too small for what I needed.

The Large model is perfect for 3-5 days of travel. I use it every time I travel.
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on November 4, 2012
Due to very positive net reviews and looking at the pack in stores I bought the Kelty Redwing 50 on Amazon. I'm a mountain day hiker transitioning to extended day outings so familiar with lighter weight day packs, not the bigger packs for overnights and multiday use. Actually my two day packs are nice school packs.

My intention was to get a medium size pack and use it for a while to get familiar with the straps, adjustments and waist belt. The pack would then become my day pack and with the experience I got I would then buy a more expensive light weight multiday pack.

To test out myself and the pack I made the following trips.
1. 2 5 mile road hikes with 10 lbs.
2. 2 9.5 mile road hikes with 30 and 33 lbs.
3. 4 day hike over the AT section of Graylock in Massachusetts. The first two days were with 41 lbs. The remainder of the trip was about 31lbs as I mailed home needless gear.
4. 2 day trail trip with 25lbs.

The pack felt great, held all my gear with no problem and has a fantastic assortment of pockets and zippered places to tuck gear away. The two side pouches and two zippered storage sections on the back are great for storing lots of things you'd want during a hike without having to go into the large pack area.

After getting experience with this pack I went to several stores and went through all their 50L to 80L packs and could not find any that would be any worthwhile improvement over this pack regardless of price. What I found was the other packs lacked the nice arrangement of supplement storage areas and only a couple were less weight. The packs that were less weight were only different by a few ounces so not enough to trigger a purchase plus they were $250-$350 versus the $89 for the Kelty. (Regarding price I should add that if I found a pricy pack that was a decent improvement over the Kelty I'd buy it).

Given the minimal difference in weight of the packs I looked at and the lack of peripheral spaces I'm sticking with the Redwing.
The only other pack I had some familiarity with was a Mountainsmits L35 which was loaded with 36lbs. I hiked 1 mile with it over a trail and two outings of 4.5 miles over flat tar roads just to see what it was like. The pack was an excellent fit for me and very comfortable. I'd say it was as good as or slightly better than the kelty, hard to remember. I did not check out the pocket arrangements of that pack though so can't comment.

The summary is I like the Redwing for it's comfort, it holds all the gear I would need for 5 days and has a super arrangement of side pockets and zippered back panels with zippered interior spaces and zippered outside back section.

A good thing to do is to go to a store like REI that carries the Kelty Redwing 50 and many other quality packs and compare them side by side. Here are some of the Redwing features:
1. Thick adjustable shoulder straps, three points of adjustment.
2. Adjustable height waist belt that's angled to fit over your hip.
3. Aluminum internal frame bar that can be bent to fit your back curve.
4. Four straps tightening the pack rear to the frame.
5. Two large zippered side pockets with lots of room to hold needed things without going into the main pack.
6. Two lower water bottle side pouches.
7. Internal pocket for holding a platypus with a hole at the pack top to run the waterline.
8. Open areas behind the two side pockets to hold long thin things like treking poles.
9. Zippered back flap exposing an internal area with 3 elastic topped cloth pockets with several sewn pockets for holding smaller things like cell phone, camera, mp3, toothbrush, classes in a case,& etc... Zippered internal pocket on the flap.
10. Long zippered pocket on the back outside.
11. Webbing on the pack bottom for attaching a mattress or other things like drying sox.
12. A couple of cloth loops on the outside.
13. Thick pack padding high and at the lower back.
14. Top carrying handle plus a handle at the middle of the back section with side loops for attaching things.
15. Excellent material with good stitching that I can't comment on for durability but from reviewers who have had the pack for a long time have no issues with.

Again, the best thing to do would be to take a slow look at all the pack features at a store and compare them to other packs side by side, check fit, padding and adjustments and see what you think. For me it's an outstanding pack.

Updated: 5/24/2013.
The reason for the update is not to change the high praise of the original review. I went out for a month on the AT with this pack and stick to the review.
I saw the updated version of this pack and don't care for the updates. The zippers are smaller, the pull strings thinner, the clasps smaller and light weight, the material they're on is thinner and less wide, the great back zipper pocket is gone and replaced by a zippered top of the pack pocket which for some might be considered and improvement but not by me. With a stuffed pack the top section will no be so useful as the back pocket. I'm updating the review to disassociate my review from the what I think is the 2013 version of the Kelty Redwing 50.
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on April 27, 2011
As someone who rides their bike everywhere I was looking for something durable that could carry everything I might possibly need in a day as well as bike and emergency kits. It does this and so much more. I take it to the grocery and laugh as people say, you won't be able to fit all that in there. So far I've found I can comfortably carry 30-40 lbs of groceries in it on my bike. The bar is removable which is extremely helpful as sometimes when I ride the bar isn't helpful. I'm an avid hiker and while I haven't been able to take it out yet, again not having a car I have found I can fit 2 loads of laundry in it. I know this will be perfect for my weekend trips! This is a bag that transitions perfectly for any need from school/work to the mountains. The only thing I wish is that I had gotten the smaller torso size. I'm 5'9 but it's all legs and this can sometimes ride up when I'm cycling and impede motion when I'm trying to check behind me. Removing the bar helps but doesn't fully resolve this. Other than that... This besides my bike is the best investment I've made this year!
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on June 27, 2011
Can't say enough about the positive attributes of this KELTY Redwing 50 M/L backpack that works great on my long upper bodied 6'4', 180 lb frame. Great midweight pack, especially for the price. If you like the classic American book backpacks we've used, this is the same basic design but larger in size, added bells & whistles, and most importantly, a sturdy, padded hip belt to distribute load to your hips and OFF your shoulders. I carry an 8 lb laptop, 10 lb textbook, 10 lb notebook, plus supplies to school everyday--which has created problems in my upper back. Walking 1.5 miles to school each day, this pack has eliminated those problems, making it feel like I am carrying 1/3 of that load and allowing airflow across my back in the heat.

It is bigger than most school backpacks, if you do use it for school, but ease of use and a pain free back = priceless.

On weekend getaways, this is converted (emptied) rapidly to my weekend bag for hitting the road or dayhikes.

No complaints about this pack but one: If you bend, break, or misplace the aluminum stay that provides support, KELTY will not get you a new one. You can't even pay for one?!? I hope that changes as the popularity of this backpack makes it a classic. (To be fair: KELTY just repaired and resewed my 20 year old duffel bag to my satisfaction, so they are still providing great service of yesteryear!)
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on February 25, 2012
I have logged about 400 miles with this pack during the past 12 months. I use it for day hikes, carrying my "10 C's" and a bit more, each hike. It easily holds, a dry bag with spare clothes, large survival knives/small axe, folding saw, cookware, first aid, etc. If you camp with a hammock/tarp, this bag can suffice a 2-3 day trek. If you roll with a tent and sleeping bag, it is too small. The daisy-chain loops, located at the bottom, can hold a tent or bag, but not both. My hiking kit, with bag, generally runs about 30lbs. The weight feels very comfortable. At 5'7", I am probably as short as you can be to fit the bag. It seems to ride just above my hip when adjusted. I was somewhat skeptical of the plastic clips, but after more than a year of weekly use [rain, snow, cold, heat] it has the bag is still as good as new. i wish Kelty still made a large external frame, as my success with this bag would prompt me to by another Kelty without hesitation.
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on January 27, 2012
My first Redwing lasted fifteen years through ALL of Colorado's 54 highest peaks, half of Californias, 35 State highpoints, all my business trips, and assorted backpacking ventures, business trips, and disney world (Dad, can you carry everything for everyone) trips. If it does not fit, you do not need it. This pack puts the weight right on your hips where it belongs, keeping your arms fresh and spirits high through as many miles as you can put on. I choose it over day packs even on short trips becuase of how well the waist belt works. You will love the pockets on the sides for food, the mesh bags for apples, the camelback storage ability for drinks, the DURABILITY of the bottom (sliding on scree, ice, whatever), the the staps that will hold ice axes, ground mats, GPS, and other junk externally. After 15 years the inner liner started to peel off, so I was thrilled to buy another one. Soon I buy my third (for my son!).
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on June 29, 2011
This backpack is great. It has adjustment in all the right areas to ensure a good fit and it is BIG! I bought it because I commute by bike and train and need to take a change of clothes, books, lunch, computer, and other items as needed. This pack fits the bill. I think it will also be great for shorter backpacking trips, I'll find out soon enough. If you are looking for a bigger backpack that feels like a higher end pack, this is the one for you. For sizing, this one works great for me - 6 feet tall 200 lbs.
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on August 16, 2012
I have a lot of experience with packs, I have a teton 3400 [for 8 y.o. son] that is a great value for a 8-14 year old kid that is not going to have to carry all the heavy gear. My experience in the military was with ALICE packs. Naturally as a civilian those are the packs I bought, they are durable as hell but definitely not the most comfortable especially when you are middle aged and can't endlessly hump a pack like you did at 19. I went into a few of the national stores and looked at all the popular packs in this configuration and size. WOW! they all were more comfortable that what I've been strapping on for years. I narrowed it down to this model b/c the size is perfect for up to a couple of days and was very well made. Go figure I picked the one closed to OD green in color. Right off the bat Amazon had the best price, all the retail stores were selling for mfr. retail. I was lucky enough to get a returned amazon wharehouse deal that appears to be brand-spankin' new for even less cash. I know a lot of folks buy a few makes/models try them on and return the ones that dont work for them. So for basically HALF the retail price I was able to score this outstanding Kelty. I will update this review as I proceed to beat the hell out of it in the field. Five stars for product design, qualiity and price. Further amendments to review will focus on durability.
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on December 8, 2012
It's been many years since I backpacked i.e. external frame backpack. Let me start out saying this pack has a lot of compartments to store items, but its real strength is the front loading feature. Two zippers open up the front to have easy access. The zippered flap has many different storage compartments.
I adjusted the straps and fit off the pack at home. Took it on it's first trip and made a few more adjustments on the trail. The Load-lifter/stabilizer straps were easy to adjust. However, the Lightbeam internal frame that runs down the center-back of the pack adjusted to the curvature of my back easily. Hiked 10 miles with 31 lbs in the pack and I felt great at the end. No movement side to side. Strapped my pad onto the bottom as the pack has many places to strap on gear. It will be a good 1-2 night pack or, for a minimalist, 3 night.
Wish it had storage on waist belt, but I overcame that by sliding on a water bottle bag. I'm very satisfied with this reasonable priced pack. If you're just starting out backpacking this would be a good pack for short trips to get your feet wet.
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