Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack
- Take flight with the best-selling pack the Redwing. Whether your journey takes you to the streets of Chicago or the canyons of Colorado, the Redwing has you covered
- 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.
- Dimensions M/L: L x W x H: 26 in x 16 x 12 / Volume: 52 Liters / Weight: 3 lbs 5 oz.
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Highly utilitarian, the Redwing has all the features and organization needed for simplified travel or an overnight on the trail. Full-access U-zipper, the Redwing works both as top loader and a panel loader, depending on whether you have the top compression straps clipped or not, adding convenience to any adventure. Organization is the name of the game for the Redwing with zippered side pockets, zippered stash pocket, large front pocket with organization for small items, and the large pocket on the top of the pack. You'll also stay hydrated for any adventure with the hydration compatible design and the water bottle pockets on the side. When you are on the go, the carry handle makes it easy to grab your pack out of where you've stowed it for your trip. Finally, the Redwing suspension is designed for all day carry comfort. The load is kept off your shoulders and support is provided with the Light Beam(tm) single aluminum stay and HDPE frame sheet. The dynamic Airflow back panel and Air Mesh on the shoulder straps, dual density foam waist belt, and lumbar pad will keep you cool when you are working hard. Finally, the load lifters/stabilizers, hip belt stabilizer straps, sternum straps, and waist buckle will help customize the fit and keep the load close to your center of gravity.
Dimensions S/M: Length: 24 in / 61 cm Width: 15 in / 38 cm Depth: 12 in / 31 cm Volume: 3000 in3 / 49 L Suspension: Fixed Weight: 3 lbs 3 oz / 1.4 kg Torso Fit Range: 14.5 - 18.5 in / 37 - 47 cm Hipbelt Fit Range: 28 - 46 in / 71 - 116 cm
Dimensions M/L: Length: 26 in / 66 cm Width: 16 in / 41 cm Depth: 12 in / 31 cm Volume: 3100 in3 / 52 L Suspension: Fixed Weight: 3 lbs 5 oz / 1.5 kg Torso Fit Range: 17.5 - 21 in / 44 - 53 cm Hipbelt Fit Range: 30 - 52 in / 76 - 132 cm
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The hip straps ARE removable.
There are NO holes in the metal zipper to lock them aside from using the strings attached.
The metal spine IS removable.
There is also a hard plastic backing to this that IS also removable, however if you take the metal spine out as i did this is very handy to still have in as it keeps the packs structure.
CONTRARY to what Kelty say, The Regular rain cover will fit a fully loaded Med/Large pack completely, almost perfectly. (however if you intend to attach more things to the outside of the pack it will not fit.
You can finesse the straps so that they don't stick out and dangle so much as well if you plan to be throwing this on a lot of trains and planes.
All that said, i purchased this pack for a backpacking trip through some countries and had read that it was only a 2-3 day pack. Well, i don't know what people are putting into their packs for 3 days but i fit a solid weeks worth of clothing in here with extra socks, tanks, and undies taboot! not to mention all the other amenities you would take ( thin raincoat, pack raincover, camera, power converters, cologne, locks, toothpaste.etc.) and i still had some room to spare for a souvenir or shirt to bring back.
I wrote this 'book' in hopes of alleviating the concerns of anyone else who is thinking of buying this pack but like me wanted more info before spending the money!! Its a great - and roomy- pack!
Here are the features I love...
NO HASSLE COMPRESSION STRAPS
One of the most obvious and desirable features of this pack is its lack of the dozens of pieces of webbing that dangle off so many other packs. There are two compression straps on each side of the pack, but the lower straps run behind/through the side pockets to keep the webbing tails out of the way, and the upper straps wrap over the tops of the side pouches. Assuming you know how to pack intelligently, this offers enough adjustability to snug up the pack to stabilize a load, but without the mess of strap ends that plague so many other packs (which usually have to be trimmed or taped up to make them manageable).
I prefer top-loading packs, but every once in awhile, you may need something from the bottom of your pack. In those cases, panel loading packs are usually more convenient. Kelty's brilliant solution is to let this pack work both ways. If you keep the top compression straps clipped in place, the zippers that open the top lid stop when they reach the straps. But if you unbuckle those straps, the zippers can keep traveling all the way down the front of the pack, effectively opening the entire front panel for full access to the deepest corners of the main compartment, if desired.
I like simple packs with few compartments, partly because too many organizer inserts would add unnecessary weight, and partly because the added complexity of a bunch of organizer pockets can actually make it harder to remember where you put your gear. The Kelty strikes the absolute perfect balance. Its main compartment is large and free of any organizers except a single hydration bladder pocket (which is perfectly sized for a 3L Platypus hydration bladder, and has a pair of nylon clips to hold the bladder up, especially when there is no gear in the pack to help support it). There is also a hydration tube port (opening) in the top, center of the main compartment to pass a hydration tube out to the front of the pack instead of having to run it out between the zippers of the top lid.
On the outside of the pack, there is a zippered compartment in the top lid, a roomy cylindrical side pocket on each side, and a large zippered stash pocket with organizers on the face/back. In the top lid, I keep a pair of work gloves, a few trail bars/snacks, a compass, and trail maps, with a little room to spare that usually gets stuffed with additional snacks.
The side pockets are tall and narrow--perfect for tall/long items like a large fixed-blade knife, a short hatchet, a cylindrical water filter such as the MSR Waterworks, long tent stakes, and other such items. I use them for quick-access items that I like to have at the ready. One has my fire kit, Mora Companion HD knife, Bahco Laplander saw, and Sawyer Mini water filter with its backflush syringe, all packed in a selnder nylon pouch that I use as a make-shift, lightweight shoulder bag to carry these items around camp or on dayhikes when I want to leave my pack behind. The other side pocket has a small roll of toilet paper and hand sanitizer in a ziploc bag, a rolled up 1.5L Evernew flexible bladder for filtering dirty water through my Sawyer Mini, and some bundles of various lengths of paracord for rigging my tarp/tent and other miscellaneous cordage needs. There is room to spare in both pockets, so I usually stow a few trail bars or some other snack/food item here as well.
The front stash pouch is large enough to hold a compressible jacket like (my favorite) the Marmot Driclime Windshirt, but it also has a few organizer pockets where I keep a small headlamp, a Swiss Army Small Tinker knife (for whittling and for tweezing out splinters), a basic medical kit in an Altoids tin, a small roll of medical gauze/wrap, a couple of energy bars, my car keys, and other little items I don't want to have to search for in the main compartment. There is also a clip and tether where you can attach a set of keys, but I use it to attach my tiny headlamp (Petzl e+LITE) so I can find it easily in the dark if need be. There are pockets to spare for other additions such as a pen or Sharpie marker, a pack of gum, a toothbrush, a signaling mirror, and/or other such little items if desired. If you don't need to pack a jacket, you could easily squeeze in a few full-sized Mountainhouse dehydrated meal bags--at least 2 or 3--and it will still easily zip shut.
Sewn on the outside of the stash pocket is a robust webbing handle. This is a GREAT feature, since it allows you to pick up the pack and hold it sideways, which is very convenient when traveling and, say, putting it on or off a luggage carousel. In combination with the webbing loop at the top of the pack, it also means you can get a solid two-hand grip on the top and outer face of the pack, which is really handy when it's loaded down with gear and you need to lift it or hang it somewhere. The webbing handle also makes it easy to clip gear to the outside of the pack, such as a favorite camp mug, a trekking pole, etc.
There are two bottle holder pockets as well--one on either side of the pack--and the mesh used here feels like the only flimsy part of the pack. Yet they have held up well, and do not seem to actually be flimsy. They work fine for holding standard sized water bottles, including the popular (wide) Nalgene bottles and my preferred container: the Nalgene 1L canteen (identical form factor to a USGI canteen), which fits great and I am able to access without having to take the pack off.
Where this pack REALLY shines is in the pass-behind openings behind each side pocket. If you have tall items--a large folding saw (I sometimes carry the terrific 21" Coughlans folding saw), a medium/boy's length axe (such as a Grandsfors Bruks Small Forest Axe or a Cold Steel Frontier Hawk), a set of tent poles, or a pair of telescopic trekking poles--you can pass them between one of the side pockets and the main pack body, and the water bottle pockets will hold it at the bottom so it can't drop through/out. On older versions of this pack, the pass through sleeve had velcro at the bottom so it could be sealed to make a smaller (shallower) pocket, but on the 2014 models, that velcro is gone, presumably to save cost. No worries, I only ever pack long items here anyway. In my case, I roll up a poncho and stow it in one of these pass behind openings where it is kept secure but ready to access if rain comes up unexpectedly.
COMFORTABLE CARRY HARNESS
For moderate loads of around 25 to 35 pounds, the carry harness on this pack is quite comfortable. No it isn't as sophisticated as the top of the line suspension on a (far more expensive) Gregory pack, nor as breathable as that on a (far more expensive) Kestrel pack, but it feels good, and the wide hip belt makes it very easy to transfer most of the load to your hips. Since my torso length is about 17.5", I opted for the "Medium/Large" version, and it fits great, despite the fact I'm right in between the two available sizes. If your torso is shorter, go for the smaller version. And if it's the same or longer, get the Medium/Large like I did.
If you expect to carry very heavy loads, well in excess of 35 lbs., this pack will not perform as well as the higher-end packs with more elaborate harness systems. Those packs are usually noticeably heavier (around 5 to 7 lbs., compared to the Redwing's 3.3 lbs. weight), but the benefit is a much stiffer harness system that transfers and stabilizes heavy weights better. That said, I'm assuming most serious campers, hikers, bushcrafters, and even die-hard urban travelers have already learned the virtues of packing lighter, and should be able to get their loads down to the 35-pound level (or lighter) where this pack performs very well. Personally, I strive to keep my pack weight under 25 pounds even when I'm backpacking/camping with my kids, and this pack carries superbly at that load level.
I was tempted to buy this pack in the very attractive green color, but I opted for the black instead--which is also very striking looking in person. Either way, I like that I had such discrete color options, in lieu of the bright reds, oranges, silvers, and other such colors that adorn so many other outdoor packs. I like to blend into nature, and in this case the green or black will fit that bill well. The main reason I opted for black is because it looks a little more "professional" if I ever decide to use this bag as a large travel duffle when flying to a conference for work. That's not something I would try with many other outdoor packs because even if I could find them in a muted color like this, they usually have so many dangling straps that they're likely to snag on a luggage carrier and get lost in transit. As I said above, this pack lacks all those annoying danglies and, if you tie up the belt neatly, has little to snag or get in the way while traveling.
One more note about travel: The LENGTH of this pack in the Medium/Large size technically exceeds the maximum length for carry on items by a couple of inches. However, you can remove the aluminum stay, which then allows the pack to compress down to acceptable size limits. Of course, you lose some of the supportiveness of the pack if you remove the stay, but if you're just using it as a travel duffle/suitcase (not actually wearing it for a lot of hiking), it's a moot point. And if you're planning to take this pack backpacking in Europe or some such, then I would just leave the stay in and see if they let you carry it on, or else pay to check it. Kelty makes a slightly shorter, totally TSA-friendly version (the 44L), but I wanted the fuller capacity of the 50L pack because the weight difference is negligible and I like to have the extra space to pack in heavy layers (such as a Polartec fleece) for winter trips.
Taken as a whole, I can't think of another pack I've come across that is this intelligently designed. No gimmicks, just very smart organization options and a very convenient strap layout that makes it very easy to grab, hang, wear, and compress the pack. If you're looking for a great bushcraft/hiking pack, a great travel duffle, or both, this is a truly superb choice. Easily my favorite pack of all time, despite having owned my fair share of great high-end packs (Gregory, Dana Designs, etc.).
This bag is a champ! It held up so well and seemed to have room for everything. The pockets on the outside are great for staying organized. The material is good quality and the zippers are strong. When looking at these bags at the store, we were drawn to the fabric of the 2013 version rather than the newer fabric of the updated Keltys. It just seemed more rugged and durable, and I liked that the whole bag was black for blending in a little better.
My husband was able to easily carry this bag with about 30lbs through airports and train stations with no problem. On trains, others were having trouble finding places to stow their large suitcases, but this bag easily fit in overhead compartments. (It's also awesome to have a bag like this for Europe since there are steps and cobblestones everywhere!) The handle at the top and directly on the front of the bag made lifting the bag much easier.
It's important to note that we weren't carrying these bags all day, every day-- just to and from wherever we were staying and the train station. On days that we were just stopping in a city for a few hours, my husband and I stowed both of our bags in a locker or the left luggage service at the train station. When we did have to carry these bags for longer distances, we were grateful for the comfortable straps and waist belt. The straps are exactly right on this bag-- very easy to adjust, and they tuck away easily.
I also loved the way that this bag unzips almost all the way down to the bottom for quick and efficient packing. There's an inside pocket that my husband used for storing his ipad, and the front pocket has lots of spots for storing smaller items. There are roomy zippered side pockets that also have a gap between it and the actual bag, so that makes it possible to store longer items (like an umbrella) on the side. There are also mesh/elastic pockets on each side that fit water bottles. We each used two ShackePac packing cubes (1 small/ 1 medium size) that made packing clothes really easy, along with a couple other small organizing bags.
We had no problems with bringing the bags as carry-on luggage on airlines (Icelandair, Vueling, Condor).We followed the advice of others for this bag and made sure that ours were not overly stuffed for the plane, and divided some of the bulk/weight among our second "hand luggage" day bags. No one every questioned us about the weight or dimensions.
The only complaint/ modification we made to these bags were to switch out all of the rope zipper pulls for a wire cable and clamps (see picture below). This allowed us to lock our bags securely with just a normal TSA lock. I came across a tutorial for this online and it was pretty easy to do, and would definitely recommend this simple improvement to others wanting to use this bag for travel. It also still wouldn't keep me from giving this bag 5 stars because it exceeded expectations in so many other ways.
If you're not sure if a 50L will be big enough for a month of travel, it definitely is. We packed clothing for 7 days and did laundry twice. There was more than enough room for all the travel essentials and for the souvenirs!
We will be using this bag on future trips, and am sure that it will last for many years.