End Of An Era: After 12 Years, It’s Time For A New Backpack

End Of An Era: After 12 Years, It’s Time For A New Backpack

By |2016-07-21T23:47:56-04:00April 4th, 2012|Fiji, Travel Gear, USA|120 Comments

Kelty Redwing Backpack
Let me start with this. It appears that my upcoming Fiji trip is no longer happening. Unfortunately, this South Pacific nation has been hit with some severe flooding over the past week due to a series of storms, including a cyclone, that passed over the area. As a result, the country is not in any condition to host a group of travel bloggers as they deal with much more pressing matters.

Actually, the press trip hasn’t been canceled. It’s just been re-scheduled but because of some other commitments I have back in Europe, there’s a good chance I won’t be able to participate with the new dates.

So to begin with, I want to send my positive thoughts to Fiji and to wish its people a quick recovery from these floods. Hopefully this situation will be over with as soon as possible and normal life on the islands will resume. I’ll certainly be keeping Fiji at the top of my list of potential destinations and hope to make it there at some point in the near future.


Of course, upon hearing the news that the Fiji trip would not be going ahead as scheduled, and despite the reason being perfectly understandable, I still felt quite bummed out as I had traveled all the way to the US specifically for this trip. However, there is one thing that always cheers a traveler up and after a few minutes of moping around my friend’s apartment, I immediately decided to partake in this therapeutic activity myself. It was time to buy some travel gear!

More specifically, I decided to buy a new backpack, which, admittedly, is something I would have had to do anyway given the decaying condition of my current backpack. But once the Fiji trip was called off, this mission suddenly took on a sense of urgency, transforming itself from something I needed to get done eventually into a vital session of healing.

My trusty Kelty Redwing 2900, that backpack that has traveled with me all over this planet for the past twelve years, finally reached the end of its career. But twelve years is a long time for a backpack to be in use, especially when you consider that my backpack is my life and it is constantly by my side, whether I’m backpacking in Asia, working on board cruise ships, living in Mexico, traveling around the Middle East or whatever I happen to be doing.

Great Ocean Road, Australia

In fact, this backpack served me so well that it absolutely deserves to spend the rest of its days relaxing on a beautiful beach in Hawaii. It’s actually going to spend the rest of its days sitting on the top shelf of a closet, but at least it’s warm in there and you can hear the water passing through the pipes.


My search for a new backpack started off with a trip to Paragon Sports, a well-known sporting goods/outdoor shop in Union Square here in New York City. I spent about an hour inside, unzipping, re-zipping, inspecting, stuffing, un-stuffing and trying on as many different backpacks as possible. I’m a bit picky though, and so by the time I left the store, my list of possible winners consisted of only two backpacks.

After Paragon Sports, I returned to my friend’s apartment, sat down at my laptop and conducted some more research. I studied the benefits of traditional backpacks versus duffel fusion packs versus backpacks with wheels. I contemplated long and hard about sizes, styles and yes, even colors. And my eyes read over hundreds of user reviews for every backpack I came across.

It was a painful experience indeed but sure enough, about three and a half hours into this research, I eventually had that moment of genius that I had been waiting for my entire life.


I suddenly realized that if my Kelty Redwing 2900 had treated me so well, and the newer version of the same backpack received such extremely high ratings on every website I checked, and this newer version also made my short list when I was in Paragon Sports, then I should naturally purchase this new version, the Kelty Redwing 50.

Feeling ever so proud at having reached such a brilliant conclusion, I then did what came naturally. For some reason, this involved turning off my laptop and walking down the street to Bagel World, where I devoured a super-soft pumpernickel bagel piled high with chicken salad, tomatoes and extra pickles, and in the process, seemed to completely forget about backpacks altogether.

When I returned to the apartment after my meal, I did some work, played around with my friend’s bongo drums, juggled for a bit, cut my toenails and then, well, took a nap. Only after I woke up from this delightful rest a couple of hours later did I sit back down in front of my computer and continue my backpack shopping, feeling the need to check the internet one more time before making a decision.

(My guess is that I was actually feeling very sad about having to say goodbye to my old backpack and I had trouble pulling the trigger on a new one as a result.)


Finally, at 5:52pm, and with a hint of a tear in my eye, I logged onto Amazon.com and made my purchase, having indeed chosen the….

Kelty Redwing 50 Internal Frame Pack (Charcoal color)

Kelty Redwing 50 Internal Frame Backpack

So, why did I choose to stick with the Kelty Redwing series?

  • Durability – These packs can easily handle the rigors of constant world travel as proven by my Redwing 2900 which remained strong for over 4400 days of travel, through 76 countries, on 100+ flights and despite being slashed open with a knife at the hands of Austrian customs officials.
  • Organization – Still by far the best zipper/compartment system I’ve seen. As one of the only backpacks on the market that offers panel-loading, once you unzip the main compartment, you have access to everything as if it were a proper suitcase. I don’t like top-loading backpacks where you have to stuff everything inside and then remove all of your possessions just to find a pair of socks at the bottom.
  • Size – The capacity of my old backpack was 2900 cubic inches / 47 liters and while Kelty doesn’t make that size anymore, I went with the 3100 cubic inches / 50 liter version this time around. This is still small enough to take as a carry-on when flying, yet has more than enough space to carry everything that a long-term traveler could possibly need.
  • Simplicity – If there’s one thing I don’t understand, it’s a backpack with dozens of very random compartments, dozens of straps with purposes that are impossible to figure out and hundreds of inexplicable zippers all over the place. The Kelty Redwing series ignores that trend completely, offering backpacks that are straightforward and simple and thus, in my opinion, the most intelligently designed of them all.

And for those very reasons, I am excited to fly back to Europe in a couple of weeks with my new Kelty Redwing 50 by my side, or better yet, on my back.

Before I end, I must also say that moments after I purchased my new backpack, I sat down next to my old Kelty Redwing 2900, massaged its shoulder straps and whispered a few words of gratitude. I then tried my best to express to it the importance of our friendship before I lifted the backpack ever so gently and placed it inside of that closet. It was a tough moment, but I shall have only wonderful memories of the time we spent together during this most remarkable era of my nomadic travels.

Any thoughts on backpacks? Do you have a particular favorite? Or if you’re in the market for a new backpack, any questions?

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  1. Stephen April 26, 2019 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Checking in this point several years later. I have the kelty redwing 50. I like it but it’s a bit heavy. After a few days carrying 11 kilos I get pretty worn down. Do you know of a similar pack that could be good replacement? I love the hybrid packs that can be used for traveling as well as several days in the forest with all your non essentials left in a hostal. Thanks!

    • Derek April 27, 2019 at 9:40 am - Reply

      Hey Stephen – I honestly don’t know of any others, or at least I don’t have experience with any others. I’ve loved my Kelty and have found it to be ideal for my needs. But maybe you could try the smaller version? I do have friends that love the Osprey backpacks and I know those come in all sizes too.

  2. Samantha October 11, 2018 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    I love Kelty too! I have tried other packs, like Golite, but have always come back to Kelty. I have that Kelty Redwing that you just purchased, and my husband bought me the newest version for Christmas last year. I love the newer one for hiking because it’s lighter than the old one, but I kept my old one to travel with because the material is much more heavy-duty.

  3. Erin November 17, 2017 at 10:10 am - Reply

    This post was exactly what I needed to read, I absolutely love my Redwing 2900! However after many years of trips it is time for her to be retired. I’m pleased to see how much you like the Redwing 50 and am planning on making the plunge before my next trip. Thanks for your advice!

  4. Paul J June 14, 2017 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    Had to leave a comment on this post. Just picked up this very make and model at a local thrift store. Been looking for a backpack for a while now. t’s virtually ‘as new’. The price????………………………………..$1.99!!!

    • Derek June 18, 2017 at 9:18 am - Reply

      That’s awesome! That’s probably the best backpack deal possible!

  5. Danny April 12, 2017 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    Hi Derek,
    Deeply between the Kelty Redwing 44 and Osprey Porter 46. Are you still in full love with your Kelty? My main against it is the lack of lockability as it seems. What is your position on security and locking?
    Thanks a lot,

    • Derek April 13, 2017 at 12:54 am - Reply

      Hey Danny – Yes, I still over the Kelty and find it to be more portable than the Osprey. It’s such an easy bag to just grab and go, yet still has plenty of space. As for security, to be honest, in 18 years of traveling around the world, I’ve never locked my bag and never had anything stolen anywhere. So I don’t really think about that too much. You can buy a simple lock to loop through the metal holes of the zipper though.

  6. […] veteran traveler Derek Baron, better known as “Wandering Earl” (WanderingEarl.com) used his Kelty Redwing bag for 12 years before it finally had to be replaced, and he stuck with the reliable […]

  7. Mauro January 6, 2016 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    Hi, what do you think about a 44 instead 50, for short trips, weekends and daypack purpose ?

    I was meaning to buy a 34 lts, Osprey, but when I saw your video, I changed my mind.


    • Wandering Earl January 7, 2016 at 11:16 am - Reply

      That would work. I’m sure I could use the 44 for all my travels so using it for shorter trips would definitely be doable.

      • Keith Martin January 22, 2019 at 6:36 pm - Reply

        Love Kelty packs. I have a Redcloud 5400 and a Redwing 44. Got them in 2014. The redwing 44 has been everywhere with me but I wanted a little more. I ordered the Redwing 50 forest green off of Sierra Trading post for $70 and got free shipping. Gotta stick with the older models still floating around.

  8. Alan August 24, 2015 at 12:33 am - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    Thanks for the breakdown and its nice to hear from such a well experienced traveler. I am about to buy the Kelty Redwing, but not sure to get the 44 or the 50. The 50 claims to not be carry on size, but you say its okay? Have you had any trouble with it at customs?

    Thank you!

    • Wandering Earl August 24, 2015 at 11:39 pm - Reply

      Hey Alan – I’ve never had a problem with the 50 liter. I think if you stuff it until it’s absolutely as full as it can get, maybe they would notice and say it’s too big. But mine is normally quite full and I’ve always taken it as a carry on without any issues.

  9. […] veteran traveler Derek Baron, better known as “Wandering Earl” (WanderingEarl.com) used his Kelty Redwing bag for 12 years before it finally had to be replaced, and he stuck with the reliable […]

  10. Bob June 8, 2015 at 2:05 am - Reply

    Wait Earl, I take it all back -your photo shows that somehow you did in fact order the older model -lucky you! I’m going to order one right now as they only have 4 left. Thanks!!!!!!

    • Wandering Earl June 15, 2015 at 7:01 pm - Reply

      Hey Bob – Let me know what you think of the backpack!

  11. Bob June 8, 2015 at 1:58 am - Reply

    Earl, I had several of the previous version of the Kelty Redwing 50 (probably from the same era as your Redwing 2900) and it was the toughest pack I ever owned. I work as what you would call a “lumberjack” on the west coast of British Columbia -my packs endure the heavy weight and sharp edges of saw chains, tools, wedges and axes as well as being thrown down cliffs and pecked at by ravens looking for a meal. The new version of the Redwing 50 came out 3-4 years ago and it is not tough at all. The top zipper has been downgraded to a flimsier one and has failed on all three of the ones I’ve owned. The loop you hang the pack on is also flimsier and has ripped out. The outer shell is lighter and has ripped everywhere. (Lucky ravens.) In your world travels seek out every backwater shop and 2nd hand store you can in the hope of finding the older model and you’re sure to get 20 years out of it!!

  12. Skyler Fox May 3, 2015 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl! I’m actually wondering what you think about the new model of the Kelty Redwing? I know it’s a little different, but I wanted to get your thoughts on it! Thanks so much for all your help. I’m sold on getting a Kelty pack after reading your blog, I can’t wait to hit the road with one!

    • Wandering Earl May 5, 2015 at 9:39 am - Reply

      Hey Skyler – I prefer the version I have as it’s so simple and easy to use. It just makes sense to me in terms of how a backpack should be. I haven’t tried the newest version yet though so I’m only going on what I’ve read or seen in photos.

  13. Jon England September 30, 2014 at 11:59 am - Reply

    I have a Kelty Redwing 50 M/L Backpack in Black, and it absolutely phenominal, i love it, It have served me well in every situation i have found myself in. Its comfy, the compartments are manages really well, its easy to adjust, it keeps the weight off my shoulders well, i have had some massive weights in this pack, including a 6 man Non backpacking tent, a footprint, all my clothes and food, 2 litre water bottle inside, 2 x litre water bottles on the side in the mesh pockets, 2 sleeping bags held down by the straps on the back with a 2 person electric blow up bed packed up tied down with the top straps so it didnt move. And when it was on my back dispersed the weight, it felt half the weight when it was on there, i have fell in love with this pack and i do more everytime i use it. I advise anyone to give it a test!!!

  14. Giovanni D August 18, 2014 at 11:45 am - Reply

    Hey Earl.

    Actually a big fan of your blog – sad you got denge, I had that when I was 9 … not fun!

    So I was searching reviews on this backpack and you popped up on google searches.

    How is it after 2 years? Was it what you wanted/expected?

    I’m torn between this one and osprey farpoint 55.


    • Wandering Earl August 19, 2014 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      Hey Giovanni – I still love the backpack! For me it is perfect, perfect size, perfect design. Still my favorite!

  15. Mel August 9, 2014 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    Thanks partly to your review of the Kelty Redwing 50-liter (and other recommendations around the web) I bought one for my summer-long trip around Europe last year. I got the s/m size and it was perfect for me. I can fit all I really need for extended travel but it’s not too huge. I was worried about trying to take it as a carry on though since the internal stay was an inch or two longer than the maximum dimensions so I removed the stay and left it at a friend’s house for some of my travels. I was wondering if you ever had any issues trying to take your redwing 50 liter as carry on luggage especially with discount carriers? They can be pretty picky about bag size :/

    • Wandering Earl August 9, 2014 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      Hey Mel – I’ve never had a single issue taking my 50 liter pack on a plane as a carry-on and that includes major airlines, budget airlines, short flights, long-haul flights. Not once has it been checked to make sure it meets the requirements, another reason I love it!

      • Lauren May 3, 2015 at 9:24 pm - Reply

        How full do you pack your bag? I am going on a 6-week backpacking trip through Europe and I will probably have plenty to pack. I am choosing between the 44L or the 50L and if the 50L goes through all airports I will purchase it. Thanks!

        • Wandering Earl May 5, 2015 at 9:37 am - Reply

          Hey Lauren – My bag usually weighs around 9kg. It’s packed about 85% full I’d say.

  16. Colleen July 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    in the late 90’s i used an old model redwing for forestry/botany field work for a few years until i wore it out. Then i was fortunate to use a newer model redwing the forest service supplied. i loved that pack and i regretted not buying my own version when i left that job. Recently, after detours of starting a family, living overseas, etc., i got an opportunity to do some field work but no decent pack provided. i tried tbe newest redwing 44 but found it too short for my torso and too many load straps that seem unnecessary for a pack that size. very disappointed. also tried the redwing 50 m/l, and it was so comfortable on my back but the bottom of the pack is rounded now, rather than more squared off, so it feels like a saggy bottom! again, crushed. finally, through searching ebay and craigslist i found the exact pack you just retired, never used, and it is arriving friday!! so, so excited. A great pack is a true joy.

  17. Ethan March 5, 2014 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Hey Bro,
    I envy you. Would love to do what you’re doing. Questions about the pack: How has it held up so far? And, with the side pockets full, how does a water bottle actually fit into the stretch pockets? It doesn’t look like it’s possible. Any pics?

    • Wandering Earl March 9, 2014 at 3:20 am - Reply

      Hey Ethan – The backpack is going strong and I still love this thing! As for a water bottle, you’re right, it doesn’t fit in when the pack is full but that’s never really been an issue with me. My pack is rarely full so there is always room inside. But I still say this is the best pack out there.

  18. Sherri January 18, 2014 at 12:09 am - Reply

    Thanks for the advice Earl. I ended up having to order online, and luckily the Kelty Redwing 40 fit great, so excited to use it in about a week!!

  19. Sherri January 4, 2014 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl! Great post with lots of details 🙂 I can definitely relate to the painstaking process of researching backpacks. I’ve been looking for days now. It’s been shortlisted to the Kelty Redwing 40 and the Osprey Farpoint 40, but it’s a tough decision! I’m leaning a bit more towards the Kelty 40 because it’s specifically designed for women, and has the side compartments, but I seem to be able to find more reviews and positive feedback on the Osprey. Did you consider the Osprey Farpoint series at all when looking?

    • Wandering Earl January 7, 2014 at 4:17 am - Reply

      Hey Sherri – I never considered the Osprey as I just decided that since I loved my original Kelty, I would probably love the newer version and that’s what I went with. In the end, the best thing to do is try them both and see which feels more comfortable.

    • Marie-Louise June 13, 2016 at 2:09 pm - Reply

      If anyone here is looking into the Kelty redwing vs Osprey farpoint, here are my 2 cents:
      I have the farpoint 40. I’ve become a pretty minimalist packer so for a recent 2 week trip to Brazil it was only about 2/3 full, incl photography equipment. It weighed in at about 12kg though as I had a couple of books, journal etc with me.
      I’m 1.59m with a 38cm torso (14 or 15″?). The fit wasn’t quite right, no matter how many times I readjusted it, there was absolutely no air circulation in my back and the mesh was horrible on my skin. The panel loading feature was good but frankly that was about it.. I’m so disappointed I’m thinking of trying out the Kelty redwing 32 or 40w. Hope this can help!

  20. Gary September 23, 2013 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl, Just packing up my Redwing 50l and was worried as a few of the other posters were about whether it will not fit their carry on specifications. I guess if it’s too big I can just check it, which brings up another point, if I check it does it need to be wrapped or put into a duffel? Are loose straps a concern for checked baggage?

    • Wandering Earl September 24, 2013 at 12:02 am - Reply

      Hey Gary – I’ve taken my Redwing 50 as a carry on at least 15 times by now, on many different airlines, and I’ve never had a problem or told it was too big. You should be all set!

      • Gary White September 24, 2013 at 12:23 am - Reply

        Cool, I’m heading to Paris on Wednesday then off to St. Jean to begin the camino. Just trying to shake the butterflies out and cover all bases before the big day, I hear baggage claim at CDG is an absolute nightmare, hence my concern to be able to carry on.
        Thanks for the quick response.

  21. Lloyd August 30, 2013 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl!
    I know this is an old post, but I’m hoping you can shed some light. I’ve recently bought the Kelty Redwing 50 and I’m excited to use it here shortly. However, I’m worried about keeping my expensive equipment secured. There’s no real way to lock the zippers because of the clothed loop attachment instead of the metal “little handle”.

    How have you dealt with this issue? Was thinking about taking the metal bits from an older pack and attaching them, but wanted to see what others have done.

    • Wandering Earl September 8, 2013 at 2:42 pm - Reply

      Hey Lloyd – I actually never lock my stuff so the zippers didn’t matter to me. When I leave my things in my hotel room I just leave it all unlocked.

  22. lloydIV August 30, 2013 at 7:25 am - Reply

    Hey Earl!
    I know this is an old post but I’m hoping you can still shine some light…
    I just bought a Kelty Redwing 50 – it’s great! – except when it comes to security. I’ll be lugging around some expensive gear and wanted to out locks on it but it doesn’t come with the standard zippers, only the clothed loop. I’m wondering how you secure your electronics while traveling with this pack. Your advice would be much helpful. Thanks!

  23. OCDemon May 2, 2013 at 3:47 am - Reply

    I’ve been agonizing over packs forever. I’ve taken a different pack on every, since nothing ever works out as well as I’d like, or it breaks, or some other horrific disaster ensues. All I want is to find The One and never look at any other pack ever again. The Redwing is looking pretty great. There’s an even newer version than this one that has a very clever combination top and panel loading design, but accomplishes this with just a single zipper. Easily the best of both worlds since all they do is angle the zipper correctly and all of a sudden it’s simultaneously top loading and panel loading. But I do love a good trampoline-style backpack…sigh. The trials and tribulations of pack woes.

    • Marie-Louise June 13, 2016 at 2:12 pm - Reply

      I’m in the same situation, never quite happy with the options out there and still looking for That Pack. Did you end up finding yours?

  24. Dave March 28, 2013 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    I have the same exact Kelty Redwing 50. Same color too. Mine is M/L size. I love it 1000x over. One question though, has your new Kelty passed the airline size restrictions for a carry on? We’ve booked an alaska cruise for our honeymoon and I can’t imagine leaving my new Kelty behind. But it technically doesn’t make the airline standards (American Air) of 22x14x9 or 45 linear inches total. I think the published dimensions are 25x18x12. I can avoid packing it all the way full and “hope” I’ll pass security, but I’m just not certain. Just wondered what your experience was in this regard.

    • Wandering Earl March 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm - Reply

      Hey Dave – So far I’ve taken my new Kelty as a carry-on on board at least 10 flights or so (with several different airlines) and have never been stopped or questioned at all. In fact, a couple of times, when I went to check it instead (sometimes I prefer to do this), the check-in staff asked me why I wasn’t just taking it on the plane with me!

      • Alex Miller April 8, 2015 at 1:03 pm - Reply

        I have the same question. Is your 50 fully loaded when getting on the plane? My wife and I are looking at the 44 vs 50 for a two-week backpacking trip in Indonesia and want to be able to bring our bags on the plane. I just wanted to check to see if your 50 is fully loaded when you bring it on.

        • Wandering Earl April 9, 2015 at 12:58 am - Reply

          Hey Alex – I’ve loaded my 50 liter up almost as full as it gets and still taken it on the plane. Never had a problem!

          • Nick April 11, 2015 at 10:00 pm

            Thanks for the update! I’m looking at the 44L for my travels, and knowing that you’re still having no problems with a near full 50L is helping me make that decision.

      • Lee April 23, 2015 at 9:25 am - Reply

        Have Earl. Have you flown Delta with your Redwing 50 since they’ve reduced the carry on size, last summer to 22″ x 14″ x 9″?

        • Wandering Earl April 27, 2015 at 1:12 pm - Reply

          Hey Lee – I haven’t flown them since they reduced the size but I’ve never had Delta pay too much attention to my carry on luggage before. I fly with them often and have always been able to bring the Redwing 50 on board.

    • Liko March 29, 2013 at 4:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Dave,

      Similar to Earl, I have had no problems with my pack as a carry-on. I use a CPAP and carry it, among other “no way am I packing that in a suitcase” items, on board the plane.


  25. Jack January 16, 2013 at 3:46 am - Reply

    I enjoyed your storyreview very much. I too have an worn old Kelty friend, an external frame pack with old travel dirt still falling out of the corners. I still use it to hump the family toys and tackle to and from the beach. Since July I have read and re-read reviews and looked at day packs. I have purchased three and then almost immediately returned them all one by one. I liked the Redwing 50 best of the three. It’s utilitarian. I loaded it with sixty pounds and it was the nicest pack I’ve had on my back. But I quickly discovered with that test load in the living room it was too long and the center aluminum stay always hit the back of my head when I looked up. I tried both sizes of the pack and Kelty graciously returned each one. I concluded I would get the shorter one, the Redwing 44. Now the holidays are over, I again have researched days upon days all my options and now I am in a dilemma. Should I get the Redwing 44 Or the new Redwing 44? Kelty just updated the Redwing series and while the last version is fantastic, Kelty somehow improved what seemed perfect. I will get a Redwing 44 shortly. But I need to think this one over a beer or two.

    • Wandering Earl January 17, 2013 at 5:53 am - Reply

      Hey Jack – Let us know what you decide and how it goes!

  26. Jesse Jones December 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this awesome blog, Earl! I’m graduating high school early and leaving in mid-January to backpack through Europe for several months. The Redwing 50 will be my first pack. For future reference, I bought mine through an eBay store for only $55! Here’s the site: https://stores.ebay.com/Altatac/_i.html?_nkw=redwing+50&submit=Search&_sid=623602658

  27. Liko October 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    I’ve had my Redwing 2900 since 2002. And for a little more. At first I thought it was time to get a new one, but decided not just yet. So I am preparing to ship my Kelty to have the failed zipper repaired. I l o v e my Redwing 2900.

    I am a big Hawaiian man and it suits me well!


    • Earl October 31, 2012 at 3:48 pm - Reply

      Aloha Liko – Thanks for sharing your experience with this backpack. It’s a hard pack to get rid of or even replace…it’s funny how attached we become to a good pack 🙂

  28. Bob Cadloff October 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    I’ve had a Redwing 2900 for years, and it’s simply the best and most versatile of all the pack I own. And I own too many.

    Do any airlines hassle you about the size for carry-on? Technically, it’s a few inches taller than the 21.5″ maximum. I’ve taken mine as carry on in the past, but airlines are a bit stickier these days. I think it’s about 24.5″ tall in the large version.

    Any problems lately? I’m thinking of taking it to India in December, but I’d hate to have to check it at the last minute.

  29. Frank October 16, 2012 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    I’ve been spending FAR too much time researching backpacks for my upcoming RTW trip, hours reading reviews, deciding upon options and trolling travel blogs for what other packs fellow travelers use. Yours is not the first but may be the deciding review telling me that the pack I’ve been using for every trip overseas for the past five years is the one I should stick with!

    I’ve used the Kelty 3100 (renamed the 50) for all of my trips and love that it’s not top loading, it’s got nice side pockets for shoe storage, easy access to the various compartments, fits in most overhead bins, etc. I don’t know why I feel compelled to buy a new pack for the trip, just a little worried that what has served well for 14 day trips might not handle a long term one, you seem to have proven that wrong! So I need to maybe learn how to pack a bit lighter eh, ha.

    • Earl October 17, 2012 at 12:37 am - Reply

      Hey Frank – I do think you might already have the perfect backpack. It sure can handle long-term trips and if you’re able to leave a few extra things behind, then you’ll be able to travel around with ease. I wouldn’t spend the money for a new pack when you have this great one already!

  30. Ken October 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    Luisa, I went ahead and read that review because I don’t really like my redwing and EVERY ONE else LOVES theirs. It saddens me to be “o. The se side” as that guy. I would not take too aeiously any thing that he said.

    First, let’s review his un intended kudos. The design of the 44 is the same as the 2650 before it. That particular design of Reding has been well loved by millions for over a decade and has not left any one crippled or dehydrated to death that I have heard of. It HAS been so durable that his last redwing pasted him ten-ish years of not-so-gentl use!

    Personally, I have never had any discomfort witht the aluminum stay, which is removable at any rate. Also, I have never had trouble using the water bottle pocket and side pocket at the same time. Of course, you don’t have to use the mesh pocket for any sort of a bottle at all! It will hold many different small items ( dirty socks are my fav).

    Also, keep in mind: that guy is using his Redwing for hiking amd adventure skiing and all kinds of super-active outdoor activities. Earl uses his for the same purpose that you have in mind: travel. Even I have to admit that my redwing makes a great container for cloths and toiletries for trips amd back amd forth to work.

    This is an amazingly durable and versatile pack for the price. If it fits you well (and I personally don’t like the way that it fits) and like panel-loading back packs, you could do a lot worse than picking a Kelty Redwing!

    • Luísa Sousa October 1, 2012 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      Hi Ken, thank you for your feedback! I’m seriously considering the Redwing. Hope I find it a good fit!

  31. Luisa Sousa September 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    I just very recently found your website and I’m already a huge fan! Your posts are extremely useful and really well written (something not so easy to find online).
    Even for someone not considering a long travel (which I am) it’s interesting and entertaining to read. Thanks for that!

    Regarding your “new” pack I was wondering if you would have any extra feedback, since you’ve probably wear it on one of your trips by now. It’s just that I found this not so positive review and was wondering what’s your take on the flaws that are described here:


    Cheers, and fun travels 🙂

    • Earl September 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm - Reply

      Hey Luisa – I don’t know, the reviews have an average of 4.5 stars out of 5, that’s quite good to me 🙂 I still love my backpack and it fits me perfectly, although every backpack fits every person differently of course. I’m still very happy with my purchase!

  32. […] as it gets for budget travelers.Töölö, Cinnamon Buns & 600 PipesOnce you throw down your backpack or rolling suitcase or whatever you choose to travel with, it’s time to head outside and […]

  33. Ken August 26, 2012 at 9:43 am - Reply

    I currently have a 44. I do NOT love it. At the time all I wanted was a “daypack”, not a bag for traveling, and at 50l the big Kelty would be the same size as my wife’s “backpacking” bag. The 44 is not comfortable. I think it’s to short. It’s too big. I can’t fill it on a day hike or going to work. Things have changed though and I have to carry a bunch of stuff for my kid. Too much stuff for my poor little 32L Deuter (wich I love and is like wearing…. nothing, no matter how much I cram in it) to haul. On the trail the bag is fuller. Around town, not so much. Either way, it’s still not comfortable to hump.

    When you picked out your bag did you consider thee 44 at all? Would you think that it is significantly different that “upgrading” would result in a more pleasant carrying experience?

    • Earl August 27, 2012 at 6:17 am - Reply

      Hey Ken – I did consider the 44 and I would have loved to buy that version but in the end I decided that the 50 would give me a little more flexibility. Of course, every backpack feels different on every person and what feels very comfortable to me (the 44 and the 50 both feel great to me) might not feel as comfortable for someone else.

  34. Aaron May 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    I love the Kelty backpacks! I have a Kelty Redtail and it has gone through a ton. It handles all kinds of use from school to hiking to traveling to carrying my camera stuff. Kelty’s are really tough and have well thought out designs. Congrats

  35. Alberto April 12, 2012 at 2:14 am - Reply

    12 years?! Now that’s quality gear my friend. I have a Redwing 44 and it fits all my stuff perfectly and meets all airline carry on specs.

    Congrats on your 2900’s retirement!

    • Earl April 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks Alberto! Glad to see yet another Redwing fan on here…they are great packs 🙂

  36. Michele April 11, 2012 at 11:37 am - Reply

    Oddly enough, that’s the backpack Patrick and I have been looking at. We’ve also been looking at the Kelty Lakota 65, Red Cloud 110, and Yukon style backpacks. What are your thoughts on the frame style backpacks?

    • Earl April 11, 2012 at 11:09 pm - Reply

      Hey Michele – Do you mean the external frame packs? If so, I’m personally not a huge fan just because they tend to be bulkier, heavier, less stable and a bit more challenging to lug around. But that’s just my preference…there are people who do like these packs. Although, I must say, I’m really loving my Kelty 50 so far 🙂

  37. Roy Marvelous April 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Wow sounds like a great backpack! Is that the only bag you travel with?

    • Earl April 9, 2012 at 10:30 pm - Reply

      Hey Roy – I also travel with a small day pack that can roll up into virtually nothing. Usually I just take that pack out when I’m wandering around some city but not when I’m traveling from one destination to another.

  38. T.W. Anderson April 9, 2012 at 10:32 am - Reply

    I live out of a 35 liter and another regular backpack. The 35 liter gets checked in when I fly and I carry on my laptop bag + regular backpack. But almost all of my clothing/life is in that 35 liter 🙂

    I have a German brand, it’s called Deuter…bought it when I was living in Bulgaria. Super comfortable, rain cover, lightweight, great bag. I’ve only been using it for about 4.5 years now, and it doesn’t even have any wear and tear on it yet. I’m very pleased/happy with it.

    I’ve never felt the attachment to bags that I do to a good pair of shoes. For me, that’s where I really feel it. When it’s time to break in a new pair of shoes I have a hard time getting rid of the old ones…been through so much together and they were so comfortable…but when they finally reach that tattered phase it’s time to move on 🙂

    • Earl April 9, 2012 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      Hey T.W. – That’s funny about the shoes 🙂 I can see how that would happen…but for me, I go through shoes too quickly for me to feel any attachment!

  39. Haha, while I’ve only replaced my backpack for practicality-sakes (downsized from a whopping 90L to a 32L after my trip to Asia in 2010), I know from other facets in life how sad it can be to replace something that has been with you through the years!

    These days I go with the Deuter Futura 32. I love absolutely everything about it, except perhaps the fact that it’s a top loader. But given it’s small capacity, I use a series of air compression bags for organization, so I don’t mind the top loading aspect. I especially love the ingeniousness way you can squeeze extra space in there, the large gap to allow air to flow to my back (I sweat…a lot) and the suspension system, which makes it feel as if I’m not wearing it at all!

    Congrats on your new friend!

    • Earl April 8, 2012 at 11:49 pm - Reply

      Thanks Aaron! Seems like you’ve found the perfect backpack for you…I would love to carry around a 32 liter pack, but don’t think I could manage it quite yet. And I can definitely see how the air compression bags can make a difference, especially with a top-loading pack. I might have to give those a try with my new pack as well…

      (And thanks for not bringing your backpack to dinner tonight!)

  40. Emme Rogers @ Roamancing April 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    I too have a beat up old backpack that I’ve been having difficulty letting go of.

    • Earl April 8, 2012 at 11:33 am - Reply

      Hey Emme – It’s not easy saying goodbye to a backpack. I’m still opening the closet door every day just to say hello to my old pack 🙂

  41. Kyle April 7, 2012 at 11:53 am - Reply

    Have you heard of the blackhawk assault pack? It’s military but good quality and fits a lot of stuff too!

    • Earl April 8, 2012 at 11:32 am - Reply

      Hey Kyle – I have not heard of that pack but will look it up and see what it’s all about.

  42. Juno April 5, 2012 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Yeah, congrats! 🙂 Looks gooood! I’m searching for new backpack as well…. my search begins soon. I’ll remember your post for my guidance. 🙂

    • Earl April 8, 2012 at 11:28 am - Reply

      Good luck with your search Juno!

  43. Randall April 5, 2012 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    Deniz, you are absolutely right. I subscribed by email probably a year ago. I delete a lot of emails without looking. When I see Earl’s, I always hesitate to delete because I’m afraid I’m going to miss something. He can make a good story out of nothing.

    • Earl April 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      I appreciate that Randall…it really does make me happy to read such a comment and it certainly motivates me to continue with this blog 🙂

      I hope you’ve been well out there in the Philippines…another country I need to get to soon!

  44. Ali April 5, 2012 at 11:25 am - Reply

    I love how you wrote this post! Good choice on the bag, I have almost the same one. It’s a Kelty Redwing 3100, and I honestly don’t know what the difference is between it and the one you bought, except maybe it’s a few years older. I have run into problems trying to take it as carry-on. My guess is that since I’m so short (5’1″) the bag just looks bigger on me, so they always question me, and sometimes it weighs too much. I’ve since bought a slightly smaller one (REI brand) that worked out decently for my RTW. But I have too many backpacks. You know how a lot of women love buying new purses? Not me, I may have a backpack addiction. Good luck with the new bag, and sad to hear about the old one. Amazing it lasted 12 years! Maybe take a picture of it to carry around with you, like family 😉

    • Earl April 5, 2012 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      Hey Ali – Actually, I think it is the exact same bag but they recently changed their numbering system (instead of using the cubic inches, they now number the packs by liters). And that’s funny about your backpack addiction 🙂 Do you have a closet full of packs??

      Good idea about the photo by the way…I might place a photo of the old pack inside the interior pocket of my new pack!

  45. Ashray April 4, 2012 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Aww.. always sad to see the end of a backpack’s life. We got ourselves Osprey’s with wheels because they are super convenient. Haven’t had to lift them once yet in our 6 months of travel. I do think you should’ve got one with wheels but hey if you’re happy – GOOD LUCK on your new adventures 😀

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:38 pm - Reply

      Hey Ashray – The main reason I didn’t go with the Osprey backpack with wheels is because the smallest size is 60 liters and to me, that’s just too big. And since I rarely carry more than 8 or 9 kgs worth of stuff, it’s not too bad to carry it around on my back 🙂

  46. tom gates April 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    I have been through this grieving process. Sometimes you just have to put a good one down. My sympathies.

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm - Reply

      Thank you Tom…as hard as it is, everything must come to an end eventually!

  47. Box Canyon April 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm - Reply

    You are one frugal wanderer…

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm - Reply

      @BoxCanyon – Traveling with just a few possessions gets addicting quite quickly 🙂

  48. Gigi April 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    A. Holy crap, 12 years!?

    B. Holy crap, your backpack is small!

    C. I love all the little pockets on my pack. Helps me keep things organized. 🙂

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm - Reply

      Hey Gigi – Haha…I can see how some people like all of the little pockets. I guess I just don’t have enough stuff for them to be useful 🙂

  49. Adam Mayfield April 4, 2012 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    I know what it’s like to lose a good friend. I was thinking about upgrading my 40L to a 50L. May have to nip down to REI and try this guy on for size.

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:42 pm - Reply

      Hey Adam – The 50L seems to be a perfect size…it’s still really small but, at least with my new pack, it has much more space than it seems at first. Let me know what you end up getting!

  50. Someday I'll Be There - Mina April 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    Such a sad story…

    As for your questions, I don’t have a favourite backpack. I have a least favourite one…

    If there is something I figured out before traveling last summer, it was that Egypt does not sell Backpacks. they do sell the normal small school bags. I searched all over Alexandria, then moved to Cairo where I found cheap chinese bags that looked worse than someone could imagine. I was then told by a wise man selling school bags, that the one I’m looking for is only available in “that” shop and gave me the address.

    I went with very high hopes, looked all over the place and couldn’t find it, I asked one of the staff and he didn’t know what I was talking about, he asked another one of the staff who finally was like “aaahhhhh…you’ll find it with the camping gear”

    And that is when I found the most precious “Pyramids” bag. I shall post a picture of it 😀 For $30, and lasted barely one month on the Camino de Santiago (I was praying it doesn’t get a major cut before I end my camino, it was starting to get cuts at the straps after less than 20 days :D)

    And that my friend is the least favourite backpack for me.

    In defence for Pyramids’ camping gear though, their sleeping bags are really good (warm) and low in weight 😀

    • Earl April 5, 2012 at 12:04 am - Reply

      Hey Mina – That is quite a crappy situation you went through with that backpack. I can see how that would be your least favorite…I think it’s now my least favorite backpack just from reading your story! Anything that lasts less than 20 days should not even be sold and the Chinese bags probably would have lasted longer.

      I guess the next time you travel you’ll have a different backpack 🙂

  51. Deniz April 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    I think you’re probably the only person who can make a post about a backpack an interesting read! May your bag RIP.

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:56 pm - Reply

      Thank you Deniz 🙂

  52. Mark Wiens April 4, 2012 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Wow! 12 years is really impressive for a single backpack – I can understand your sadness at saying goodbye! I think the longest I’ve gone with a single backpack traveling is 3 years. I just recently got an Osprey Talon 44 pack. I like it mainly because it’s extremely light and can condense down to something very small when there’s not much in the pack. We’ll see how it holds up!

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm - Reply

      Hey Mark – I looked quite closely at the Osprey Talon series as well and that probably would have been by second choice. I’m sure it will be a great pack as well as it does receive outstanding reviews from users on every site I checked!

      • Nate @yomadic April 6, 2012 at 1:06 pm - Reply

        Wll done Earl, 12 years! I have an Osprey as well…so far, so good! I also picked it due to the lightweight, but I’m not so sure it will last 12 years!!!

        • Earl April 8, 2012 at 11:30 am - Reply

          Hey Nate – Osprey was definitely a close second when it came time for me to choose. I’ve heard only positive things about them but the one with wheels (which is what I would have preferred) was too big for me at 60L. Maybe next time…

  53. Andrew April 4, 2012 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    Bagels have that effect on me too…

    Nice work on the choice. You’re not too bothered with the packs that have the day pack zip off the front, or you’re happier to go with a separate smaller day pack?

    Travelling through the US (and most places I think) I’m amazed at the size of carry-on allowed. How many kg’s (approx) does your stuff come to? (out of interest)

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:56 pm - Reply

      Hey Andrew – Backpacks with detachable day packs (or detachable anything) are just not my thing! I prefer to use my own day pack (right now I have an REI Zip Pack) which can be rolled up into practically nothing when I don’t need it.

      As for the weight of my backpack, usually I carry 8 or 9kg worth of stuff. I prefer to keep it under 10kg at all times.

      • David April 5, 2012 at 8:38 pm - Reply

        I was going to ask the same thing! I’ve been on and off reading for over a year now, but I can’t seem to remember if you have one of those “this is what I pack” posts.

        I am using a 45L pack, the eagle creek thrive to be exact. I’m not using the zip off day pack though, bc like you, I prefer to use my own. I am using a small Colombian leather satchel type of bag, just big enough for the ole iPad.

        It’s good to go light! Andy knows that first hand!

        • Earl April 5, 2012 at 10:17 pm - Reply

          Hey David – I agree completely that the lighter we travel, the better! And 45L is a great size too…it makes moving around so much easier. And I actually did write a post (it’s over a year old though) about what I travel with. Here it is in case you didn’t find it: How Does A Permanent Nomad Pack

  54. Conni Biesalski April 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Haha you made me laugh a lot with this article.
    12 years is a bloody long time for a backpack! Good on you for going with the same brand again! Kelty should be sponsoring you!! 😉

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:52 pm - Reply

      Hey Conni – Yeah, I’m waiting for their email 🙂 It really is a great brand and I simply saw no reason to change at this point…

  55. Dana - Our Wanderlust April 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Goodbye old friend! I love the sentimentality you have toward your pack – minimizing your owned items definitely adds some extra value to the ones that you keep (or that keep you!) Good luck and enjoy your new pack 🙂

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:51 pm - Reply

      Hey Dana – That’s the thing, this backpack was my most important possession because it was the only one of my few things that lasted for 12 years! I’ll certainly miss it, but times do change and I’m excited to start the new era as well!

  56. Lori April 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    Wow, 12 YEARS??? THAT’S INCREDIBLE! Man, I’ll say you made the right decision in sticking with that brand for sure. In fact, I’m ordering one for my son! Thanks for doing all the research. I’ve been trying to decide…

    Love your posts. 🙂

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:50 pm - Reply

      Hey Lori – I’m glad you chose this backpack for your son…with his upcoming travels, this will be more than ideal for him! Thanks for commenting as always 🙂

  57. Maria Alexandra @latinAbroad April 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Don’t get rid of it! 12 years of traveling by your side is loyalty. It deserves to stand as a shrine somewhere iny our home (at a relatiive’s place if you have no fixed address) 😉

    I have a similar story, but ironically enough, with a little carry-on wheelie. It is blac, one of the zippers is broken, but I still can’t give it away. Has been with me since my very first trip and has gone with me on every adventure, except my trip to Curacao in Nov. because I wanted a bag with no wheels. But my Wheelie is still in my bedroom, waiting for the next adventure…! I
    m somewhat attached to it–simply looking at it makes me remember countless of adventures we’ve had together, the best being hithhiking and couchsurfing around Israel solo for 3 weeks — ahh! Can’t wait to do it again

    Loved how you made the post so emotional 🙂

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:49 pm - Reply

      Hey Maria – I certainly won’t be throwing my old backpack away any time soon…it will be kept in a safe place until I figure out what to do with it eventually!

      And yes, a backpack that we are attached to does provide constant reminders of the experiences we’ve had. In fact, sometimes, the backpack was the only other thing around during the good and the bad times, and as a result, it’s impossible to look at it without getting a bit emotional!

  58. Patrick Hearn April 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Great post, Earl. 12 years is a very long time to go with one piece of equipment; I can’t actually think of anything I own that I’ve had for that long, aside from maybe a videogame system or two. I suppose all the experiences you have together with your gear does create a sort of a bond, doesn’t it? Like a warrior and his blade, maybe?

    I’m glad you gave the new Kelty Redwing such good reviews – I’ve been looking at getting a backpack myself, and 84$ is a fantastic price.

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:44 pm - Reply

      Hey Patrick – A bond was definitely created as my backpack was the only thing that accompanied me on every adventure over the years. Wherever I was, it was there too and it will be strange to get on that plane in a couple of weeks and leave that pack behind.

      And as for the $84, it is a great price indeed!

  59. G @ Operation Backpack Asia April 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    Sad day! It must have been tough to acknowledge the end of the road for you and your friend – I understand, though. I just sent one of our Asia backpacks home with a friend to lighten our load coming home in a month. We’d only been with our bags for 2.5 years, but…man, through so much! I actually teared a little as I looked at it for the last time, sitting by the front door waiting for the courier, knowing this was the end of the trip for it (honestly, I even felt a little guilty for sending it home early, like it didn’t deserve to not finish the trip with us! Travel does strange things to us backpackers, doesn’t it? :P).

    Lol maybe you should auction yours off to your faithful blog readers as a fundraiser. 😉

    Also – if they need to fill your press trip spot if you can’t make the reschedule…I’m available. Please pass on my name. (lol – but seriously).

    Congrats on the new purchase, may it take you far and wide, and hopefully to our crossed paths finally!

    • Earl April 4, 2012 at 11:46 pm - Reply

      Hey G – Thanks for that and yes, hopefully my new bag and I will find ourselves in the same place as you at some point! And I could auction the pack off, but I’m not sure how that would go considering the inside is deteriorating and the knife slashes get larger by the day…it’s a real mess at the moment 🙂

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