Travel Backpack: Kelty Redwing 50 Review


My RTW backpack of choice is the Kelty Redwing 50. I’ve been using it for 7 months so far, and haven’t had any major problems. The Redwing 50 is the perfect a cross between a travel backpack and a hiking backpack.

Pros of the Kelty Redwing 50:

  • Easy Access to Gear
  • Internal Frame
  • Comfortable Suspension and Straps
  • Durable
  • Good Zippers
  • Good Price
  • Lightweight

It is panel loading, meaning that it opens from the front rather from the top, making it easier to access gear. Also, the Kelty Redwing 50 has an internal frame made up of an aluminum bar and a polycarbonate sheet. The weight of the pack can be distributed well due to its frame and the padded waist belt. I’ve been comfortable carrying around 30 pounds worth of clothes and other knickknacks in the backpack.

The backpack feels really durable and is made of 450-denier polyester. The zippers are also a plus. They are oversized and extremely smooth. In total, the backpack weighs just over 3 pounds, which is pretty lightweight. I chose the color black, because I didn’t want to attract attention while traveling to dodgy parts of the world.

Cons of the Kelty Redwing 50:

  • Hard to Load the Top of the Pack
  • Not Much Organization
  • Size is Between Check-In and Carry-On

Panel loading (loading from the front, rather than the top) comes at a cost. It is hard to load the top most part of the bag. Another con of the Redwing is that when fully packed, it’s hard to bring as a carry-on bag.

While traveling from the Tampa International Airport to Miami, my dad and I were both wearing our maxed out Redwings as carry-on bags. As we boarded the plane, my dad was told he had to check his backpack in, but thankfully, I went under the radar and kept my pack under my seat. My fully loaded backpack took up almost all of my legroom, and the overhead compartments were completely taken up by other passengers. From then on, I always try not to fly with my backpack bulging. 
I own the older model of the Redwing 50, but now there is a new and improved one that addresses the loading issue. Probably one of the best parts of the newest Redwing is that it costs around $100, which is really good for its value.

The organization of this backpack is just ok. The large main compartment only has a water reservoir sleeve, but the smaller secondary compartment has an ample amount of pockets. To prevent my clothes from getting messed up and disorganized inside the main compartment of my backpack, I got the Eagle Creek Pack-It Mobile Locker, which is a packing cube that you can watch my video review for here.

Newer Version of the Kelty Redwing Photo Credit:

The Verdict:

Overall the Kelty Redwing Backpack is an extremely versatile backpack. With the newer model addressing the loading issue, I would definitely recommend it to any long-term, or short-term traveler. It’s so awesome that both my dad and use the Kelty Redwing.

Kelty Redwing 50 Ratings
  • Design - 7/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Organization & Ease of Use - 7/10
  • Value - 9/10

You can find it here on
And the older version here.

(These are affiliate links, meaning that I get a small commission if you click through and buy the item. However I would never endorse a product or service I didn’t actually use and believe in. This helps to fund the site :))

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    • says

      Thanks, Matt! My experiences with using the pack as a cary on have been a bit weird. No, it will not normally fit as a carry on because the frame of the backpack surpasses the normal carry on length. So, if you were to go to the airport and try to fit the pack into the box that represents the carry on dimensions, it would not fit due to the aluminum frame being too long by a few inches. But, I’ve taken the backpack with me on an airplane as a carry on so I guess it depends on how strict the airplane people are. To be safe, I would try not to max out my pack so that it wouldn’t look to big. I hope that makes sense. – Jonathan

      • Matt says

        Thank you for the reply. It does make sense, and seems that more than likely I will have to check it if I were to go this route.

        Last question if I may – the times you or your dad have checked the bag, it holds up pretty well? I’ve never checked a bag (always prefer carry on), but have heard the baggage handlers can be a bit rough with luggage.

        • says

          Sorry about the late reply. Yes, the bag held up really well. I was a bit concerned about the loose straps getting caught, but I didn’t have any issues in the end. It should be fine. The pack is really durable.


  1. […] Kelty Redwing 50 Review | Travel Backpack Review | Travel Gear – Jan 9, 2014 … I've been using it for 7 months so far, and haven't had any major problems. The Redwing 50 is the perfect a cross between a travel backpack … […]

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