Kelty is an affordable American brand. And while they might not be as well known as Osprey, they certainly do make some high-quality packs. And what sets them apart from their competitors are their incredibly low prices. If you are looking for a hiking pack for under $150, both the Redwing 44 and 50 are great options.
Both of these Kelty backpacks have some amazing features that they share, but there are also some significant differences. So, let’s take a look at those so you can make a quick and informed buying decision!
So, you can see that there aren’t too many differences between the packs. Just the size, weight, and harness.
If you need more space, then the Redwing 50 is a more obvious choice. Just be aware that you are also adding 50% weight (at just over a pound) too. If that is ok with you, then this is the best choice. But, if you can pack lighter, then it will be a win-win, as the pack is also way lighter!
The Redwing 44 has a decent harness, it is just not quite as long as the Redwing 50, or as adjustable. So, if you don’t plan on wearing this on long hikes (it’s also a great travel pack) or for long periods, then the 44 is fine.
However, the Perfect Fit harness on the Redwing 50 is super-adjustable to different body lengths, as well as able to be adjusted on the fly while wearing it. And, the last great feature is that the hip belt can be removed if you don’t need it on the day.
They are both made from the same material, and they are both framed packs. But, luckily their frame is made of aluminum, so they are both still very lightweight.
In addition to that, it’s beneficial that they are both framed since they are both rather large. Without the frame, they would probably fall flat and lose their shape, and you definitely don’t want that.
In addition to that, both packs are available in practically the same colors – Twilight Blue, Ponderosa Pine, and Black. Those names though! And the larger pack comes in one more color, Garnet Red. So, unless red is your absolutely favorite color, you don’t have to choose based on that.
The Redwing 50 is a pound heavier than the 44. And while that might not seem like a lot at this time, trust me it is. When you fully pack that backpack, you can feel every ounce on your shoulders. So, you should always aim to get the lightest pack possible – Osprey Levity is a perfect example of a feather-light pack with a huge capacity.
Next thing you should consider is the dimensions of the pack. If you have a smaller torso in general, you should go for the smaller pack. On the other hand, the Redwing 50 does promise to make it easy for everyone to get a perfect fit (with the better, more adjustable harness), but we’ll talk about that in a minute.
Your best bet is to measure your torso and compare it to the torso fit dimensions from the table. Only then can you be sure that the pack will fit perfectly on you. And getting that fit is important because it won’t feel comfortable otherwise. And we’re talking about big hiking backpacks here that you are going to wear for hours on end, so staying comfortable is very important.
The next thing we need to talk about is the capacity of the backpack. The difference between the capacities of these two Keltys isn’t that big – 7 liters. If you tend to carry a lot of items with you on your hiking trips, then you can obviously benefit from the Redwing 50. Otherwise, you will really appreciate the 44’s smaller size and lighter weight.
This suspension system is a Kelty trademark, and it is basically the only feature that differs between these two backpacks. In just three steps you can get the pack to fit your upper body perfectly, without ever having to measure your torso.
The first step is to loosen all the straps and make sure that the shoulder straps are at the very top of the track before you put the pack on your shoulders. You can then put on your backpack and start adjusting. First, buckle the waist belt and then you can tighten it, as well as the shoulder straps.
And the final step is to get that perfect fit. You can easily reach down and grab the adjustment straps that you should tighten until the pack fits perfectly. That means that there should be no space between your shoulder and shoulder straps, or your back and back panel. And that’s it!
Anyway, if you are more of a visual person, here’s a video that will show you just how to do all that:
I told you that there aren’t a lot of differences between these two packs. However, there are a lot of similarities. So, if you’ve decided on which one will fit you and your needs better, it’s time to check out exactly what features you can expect from your Kelty pack.
Both packs have a main compartment and a front compartment. And the front compartment actually features an organization panel, which will really help you organize all your smaller items. There are about 5 pockets in this compartment (none are zippered) and they are actually great for your books, pens, chargers, and anything that is approximately the same size.
On top of this compartment, there is also a front stash pocket with a hook closure. That’s basically the same thing as we saw on the Osprey Hikelite, just with a different name. This pocket is always great for quickly stashing a spare clothing item, such as a hoodie or a jacket. And what’s even better is that you can then access that item very easily.
There are also dual side pockets, as well as separate water bottle pockets on both the Redwing 44 and the 50. The side pockets have a zipper closure, which is incredibly useful. They are the perfect size for your camera or GPS, and since they are on the sides, they will always be within your reach.
As for the water bottle pockets, they are not made of mesh, which is what we see most often in packs of this type. That is because Kelty wants to avoid any gear getting stuck on the tiny holes of the mesh, which is actually really useful. So kudos to Kelty for thinking about the things that we forgot about!
Well, I’m not really a fan of this feature. This sleeve is in the main compartment of the pack, and it’s a dual-use sleeve. So you can either put your hydration reservoir in it or your laptop – it’s up to you. I guess that could be useful if you only need to have one of those things with you at a time.
But if you need to have both the laptop and the reservoir with you, then you’re in a bit of a pickle. You don’t want to keep them both in the same sleeve at the same time, because then you risk getting water all over your (probably) expensive laptop. And we all know how expensive a new MacBook motherboard is. But, there is plenty of room in the main compartment (and even in the front one) for your laptop, so you can improvise something.
And another dual-use feature. I understand that there will hardly come a time when you need to have both your trekking pole and your ice axe with you, but it would certainly be useful if you had the option!
However, the point of these dual-use features is to remove everything unnecessary from the backpack, so that it stays as lightweight as possible. And I guess we can all appreciate that.
Additionally, you can see that those loops are at the very bottom of the pack. And you can also see where the trekking poles are stashed on this image. Basically, everything about these backpacks is very versatile, and it’s up to you to figure out what would work best for you.
The back panel is arguably the most important feature of any pack. If it is uncomfortable or if it doesn’t fit right, you can experience some horrible back pain. And particularly with packs that will weigh some 40lbs with all your gear. So, it’s a good thing that the back panels on both these Keltys are padded, as well as ventilated.
So, I already told you that you will probably get the better fit with the Redwing 50, due to its PerfectFIT suspension system. However, the 44 will also be very comfortable with all the padding. And the Dynamic AirFlow ventilation of the back panel (and shoulder straps and hipbelt) will keep your back dry and cool even in the sky-high August temperatures.
What’s an outdoorsy backpack without these features? Not worth your money, that’s what it is! But jokes aside, a sternum strap is a very important and useful feature when looking at packs with 40+ liter capacity. It is a small strap that connects the two shoulder straps, and that helps them stay in place throughout your adventures.
The hipbelt, on the other hand, helps distribute the load of the back across your entire torso, so that your shoulders aren’t the only ones carrying the weight. This means that you will stay comfortable even with 40+ lbs on your back, and you won’t feel like you are carrying a boulder.
Both the Redwing 44 and 50 have a padded, ventilated hipbelt, which is very useful. And it’s removable, which will come in handy if you really don’t like waist belts. But also if you only pack a few items and really don’t need to use them.
Not really. I find both of these packs to be incredibly well made and with tons of cool features. They both have a padded back panel, a lot of different pockets and compartments as well as ventilated hipbelt and shoulder straps. Basically, they only differ in their size.
And well there’s the improved suspension system on the larger pack. But, even though the Redwing 50 is equipped with the PerfectFIT harness, it is a little over a pound heavier than the Redwing 44. So, if you think you can really benefit from its larger capacity and size, then sure, go for it. The price difference is barely existent – just a little bit over $10.
On the other hand, if you don’t tend to carry a lot of gear with you, then the Redwing 44 will be just fine for you. Or if you have a naturally smaller torso – you will get a better fit with the smaller backpack. And you can really benefit from its lighter weight.
But in terms of all the other features, these two Kelty packs are nearly identical. So pick the one you like better, and head over to Amazon! You will get a great deal on either one there, and you can even check out these packs in a few other sizes!