Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack Review

Kelty Redwing 44 Featured Image

I was getting ready to head down to Costa Rica in the fall of 2018 and I needed a new backpack. I didn’t want something too extravagant but my old pack with busted seams and missing straps wasn’t going to cut it.

I did a lot of research and spent almost three hours zipping and unzipping packs at REI, I finally decided on this backpack. After several months of use, I give you my Kelty Redwing 44 backpack review!

My Search For The Kelty Redwing 44

I was looking for something hardy enough to travel with but still useful for overnight or weekend backpacking trips in the summer. I also wanted something with a protective laptop sleeve, easy access to that sleeve, and a number of pockets for me to organize my travel and/or backpacking essentials.

After testing out and trying on many travel packs from Osprey, REI, North Face, and Patagonia, I wasn’t satisfied. But that’s when this pack from Kelty caught my eye. To be honest, It didn’t check ALL my boxes, but it came closer than any other pack I looked at.

Kelty Redwing 44 Overview

kelty-redwing-44-backpack review front

Capacity: 44 liters or 2,700 cubic inches

Dimensions: 25 x 15 x 12 inches

Weight: 2 pounds, 10 ounces (1.2 kilograms)


I was looking for something in the 40 to 50-liter range, but I also was hoping for dimensions that could meet carry-on requirements for most airlines. This ruled most 50-liter packs out, and although the 44-liter’s dimensions are technically a bit larger than most airlines published acceptable carry-on dimensions, I’ve found that you can often get away with it.

In fact, one of the most useful travel tips I’ve heard recently is to board later if you have a backpack that’s slightly over acceptable carry-on dimensions. Since most airlines don’t measure at check-in or in the security line (especially if you check-in and print your boarding pass in advance), you’ll most likely make it all the way to the gate before anyone realizes your pack might be a little large to fit in the overhead compartment.

At this point, flight attendants will “check” your bag at the gate 9 times out of 10. It’ll safely be stored onboard and handed back to you as you exit the plane at your destination.

Technical Specifications

kelty redwing 44 back

To be honest, the technical specifications were not what sold me on this pack. But they are important details when comparing this pack with similar sizes and styles. So here’s a quick list of the Kelty Redwing 44’s technical specs:

Frame Type: Internal

Torso Fit Range: 14.5 to 18.5 inches (37 to 47 centimeters)

Body Fabric: 420-Denier Small Black Stafford Polyester

Reinforcement Fabric: 75 x 150-Denier Tasser Coal Polyester

Frame Material: Aluminum + HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)

The Kelty Redwing doesn’t set a new standard for ultralight backpacks, but that’s not what I was looking for. This is a relatively lightweight and durable backpacking pack with plenty of space. But what I liked is that it will force me to be more selective in what I choose to bring along and it gives me plenty of pockets to organize essentials for easy access.

My Favorite Features

Kelty-Redwing-44-Main-Compartment

One feature that caught my eye right from the start is the pack’s front stash pocket with closure hook. For my trip to Costa Rica for example, this will hold my swim fins, raincoat, and the Kelty Rain Cover I also purchased. For backpacking trips, I intend to always keep my rain cover handy there, but I’ll also use it to store maps, layers, and potentially the rain fly for my tent.

I also really like the side pocket structure of this pack. Both sides offer sleeves that will hold trekking poles or, in my case, will most likely secure my tent poles and water bottle. These sleeves have zippered pockets on each side that are great for my Steri-Pen, LifeStraw, or those celebratory beers that had previously been stored out of reach in my bear canister.

While the Kelty Redwing 44 has a host of additional features, the final ones I’ll mention here are the front pocket with organization and the dual-purpose laptop/hydration sleeve. This pack’s front pocket offers five different ‘compartments’ to organize a journal, pens, maps, or in the case of my Costa Rica trip, my passport. The dual-purpose laptop/hydration sleeve meets my immediate needs for a safe place to store my laptop while also giving me a place to store my Camelbak Hydration Sleeve for summer hikes.

The Deciding Factors

Kelty-Redwing-44-Side-Pockets-Open

One of the packs I thought I was highly interested in before seeing it in person was the Osprey Porter 46. My two main problems with this pack were that I didn’t imagine it to be highly useful for backpacking purposes. Essentially, it’s a travel pack only. The other factor was the lack of an included rain cover, which I felt necessary for travels to more tropical regions.

Another pack I highly considered was the REI Ruckpack 40. While I liked the organization structure and durability of this pack, as well as the fact that it comes with a built-in rain cover, I ultimately shied away from it due to a lack of external attachment points. Especially when it comes to summer backpacking, I like to have options for attaching extra items to the exterior of my pack, and I felt that the Redwing offered more flexibility in that regard.

Final Verdict On The Kelty Redwing 44

how to put on your backpack properly - load lifter straps

In summary, I chose the Redwing 44 because it had a place to store my laptop when traveling and a hydration pack when backpacking, it offered space for the essentials but not too much space to allow for overpacking (which is a classic nemesis of mine!), and it offered a clear organizational structure to keep supplies separated and easy to access along the trail and while in transit!


About The Backpack Guide

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The Backpack Guide on the John Muir Trail

At The Backpack Guide, I’m always looking for new trails and wildernesses to explore. And I’m always on the lookout for new products to test out! If you have feedback on this pack, or any other I’ve reviewed, I’d love to hear from you! Also, let me know if you’d like to write your own review!

Drop me a line here or find me on social media @thebackpackguide on Instagram and Facebook, or @backpackguide1 on Twitter. Tag me in your photos with your newest pack or from your most recent adventure!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below. I’ll be quick to reply to any questions, comments, or concerns you feel like sharing!

More Resources From The Backpack Guide

I’d also like to kindly invite you to check out the other content on my site. That includes Hiking Tips and Trails and my Outdoor Gear page with reviews on water filters, tents, hiking shoes, trekking poles, and more. Also, you might enjoy my Backpack Reviews if you’re in need of a new pack, which includes brands like Kelty, REI, and Gregory. 

Finally, my YouTube Channel is full of informative video content if you’re not really into reading! I do receive a commission on purchases made through the affiliate links on this website. Those earnings go directly back into my efforts to produce more informative content for my readers!

Happy Hiking!

The Backpack Guide

tucker@thebackpackguide.com

Kelty Redwing 44

$124.95
4.65

Comfort

4.8/5

Storage Space

4.3/5

Adaptability

4.9/5

Pros

  • Lots of Pockets
  • U-Shaped Zipper Opening
  • Easy To Keep Organized

Cons

  • No Top Straps
  • Minimal Brain
  • Rain Cover Sold Separately

Comments

  1. Gracie

    Thanks for this post on The Backpack Guide. The Kelty Redwing 44 has great features that I would love to present it as a gift for my brother in the military, I wanna ask a question about this post if ordered directly online from the company will there be any warranty on the bag if anything happens to it? Thanks!

    1. Post
      Author
      Tucker Ballister

      Hi Gracie! Kelty does offer a good warranty policy (if you want to learn more about it here is the link) and I recently helped someone get a complete replacement of their Kelty pack after they experienced a blowout within the first couple months of getting it. So it’s always good to know that a company stands behind their product! 

  2. Jordan Smith

    Awesome review!

    I used this backpack on a 2 week tour of Europe. It was appealing enough for someone to attempt stealing on train. This backpack held my tripod, laptop, camera, 4 jeans, 6 shirts, 6 pairs socks and boxer briefs, snacks, maps, travel pillow, light jacket and still qualified as carry on with no problem whatsoever on easyJet, Ryan Air, and also Turkish Air. I did use Eagle Creek Compression Cubes for clothing.

    Regards!

    1. Post
      Author
      Tucker Ballister

      Hey Jordan! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with the Redwing 44. This is the exact pack I’d choose for a Europe tour and I’d probably pack very similarly to you! I’ll look into those compression cubes too, as I always like to improve organization within the large compartments of my packs. Cheers! 

  3. Christine

    The Kelty Redwing looks like a nice and sturdy backpack. I’m sure you can pack a lot in there. The side pockets seem big enough, I always need side pockets … I like your travel tip, that one is good to know, because it has happened to me that they didn’t want to check my carry one. So next time I’ll do what you suggested. 

    I can see that you even stored your laptop in there. How safe is this backpack? I mean, is there some protection for thefts or is that something you can add on?

    1. Post
      Author
      Tucker Ballister

      Hi Christine! Yes I did store my laptop in here when traveling, but I used this pack as a carry-on. I’d not go that route if I were going to check it. The zippers on this pack do have loops that you’d be able to place a small travel lock through (maybe something like this one), so you would be able to secure it a little better if you’re worried about your valuables! 

  4. Michelle

    What a great and thorough review article! I’m really interested in this backpack. I travel to Thunder Bay Ontario often to visit family, go camping and take long hikes. That’s about all there is to do in that small city. I like the fact that I can take this on the plane to get there, then use it when I go on my long treks in the woods. sadly, my last pack, as much as I like it, is also ready for retirement. How has your Kelty Redwing held up so far? Just wondering. thanks.

    1. Post
      Author
      Tucker Ballister

      Hey Michelle! Thanks for your comment. I’d love to make a visit up to Ontario some time and I think your purpose is perfect for the Redwing 44. I must say that it has held up wonderfully so far! I’m really happy with its performance overall! 

  5. Vasilij

    You’ve said that Kelty Redwing 44 is a good backpack, but it doesn’t tick all your boxes. What exactly are you not too satisfied about?

    Also, it would be really nice to read report about your trip to Costa Rica. How long were you there and what trail did you follow?

    1. Post
      Author

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