Kelty Redwing 50

Best Mid Range Backpack

Selecting a pack requires one to analyze their needs before making a decision. A backpack’s configuration depends entirely on user preferences, skills, and intentions. For the average consumer, I feel the best mid range backpack to be the Kelty Redwing 50. Advertised as a 1-2 day pack, its 50 liter capacity makes it suitable for up to 1-2 week ventures depending on your circumstances and packing habits. This makes it such an ideal pack for a wide range of situations. I believe it to be the best value in the mid range category.


The Redwing 50 is a versatile pack usable in both the city and backcountry. It has a slightly tactical look to it, but is unassuming enough to remain stylish. Off trail it can be used as a gym bag, weekend pack, or week long suitcase. Although it works well in these applications, it really shines on the trail.


It’s a panel loader unlike most traditional top loading packs. The full zip allows for easy packing and unpacking. Comparable top loading packs can bury items at the bottom. With a panel loader you can simply unzip near its location, reach in, and grab. The main panel loading compartment comes with a sleeve perfect for a hydration bladder or laptop, and is spacious enough to fit a weeks worth of gear. Two side pockets have vertical channels through them for storing an axe, fishing pole, or rifle. The pockets themselves are also good for storing an extra water bottle. Personally, I load them with cordage and stakes, water filtration kit, and a fire kit, all with room to spare.


Kelty Redwing 50 pictured with the Vargo Titanium Water Bottle

Just below the side pockets are two mesh compartments big enough to store a large thermos or Nalgene. I’ve found a good use for them carrying the Vargo Titanium on one side and a bottle of alcohol on the other for stove fuel, sanitation, or consumption. Running between the mesh pockets along the bottom are a set of attachment points perfect for attaching a sleeping pad, sleeping bag, tarp, or other gear.


The top pocket has perfect for important personal items or hygiene kits. Or, you could stuff about 8 pounds of rice in there. Just below it, there are a set of compression straps to squeeze your gear closer to your back for better balance. There are also two more towards the bottom of the pack. These compression straps are reinforced and delightfully easy to use. I’ve also used them as additional attachment points in a pinch.


The outermost rear pocket makes a perfect organizer for smaller and/or regularly accessed items. The admin slots are perfect for an LED torch, pencils, pens, knives, maps, my handy dandy Notebook, and more. I usually stash my Kindle and a USB flash drive in here, along with a compass and some other doodads as well. The outside of this panel has a vertical daisy chain of loops an a carry handle for some more attachment points.


Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack

  • Volume: 51 liters
  • Weight: 3.687 pounds
  • Dimensions: 26 x 16 x12 inches
  • Frame: internal polyethylene with central aluminum stabilizer
  • Materials: 450 denier polyester

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