Kelty Redwing 3100 Review – Or: The best backpack I have ever purchased

If you read my post on 10 must-have items for independent travelers you know that the most important item you need is a good backpack.  This may sound obvious to most people but if you have ever shopped for a backpack you know how difficult it can be.  Head over to your local outdoors shop and you will be overwhelmed with the selection.

Then the questions arise:  How much space do I need? How heavy is it going to be? How much should I spend?

I previously recommended the Kelty Coyote 4750 which I still own and enjoy, but with more trips under my belt, I now realize it was more pack than I needed.  For my recent trip to Costa Rica I loaned it to my two friends who managed to squeeze enough clothes and other items for both of them, with a bit of room to spare!  The only problems were that it was excruciatingly heavy at 37 pounds, and needed to be checked on the airplane (which was a $25 fee).

The reason I was able to loan it to them was because I purchased a Kelty Redwing 3100 before this trip.  It holds 50 liters of clothes and gear compared to the Coyote 4750’s 80 liters.  Since I only packed my Coyote to about 60% capacity for my trip to Hungary last fall, I decided 50 liters should be more than enough.

Not only was it enough, it was more than enough.  After folding up my clothes and stuffing them into the bottom of the main compartment, I had at least 50% of the room still left!  This worked out well as I was able to put my Teva full strap hiking sandals into a plastic grocery bag and put them in there as well.  They are bigger than you would expect and awkward to pack, but still fit with room to spare for my toiletries and snacks.

This weighed in at 15 pounds before I left home.  I was able to carry it comfortably without the padded hip belt, but when attached and tightened, it hardly feels like you are carrying anything at all.

Here’s a rough idea of what I squeezed in it:

  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 pair of board shorts
  • 7 pairs of socks
  • 5 pairs of underwear (I recommend synthetic materials for easy washing)
  • 7 t-shirts
  • 1 polo shirt
  • 1 light rain jacket
  • 1 pair of Teva outdoors sandals
  • Toiletries and snacks

And there was still some breathing room.  There would have been a lot had I skipped those sandals or clipped them to the outside of the bag.  In the small outer compartment I had my passport, digital camera, charger, phone, two books, and medicines.

Needless to say, this is my new main traveling backpack.  It can be carried on an airplane, has more room than you realize and it comfortable to boot.  Buy something bigger, and you’ll only bring more stuff that you don’t need.  In fact, I could have done with less on this trip.  Thanks to days at the beach and the river, I wore some of my synthetic blend shirts that were easily washable multiple times.  I never put on my jeans, jacket, polo shirt, or three of my nicer t-shirts.  What to, and not to pack is a post for another day though.

Overall, the Kelty Redwing 3100 is an amazing pack for around $99.  They also make a 2650 version (44 liters) and a 2500 version (41 liters) which is specifically designed for women.

I couldn’t help but giggle to myself every time I saw another backpacker walking down the street with their back hunched in pain from carrying an 80 liter pack filled to the brim.

Give this pack a shot.  I doubt you’ll have any complaints.

The MSRP is $109 but you can purchase the Kelty Redwing 3100 for around $85 on Amazon.  The price fluctuates and varies by color.

14 Replies to “Kelty Redwing 3100 Review – Or: The best backpack I have ever purchased”

  1. I’ve been reviewing this back and researching it and one thing I cant figure is if its water resistant and how your stuff inside would fare should you find yourself having to be out in the rain a lot. Anyone know?


    1. I just ordered this pack, from my research it appears to be highly water resistant. But NOT waterproof. In addition, Kelty doesn’t make a rain cover for this size pack…

      1. I wouldn’t go swimming with it, but it’s kept water out during some decent rains. If you’re going to be in a torrential downpour, grab a black trashbag.

  2. I’m hoping my Osprey pack will do the job well. It’s a top load, but has three compartments accessible from zippers as well. As long as I keep ’em locked, should probably be OK against thieves while walking around less-savory locations.

    Had I been reading more blogs before buying my pack, I might’ve gone with one of the single-main-zip packs!

  3. My name is Rain and fortuitously this pack is rain resistant. Its nice to have this. What will be the duration of its being a water resistant? I mean what im in a hike? Then suddenly rain’s pour? Thanks

    1. I have a kelty redwing 3100 and I live in a rainforest and I use my pack all the time never have had any troubles with my stuff getting wet in the five years I’ve had it

  4. I am spending four weeks in Nicaragua and you are right…it is extremely time consuming and overwhelming trying to find a good backpack. I was stuck between the GoLite Women’s Jam 2 and the Kelty Redwing 2500 and you have helped me make my decision! Your website is very insightful! Thank you.

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