MaxDiltheywrote a review of Kelty Trekker Backpack - 3950cu in on April 28, 2016
Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Let's see if I can write this review without saying "classic."
I first saw this pack because my college outdoors club was outfitted with six of them. You could rent one out and take it backpacking. Well, I did, on my first backpacking trip, and didn't think twice about it because I was a total greenhorn.
Over the next few years, I backpacked about a hundred miles, camped out about a hundred nights, biked about ten thousand miles, summited about a hundred peaks, and went through about $5,000 worth of equipment (buying and selling and returning and renting...). I tried out a Gregory Baltoro, a Kelty Coyote, a Boreas Buttermilk, a GoLite pack (remember those?), a few Ospreys, and always found the fit and finish to be just fine.
Eventually, almost on a whim, I bought this pack again. The same exact model used by my outdoors club. I dialed in the fit and used it on a trip. It was going to be my "beater."
Then I met a girl who wanted to go camping, so my nice, fancy Ultralight pack went to her and I used the Kelty. "I'll buy a new pack down the line."
Nope! The more I used this pack, the more I loved it. The weight distribution was better than any internal frame pack, period. I mean, it's just great. The durability is a plus, the weight is not egregious, the organization is at times frustrating (where'd I put my spork?!) but ultimately satisfying, and the price is great.
Usually I travel light, but I also travel casual. With all the hundreds of camping trips behind me, I will often just stuff a bunch of food, liquor, warm clothing, and a tent in this bag and ship off for a 10-mile overnight. No fuss, no load balancing, no careful packing, no compression. The pack just eats my equipment and does its job.
I've done some serious winter backpacking with groups, where I was set to carry most of the equipment. Most I ever carried was 60lbs on my back and another 30lbs in a duffel bag in my hands, 3 miles up the side of a mountain in New Hampshire, and the Kelty stayed balanced and stable. I've become a strong hiker, and this backpack lets me utilize those leg muscles to carry whatever is demanded of the trip. Even if that's two gallons of water...
This is now my go-to pack for every trip. I won't replace it —no, I CAN'T replace it!— it beats out everything else on the market for that golden ratio between price, durability, and function. It's a brilliant pack, and I am sure it will stand the test of time.