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Michael D.

Michael D.

Michael D.

Michael D.wrote a review of on July 5, 2016

3 5

I've always loved Kelty -- their name was always synonymous with "value" as they always made affordable but quality gear. But I have to say, every generation of packs from them seems to be a step down from the last.

I have some of their gear from decades ago and it was stellar, but they just don't feel the same. I have a previous-gen 2014 Redwing 50 and it was a great bag, but it could not support much weight and the internal lining wore through quite quickly, but the exterior was still built with solid material. I saw the new 32 and figured I'd give it a shot since it looked nice and I wouldn't be putting much weight in this for an everyday commuting pack. The new poly material feels light and cheap, and the new hex-foam padding is very abrasive (which is why they usually put the foam inside other material or behind mesh). Also, the zippers aren't very fluid, particularly the front compartment pouch; there is a hidden grab-handle on the front of the pack, but the way it is sewn in protrudes behind the zipper and prevents the zipper from easily gliding over it. Also, the handle at the top of the pack keeps brushing the back of my head, which is getting annoying...

The bag is fairly comfortable and functional overall. It's basically a great $40 bag for $100.

Sorry I can't say nicer things about this, but the new Redwing line seems to be falling short of the previous generation. Kelty seems to want to retain their crown as the "best buy" of the backpacking world, but honestly I'd rather have them jack up their prices a little rather than use low-quality materials. It's too bad -- the Redwings would be a near perfect design if they just used better parts and invested more time in their harness system/fitting. I hope they improve over time...

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Michael D.

Michael D.wrote a review of on June 2, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Really digging the pack. As a diehard Osprey fan (I rarely cheat on them), I used a Kestrel 32 for a long time for day hikes and over-nighters if I was with other people, and although it still is the most comfortable pack ever, I wanted something a little lighter and with more breathability for warmer weather (I get very sweaty and often find myself carrying packs on one shoulder to dry off, not Osprey's fault, just me).

Without going into detail, I chose this over the Stratos for a few reasons, but I'll admit that I did NOT like the Exos series when I first saw it (when I was still judging the book by the cover). It seemed very fragile and I didn't think the shoulder straps sewn on the tension mesh would hold up. Well, I was wrong, and Osprey deceived me in a good way. After a lot of usage and some minor abuse, it shows no signs of wear. As long as you have more than 10 lbs in the bag, the mesh hugs your back like a glove and helped me significantly with sweat reduction. The Airspeed suspension system with the tension mesh isn't QUITE as comfortable as the Airscape for me personally, but it still is incredibly comfortable and worth the small trade off for the breathability. Take that statement with a grain of salt, it's still more comfortable than 99% of the other packs out there, but if sweat was not a problem, I might choose the Airscape by just a hair. But let's face it, there's no perfect "do-it-all" pack out there.

Also, I tend to only use hipbelts on descents, so on the way up, the Exos' hipbelt easily folds backwards around the pack and stays put if you loop it through the side compression straps. The only minor issue with not using the hipbelt is that the pack tends to shift on your back slightly with each step, which can get a little noisy. Not a big deal as I understand the pack is designed to secure around your waist, but my Kestrel does not shift without the hipbelt. Perhaps unavoidable with a tension mesh suspension, but just more of a comment rather than a complaint -- figured I'd just mention that.

I remove the lid for dayhikes, and put it back on for over-nighters (both for weight and volume reduction). Without the lid, a simple sewn-in flap deploys to cover the top of the pack and you basically just have one big compartment -- I prefer to use little organizational pouches rather than pockets built into the pack, so this is how I like it. I was a little concerned that 38 liters may be too big for a day-hike, but without the lid (which is 6.5 liters for the Exos 38 in Medium, info directly from Osprey), it goes down to 31.5 liters, in case anyone was curious. The ability to remove the lid it makes it quite versatile.

On a quick side note, I really like the way the outer pockets are designed. I love the little pockets on the shoulder straps -- great for little items you use frequently (I put my vaping device in there!). The side pockets are also well-placed. I use one of them for my fairly large smartphone because I can easily take it in and out from the front opening of the pocket without taking my pack off. So far it's never fallen out, but if I was moving fast or on fairly rough terrain, I might suggest putting it inside the pack to avoid problems.

Overall I'm extremely impressed with this pack and have no real complaints at all so far. Really makes me realize how over-built some other packs are, and you gotta admit, it's pretty badass looking. The only reason I'm upset is because I judged this pack without trying it and didn't buy it sooner. Plus, I know that if anything ever goes wrong, Osprey's got my back. Oh, and great service from Backcountry as always!

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