Things. I seem to carry around a lot of “things” with me. Many of the backcountry activities I love are fairly gear intensive and our trip to France last fall was a perfect example of this. As we planned our trip we realized we would need a lot of “things” to let us do all the activities we wanted to while away. Specifically, I ended up taking mountaineering boots, ice axes, harness, several ropes, rock climbing shoes, carabiners/draws, a helmet and all the things you need to be a tourist and play in the mountains, such as clothes, camera, guidebooks, headlamp, extra shoes etc. With all of these “things”, I needed a bigger pack and that’s where the Kelty Redcloud 80 litre backpack came in handy. The Redcloud is a women’s specific hydration compatible pack with adjustable suspension, AirMesh lumbar, waist belt and shoulder straps, three access points and several pockets to keep things organized. I initially used the Redcloud while travelling in France for a month. Since returning from that trip I have used the Redcloud for travelling within BC as well as for a four day ski touring trip in the Selkirk Mountains where I used it as my main and my daypack.
Suspension: Female specific and adjustable
Compartments: Main and sleeping bag compartments
Access: Top loading with front panel and sleeping bag compartment access
Pockets: 2 side pockets, 1 large front pocket, 2 hip belt pockets, 2 mesh pockets
Lid: Converts to lumbar pack
Waist belt: Removable, stabilizer straps, dual density and AirMesh
Shoulder Straps: Adjustable, AirMesh
Back panel: Dynamic Airflow and AirMesh Lumbar
An overall view of the back of the Red Cloud pack.
The Redcloud 80 has 10cm of adjustment potential in the height of the shoulder straps. This adjustment allows you to fit the pack to your specific height. At first I had trouble figuring out how to move the shoulder panel, but with some fiddling it is actually quite a simple system where the panel slides along a strip attached at the top and bottom of the pack. To ensure the pack is adjusted correctly, measure from the bottom of your neck to the top of your hips and use the measurement numbers along the spine of the pack to move the shoulder pad to the correct height for you. It is well worth spending the time to make sure everything is adjusted properly before you load up the pack. Having the correct adjustment greatly increased my comfort level while carrying the pack.
Measurement numbers help you to adjust the shoulder straps to the appropriate height. Should straps, back and lumbar panels are made with AirMesh.
The Redcloud has a number of pockets which were great for keeping items organized and easily accessible while travelling. I found it a nice change to not have to pull everything out of the pack to find one item. In the backcountry, on the other hand, I prefer to have fewer pockets as it means fewer zippers and fewer things to break or let water in.
Each side of the waist belt has a pocket (it is no longer mesh in the new model).
Mesh water bottle holders, there is one on each side of the pack.
Front and side compartments make organizing easy.
The Red Cloud pack has three access points: the top, a front panel and lower zipper.
The top access is fairly standard; an opening at the top of the pack with extra material extending beyond the top of the back for those larger loads. Unlike many packs, the Redcloud does not have a drawstring located at the top of the pack (only one at the top of the extra material). Personally, I prefer to have two drawstrings: one located at the top of the main pack and one located at the top of the extra material. The lower drawstring works to pull in the top of the pack and make sure it all fits under the lid to help with waterproofing. While having a single drawstring at the top worked fine, I would prefer to have two.
I really liked having the front access panel on the Redcloud 80 as it made accessing items from the body of the pack much easier. Unfortunately, the front panel does mean an extra zipper, which is a possible weak point. For me, the benefits of the front access outweigh the risks while travelling, however, not while in the backcountry.
The sleeping bag compartment is accessed through a zipper (the design of which is different on the new 2013 Redcloud 80) and has an optional panel to separate the compartment from the rest of the back pack. I found this option to be helpful as I could store items that I did not need often in the bottom of the pack and they remained out of the way while using items in the body of the pack. The lower zipper also made the lower items easy to access when they were needed.
Your sleeping bag is easily accessible through the zippered sleeping bag compartment.
I love that the Redcloud lid becomes a lumbar pack. I found this feature to be very useful for touristy days as it is big enough to hold a guide book, wallet, sunglasses and a light extra layer. The bag was too small to comfortably fit a water bottle along with the other items. As such, it would be nice to have a water bottle holder attached to the waist belt to allow a water bottle to be carried outside the bag.
Unfortunately, removing and attaching the lid to the pack is a bit cumbersome as you have to thread the straps though a clip. This would be made easier with a different style of buckle that I hope Kelty uses in future designs of the pack.
I found it really useful that the lid has two pockets (a larger and smaller) as this prevented having to search through the larger pocket to find a smaller item. As a small point, however, it would be better if the smaller pocket opened in the same direction as the larger pocket. As it is now, if you are wearing the lid as a lumbar pack, you have to turn it over to open the bottom pocket or risk spilling your items on the ground.
Removable lid has one large compartment and one small one.
I found the waist belt on the Redcloud to be fairly comfortable. To put this comment in perspective, I have never found a really comfortable waist belt, at least not one that I still like after carrying a full pack for hours. The straps on the Redcloud waist belt have a large amount of adjustability, however, when down to my base layer I did have to have the straps as tight as they would go. Overall, the waist belt is nice and flexible which allowed it to fit to my body and not dig into my stomach (a complaint I’ve had with other waist belts). I, personally, rarely used the pockets on the waist belt, but I can see how they would be useful for small items such as chapstick.
When compared to some of the main backpack makers in the backcountry world (Osprey, BD, Marmot, Arcteryx etc.), the Redcloud 80 is by far the cheapest option we saw. Prices from other companies for similar sized packs range from $290 to $420 with the most expensive pack at $750. In addition, only two of the four companies have women specific packs larger than 60Litres. Definitely two points in Kelty’s favor!
Unfortunately the lower price does come with some extra weight. Specifically, the Redcloud weighs 5 pounds 7 ounces (2.4 kg), which is a pound heavier than the next heaviest pack of similar size. For me, this pound won’t make much difference while travelling, but is something to consider on a longer backcountry trip where all weight counts.
Overall, The Redcloud 80 is a great pack for travelling. It has several pockets to keep things organized, it has three access points to prevent having to pull everything out of your pack and the lid becomes a lumbar pack for tourist days or short hikes. In addition, the pack has a haul handle which helps when loading it on/off buses or in/out of cars.
When it comes to price, the Redcloud 80 is your best bet. At only $219 it is the cheapest option for a pack this size. As is so often true we did find that with the cheaper price comes a few draw backs, such as extra weight and possibly a less sleek overall pack. With many zippers and straps, the Redcloud has more potential weak points than some other, more backcountry specific packs.
Really it comes down to your objectives and priorities. Are you going travelling and price or easy access to items in the pack are the most important to you? Or are you doing an extended back country trip where weight and durability are the most important. If you are the first person, the Redcloud 80 will be a great pack for you. If you are the second, you may want to compare this pack to some other, sleeker packs before making your decision.
The Red Cloud pack can be used for travelling or for multiday backcountry trips. It can be used as a day pack if you don't wish to carry an additional pack.
Length: 32in / 81cm
Width: 18in / 46cm
Weight: 5lbs 7 oz / 2.4kg
Torso Fit Range: 29-46in / 37cm-47cm
Fabric: 420D Polyester Ball Shadow
Reinforcement Fabric: 450D Polyester Oxford
- Lid becomes lumbar pack which is great for shorter day excursions
- Pockets and multiple access points allow for items to be and remain organized
- 10 cm of adjustability in shoulder strap height
- Flexible waist band
- Too many straps (newer version looks better in this regard)
- Light colour shows dirt easily
- Weight (by a pound)
- Many zippers equal more things to potentially break
- Cumbersome buckles to attach/remove lid from pack
Quality / Price 1.5/2
This is only our opinion. Do you disagree? Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Join the discussion in the forums here, and let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation.