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Kelty Redwing for weekend mountaineering?


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I googled the Redwing pack and it looks like it is what used to be called a "back loader." I think most climbers prefer what are known as "top loading" packs, all other things being equal.


The difference is that the back loaders are opened by lying them on the ground and unzipping a zipper that is like a suit-case zipper. This is very convenient when packing and allows quick access to the entire pack but top loaders offer more flexibility when it comes to varying load sizes. The top loaders have no zipper around the back but are built more or less like a grocery bag, opening at the top, with a draw string around the top edge. They often come with extension collars and extendable top flaps that support overloading much more readily. Also, the top loaders almost always come with constriction straps that render the pack more load-friendly when you dump most of the stuff out at a camp and then carry a smaller load to a summit. They are not as user friendly when packing and unpacking but the advantages of top-loaders generally outweigh the disadvantages - for mountaineering. If you are going to use the pack for travel, no.


Over the years there have been some excellent back-loaders, though.


(I first posted this on the Climbers Board, but moved it here, where it belongs.)

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I agree with Mattp. I had a Redwing years ago and while it is just fine for hiking, you'd probably not be satisfied with it for climbing. 50l is a good size. Second Ascent in Ballard is great for good deals (they have a ton of used packs) and their staff would set you up with a good climbing pack that fits your body. Getting a good fit is important.

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Weird they have a line of "vintage" packs, though includes nothing they were actually known for back in the day. "They" of course having nothing to do with current company I suppose.


Was gonna say ALL Kelty branded stuff is no good at all, but I guess they're semi-okay for the mid-priced stuff. Wenzel tents are much better, of course.


I've always assumed non-top-loading packs were designed partly for show-room appeal. On the other hand top loaders with zipper access are quite practical, until/unless zipper breaks.

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Panel-loading packs can indeed be accessed without putting the back down on the snow to unzip the entire panel.


Simply stand the pack up, and unzip the top 1/4 of the pack. Then you can reach in and start digging around in it just like you would a top-loader. Guess it's a spatial-relations-thinking type problem that keeps people from understanding this.


However the Redwing looks rather wide for a good alpine pack. I'd suggest looking for something sleeker. Go take a look at some of the Montbell packs (Pro Mtn Sports); they're my current fave for mtneering.



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