Kelty Redwing v. Osprey Fairview–Which is a better backpack for women?

by Jul 7, 2020Travel Gear

Hey ladies! Looking for the perfect backpack but having trouble finding one? I was in that position over a year ago while planning my trip to Asia. I read countless blogposts, tried out several backpacks at REI, and ordered a few on Amazon only to return them because they just weren’t quite right. I thought the Osprey Fairview 40 was going to be the one, but after trying it out, it just didn’t give me enough support. And then I found the perfect backpack at the perfect price–the Kelty Redwing L40 for only US$120 (Now (July 1, 2020), it’s selling on Amazon for US$77.95). In this post, I’m going to share with you why the Kelty Redwing 40 is a much better backpack than the Osprey Fairview 40.

I’m going to share with you why the perfect backpack for women—especially those with knee and feet issues and those on a budget—is the Kelty Redwing 40L.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  Please see this website's Disclosure for more info.

WHY THE KELTY IS A BETTER BACKPACK FOR WOMEN THAN THE OSPREY

I’m going to compare the Kelty Redwing and the Osprey Fairview point by point to show you why I think the Kelty is a better travel backpack for women, especially for those who’ve got knee and foot problems and/or those who are on a tight budget. 

PRO TIP: No one likes to think about insurance, but accidents do happen. I highly recommend getting World Nomads. This is what I've used for short-term travel. When  I quit my job to travel around the world, I switched to Safety Wings. They're very affordable (less than US$100 a month depending on age) especially for those of us who are over 40 years old. They now cover COVID19.

1. Backpack Price: Kelty vs. Osprey

Ideally, I was looking for a backpack for around US$150. The maximum that I’d pay would be US$200.

KELTY REDWING: The Kelty completely blew my mind away on price! I bought mine for US$120. Way under budget! But as I type this sentence (July 1, 2020), it is selling for $77.95 on Amazon. 

OSPREY FAIRVIEW: The Osprey Fairview was originally US$180. Above my ideal budget but below my maximum. It’s now selling on Amazon for US$120 to US$160 depending on size and color.

WINNER: Kelty Redwing 40 (by a long shot)

2. Carry-on Backpack: Kelty vs Osprey

I wanted a backpack that I could carry onto the plane. Some airlines like United require your carry-on to be no bigger than 22″ x 14″ x 9″ (56 cm x 36 cm x 32 cm), while others give you more leeway at 24″ x 16″ x 10″. Most airlines in Asia (Philippines Airlines and Air Asia) have the same size requirements as United. I needed to get a 40L backpack. It had to also look compact and not too conspicuous.

KELTY REDWING: It’s got a volume of 40 liters, and the maximum dimensions are 23″ x 14″ x 12″. You can see that it’s a smidge bigger than the maximum carry-on dimensions for some airlines.

However, I was able to carry my Kelty along with a purse and a daypack onto a Philippines Airlines flight going from San Francisco to Tokyo. When I was flying back to the United States and flying around Asia, the rules changed and they didn’t care about size anymore. Instead, it was about weight. You couldn’t be over 7 kilograms (15 pounds). The airlines employees would weigh your carryon bags. They never measured mine.

The Kelty has exterior compression straps that you can adjust to make the bag bigger or smaller.

OSPREY FAIRVIEW: It’s got a volume of 40 liters with dimensions of 21.3″ x 13.8″ x 9″. You can see it fits all dimensions of the more popular American airlines. But if flying within Asia, size won’t matter as much as weight.

The Osprey also has this cool stowaway back panel that can be zipped up to hide your straps, making it look more compact and less conspicuous.

WINNER: Osprey for its stowaway panel and its slightly smaller size. BUT if you’re traveling around Asia, the size of the backpack might be moot since airlines there go by weight and not size.

a woman carrying a backpack

3. Support: Kelty vs Osprey

One of the most important features in a backpack for women is good support. This is especially so if you’re not so young, not so tall, and not so physically fit. If you’ve got bad knees and feet like me (meniscus tear, plantar fasciitis, and bunions), then having a backpack that’s lightweight and has great support is essential.

KELTY REDWING: Here is where the Kelty Redwing won me over. After packing it with everything I was taking on my 2-week trip to Japan, I walked around my apartment, and I still felt almost as comfortable as my old Gregory backpack.

Here’s why: The harness system is superb. The back of Kelty has a lot of padding, especially in the lower back. And it’s got this hip belt that takes the weight off of my shoulders and transfers it to the hip.

The bag is also more lightweight than any of the other bags I tried.

The other thing I liked was the mesh material on the back. Even after wearing the pack for a while, It really keeps my back nice and cool.

OSPREY FAIRVIEW: Here is where the Osprey failed to win me over. I filled it up with my stuff for my trip to Malaysia, put it on, and walked around my apartment. After a while, my shoulders started to hurt and the bag just got really uncomfortable. It seemed that the hip belt wasn’t giving me enough support and wasn’t taking the weight off my shoulders enough. I couldn’t see it replacing my Gregory Pack. So I returned it.

WINNER: Kelty Redwing

backside of Kelty Redwing backpack

4. Laptop Storage: Kelty vs Osprey

Another reason why I wanted a new backpack was that I wanted one with storage for my laptop.

KELTY REDWING: The Kelty has a large laptop sleeve. It can be used as a hydration sleeve as well. I like that it’s also located close to your back, making it difficult for thieves to get to.

But there isn’t a lot of padding for the backpack so you’ll want to put the laptop in another case.

I was able to fit my 15.5″ laptop in the sleeve.

OSPREY FAIRVIEW: The Osprey has a laptop sleeve as well along with a tablet sleeve. It can hold laptops up to 15.5”. The problem is that the laptop storage space is in the outside pocket, which in my opinion is too accessible for thieves.

WINNER: Kelty Redwing

5. Tripod Storage

I wanted a backpack with storage space for my tripod.

KELTY REDWING: The Kelty has two mesh pockets on the side where I can store my tripod. I can secure the tripod with the straps provided or behind the side pockets.

OSPREY FAIRVIEW: The Osprey doesn’t have any outside pockets for storing a tripod. And my tripod didn’t fit inside the backpack like it has done with my Gregory either.

WINNER: Kelty

6. External and International Pockets

Another feature a good backpack for women is a few external pockets for quick access. In the morning when I’m running around to catch an early flight, bus, or boat, I want to be able to quickly stuff my toothbrush and pajamas into my bag, so I like external pockets.

KELTY: The Kelty has four external pockets. There’s a pocket at the top, on the front, and two on the side. There’s also an area behind the front pocket where you can stash a jacket for quick access. The laptop sleeve is in the inside. It’s not as easy to get to as the Osprey, but it’s harder for thieves as well.

OSPREY: The Fairview has two external pockets. There’s a pocket on the top and then there’s a fairly big front pocket with laptop and tablet sleeves. You can get to your laptop easily in this way, but so can thieves.

WINNER: Kelty has more pockets and a more secure place to store your laptop

aqua colored Kelty Redwing Backpack

7. Sideloading Backpack: Kelty vs. Osprey

Another reason why I wanted to get a new backpack was that my old Gregory pack was top loading. I wanted a backpack that was side loading instead. Sideloading backpacks are much more accessible and thus convenient to use than top-loading backpacks. If you have a frontloading backpack, you don’t need to take EVERYTHING out of the backpack to get to some things. However, with top loading packs, if there is something at the bottom of your pack, you have to take out EVERYTHING from your pack.

KELTY REDWING: The Kelty is both a top loading and side loading pack. Sounds great? Unfortunately, the zipper goes two-thirds of the way down the side of the pack so it’s not completely side loading.

OSPREY FAIRVIEW: The Fairview is completely side-loading. A huge plus!

WINNER: Osprey Fairview

8. Security: Kelty vs. Osprey

Another important feature in backpacks for women is security. You don’t want a thief to get into it at your hotel or hostel or on the bus or metro. 

There are two ways I like securing my backpack. One is that I’d like to be able to lock up the backpack’s zippers when I’m not in my hotel room. Budget hotels often don’t have safes or lockers like in hostels, so you’ve got to either hide your money and passport somewhere in the room, lock it up in your backpack, or take it with you. It’s nice when you can use a padlock to lock the zippers up.

Second, I like to be able to attach the backpack to a luggage rack on a train, bus, or boat with a metal cable. Cables can easily attach to the zippers of the backpack. You can also attach the cable to the backpack’s strap, but it’s easier for a thief to cut the strap.

Laptop: I’m always worried about having my laptop on my back. I can just imagine a thief stealing is while I’m walking around or on a crowded metro. So a bag needs to have good storage for my laptop.

KELTY REDWING: The zippers on the Kelty are fabric and not metal, making a padlock or a cable useless. Now you could alternatively use a Pacsafe Backpack and Bag Protector instead.

The laptop sleeve is next to your back, so I don’t feel worried that someone can steal it from my backpack easily.

OSPREY FAIRVIEW: The zippers on the Osprey are metal so you can use a padlock to lock them up or you can connect a cable from your backpack zippers to a luggage rack. But of course, if a thief really wants to get to your stuff, you can always just cut the fabric on the bag. But if you really want to be safe, it’s better to get a Pacsafe Backpack and Bag Protector instead.

The laptop sleeve is on the outside pocket, so I don’t feel safe carrying the bag around.

WINNER: Tie–Osprey has the zippers that can be locked, but Kelty’s laptop sleeve is on your back.

However, I usually only keep things like clothes and toiletries in my big backpack and my valuables in my small daypack or I lock my valuables in a locker in a hostel or safe in a hotel (if they have one).

9. Design: Kelty vs. Osprey

I wanted a nice color for my backpack. I also didn’t want it to make me look too much like a tourist.

KELTY REDWING: The Kelty comes in two colors: teal green and black. The teal green is nice in that it stands out when you’re waiting for your luggage at the airport. The black is nice because it’s not so conspicuous if you’re wearing it around a city. The part some people complain about is that the straps hang down making the pack look kind of messy. However, I just tuck the straps in, hiding them from view.

OSPREY REDWING: The Osprey comes in three colors: green, brown, and black. BUT you’ll usually find only the green one in stores. The black and brown colors are usually priced higher than the green one. Here’s the thing: the green one, in my opinion, is UGLY! I don’t understand WHY Osprey made such a popular backpack in such an UGLY color!

However, what I do like about the Osprey is that it doesn’t look like a backpack so when you’re walking around with it on in a city, you don’t look so conspicuous.

WINNER: Tie – The Kelty has nicer colors, but the Osprey is less conspicuous

10. Durability: Kelty vs. Osprey

I wanted a backpack that was going to stand up to plane rides, bus rides, and boat rides around Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, and South and Central America.

Nylon backpacks are supposed to be more durable than polyester backpacks.

KELTY: Kelty is made of polyester.

I’ve only used my Kelty for a total of 3 months of travel. So far there are no rips on the backpack. Everything still works. The zippers still work.

OSPREY: The Osprey is made of nylon.

I have an Osprey Nova backpack and after a week of traveling through Japan, two zippers fell off. Now it’s really difficult to open up the backpack.

WINNER: Osprey–because it is made of nylon. BUT my experience with Osprey packs hasn’t been good. 

More Kelty Redwing Backpacks for Women

Kelty has other sizes for their Redwing series of backpacks.

Kelty Redwing 44

The big differences between the Kelty Redwing 44L and the 40L are that the 44L’s design is gender neutral (it doesn’t have the customized straps and hips for women) and it’s bigger than the 40L.

 

Kelty Redwing 50

The Kelty Redwing 50 has a volume of 51 liters. It’s also gender-neutral like the Redwing 44. Its size is 25 x 15 x 12. 

Essential Backpack Items for Women

If you’re looking for more items to make it easier to pack, carry, and secure your stuff, then check out these essential travel items:

1.  Cable Luggage Locks

Get these cable luggage locks for your bags. They don’t work so well with Kelty Redwing bags, but you can use them to secure a lock in a hostel or secure a bag to a luggage rack.

2.  Pacsafe Steel Backpack and Bag Protector

A Pacsafe Steel Backpack and Bag Protector might be your best bet for securing your backpack in your accommodations or when you’re on a bus, boat, or train.

3. Compression Packing Cubes

 

Get compression packing cubes instead of the regular packing cubes. They give you more space in your backpack.

The Kelty Redwing is a great backpack for women. With its amazing support, it’s an ideal backpack for those with knee and foot problems. And its price is perfect for those on a tight budget.  I think it’s a suitable backpack to take with you to Europe, Asia, South America, Africa or wherever you go. 

After traveling in Japan for 2 weeks and Southeast Asia for 2.5 months, I was more than happy with the backpack. 

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teal blue Kelty Redwing Backpack
black Kelty Redwing backpack

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About the Bamboo Traveler

Julie Krolak

Hi! I’m Julie, the Bamboo Traveler!  This blog is devoted to helping the inquisitive traveler explore Asia’s history and culture. On this site, you’ll find itineraries to help you plan your trip, reviews to help you make more informed decisions, lots of history and cultural information to help make your travels more meaningful, and book recommendations to help you understand a place more deeply.

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