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Review: Testing Kelty's Travel Gear in Hawaii and Puerto Vallarta

December 18, 2013 at 12:07 PM | by | Comments (0)

We had just booked our trip to Hawaii when we released how unprepared we were in terms of luggage. Usually, we rock out with a carry-on sized Samsonite roller (four wheels) and a hearty Swiss Gear laptop backpack. Typically, that's no problem, and we've carried them on regularly in the past, putting the roller in the overhead and the backpack at our feet. But when we looked at our Hawaii intinerary, we saw three island-hopping flights to go along with two different hotel stays on each island. That's a lot of moving around, and we wondered if we could consolidate in some way and make transporting our gear as painless as possible.

So, we called Kelty who, like Zippo, has expanded its line of offerings of late. After 60 years of focusing on aluminum-framed outdoor backpacks, Kelty recently launched a line of travel packs and products. They have 21 travel products in total, including a line of expandable roller suitcases, but we were interested in keeping with what Kelty does best: Backpacks. Because Hawaii was an adventure travel destination, we were looking for something tough and mobile, yet practical enough to keep our electronic gear (laptop, phone, etc) safe and hold enough clothes for the trip. Kelty told us that its Flyway would be right up our alley. After 23 days of testing (13 in Hawaii, 10 in Puerto Vallarta), it turns out Kelty was correct.

The 43-liter Flyway backpack combined the capabilities of a suitcase and laptop backpack, which made life a hell of a lot easier when it came to being hands-free. The two best features for us were the laptop slip and separate compartment for shoes (or sweaty clothes). Depending on how tightly you've packed the bag, the laptop may take a little wiggling to get in and out, but overall we found this minor delay at security was worth our patience given that it allowed us to carry only one bag. Those in the market for new luggage who value their mobility and tend to travel light should take a closer look. As far as packs and luggage goes, it's reasonably priced at $130.

When we were discussing bag options with Kelty and they asked us about our plans, we told them that we'd be participating in a few Hawaiian adventures that required a sweatshirt, and so we wanted a bag big enough to fit one (both for that trip as well as future all-climate travel). In a simple case of ask and you shall receive, Kelty sent us to its sister company Sierra Designs to try its Capiz Jacket as a means of keeping warm and saving space. The Capiz is designed for active winter use and is insulated with 600-fill DriDown. To be honest, this is one of the most useful jackets we've ever tried on. It's incredibly thin and rolls up to the size of no more than two T-shirts in bag space. It's also incredibly warm despite its small stature, and we have used it both as a "night-out" jacket and a layer under our outer shell when skiing. In each case, we enjoyed its combination of functionality and fashion. The Capiz runs for $199 and you can read more about it here.

Have a traveler in the family? We smell a gift idea.

Disclaimer: We were on assignment for another publication when receiving and reviewing Kelty's products, but all opinions are our own.

[Photos: Kelty]

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