The Kelty Red Cloud is a women’s specific large, multi-day trail pack. The Red Cloud incorporates a versatile internal frame backpack with a double opening. The pack contains a top load opening, plus a lower door zipper, that allows you to access the bottom storage area. An adjustable suspension rides on two parallel aluminum frame stays to fit infinite torso lengths. A full wrap waist belt distributes weight evenly, a sternum strap keeps shoulder straps from slipping and a padded mesh back panel keeps the user cool. The Kelty Red Cloud includes a removable sleeping bag compartment and an enormous number of storage pockets. These pockets include two side zippered pockets, two open top pockets behind the zippered pockets that have a Velcro sealed bottom, two front pockets, two lid pockets, two mesh water bottle pockets and two mesh zippered pockets on the hip belt.
• Hydration compatible
• Front-panel access
• Top loading
• Sleeping bag compartment
• Top lid converts to a fanny pack
• Large front pocket
• Reservoir sleeve
• Zippered side pockets
• Mesh water bottle pockets
• Side compression straps
• Load compression strap
• Spindrift collar
• Daisy chain
• Ice-axe loops
• Lash tabs
• Key fob
• Carry handle
• Women’s-specific suspension
• CloudLoc II Adjustable Suspension
• LightBeam II™ dual aluminum stays
• HDPE frame sheet
• Ventilating waistbelt, back panel, and shoulder straps
• HDPE reinforced waistbelt
• Dual density foam waist belt
• Zippered waist belt pockets
• Removable waistbelt
• Wicking back panel
• Padded back panel and shoulder straps
• Load-lifter/Stabilizer straps
• Sternum strap
• Belt stabilizers
• Scherer Cinch™ waist belt (US Pat #5,465,886)
I began utilizing the Kelty Red Cloud backpack in the Ozark Mountains of Southwest Missouri and Northern Arkansas and quickly recognized that the backpack seemed to balances performance, durability, and affordability very well, not to mention, the ability to carry a large amount of gear. The rest test however is; how comfortable is the pack when you pack it with 40 to 50 pounds.
After packing the Kelty Red Cloud with gear for several days, I was pleased to discover that the pack had many performance features to assist in the overall comfort of the user. The Red Cloud comes with a contoured HDPE reinforced removable waist belt, that is comprised of dual density foam and features the patented Scherer Cinch system. This system makes the belt easy to adjust both way and does not loosen while using the pack. The Red Cloud’s core suspension system includes a wicking /ventilating waist belt, back panel, and shoulder straps, which helped to wick moisture away from my body as I climbed and during times of high aerobic activity. The torso length of the Red Cloud can be easily adjusted by moving the back panel/ shoulder strap yoke, up or down along the dual aluminum stays using a Velcro system. This allows the pack to be adjusted and fit most users with a torso length of 12-20 inches. The shoulder straps on the Red Cloud are anatomically curved, forming an S-shape which conforms to the upper torso nicely, while both the shoulder straps and the back panel are padded for extra comfort. The Red Cloud has a large number of compression straps at various locations on the pack that help to stabilize the load and even provide areas that can be used for lashing on the outside of the pack.
While utilizing the Kelty Red Cloud on several multi-day trips and other single day excursions, I noticed several aspects about the pack that helped keep me balanced while carrying a heavy load and at the same time keeping me comfortable. The first of these things that I noticed was ventilated shoulder straps, back panel and waist belt that featured high density foam padding. These features combined to allow great air flow during use and help with comfort. The Red Cloud also comes with lightweight aluminum stays, load support and stability and shock absorption. These items also proved to help me maintain balance with heavy loads, be comfortable while carrying a heavy load and at the same time feel stable no matter what the terrain. The sternum strap and load lifter straps added to the options of how to carry weight and were easy to adjust on the fly or stationary. The pulley like Scherer Cinch, on the waist belt is easy to use and adjust and stayed placed once set. I really liked this, as nothing is worse than a waist belt that slips during high stress activity. Teamed with the dual density foam padding on the waist belt, which evens out pressure around the hips, allowed me to stay comfortable and provide great load support. After four (4) days of backpacking with a heavy load, I began to feel some soreness on my hip bones from the pack, but this is not uncommon in woman, due to our hipbone shape.
As I continued to utilize the Red Cloud on multi-day trips in the Ozark Mountains and in Canada, I liked the 82 L (5000 3in.) capacity, but was more impressed with the total number of pockets that allowed me stay organized and keep many smaller items accessible. It seemed every time I packed this pack, I discovered a new pocket. These pockets include:
The sleeping bag compartment is accessible through a large zippered opening. I really like this feature as it makes it much easier to access everything and makes packing much faster and easier. This keeps the user from having to remove everything from the top of the pack to access something on the bottom.
My only real criticism of this pack is that the two side pockets that are commonly used to store a one litre size water bottle are not deep enough. While utilizing these pockets to store a one litre Lexan water bottle, I discovered that the bottle would routinely fall out of the pocket, due to the pocket not being deep enough. This forced me to attach a carabineer to the top of the bottom and the pack to keep it from falling out. This made access to the water bottle much more difficult. It would also be nice if Kelty made the Red Cloud in a couple more colors.
After utilizing the Kelty Red Cloud for several months, the pack showed no real signs of wear and tear, minus needing a little cleaning. The pack material is easy to clean with a brush and warm soap and water and seems to repel mud, stains and debris very well. When not being utilized, I stored the Red Cloud in my gear close with the remained of my outdoor gear.
Overall, the Kelty Red Cloud is a good backpack and a very affordable option for the budget minded backpacker. The Red Cloud is large and stable enough to handle multi-day loads and comfortable enough to allow the user to enjoy the trip. This pack as a large number of pockets, making packing and organizing very easy. Kelty does need to fix the side pocket issue to allow the user to carry water bottles much easier. The inexpensive cost of this pack also makes it a very viable choice.